2019-11-08 22:02:18 UTC
Over a decade ago, I was researching “film noir” and found an article by Charles O'Brien titled Film Noir In France: Before The Liberation. In the article, O'Brien lays out the use of “film noir” in France before WWII by citing its usage in magazines and newspapers. There is no longer any debate that Hollywood didn't created film noir or that a single postwar French critic named Nino Frank coined the term describing Hollywood films.
When I wrote up O'Brien's work on my website, few people took notice. With the exception of Lloyd Fonvielle – and I still miss arguing with him – Matt Barry, and a few others, mostly I received hate mail and on-line abuse and, in one case, I was accused of inventing O'Brien and ghostwriting his article.
The other day, while looking up Port of Shadows to check spelling and accent marks concerning the films of Jean Gabin, I noticed that my article about O'Brien's work was attached as a footnote to a statement about how Port of Shadows was deemed a “film noir” before WWII. Eight other films were cited by O'Brien who notes that leftwing critics called them “poetic realism” and rightwing critics used the term “film noir” for the same films.
Little by little, the incoherent and nonsensical current definition – basically, make it up as you go along – of film noir will be eroded and corrected with decent research that will negate the notion of proto- and neo-noir and that Hollywood created the genre – for want of a better word – when films noir showed up in the silent era, in Germany during the Weimar era, and in Shanghai in the 1930s, among other places.
At least it's a start.