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Hollywood Film Industry after the World War II

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The war triggered large-scale changes in the life of American society, raising standards of living, changing race relations and position of women, making the population more mobile and yet imposing general air of pessimism on people. Noir films serve to reflect many of the anxieties of American society. Fear of the new terrible weapon – nuclear weapon; paranoia connected to the beginning of the Cold War (possibility of the full-fledged war with USSR); concerns regarding the rising significance of women in the society; disorientation of war veterans who came back from the war (often with severe psychological trauma).

The world portrayed in noir films was filled with threats, ambiguities, inevitable murders, deceit, and corruption. Here, one of the most famous movies is Maltese Falcon filmed in 1941 and possessing most of the typical noir features: its visual side offers a dark faded picture (and it looks even more somber in black and white); the plot involves murders (even at the beginning one of the detectives is mysteriously murdered), strong criminal element and a deceitful woman, Brigid O’ Shaughnessy, who “ had lured Archer into an alley that first night and had shot him with Thursby’ s revolver” (Delaney, 2014); the overall atmosphere of the film is dominated by uncertainty, deceit, and paranoia.

Moreover, camera work in this movie is characterized by dim close-ups and frequently crowded scenes that create an impression of entrapment. Another classical noir film released in 1955 is Kiss Me Deadly, which incorporates key elements of film noir genre. The protagonist is – again – a private detective surrounded by mysteries, threats, and women. Dark lighting, multiple murders, romantic affairs, lies, and suspense – these are the most obvious noir features characterizing this movie.

The detective in the movie is a “ redemptive figure” , as in most noir movies (Hill, 1995, p. 148). Moreover, this paranoia movie seems to reflect the Cold War as a confrontation between America and USSR and fear of nuclear weapons typical for American society.

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