This year film noir turns 70. While there had been some intermittent films leading up to the birth of the classic noir, in 1944 the dahlia bloomed with six key films: DOUBLE INDEMINTY, LAURA, MURDER MY SWEET, PHANTOM LADY, WHEN STRANGERS MARRY, and THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW. In these films you have many of the key figures in noir making some of their first forays into the genre (directors Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, and Robert Siodmak; writers Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich, Vera Caspary, Phillip Yordan; actors Robert Mitchum, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Bennett, Dana Andrews—just to name a few). This onslaught of darkness came in the wake of the bleakest days (from the American perspective, anyway) of WWII. The basis of many of these films were older properties but it is the way these films came out—physically darker, psychologically denser, and ultimately more pessimistic—that marks the real birth of film noir. Over at Criminal Element I'm kicking off a new series which will explore these six landmark films.
First up DOUBLE INDEMNITY.