PAUSE IT: What do you see? A woman (Joan Bennett) moves through an open door in director Fritz Lang’s Secret Beyond the Door. Yet, as is the case in noir, one must never mistake a doorway for an exit — for, in noir, there is no escape. Mournful, stark, and wicked, this is the essence of film noir. Obscured in chiaroscuro lighting, her figure is cast in silhouette. Deep black shadows imply a doomed fate and a brooding pessimism typical of these films. It is true that much debate has consumed the annals of film study and criticism as to what exactly film noir is (or is not). Is it a genre, a style, an era, or a state of mind? While we at Olive Films do not claim to have all the answers, we do wish to draw your attention to the wonderful films and filmmakers that have been working in and around film noir since its inception over seventy years ago. What is it about these films with their fog-lit streets, hardboiled wisecracks, roughnecks, scoundrels, and femme fatal that has held our attention for so long? Is it their stories of moral ambiguity, greed, and lust? Or maybe, just maybe, is it simply that the mark of a truly great noir is that it offers more questions than it does answers?

For more on all things film noir keep glued to this page all month long. Be sure to also check out Secret Beyond the Door and our other Olive noir favorites.    

Secret Beyond the Door (1947)
Director: Fritz Lang
Cast: Joan Bennett, Michael Redgrave, Anne Revere
Cinematography by: Stanley Cortez

Available from Olive Films on DVD and Blu-ray.