The nineteen-thirties and forties were a dark time in American history -- the Great Depression saw most people doing what they could to elk out a living (be it legal or less than legal) while the shadow of World War II loomed large and dark until it could no longer be ignored, and America saw itself entering into a war of almost biblical proportions. It comes as no surprise then that a great number of movies made during this time period reflected the murky and pessimistic atmosphere that permeated throughout the world, and gave us the distinct and thrilling genre known as "film noir".
One of the most distinctive and easily recognizable genres in the history of cinema, film noir employs harsh contrasts between light and shadow, mist-mantled scenery, askew camera angles, and rich symbolism to tell dark, violent tales that follow the lives of all sorts of sordid and tragic characters -- the sardonic private eye, the fast-talking gangster, the seductive femme fatal, the tragic and outmatched everyone, these characters and others take that long and violent journey into the darkness, and very few of them come out at the end better off than they were at the beginning.
Owning to its immense popularity, film noir boasts a staggering amount of films to its genre -- some of them classics, others not so memorable. This list focuses on the former over the latter, and provides one with a decent "starting point" for any and all interested in the film noir genre.