Okay, I’m sure you’re thinking what does the best of film noir have to do with Memorial Day? Please believe me, I would never do anything to mock Memorial Day (see more below). But I thought it would be interesting to examine film noir in the lens of veterans and war, because after all, film noir as a genre grew out of the feelings and sentiments at the end of World War II.
The Best of Film Noir – A Growing Darkness In American Film
In the aftermath of World War II, many American films began showing the dark themes that we now associate with film noir. Even movies about the war took on darker tones, dealing with people being conflicted about the war and uncertainty about the future (for an excellent treatise on this, read this post). Americans were suspicious and anxious, and they didn’t generally have a positive outlook about the future…and the stories reflected this…
The Best of Film Noir – Veterans As Noir Heroes
It’s no wonder that noir heroes were frequently veterans of war. War often leads to feelings of isolation, distrust, despair, paranoia and more. And these are classic characteristics of noir heroes. We see these same characteristics in the neo-noir genre of the 1970s, as America dealt with the aftermath of the Vietnam War. But as we indie authors know, these type of conflicted heroes make some of the best characters, which is why they show up in film noir…
The Best of Film Noir – Some Film Noir With Veterans
Here is just a sampling of film noir that has a veteran as the noir hero (some are lesser-known films). They are worth watching, keeping in mind the horror that the noir hero witnessed, horror that ultimately shaped his life.
Blue Dahlia – a war veteran deals with the mysterious murder of his unfaithful wife
Detour – war veteran piano player hitchhikes to California to be with his girl, but things go awry
Backfire – a wounded veteran sets out to clear his friend, who is accused of murder
Thieves’ Highway – a war veteran truck driver vows revenge against the produce dealers who crippled his father
Ride The Pink Horse – a war veteran plans to extort money from a prominent gangster as retribution for the death of a friend
Dead Reckoning – a soldier runs away rather than receive the Medal of Honor; love and death soon follow
The Chase – an unemployed veteran gets a job as chauffeur for a gangster, but his involvement with the man’s wife becomes a nightmare
I’m sure I’ve left many films off the list. If you’ve seen any of these, let me know what you think of them…
On this Memorial Day, I hope you have a wonderful time. I also hope you take a moment to think about those who lost their lives in military service for our country. For those of you who read my blog, you’ll know I have two family members who lost their lives in military service (read The Meaning of Memorial Day for Me). We all owe our fallen veterans a debt; without them we would not enjoy the freedoms we have.