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The classification and cataloging of items seem to fulfill a basic need in human beings, whether it is vegetable, mineral or animal. It seems that this basic need to analyze and categorize items applies also to objets d’art, including film – and the recognition or dismissal of film noir as a genre has been argued since the term was coined. While the term itself is valid, film noir as a genre is a misnomer. More properly, film noir should be considered a style unto itself, but definitively not genre, defined by the very definitions of the words “style” and “genre”. We will limit our subject matter here to the classic film noir period of 1941-1958, recognizing that all modern noir variants seek to emulate this period. These modern films do not lack merit; however for purposes of defining and labeling noir the original defining elements are what matter. If classical film noir is a stylistic movement, then those films following that movement are, by definition, also a stylistic movement and likewise not genre.
The primary elements we need to examine when categorizing the phenomen…