CINEMA: THE THREE FACES OF EVIL

A FRENCH CHARLATAN AND TWO MEXICAN KILLERS PUT THE NOIR BACK IN FILM

Noir! The very word sounds like a French lion's growl. In its undiluted form, film noir (named after Serie Noir, a French publisher's line of crime novels) is tart and murky, like cheap Parisian coffee, and as mean as any Marseilles street a gangster could skulk down. These dank moral tales are about the evil that taints everyone--especially the hero, who must end up dead or disgraced. This disqualifies Hollywood neo-noir like L.A. Confidential, where at the fade-out two guys and a gal grin as if they'd just seen Singin' in the Rain. In true noir there is no reprieve.

Maybe...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!