Yet this list is not exhaustive. Thrillers such as This Gun for Hire, The Big Sleep and The Lady in the Lake are as much part of the genre as are the more experimental Call Northshid 777, The House on the 92nd Street and The Naked City. Whatmore, compounding the problem of definition of film noir are the various renowned directors who have embraced the genre. Household names like Billy Wilder, John Huston, Otto Preminger, Robert Siodmak and Fritz Lang have all contributed to film noir. These luminous directors have not merely restricted themselves to film noir but have acquired fame for works in other genres. Hence classification on the basis of director groupings is also inadequate in defining film noir. Perhaps the only definitive quality is that the genre came into its own in the decade after the Second World War. It was an era of morose and confusion, as people (both in the United States and Europe) were grappling with evil tendencies in human nature – something film noir faithfully captures. In my opinion, authors Borde and Chaumeton do a commendable job of attempting to define the genre. They lay out the broader categories into which it falls, which incidentally complicate the problem. Finally, their definition of the genre in terms of its emotional effects on the audience – the state of tension and a specific psychological alienation imposed on the spectator – is something I agree with.
The author begins by acknowledging the difficulties in defining film noir. Contrasting it with other established genres like horror or western, Schrader reckons that the differentiating quality of film noir is its subtle yet dark tone and mood. More than qualities inherent to the film, its periodic setting and its production in the forties and early fifties are better markers of the genre. There were four key socio-political conditions during this period which were instrumental in the birth of film noir. The first was