Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.


Foucault, Coen, Wilder, Scott, Johnson


America's embrace of film noir came swift and furiously, the popularity of noir exists even in contemporary cinema. I would like to explore the implications as to why film noir has become one of the truest forms of American Cinema, perhaps even exceeding the western, as well as the reasoning as to why the American people have exalted a type of genre which is known primarily for its ties with human vice and depravity. In this investigation of the populations intrigue with noir I will address instances in select noir films that illustrate specific moments of the philosophical frame works of Michel Foucault. Through the application of these frameworks of thought I believe evidence can be found linking Film noir to primal human urges and desires that were initially discussed within the writings of these two philosophers.

Throughout the evolution of cinema over the last 70 years, America has seen an abundance of reconditioned plots and outlines of classically structured stories. Film noir does not escape this refurbishment. With the collapse of the original Hollywood studio system as well as the infamous black list era, the ideology of Film making in America shifted enormously. This shift allowed cinema to reach into the postmodernist conditioning that had already been applied to literature and stage craft. The shift into postmodernism allowed for extraordinarily interesting developments in the genre of Film noir. Perhaps the most noted of these developments was that noir was no longer just a genre; it had become an actual ideology for telling a cinematic story. This is exemplified with the emergence of noir sensibilities throughout multiple contrasting film genres.

This is illustrated throughout the arrival of such categories as the Science Fiction Noir, and most recently the genre of Neo-Noir. Neo-Noir is also home to the films that have attempted to satirize or parody the initial sensibilities of the original classic noir genre. The exploration of these new evolutions of noir constructed genres is of vast importance of understanding America's embrace of Film noir as a whole.