Classic Film Noir research- The Killers

The Killers (1946)

  • Fast paced music-contrapuntal
  • Gangster inspector looking characters
  • Chiaroscuro high contrast lighting
  • Tense music- Suspicion
  • Violence – Gun fight
  • Light directs eyes to where to look
  • Murder
  • Flashbacks
  • Old fashioned props
  • Mysterious men
  • Black and white
  • Fade to black scenes
  • Long edits to drag out the tension
  • Made up women
  • The music changes and the enemy walks in

In The Killers classic film noir characteristics were used, for example the black and white was very dark and at the time there was no colour in films which is why black and white was used. In many scenes chiaroscuro was used this is a high contrast in light. This shows the different attitudes in the film and could mirror the main characters personalities.  The darkness in the film relate to the pessimism of the time.

There was use of long shadows to emphasize the enigma in the scene and to highlight the characters importance. The shots are mainly outside in the dark which is a parallel to the dark plot.

There is a male voiceover and use of flashbacks in the film which is a common quality of classic film noir films. The voice is of ‘Sam’ one of the characters show what is happening and of the old man as he waits for ‘swede’.

The film made use of femme fatale where ‘Kitty’ the beautiful women who make ‘Swede’ fall for her and do exactly what she wants ends up leaving him. Femme fatale is when a woman uses her charm of seduction to make the male do what she wants and then ends in a fatalistic way.

The use of old fashioned props were to show the age in which the film was set and by using props such as old cars and old objects relate to the time period of about the 40/50’s when the film was set.

Different camera shots were used throughout the film. They use hierarchy of status when Ava Gardner was standing by the piano. She was in the foreground in comparison to ‘Swede’ and ‘Lily’ was in the background showing that kitty had more importance and the fact that ‘Swede’ was staring at her suggests that she is the beautiful unfaithful femme fatale.  Omni-scient scenes were used so the audience can see what is going on and can create dramatic irony as the audience know something the characters don’t. However this can also create suspense as in the scene in The Killers where ‘Kitty’ is in the restaurant trying to hide from ‘Sam’, we see an objective shot where we can see everyone. In other shots close ups were used to emphasize the characters expressions and show the audience how they feel. This is 1/5 noir research  that I have done.


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