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This semidocumentary approach characterized a substantial number of noirs in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
"We'd be oversimplifying things in calling film noir oneiric, strange, erotic, ambivalent, and cruel […]"—this set of attributes constitutes the first of many attempts to define film noir made by French critics Raymond Borde and Étienne Chaumeton in their 1955 book Panorama du film noir américain 1941–1953 (A Panorama of American Film Noir), the original and seminal extended treatment of the subject.
) is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly such that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.
Hollywood's classical film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s.
Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key, black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography.
Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Great Depression.