37. Film Noir and the Gothic

  1. Charles L. Crow
  1. David Fine

Published Online: 13 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch37

A Companion to American Gothic

A Companion to American Gothic

How to Cite

Fine, D. (2013) Film Noir and the Gothic, in A Companion to American Gothic (ed C. L. Crow), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch37

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 SEP 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 NOV 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470671870

Online ISBN: 9781118608395



  • Gothicism;
  • Expressionism;
  • film noir;
  • Ufa Studios;
  • Weimar Republic;
  • Vienna Secessionists;
  • mis-en-scene;
  • chiaroscuro;
  • Fritz Lang;
  • Robert Siodmak


This chapter examines the gothic features in American film noir of the 1940s. The Gothic Revival found expression in all the arts, but the concern here is to trace its kinship with German gothic cinema of the first three decades of the twentieth century. While there are native sources to film noir – cultural, literary, and filmic – the closest kinship derives from the presence in Hollywood of dozens of refugee filmmakers, who in the wake of Hitler's rise to power left Germany, many to find employment in Hollywood just at the time film noir was establishing itself. They brought with them from Berlin methods, techniques, and styles of filmmaking – in particular distortive camera work and experimental lighting practices – that were well-suited to film noir's dark mood, shadowy urban streets and interiors, and themes of deception, entrapment and fate.