Quotes (1940s Film Noir – #AtoZChallenge)

Film noir uses a very characteristic form of dialogue. We all know that noir privet detectives are streetwise, disillusioned and wisecracking, as well as we know that femme fatales are sensual and smooth anything they say.

Dialogue was very important in film noir, because, as much as the plot relied on action, some of this action happened in dialogues. In fact, dialogue was one of film noir secret weapons, one of those means filmmakers used so to replace more lavish formed of filmmaking which they could not afford or addressed adult matters which the Hays Could would not allow.

So, as it happened, film noir transformed a limitation into one of its strongest features.




Is there anything more entertaining than a #FilmNoir dialogue? Click To Tweet




The Third Man (1950) by Carol Reed
Set in postwar Vienna, Austria, “The Third Man” stars Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a writer of pulp Westerns, who arrives penniless as a guest of his childhood chum Harry Lime (Orson Welles), only to find him dead. Martins develops a conspiracy theory after learning of a “third man” present at the time of Harry’s death, running into interference from British officer Maj. Calloway (Trevor Howard) and falling head-over-heels for Harry’s grief-stricken lover, Anna (Alida Valli). (Google synopsis)

To Have and Have Not (1948) by Howard Hawks
In Vichy France, fishing boat captain Harry (Humphrey Bogart) avoids getting involved in politics, refusing to smuggle French Resistance fighters into Martinique. But when a Resistance client is shot before he can pay, Harry agrees to help hotel owner Gerard (Marcel Dalio) smuggle two fighters to the island. Harry is further swayed by Slim (Lauren Bacall), a wandering American girl, and when the police take his friend Eddie (Walter Brennan) hostage, he is forced to fight for the Resistance. (Google synopsis)


No Film School – The Stylistic Elements of Film Noir
School Media Arts – Characteristics of Film Noir
Understanding Media – Primary Characteristics and Conventions of Film Noir


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1940s Film Noir - QUOTES (AtoZ Challenge 2017) - Dialogue was very important in film noir, because, as much as the plot relied on action, some of this action happened in dialogues. In fact, dialogue was one of film noir secret weapons

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About the Author

I was born, raised and I still live near Verona (Italy), though I worked for a time in Dublin. I started writing fantasy stories as a kid. Today I’m a bookseller who reads fantasy, history, mythology, anthropology and lots of speculative fiction. Somehow, all of this has found its way into my own dieselpunk stories.

26 Comments on "Quotes (1940s Film Noir – #AtoZChallenge)"

  1. you had me at that photo of Orson Welles 😀

    joy @ The Joyous Living

  2. 😀 Loved these! Especially the whistle!

    Impromptu Promptlings
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  3. I often listen to Audio Noir, which features old detective radio shows. I have heard several Harry Lime episodes.
    Kristin recently posted…Lewis PiersonMy Profile

    • Audio Noir. I want to chack that out. I’ve never listen to noir radio show, though I know there are a few places on the net where they are available. Sounds like fun.

  4. Fun clips. The Robert Mitchum one is great. 🙂
    Sara C. Snider recently posted…A to Z Herbarium: QuinceMy Profile

  5. Hi Sarah – these are all fascinating – and would be wonderful to see … I’ve probably seen newer versions – while these all have such excellent actors/actresses appearing in them – fantastic … I’ll enjoy going through the clips you’ve included – once the A-Z is over … thanks – wonderful voices … cheers Hilary

    Hilary Melton-Butcher recently posted…Q is for Quirky Quizzy facts and Quaggas …My Profile

  6. Always delivered so well – these actors should never be forgotten.

    @Raesquiggles – Queen’s coronation – Westminster Abbey
    The Quiet Writer
    Raesquiggles recently posted…Queen’s coronation – Westminster Abbey #atozchallengeMy Profile

    • We tend to discradite them, don’t you think? We tend to think they’ve done all stuff and today’s filmmaking and acting is a lot better.
      Not so, not always 😉

  7. Oh, that ‘whistle’ scene is classic, isn’t it? Among other things, it shows the way that dialogue was used to convey innuendo, threat, or other things without actually saying anything that would’ve been censored. It took real talent to do that!

    • I agree. Besides, I’m a great promoter of innuendo in all kinds of storytelling. It’s a risky technique, I know, the audince may not catch the gist, but costructing the innuendo in an accessible way is the ‘art’ part of it 😉

  8. Oh, I thought you were referring to the rapid fire delivery of films such as “His Girl Friday” (which isn’t actually Noir anyway) but now I see what you mean. Yeah, this is good, too. 🙂
    CD Gallant-King recently posted…Q – Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nations BandMy Profile

  9. Ah yes, there are many great scenes and quotes from Film Noir. That gal in the Big Sleep(who was in Strangers on a Train and later Mrs. Tate in Bewitched) liked playing Trampy gals.
    Birgit recently posted…A To Z Challenge-Letter Q and Thursday Movie Picks-A DisappearnceMy Profile

  10. Nothing is more iconic than Noir dialogue. Bacall’s whistle description is quite erotic really–the pinnacle femme fatale performance.


    • Not a mere chance that noir dialogue is so popular and so imitated. It’s really crisp and fascinating, so suggestive, and because it is like so, it helps the viewer get intot he story, in my opinion.
      Those were some master writers.

  11. The Third Man–there’s one I haven’t thought about in a while.
    Jacqui recently posted…Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Quiet HorrorMy Profile

  12. Thoroughly enjoyed that scene from How to be Cool.

  13. Oh yes …
    Just perfect.

    I have to say the Orson Welles one reminded me of just how good he is.
    And just how good the film is.


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