Just like in the 1920s, American cities had an explosion during the 1940s with remarkably similar emotional results. Cities grew fast, irrationally, disorderly, and were therefore bound to cause the same kind of problems to people they had already caused twenty years before. The tremendous grow was caused by workers flocking to the cities called by the availability of jobs, which often involved war-related production.
If they offered huge new possibilities both in terms of job, experience and entertainments, these sprawling cities were also places of psychological alienation as human relations tended to be more difficult. People didn’t know each other as it used to be in small country towns. An uncomfortable number of men and women from all walks of life gathered in crowded neighbourhoods and sometimes they didn’t share the same beliefs, ways of life, origins, not even the same language. Feeling a stranger was easy in such places.
Crime and the underworld flourished. Industrialisation created a fertile environment for moving money and for corruption.
A man could find himself caught in games that were far bigger them him, especially if he was in a position of inferiority and insecurity. Even the sound of the city was alien and mechanic, similar to the unwelcoming grounding of the mill machines. It was confusing and belittling. A person could easily fill just a little cog in a machine too big to be completely seen and understood.
In short, the urban environment of these new cities was the perfect set for film noir.The new American city, modern and confusing, was the perfect set for #FilmNoir Click To Tweet
Pitfall (1948) by Andre DeToth
John Forbes is a family man who’s tired of the 9 to 5 humdrum of his job an insurance company executive. Life gets a little more exciting for him when he calls upon femme fatale Mona Stevens. Her boyfriend has robbed a store insured by Forbes’ company and has showered her with gifts using the loot. Forbes comes to collect the ill-gotten gifts, but the boyfriend is in jail, and Forbes falls hard for Mona and begins an affair. The only problem is that MacDonald, a private dick who freelances for the insurance company, has had his eyes on Mona first. The obsessed MacDonald turns the soon-to-be-released boyfriend against Forbes. (Movie Web synopsis)
Cindy Tsutsumi – 1940s American Film Noir