Film noir focuses on characters who are driven by vices such as lust, greed, and envy, but it usually takes a non-linear approach in revealing those motivations.
Detective stories are one of the most frequent forms of film noir. 1941's The Maltese Falcon and 1946's The Big Sleep have become the flagship examples of film noir, as the detective story allows for the narrative twists and turns that are synonymous with the genre; indeed, crime tales would be lost without them. However, film noir also relies upon other protagonists, including journalists, psychiatrists, and even criminals, all of whom risk becoming irrevocably tainted by their experiences.
Often (but not always) relying upon black and white filming techniques, film noirs present their characters, plots and settings in a sort of timeless unreality. This is perhaps best evidenced in Orson Welles's 1947 film, The Lady from Shanghai, which features a memorable shootout in a funhouse's disorientating hall of mirrors, which was an unusual but strangely accepted sequence to feature in the film.
However, while the film noir genre has generated a selection of seminal, popular works, some have gone criminally overlooked...