Film noir has never been clearly defined as a style, genre, or attitude – like pornography, we just know it when we see it. Some of the best use cynical storytelling inside of abstract shot construction and lighting to make the inner turmoil of its detectives and dames into visual reality.
Anthony Mann’s noir Raw Deal has been attributed with some of the richest cinematography in the genre outside of Citizen Kane. Director of photography John Alton blends realism and ultra-stylization into an otherworldly mix of someone lost at the bottom of the social ladder.
Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López have created a video essay for Mubi that delves into how these visuals endeavor to explore psychology through intense light and shadow, expressionistic sets, and disturbing combinations of motion and sound.