This book explores the development of film noir as a cultural and artistic phenomenon. This book traces the development of what we know as film noir from the proto-noir elements of Feuillade's silent French crime series and German Expressionism to the genre's mid-20th century popularization and influence on contemporary global media. By employing experimental lighting effects, oblique camera angles, distorted compositions, and shifting points-of-view, film noir's style both creates and comments upon a morally adumbrated world, where the alienating effects of the uncanny, the fetishistic, and the surreal dominate. What drew original audiences to film noir is an immediate recognition of this modern social and psychological reality. Much of the appeal of film noir concerns its commentary on social anxieties, its cynical view of political and capitalist corruption, and its all-too-brutal depictions of American modernity. This book examines the changing, often volatile shifts in representations of masculinity and femininity, as well as the genre's complex relationship with Afro-American culture, observable through noir's musical and sonic experiments.Concluding with extensive bibliographies, filmographies, recommended noir film viewing, and a reflective chapter by Alain Silver and James Ursini on their own influential studies and collections on film noir criticism, this book offers students and scholars of Film Studies a scholarly, cultural and aesthetic history of the genre. It traces the history of film noir from its aesthetic antecedents through its mid-century popularization to its influence on contemporary global media. It discusses the influence of literary and artistic sources on the development of film noir. It includes guides to further reading and recommended viewing.