SCOPE NOIR

Crime Thriller Cinema

Black-Widow-1954-20th-Century-FoxWhen we think of film noir we habitually think black-and-white cinematography. We also think of the classic 1:37 aspect ratio, which translates to a square shape, or, at the very least, the subsequent standard 1:85 aspect ratio, which is slightly rectangular. Nevertheless, there were not only a number of color noir thrillers produced during the 1940s and 1950s, but there were even a select number of noirs photographed in anamorphic CinemaScope.

Nunnally Johnson’s glossy crime melodrama Black Widow (20th Century-Fox 1954) has the luxury of both DeLuxe Color and CinemaScope, and the staging (below two frames), as typical of 1954 ‘scope productions, is designed to emphasize that anamorphic format.

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The following year, Samuel Fuller directed House of Bamboo for Fox on location in Japan, and DeLuxe Color/CinemaScope were again the chosen formats, although the hard lighting and shadows are reminiscent of monochromatic cinematography.

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In 1955, Warner Bros. remade Raoul Walsh’s…

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