75 Years of Film Noir, Part 1: Proto-Noir

Wednesday, October 7 – Wednesday, October 14

2015/2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the emergence of film noir and, since the hard-to-pin-down genre has played such a large role over the years here at the Brattle, we decided to give it a yearlong birthday party. Beginning on this calendar, we will be offering a film noir centered program on every Brattle schedule for a full year.

In the original French articles that identify film noir, The Maltese Falcon is the earliest film cited but it has since become clear that the genre really came together slightly earlier. It is now widely considered that the first true film noir is The Stranger on the Third Floor from 1940 and so we base our timeline around that film. In fact, the roots of noir go back even further – to some of the earliest feature films. In this PROTO-NOIR series we highlight some of the titles that have noir elements but pre-date the definition of the genre. Here you’ll find the chiaroscuro 1930s horror films of Universal (THE MUMMY and THE INVISIBLE MAN) as well as the classic Expressionist silent THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI; films by German directors like Fritz Lang and Josef von Sternberg, who emigrated to Hollywood and infused it with their unique style; the almost unbearable suspense and frightening violence of Alfred Hitchcock’s SABOTAGE; breezy private detective films starring William Powell; and even an appearance by one of film noir’s favorite sons, Humphrey Bogart. Please join us for this special series and stay tuned for the further plans as we launch this YEAR OF NOIR!

Please see below for full lineup and descriptions.


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Mummy

The Invisible Man


Little Caesar

The Devil Is a Woman

Shanghai Express

The Thin Man

Canceled: The Kennel Murder Case


You and Me

They Drive by Night