March 2011
Film Noir
Billie Silvey
Black and
Noir Detectives
Morality of Noir
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity,
History, Culture and the Arts--and anything else
that comes to mind.
When I was growing up, the world of pictures
was black and white.  
Photographs, movies and
TV shows were all in black and white.  Some
people wanted to change things.  My father, for
instance, tinted some of our black and white
photos with a light brush of color, but it never
looked quite right—sort of like
Ted Turnerâ
colorized black-and-white movies.

Most tried to make the best of what they had—
increasing the contrast for a sharper black and
white image or softening into shades of gray.

Partly, it was a matter of economy.  Black-and-
white film was cheaper.  When I started taking
pictures with my
Brownie box camera, almost all
the drug store stocked was black-and-white
film.  If you wanted the more expensive colored,
you had to ask for it.

When I studied photography at Pepperdine, we
learned to process black-and-white film and
print black-and-white photos.  Black and white
was particularly good for contrast, light and
shade and texture.

The first TV my parents owned was black-and-
white.  You knew what the colors were because
that was what you saw in your mind.  Frank's
and my first few TVs were black-and-white as
well.  The sets were much cheaper and tended
to be smaller and more portable--more suitable
for students than the big pieces of furniture that
included color TV and radio and a record player
my parents owned by that time.

At one time, even the art in our apartment was
black and white--charcoal drawings, gray

Most movies were black-and-white.  Even
though Hollywood made big musicals with
colorful production numbers, Oscars were
awarded for Best Art Direction in black-and-
white as well as color until 1966.   

When I was growing up, the world was black
and white in another sense as well.  People were
either good or bad.  Maybe it was just that we
were children, and maybe it was the times.  But
there were heroes and villains, and you always
knew who the good guys were.  The good guys
wore white hats and rode white horses.

Other articles in this website include
Film Noir,
Noir Detectives and the Morality of Noir.

I'd like to hear your thoughts about a black-and-
white world, film noir and the detective books
and films in that style.  Just write me at