Film Noir is a cinematic term used to describe Hollywood crime thrillers and dramas, though their stylistic roots can be traced back to early silent German cinema, in films like The Cabinet of Dr Calligari, Nosferatu, and The Man Who Laughs. Interestingly The Man who Laughs was one of the sources sited by Bob Kane when creating Batman, which is know for its Film Noir style lighting in the comic books.
One of the masters of this style of cinema was Fritz Lang. His work, was not only part of the German expressionism movement in cinema, with films such as, the Dr Mabuse trilogy, (parts 1 and 2), Woman in the Moon, and 'M'. He also worked in America using his signature style in directing Film Noir pieces such as Scarlet Street.
Though his most famous and probably most influential work, would have to be Metropolis. The style of this can be classed as noir, and was a major influence on Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. A more recent Noiresque movie.
Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Great Depression.
The term film noir, French for "black film" (literal) or "dark film" (closer meaning) Cinema historians and critics defined the category retrospectively. Before the notion was widely adopted in the 1970s, many of the classic films noir[a] were referred to as "melodramas". Whether film noir qualifies as a distinct genre is a matter of ongoing debate among scholars.