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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thom Andersen in 2009

Film gris ([filmɡʁi], French for "grey film"[1]), a term coined by experimental filmmaker Thom Andersen, is a type of film noir which categorizes a unique series of films that were released between 1947 and 1951. They came in the context of the first wave of the communist investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee, often made by associates, fellow travellers and supporters of the convicted Hollywood Ten.[2][3]

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Thematic elements

Films gris offer a leftist criticism[4] of society in general, and of capitalism in particular. They typically examine such themes as the psychological damages of class, the false promises of middle class happiness, and the pitfalls of materialism.[5] The politically-active John Garfield was frequently cast by producing partner Bob Roberts as the leading actor in this sub-genre.

Distinction from film noir

Film gris differs from film noir in some of the following ways:

  • Film gris is more pessimistic and cynical than film noir. The dividing line between crime and law enforcement is often blurred.
  • Films gris tend to blame society for crime, rather than the individual.
  • Audience identification is often with the collective in a way atypical of Hollywood films.
  • The femme fatale’s motives are more obvious and easier to identify than in film noir.[6]

List of films gris

Andersen identifies the following[7] as films gris:[1]

List of film gris directors

See also


  • Andersen, Thom. "Red Hollywood." Literature and the Visual Arts in Contemporary Society. Eds. Suzanne Ferguson and Barbara S. Groseclose. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. (1985).
  • Hirsch, Joshua. "Film Gris Reconsidered." The Journal of Popular Film and Television 34.2. (2006).
  • Maland, Charles. "Film Gris: Crime, Critique, and Cold War Culture in 1951." Film Criticism 26.3. (2002).


  1. ^ a b 10 essential films from the 'Film gris' era|Far Out Magazine
  2. ^ "Film Gris": Crime, Critique and Cold War Culture in 1951 on JSTOR
  3. ^ "Same essay on" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  4. ^ Rehabilitating the Hollywood Left in Thom Andersen and Noël Burch’s Red Hollywood (1996/2014) - Senses of Cinema
  5. ^ "Un-American" Hollywood: Politics and Film in the Blacklist Era edited by Frank Krutnik, Steve Neale, Brian Neve, Peter Stanfield-Google Books
  6. ^ Historical Dictionary of Film Noir by Andrew Spicer-Google Books
  7. ^ MUBI
This page was last edited on 14 April 2024, at 19:37
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