Live Better through Film: Life Lessons from Noir Movies

1940s noir films are great guides to better living. Here's how

Credit: Flickr/drmvm1

Life lessons from Double Indemnity: Sharp coat, fine hat and a nicely trussed corpse – not your own, ideally

Film has always been known for its ability to reflect life back in something of an educational way. But film noir is especially adept at illustrating the good life

If you haven’t seen Double Indemnity, Laura, The Postman Always Rings Twice or any of the other classics of the 1940s American film genre known as noir, you may not know that in addition to pistol-packing dames, witty repartee, and hats for everyone, these films give you great ideas for how to improve your life, noir style

Want a better love life, a simple home, or a classic wardrobe? These movies show you how. Here are some lessons I’ve learned.

Life Lessons for Gals

  • Best not to get involved with the guy who killed your husband, even if it was an accident.
  • A hat with a veil is useful, especially if said husband has just popped off and you aren’t particularly sorry.
  • Good manners will take you far. When the police arrive to interrogate you, a cool “How do you do, gentlemen?” will put them in their place.
  • When you travel, take only one small suitcase, but be sure to wear a great suit and heels.

Better Living for Guys

  • If your new girlfriend has a great idea to off her husband with your help, it is probably not the best start to the relationship.
  • Always keep writing paper and envelopes in your desk drawer, in case you need to write an impromptu confession.
  • Living in a rented, furnished, one-room place can actually be kinda cool.
  • Fedoras always add to a man’s allure, even if he is short and weird-looking. Maybe especially so.
  • Don’t bother locking your car, bolting your door, or buying more than one suit.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to drink a nice refreshing beer in your car, so long as you’re stopped at a drive-in restaurant.

But Seriously…

What do noir films really teach us about life? Style is always sexy. It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you do with it. Witty repartee will take you pretty far in life, as will a good coat of lipstick.

Meanwhile, when you have the chance, take the bus or the train, not your car. After all, you never know just who you might meet.