What is the film noir, exactly? Where and when did it originate, and why? Pools of critical ink have been spilt trying to answer these questions, and several generations of film critics and theorists, caught in noir’s web of fascination, have offered a range of different, even contradictory, answers.As we’ve demonstrated, the question only becomes more complicated when noir is approached as an international phenomenon crossing genre and media, hybridizing local aesthetic traditions and transnational cultural influences.Amidst the global flows of culture and commodities, the specific characteristics of film noir blur into other artistic genres and histories, and become impossible to establish finally. Film noir is no game for purists. In an important sense, film noir – as a stable collection of cinematic objects with identifiable properties – does not exist. Put less certainly, film noir is not any one thing, but rather a heterogeneous phenomenon that tells us as much about the nature of genre and the history of film criticism as it does about the dark essence of melodrama or crime thrillers.