Welcome to this website, dedicated to the life and works of Nino Frank


Nino Frank is well known to English-speaking readers as the critic who first drew attention to the "noir" undercurrent in 1940s Hollywood crime films. It is less widely known that his years as a film critic and scriptwriter were informed by his earlier life as writer, literary critic and Paris editor of two ambitious, if shortlived, international magazines – the French­ language Italian journal "900" ['Twentieth Century'] and the French journal Bifur. In 1928 he was exiled from his native Italy because in accepting articles from leftwing writers he appeared to be defying Fascism; he had to learn to write in French and gain employment as a French journalist. He became well-known as an essayist and raconteur, painting pen-portraits of the famous, and worked with James Joyce on an Italian translation of part of Finnegan's Wake.

This memoir recounts the main outlines of his life and work from the 1920s to the 1940s, and his first experiences of the European modernism which would become his inspiration. The final chapters give an appraisal of his famous article of August 1946, from which derives the expression 'film noir', and of subsequent re-interpretations of this concept by later generations of critics. At the centre of Frank's original article was the inference that in 1940s Hollywood, some directors were 'smuggling' into entertainment films depictions of important aspects of real life to which the authorities would rather not admit. For him, there was a serious purpose behind films which were "noirs"; and I argue that this was not a chance connection, but one which went right to the heart of the literary culture – in particular, the culture of between-wars Paris – which was Frank's true home.

M. E. Holmes, Ph.D.