The long shadow of Weimar stretched over time and distance, between Berlin in the ’20s and Hollywood in the ’40s, from “Caligari” and “The Blue Angel” to “Scarlet Street” and “Double Indemnity.” As the film historian Gerd Gemünden writes,
The sensibility of the films which would later be labeled noir certainly entertains close affinities to the sense of loss and cultural despair which many German language exile filmmakers experienced in 1930s and 40s America. These films frequently revolve around questions of (war) trauma, psychosis, memory, and amnesia, split or doubled identity, featuring men driven from their home, outsiders who cannot comprehend the political and social forces that determine their existence. . . .
Starting with Fritz Lang, one of the master filmmakers of Weimar Berlin, author of the silent classics “Metropolis” and “M,” the German émigrés had to varying degrees fallen under the influence of German Expressionism and the “objective,” or documentary,