The Depression began in the early 1930's and brought about many social changes. A few changes that are very important include the different gender roles that women began taking on during World War II, the change in family values during and after the war, and the change in the mood of our country during that time period. These changes were greatly reflected in the sub-genre, or the mood of film noir, also known as black film. Film noir was seen not as a genre within itself, but as a sub-genre off the Crime/Gangster Genre of the 1930's. It was developed during and after World War II and took advantage of the post-war mood of anxiety, pessimism, and suspicion. .
After World War II the men returned home and were shocked to see women independently working outside the home, and taking on other male roles that were needed by them during the war. The men were very threatened by this and felt as if women were challenging their dominance. In film noir women were generally independent and had their own agenda on mind. For example in the Maltese Falcon Miss Oshaughnessy asked for help from Sam the detective. In the beginning she appeared to be the Damsel in Distress but really ended up being against Sam from the start. This was because she had her own personal motives, and was just manipulating Sam into helping her get what she wanted. .
The war also caused anxiety for the people of the 1930's. Film Noir made women out to be evil, which was said to be caused by the post-traumatic stress disorder. This is one example of how women's characters were on screen. They were usually called femme fatales who were mysterious, beautiful, and irresponsible. One example of this in film noir is Double Indemnity. Phyllis uses her sexuality to win over the heart of Insurance Salesmen Walter Neff. She then uses him to get rid of her husband. Film noir features many films with murderous wives that seduce men to get what they want.