Marlene Dietrich , an actress frequently called upon to play a femme fatale The aesthetics of film noir are influenced by German Expressionism , an artistic movement of the s and s that involved theater, photography, painting, sculpture and architecture, as well as cinema. The opportunities offered by the booming Hollywood film industry and then the threat of Nazism , led to the emigration of many film artists working in Germany who had been involved in the Expressionist movement or studied with its practitioners. Movies of his such as 20, Years in Sing Sing and Private Detective 62 are among the early Hollywood sound films arguably classifiable as noir—scholar Marc Vernet offers the latter as evidence that dating the initiation of film noir to or any other year is "arbitrary". Edeson later photographed The Maltese Falcon , widely regarded as the first major film noir of the classic era. Films of his such as Shanghai Express and The Devil Is a Woman , with their hothouse eroticism and baroque visual style, anticipated central elements of classic noir. The commercial and critical success of Sternberg's silent Underworld was largely responsible for spurring a trend of Hollywood gangster films.
His father was in the printing business,  and helped Black get an interest in hardboiled fiction, such as the works of Mickey Spillane and the Matt Helm series. While Black had a long history writing comic strips, short stories, and journalism, only during his senior year did he decide to make a living from it once his classmate Fred Dekker showed him a science fiction script he did for an assignment. Eventually he asked for financial support of his parents during the six-month development of a script, The Shadow Company, a supernatural thriller set in Vietnam. This attracted 20th Century Fox executives, who were interested in having Black rewrite scripts. During the rewrites, Black asked producer Joel Silver for a small acting role in another film Silver was preparing at the time, Predator , a film for which Black also made uncredited contributions to the script.