The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:15 pm

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NOIR REDUX: the Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)
LISTS ARE DUE BY NOVEMBER 13 (Out of the Past's birthday!)
EDIT: HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY: Lists now due one week later, November 20th!

The Rules of the Film Noir Redux List

01 Submit a list of no less and no more than fifty films, in ranked order, to me, domino harvey, via PM

02 Curious as to whether a given title counts as a noir? Debates on what constitutes a "noir" film can be made within this thread, but if you feel strongly for a contentious title, put it on your list. If enough people agree with you and it makes the list, then yep, it's a noir! HOWEVER, only films made up to and including 1969 will be eligible for your Top 50. Films made after 1969 are eligible for the optional Neo-Noir Mini-List, running concurrently (explanation below)

03 If you already submitted a list last time and I don't hear from you by deadline, I will check with you before compiling the final list in November to see if you'd like your old list to stand again (minus any films voted on made after 1969). But please consider using this new period of discussion and reflection to submit a new list with rankings that reflect your current tastes/exposure/&c

04 Though film noir is generally considered an American Genre, you may vote for foreign films in the top fifty, as long as they were released before 1970

Wait, what's this about a Neo-Noir List?
Running concurrently with the Noir Redux List will be a limited Neonoir List as well (10 submissions, 25 films in the overall tally). To participate:

01 Submit a list of TEN Neo-noir / Modern noir films in ranked order to me, domino harvey, via PM. Any film made after 1970 is eligible, so long as you believe it to be a noir. I love Chicago too, but it's really not a noir-- please consider the spirit of the thing when submitting

02 You may only submit a Neo-Noir List if you have/are submitting a regular 50 title Noir List. You may submit your Top 50 pre-1970 Noirs without submitting a Neo-Noir List, but you cannot submit a Neo-Noir List without submitting a Noir List


Member SPOTLIGHTS
Pre-1970 Noir List
A Kiss Before Dying (Gerd Oswald 1956) R1 MGM (OOP) (domino harvey)
Cause For Alarm (Tay Garnett 1951) No commercial release (YnEoS)
the Devil Thumbs a Ride (Felix Feist 1947) No commercial release (swo17)
the Gangster (Gordon Wiles 1947) R1 Warner Archives MOD (YnEoS)
Nocturne (Edwin L Marin 1946) Warner Archives MOD (A)
Non coupable / Not Guilty (Henri Decoin 1947) No commercial subbed release (A)
Riffraff (Ted Tetzlaff 1947) R1 Warner Archives MOD (domino harvey)
Too Late For Tears (Byron Haskin 1949) PD (RA Cohen Media coming soon) (essrog)
Union Station (Rudolph Maté 1950) R1/A Olive (life_boy)
the Web (Michael Gordon 1947) No commercial release (swo17)

Post-1970 Noir List
Phoenix (Christian Petzold 2015) RB Soda Pictures (zedz)

Spotlight titles from the first iteration of the project
SWAPSIES (procedure explained here)
Aroused (Anton Holden 1966) R1 DVD Something Weird (Matt)
Caged (John Cromwell 1950) R1 DVD Warner (domino harvey)
The Glass Cage (US: The Glass Tomb) (Montgomery Tully 1955) R1 DVD VCI (Dr Amicus)
the Hitch-Hiker (Ida Lupino 1953) PD title/ R1 Kino (zedz)
the Last Seduction (John Dahl 1994) R1 LionsGate (Murdoch)
Point Blank (John Boorman 1967) R1 Warner (Tom Hagen)
the Seventh Victim (Mark Robson 1943) R1 Warner (Cold Bishop)
Stranger on the Third Floor (Boris Ingster 1940) R2 DVD from Editions Montparnasse (tojoed)
For a guide to Film Noir, complete with DVD/Blu-ray listings, book recommendations, online resources, and more, visit this thread

The results of the previous round of voting can be found here
Last edited by domino harvey on Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:23 pm, edited 25 times in total.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#2 Post by tojoed » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:33 pm

Are we having a swapsie thing, Domino?
Either way, I'd like to suggest Ingster's "Stranger on the Third Floor" with Peter Lorre, an early example of the genre, with some brilliant photography, especially in the dream sequence.
It's not on DVD in the US or UK, but it turns up on TV occasionally and there's a DVD from Editions Montparnasse.
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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#3 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:37 pm

tojoed wrote:Are we having a swapsie thing, Domino?
I'm sure we could. If there's interest, I'd be happy to add those as well to the first post!

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#4 Post by Gregory » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:38 pm

I'm not necessarily trying to raise the question of whether noir is really a genre or rather a movement, style, etc. But I do think that if you made it a crime genre list, it would allow for interesting comparisons between films from a much longer time period, something that is not possible with the main list project. The final list would also be less likely to be the result of huge variations in people's notions of what is to be included, as it would be with noir.
I'm posting this here rather than in a PM in case anyone else wants to chime in on this idea.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#5 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:42 pm

I do see your point about renaming the genre, but I guess my thinking is: What noir film, even contentious titles, doesn't contain crime? But making a crime movie list then lets in, oh, I don't know, Quick Change or something equally unlikely to appear on a "noir" tally. I think "noir" is a more palatable catch-all and I'm trying to go out of my way to not invite arguments on what is or isn't noir (though this thread will be like, what, 75% just that :P ) via my Vote For It approach. Any noir list is definitely going to be contentious, but I don't want to limit the fluidity of this list-- indeed, I'm quite curious to see how the board ends up coming down on a lot of titles. I do hope however that attacks on contentious titles are kept to some sort of minimum. Petty bickering is the quickest way to make this one of those threads no one opens.

Also, I definitely need help compiling the books section on this, and any good links to noir-devoted blogs, etc

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#6 Post by Titus » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:22 pm

Gregory wrote:The final list would also be less likely to be the result of huge variations in people's notions of what is to be included, as it would be with noir.
I'm not sure that this will be a problem, because I would imagine most of the participants will ask for a ruling on titles they have questions about (perhaps that will stall discussions, due to half of this thread being devoted to what is and isn't a noir, but hopefully it won't be too problematic).

I think "crime genre" is just too broad. Perhaps a later list could be "gangster" or "organized crime," but crime in general seems like it would invite more problems than noir, with people questioning how high the crime "quotient" in the film had to be for it to qualify, and with the sheer number of films that would theoretically be applicable being an obstacle to investigating the genre in depth.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#7 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:37 pm

As I'm speculating on what a preliminary list would look like, there are definitely some auteurs who keep coming up for me:

Otto Preminger's three expert noirs with Gene Tierney, Laura, Whirlpool, and Where the Sidewalk Ends are in contention (though I doubt there'll be room for the last one on my list). I'd like to make as special plea for the beautiful Whirlpool, as it was the first noir I ever did see! And certainly Angel Face too will find a place in the upper tiers of my list, a film with as nasty a finish as Hollywood ever allowed. As for his other noirs, well, Fallen Angel has its fans and I have 13th Letter in my unwatched pile-- I'll definitely comment on it here (or more likely, in the Preminger thread) when I get around to it.

Robert Siodmak also has three great noirs I could see placing on my list. The Killers, sure, but what of the Spiral Staircase, with its grand theatrics of shadowplay? And speaking of grand theatrics, Phantom Lady, while flawed, has several inescapable sequences that rattle around the mind more than most polished offerings. Try to forget Ella Raines stairing down the bartender, or the most explicit music-as-sex scene ever! Criss Cross is all right, but I enjoyed it more as a companion piece to Soderbergh's remake. Any of Siodmak's other noirs worth seeking out?

Fritz Lang's The Blue Gardenia and The Big Heat, both released in 1953, are an excellent contrast in tone. One gentle and alluring, the other nasty and vicious, both are brilliant works and the Blue Gardenia surely has a spot in my Top 10. Don't count out the Woman in the Window either. I prefer it to Scarlet Street, though I doubt it will fare as well in the final tally. I have quite a few more Lang noirs to enjoy, so there might be even more of him in my list than I anticipate!

Jules Dassin's Night and the City will probably be the only Dassin to make my list, but I have great affection for Brute Force, with its spectacular acts of violence; The Naked City does nothing for me (few of the noir procedurals do) and while I like Thieves' Highway, I do prefer the Ronald Reagan/Ann Sheridan socialist drama of Juke Girl to it-- but then again, neither feel like "noirs" to me (OH HERE WE GO).
Last edited by domino harvey on Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:48 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#8 Post by ZizouJuve » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:38 pm

This will be my first list project, or genre project if you will and I'm very excited to see how this one goes. One book I have off the top of my head that is half decent is the BFI Screen Guide on Film Noir. 100 Film Noirs by Jim Hillier and Alastair Phillips. While I'd say maybe 90 of the films in the book are genuine film noir, most of these the examples can not be missed. Also in the back their is a list of 100 more film noirs to look into.

Whats nice about this genre project is I think a lot of us will find we just need to go back and rediscover some films we haven't viewed in a long time and go from there.

Domino if you would like I can PM you some other film noir books

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#9 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:45 pm

ZizouJuve wrote:Domino if you would like I can PM you some other film noir books
I added those in and yeah, that'd be great

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#10 Post by zedz » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:49 pm

Sounds like fun. There are always going to be border disputes with film noir, but there's a strong core of consensus about which films belong and don't. I mean, nobody's going to seriously suggest that The Day the Earth Stood Still is a noir, now, are they? (Just to pick a title completely at random.)

It might be useful to impose some terminal dates, even if they're somewhat arbitrary, so we can at least be focussed on actual border incidents (which reminds me. . .) rather than disputes in foreign territories.

And if we're swapsie-ing, let me be the first to volunteer Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker. I don't know yet if it will be at the top of my list (off the top of my head, that's probably going to be Force of Evil), but it'll be darn close.

And further to Domino's post, a big vote in support of The Spiral Staircase, a chiller that still works brilliantly all these years later, and one which completely traumatised my mother as a child, even though she never saw it - but that's another story.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#11 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:59 pm

zedz wrote:And if we're swapsie-ing, let me be the first to volunteer Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker. I don't know yet if it will be at the top of my list (off the top of my head, that's probably going to be Force of Evil), but it'll be darn close.
I just came across you saying that Force of Evil was one of the best films to come out of Hollywood ever (or something equally strong) in another thread and I'd love to read a more detailed defense of the picture. I like the film, but it definitely played as an average programmer for me

As for swapsies, well, let me throw out a title that won't be my number one but that I think would get overlooked otherwise: my favorite prison film, John Cromwell's Caged. Besides being Eleanor Parker's finest hour, it sports a seriously twisted sexual undertone, a pessimistic ending that doesn't cop-out on the premise of the film, and some stunning shadow work. I mean, look at this:

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#12 Post by Murdoch » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:03 pm

My top spot as of now is Kiss Me Deadly, which is not only such a great film visually and thematically, but also is a brilliant peak to the classic noir period.

In a Lonely Place and They Live By Night will also place very high, especially Night since I am in love with Cathy O'Donnell and the ending rips me apart each time.

Nightmare Alley I just caught and that was something else - noir goes to the carnival! - and may place on my list if only for Tyrone Power and its gorgeous photography.

While most of the big name noirs - Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd, Maltese Falcon - have never done much for me, Out of the Past may make my list because of how endearing I find the character of Kathie - probably the definitive femme fatale.
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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#13 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:06 pm

Murdoch wrote:My top spot as of now is Kiss Me Deadly, which is not only such a great film visually and thematically, but also is a brilliant peak to the classic noir period.
It's my number one right now too, but I would recommend that any forum members just getting into noir should probably leave it for last-- it provides such acidic commentary on the noir genre itself that it would be a waste to dull its impact prematurely.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#14 Post by Murdoch » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:13 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Murdoch wrote:My top spot as of now is Kiss Me Deadly, which is not only such a great film visually and thematically, but also is a brilliant peak to the classic noir period.
It's my number one right now too, but I would recommend that any forum members just getting into noir should probably leave it for last-- it provides such acidic commentary on the noir genre itself that it would be a waste to dull its impact prematurely.
Most definitely, to get the full experience it's best to watch after you have a strong familiarity with noir and Deadly's place on the tail-end of the classic era.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#15 Post by zedz » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:18 pm

domino harvey wrote:I just came across you saying that Force of Evil was one of the best films to come out of Hollywood ever (or something equally strong) in another thread and I'd love to read a more detailed defense of the picture. I like the film, but it definitely played as an average programmer for me.
Well, if my opinion was as rational and well-argued as that, it just has to be correct!

Checking back, this was my top Hollywood choice for the last 40s list, coming in at number 4 (and the next American film on the list, Walsh's Pursued, will also be top 10 for me, I'm sure, unless I come over all purist and save it for the Western list.) This is going to be a great opportunity to watch the film again, but here's a few thoughts off the cuff. It's been years since I've seen it, but the first time I did, on an old VHS, it really did hit me as possibly the greatest Hollywood film I'd ever seen to that point. On my second viewing I was primed for disappointment that never arrived.

I love the film's boldness and darkness. If noir is all about murky morality, it doesn't get much murkier than this film. Garfield is an extraordinary protagonist, but he's hardly a hero. If you're looking for a hero, I guess you're saddled with Thomas Gomez, and you get the pleasure of seeing him crushed like a bug. Furthermore, the film has a genuine political edge, something that's claimed for a lot more films noirs than actually deserve it, and I love the language. Writing a film in blank verse might be a gimmick, but I think it works beautifully in this instance, and it subtly underscores the film's tragic dimension, which opens underneath me like a chasm while I'm watching it.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#16 Post by Titus » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:39 pm

zedz wrote:Walsh's Pursued, will also be top 10 for me, I'm sure, unless I come over all purist and save it for the Western list.)
This will likely chart high for me as well, though I need to re-watch it. I remember the script being unbelievably awkward -- comprised almost entirely of plot holes and nonsensical character motivation -- but it actually seemed well-suited to the shadowy images and Mitchum's sleepwalking performance, all of which combine to give the film a strange, dreamlike ambiance.

My early favorite is probably The Lady from Shanghai, which is pretty much the apotheosis of the more romantic and sensual noirs of the 40s -- kind of the grand summation of these films before the rougher, nastier works that became more prominent in the 50s. It's also Welles' most formally audacious and exciting picture aside from Citizen Kane.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#17 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:41 pm

This thread also seems like a better place than that mess of the Columbia thread to talk about their recent noir sets. I dug into the first volume of Sony's recent Bad Girls of Noir set today and admittedly, the first film had me worried. The Killer That Stalked New York is a well-made but fitfully lame communicable disease programmer with some pretty stunning showboating-- even the milkman overreaches! It was mercifully short but I was ready to check out twenty minutes in.

But all my doubts about the set were extinguished by Two of a Kind. Now this, this is why I love exploring noirs: Even when you think you've heard of 'em all, one sneaks in and knocks you on your ass. The film has the right ingredients: Edmond O'Brien is money in the bank (is he ever bad in a film?) and he has a ball here, particularly when he picks up Lizabeth Scott in a bingo hall! But for me the real highlight was Terry Moore, the qt from Come Back Little Sheba, as one of the zaniest noir "good girl"s I can remember. On paper her role isn't too original: She's another bad boy junkie. But the way Moore plays it to the hilt, with Gidget-esque enthusiasm, is a riot and she takes the already entertaining film into the stratosphere with her entrance halfway through. This'll be placing for me.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#18 Post by knives » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:56 pm

Are we sticking to the Hollywood classic noirs or are the neos and Melville's, to name a few, also going to be seriously looked at. Either way this is a good excuse to brush up, only have seen about thirty of the classics. Also, to get this out of the way, Night of the Hunter, Police Adjective, Memories of Murder, Paprika? Probably be updating this post whenever I get a questionable title.
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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#19 Post by cysiam » Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:01 pm

I'll throw in another recommendation for Nightmare Alley.

Also, Wise's The Set-Up. Boxing noir! Robert Ryan is terrific in it.

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#20 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:51 pm

domino harvey wrote:This thread also seems like a better place than that mess of the Columbia thread to talk about their recent noir sets. I dug into the first volume of Sony's recent Bad Girls of Noir set today and admittedly, the first film had me worried. The Killer That Stalked New York is a well-made but fitfully lame communicable disease programmer with some pretty stunning showboating-- even the milkman overreaches! It was mercifully short but I was ready to check out twenty minutes in.

But all my doubts about the set were extinguished by Two of a Kind. Now this, this is why I love exploring noirs: Even when you think you've heard of 'em all, one sneaks in and knocks you on your ass. The film has the right ingredients: Edmond O'Brien is money in the bank (is he ever bad in a film?) and he has a ball here, particularly when he picks up Lizabeth Scott in a bingo hall! But for me the real highlight was Terry Moore, the qt from Come Back Little Sheba, as one of the zaniest noir "good girl"s I can remember. On paper her role isn't too original: She's another bad boy junkie. But the way Moore plays it to the hilt, with Gidget-esque enthusiasm, is a riot and she takes the already entertaining film into the stratosphere with her entrance halfway through. This'll be placing for me.
Its always great when you discover an unheralded gem like that, as was the time I discovered 'Detour' was not hype
(and Ann Savage is a noir icon).: I haven't seen Two of a Kind but I'll keep an eye out for it.


I was also delighted when 'Tension' and 'Where Danger Lives' both featured on the last Noir set as they were two films I'd been raving about for years

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#21 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:53 pm

Murdoch wrote:My top spot as of now is Kiss Me Deadly, which is not only such a great film visually and thematically, but also is a brilliant peak to the classic noir period.

In a Lonely Place and They Live By Night will also place very high, especially Night since I am in love with Cathy O'Donnell and the ending rips me apart each time.

Nightmare Alley I just caught and that was something else - noir goes to the carnival! - and may place on my list if only for Tyrone Power.

While most of the big name noirs - Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd, Maltese Falcon - have never done much for me, Out of the Past may make my list because of how endearing I find the character of Kathie - probably the definitive femme fatale.
I love They Live By Night, also: one of the great directorial debuts.
And it features one of the most tragic, and guilt-wracked characters in all of noir
(the source book, 'Thieves Like Us', is a beautiful piece of work)

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#22 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:04 pm

domino harvey wrote:As I'm speculating on what a preliminary list would look like, there are definitely some auteurs who keep coming up for me:

Otto Preminger's three expert noirs with Gene Tierney, Laura, Whirlpool, and Where the Sidewalk Ends are in contention (though I doubt there'll be room for the last one on my list). I'd like to make as special plea for the beautiful Whirlpool, as it was the first noir I ever did see! And certainly Angel Face too will find a place in the upper tiers of my list, a film with as nasty a finish as Hollywood ever allowed. As for his other noirs, well, Fallen Angel has its fans and I have 13th Letter in my unwatched pile-- I'll definitely comment on it here (or more likely, in the Preminger thread) when I get around to it.

Robert Siodmak also has three great noirs I could see placing on my list. The Killers, sure, but what of the Spiral Staircase, with its grand theatrics of shadowplay? And speaking of grand theatrics, Phantom Lady, while flawed, has several inescapable sequences that rattle around the mind more than most polished offerings. Try to forget Ella Raines stairing down the bartender, or the most explicit music-as-sex scene ever! Criss Cross is all right, but I enjoyed it more as a companion piece to Soderbergh's remake. Any of Siodmak's other noirs worth seeking out?

Fritz Lang's The Blue Gardenia and The Big Heat, both released in 1953, are an excellent contrast in tone. One gentle and alluring, the other nasty and vicious, both are brilliant works and the Blue Gardenia surely has a spot in my Top 10. Don't count out the Woman in the Window either. I prefer it to Scarlet Street, though I doubt it will fare as well in the final tally. I have quite a few more Lang noirs to enjoy, so there might be even more of him in my list than I anticipate!

Jules Dassin's Night and the City will probably be the only Dassin to make my list, but I have great affection for Brute Force, with its spectacular acts of violence; The Naked City does nothing for me (few of the noir procedurals do) and while I like Thieves' Highway, I do prefer the Ronald Reagan/Ann Sheridan socialist drama of Juke Girl to it-- but then again, neither feel like "noirs" to me (OH HERE WE GO).
I think I may have to re-evaluate your 'unknown' noir recommendation, as we seem to disagree so much here.

'Fallen Angel' is my favourite Preminger noir;
'Criss Cross' my favourite Siodmak, although I love the Soderbergh remake, also
Scarlet Street' my Lang, with 'Human Desire' next.
('House By The River' and 'Ministry of Fear' are also recommended; I'm not quite convinced by 'Beyond A Reasonable Doubt', which many rave about)

Largely agree with you on Dassin, but I like to compare The Naked City with Kurosawa's beautiful 'Stray Dog'
(I take it only US noir is being considered for this list)

Anthony Mann produced at least three noir gems: 'Raw Deal', 'T Men', and 'Border Incident'
....yadda, yadda, yadda

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#23 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:15 pm

Well, funnily enough, my initial reaction to Two of a Kind actually reminded me a lot of my initial reaction to Where Danger Lives. And just because I didn't mention a director doesn't mean I don't dig them, I was just posting some off-the-cuff thoughts on a few that came to mind...

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#24 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:22 pm

domino harvey wrote:Well, funnily enough, my initial reaction to Two of a Kind actually reminded me a lot of my initial reaction to Where Danger Lives. And just because I didn't mention a director doesn't mean I don't dig them, I was just posting some off-the-cuff thoughts on a few that came to mind...
Have you seen 'Tension', then?

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Re: The Noir List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

#25 Post by knives » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:22 pm

Yojimbo wrote:(I take it only US noir is being considered for this list)
I hope not. It would make the leg work harder, but the definitions easier, but would turn the list boring. France has put out some of the best noirs these last few years.

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