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

#651 Post by Noiradelic » Fri Sep 25, 2015 7:01 pm

swo17 wrote:With the films I've been watching at least, I haven't seen a whole lot in the way of the snappy dialogue that one typically associates with this genre, though domino's recommendations of Scene of the Crime and The Web didn't disappoint in this respect. Are there any other lesser known noirs of this ilk that people would recommend?

I'd also appreciate recommendations of noirs with creatively shocking moments of violence, e.g. Brute Force, Union Station, The Big Combo, most Manns.
This may not qualify as lesser-known anymore thanks to the Noir Foundation, but Cry Danger's first half-hour is a giddy rush of snappy patter (same screenwriter as The Mob).

Shield for Murder (first to mind because the last one I saw) has a creatively directed moment of violence, with a nicely-edited series of cutaways to horrified onlookers (free with Amazon Prime or $1.99 without). Dead Reckoning (another recent watch) has a surprisingly (for a Bogie movie) brutal torture scene. Phenix City Story is known for its violence, though it's been too long for me to recall specifics.

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

#652 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:42 am

I don't remember if it was "creative" but The Glass Key (Heisler, 1942) had some shockingly brutal violence. Definitely not the best of the Ladd & Lake noirs, but that element stood out.

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

#653 Post by YnEoS » Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:37 pm

Up until now I’ve tried not to comment too much on what is classified as film noir or not, except in a few instances that seemed obvious to me. I wanted to just simply watch a number of films classified under that label without too many preconceived notions guiding me. Now I’ve read a number of film noir books to familiarize myself with some of the common arguments and to try help decide how to assemble my list. So I’m going to review each book I read for the project, but try to discuss some of the more interesting arguments I came across and finish by explaining my current perspective on the noir genre. I don't know if I'll be reading anything else before the end of the project, but I'd still enjoy any additional recommendations people have.

Also, apologies for filling the thread with lots of off the cuff generalizations about the genre. Hopefully my comments will be a bit more informed going forward.

Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (Eddie Muller, 1998) – Eddie Muller had lots of interesting production information on films during TCM’s summer of darkness, so I hoped his book would tie a lot of the threads together into a coherent narrative. Not so much the case, this is an enthusiastic fan tribute to film noir filled with film reviews and interesting behind the scenes stories. It’s a fun enough read but seems aimed at noir newcomers looking for film recommendations. By trying to cover all his favorite films he doesn’t really stick on any one long enough to go into as much depth as he does on his commentaries. This probably would’ve been a good read for me nearer to the beginning of the project before watching all the TCM Summer of Darkness films.

The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir (Foster Hirsch, 1981, 2008)
– Admittedly I’m not completely familiar with the different approaches to noir, but this struck me as a lucid and insightful rendition of the classical story that I’ve heard repeated in various forms. I found his writing on the pulp authors who contributed to noir particularly helpful. He explains their place in the history of literature as well as analyzing the differences between their writing style.

More than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts (James Naremore, 1998, 2008)
– This book is purposely structured in a way that doesn’t lend itself to building a coherent single theory, but each chapter is filled with insights none the less. It does a good job of questioning some commonly held assumptions about noir and has useful information about the intellectual climate of the French critics who originally coined the term and the political and intellectual ideas of noir authors and directors. It avoids blanket statements about noir expressing some aspect of American culture and instead roots it in the actual circumstances and ideas of the people who made it. It also spends a lot of time looking at modern examples of noir using a very broad definition which is less interesting to me, but there was plenty of great information on classic noir that I didn't mind too much.

Just Tell Me When to Cry: A Memoir (Richard Fleischer, 1993) – I was hoping that Richard Fleischer’s memoir would have more information on his B noir career, but unfortunately he only spends a small amount of time talking about it. However his story about working on His Kind of Woman for Howard Hughes is invaluable. The rest of the book is similarly excellent and he does discuss many noir actors he directed in non-noir films later in their careers, but it has little bearing on this project.

Film Noir, The Directors (Edited by Alain Silver and James Ursini, 2012) – I didn’t realize that this was designed as a continuation of their Film Noir Reader series, only conceived as a series of essays focusing only on directors. There’s lots of good information scattered throughout here, but some of the essays aren't so great. I found reading through it a bit of a chore and clearly it was meant more as a reference, being arranged alphabetically. Not consistently as insightful as I would’ve hoped, but it is nice to have analyses of just the noir films in a number of director's filmographies at hand.

Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir (Sheri Chinen Biesen, 2005) – By far one of the most insightful and well researched books I read on noir. This book seeks to counter the notion started by Paul Schrader that film noir took a hiatus during the patriotic optimism of World War II, instead suggesting that origins of Film Noir can be found in the material constraints filmmakers faced during World War 2. The book examines the production history of key noir films in rigorous detail as well as some of its forerunners.

Sheri Chinen Biesen argues that the men leaving to fight in the war opened up positions in Hollywood for people who were ineligible for military service. The often cited European émigré directors were given new opportunities during WWII, more women stepped into writing and producing roles such as Joan Harrison (The Phantom Lady) and Virginia Van Upp (Gilda), and older male actors like Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson were able to step in as romantic leads and refresh their careers. Additionally many of these new creative personnel were given unprecedented creative control as Hollywood studios gave them hyphenate statuses like Writer-Director, Producer-Director, and Writer-Producer as independent contractors so that they could be paid under the 25% capital gains tax rate rather than the 90% salaried income rate from the War. There was also a shortage of story materials causing studios to draw more heavily on pulp novels, a Variety article from November 1943 writes "Shortage of story materials and writers now has film companies seriously ogling the pulp mag scripts and scriptors. It marks the first time that Hollywood has initiated a concerted drive to replenish its dwindling library supplies and it's scripted ranks from the 20 cent-a-word authors of the weird-snappy-breezy-argosy-spy-crime-detective school"

Wartime rationing also had a significant influence on the films of this time. Limits were placed on construction budget and electricity usage. Filmmakers had to re-use sets from older films and often used less light and extreme angles to hide them. Additionally the women who had entered the workforce were earning more disposable income, but had less consumer goods to spend it on so they went to cinemas. Movies were earning more money as a result and playing for longer runs. Studios began producing fewer but more high budget films and prestige B or “near A” pictures to save on film stock. The book goes on to show in detail how these production restraints linked together many of the early examples of film noir.

Le Film Noir : Vrais et faux cauchemars (Noël Simsolo, 2005) – This struck me as having more fan enthusiasm than critical insight, but damn is this book exhaustive in its examination of film noir. This book catalogs almost every possible literary and filmic pre-cursor imaginable before running through a huge number of famous and obscure noirs. Sometimes it seems to sacrifice detailed analysis for its comprehensiveness, but Noël Simsolo clearly is bursting in enthusiasm for these films and does occasionally take time to furnish extra analysis on some of his favorites. Although I’m not sure I learned much about noir films from this one, I did enjoy reading the wide web of references throughout literary and film history and was happy to see some of the less well known forum favorites get praised here. I also got a handful of noir recommendations out of it.

Le film noir : Histoire et significations d'un genre populaire subversif (Jean-Pierre Esquenazi, 2012)
– Of all the books I read this seemed to be the best overall account of film noir, building off of existing research and providing many original insights. The first two chapters attempt to summarize the existing French and English literature on noir. The rest of his analysis aims to build on previous noir theories particularly those expressed by James Naremore in More Than Night and Sheri Chinen Biesen’s Blackout as well as frequently bringing in Rick Altman’s theories from Film/Genre. His overall idea is that the term “Film Noir” is the result of a strange accident of history, but none the less the films that have fallen under that label form a clear category made by a homogenous group of filmmakers under the material conditions of the Hollywood studio system at the time.

Jean-Pierre Esquenazi thinks that many American writers have misunderstood and overemphasized the two French essays that first used the term film noir and their importance in French film criticism. He claims that the two authors used the term “film noir” in different contexts, Nino Frank use the term in passing to compare the films to the Marcel Duhamel translations of American pulp novels and Jean-Pierre Chartier, as part of the old anti-american streak of French intellectuals, was using “noir” to refer to the lack of morals in the films. He goes on to point out that none of the subsequent reviews in those journals continued to use the label film noir and most French critics at the time wrote extremely negative reviews of what we now have labeled noir films in disconnect to their popularity among French amateur cinephiles. Two critics from the younger generation, Gérard Legrand and François Truffaut, wrote positive reviews of the films, but didn’t call them film noirs. The term resurfaced in 1948 when Bazin asked Pierre Kast and François Truffaut to help organize Objectif 49 and they set up the Festival du Film Noir. There’s an anecdote that Jacques Donoil Valcroze was booed by the audience when he called Gilda a "mauvais film noir", which Esquanazi points to as another sign of the disconnect between critics and the French public. The biggest usage of the term was when Raymond Bord and Étienne Chaumeton published Panorama du film noir américan in 1954. The term hasn’t been used much in France since then, and only a handful of French books have been published on Film Noir. The classification Film Noir only gained widespread usage when it was picked up by American and English writers starting in the late 1960s and really picking up in the late 70s and 80s.

Esquenazi disagrees with the argument that noir can’t be discussed as a genre because it was a term conceived by critics rather than by the studios themselves. He points to Rick Altman’s work on genre pointing out that American studios rarely tried to establish stabilized genres, but instead tried to repeat factors that made past films successful. He argues that the term that critics have passed onto us, can be used to identify a real trend in the studio system that emerged through circumstances rather than conscious planning and was repeated as studios tried to re-capture the successful elements of past films.

Esquenazi notes the unique production circumstances of 4 films that he believes jump started the original cycle of noir films, Double Indemnity, Laura, Woman in the Window, and The Phantom Lady. He claims that these films had a number of unique features in common that made them different from past films. They all are crime stories without gangsters or action, where a man follows a mysterious woman into an unknown world, taking place largely in the city at night, using cinematography effects usually reserved for fantastic films, and experimental (for Hollywood) musical scores. They were all the result of the collaborations between European Émigrés and New York intellectuals, with some involvement of a pulp novel writer, and featured new actors in leading roles, or old actors being cast against type. They all faced censorship difficulties and had new violent and erotic content that was previously unseen. They were produced simultaneously by 4 different studios, Paramount, Universal, Independent Pictures, 20th Century Fox and after the first one was released, Double Indemnity, it immediately influenced MGM and Warner Brothers to follow up with The Postman Always Rings Twice and Mildred Pierce.

Afterwards the success of these 4 films inspired many similar films with growing budgets from big studios as well as low budget imitations from smaller studios. As the war ended and the original Hollywood directors began making their own versions of film noir. Not being limited by the same material circumstances during the war the follow ups didn’t necessarily retain all the same features. He also agrees with Altman’s theories on genres that you can have a genre as both a noun and an adjective, so one can discuss the proper film noirs that fit closely to the plot type and setting, and also “women’s film noirs” “policier noirs” and “hawksian noirs”, which incorporate features of film noir but do not re-define what constitutes the pure idea of the genre. He also points out several pre-noirs made right before the emergence of the 4 noirs he chose as his template, that didn’t start the trend but helped develop it and continued to influence later film productions. For example This Gun For Hire made in 1942 shares many features with his chosen template noirs, and its pairing of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake would repeated in subsequent noir productions. He also argues that similar genres can be absorbed into a new cycle citing as an example letters from Daryl Zanyck discussing Leave Her to Heaven and Dragonwyck in terms of repeating the success of Laura even though they don’t follow the same plot template. He also points out that many actors, directors, and producers continued to have healthy careers in what we call noir films, helping maintain continuity between the mixing and experimentation the genre underwent.

The book is immense and goes into much more detail on the political climate in America and the various narrative strategies and how they shifted in 1947, but that's my best attempt to summarize the main points that had the biggest influence on how I conceptualized film noir.


Some Preliminary Thoughts

So I've found a lot of good ideas to think about, and I'm still working out all the implications of some. I found many of the arguments of Sheri Chinen Biesen and Jean-Pierre Esquenazi very convincing, that noir is best understood in terms of the production circumstances of the American studio system, not necessarily by applying the themes or ideas across film history. At the moment I think I'm liking the idea of keeping my list more strictly to the main period of noir film production in the mid-1940s to the early-1950s. I'm not going to put any hard restrictions down, but I think I might only include late 1950s films that fit closely to the original style or have some continuity with the original cycle of filmmakers/actors. There was less writing on the 1950s noirs though, so I have to think on it more, and figure out if it makes more sense to talk about these films in terms of a later revised noir cycle or under another label.

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

#654 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:32 pm

I like Muller (and I'm seeing him speak in DC for the Noir City festival next weekend) but he makes it pretty clear in one of his books (either Dark City or Gun Crazy) that he's not interested in academic/critical discourse when it comes to these kind of films (and he regrettably looks down his nose at the practice from others), and either offers fan-servicing enthusiasm (which can be occasionally worthwhile, since he knows his stuff) or, more successfully, production histories/interviews.

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

#655 Post by YnEoS » Sun Oct 11, 2015 12:29 pm

Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway, 1947) – Don’t have a lot to say about this one, I thought this was well put together, and I stayed with the plot most of the time, but was never really fully immersed. Widmark performance is interesting, and there are a few really excellent stylish shots here. An interesting film, but not one of my favorites.

Underworld USA (Samuel Fuller, 1961) – Pretty grim and stylish revenge film that has a lot of energy behind it. For the most part this was a lot of fun, but I felt the romantic subplot was a bit too removed from the main action, so it didn’t quite reach the heights for me that it might’ve if everything was working together perfectly.

This Gun for Hire (Frank Tuttle, 1942) – A key film in the development in noir, the film was hit with massive budget cuts after the US entered the war. UFA trained art director Hans Dreier helped give a stylish look to the film despite the lack of resources on set. Hans Dreier would work on a number of subsequent noirs and his art department at Paramount was known as “Dreier College” as he trained up a lot of additional talent. The patriotic themes allowed the film to get away with a lot of violent material that would’ve been previously censored. Graham Greene wasn’t too enthusiastic about the many changes to his original novel, such as the addition of Veronica Lake as a singer/magician turned undercover FBI Agent (probably because he doesn’t like fun or happiness or anything good in the world). I don’t think everything here comes together perfectly, it's certainly a very compromised production, but there’s a lot of fun to be had here and I quite enjoyed the film.

Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak, 1944) – Joan Harrison first film as a producer seeking more creative control after having a number of her screenplays so significantly altered that she had her named removed from the films. After her success scripting a number of gothic thrillers for Alfred Hitchcock like Rebecca, she negotiated a producing job with universal and found a perfect collaborator in director Robert Siodmak. There’s a lot of remarkable stylish, well directed scenes here done on a low budget. I think the switching of protagonists in the beginning is a bit clumsy, and the later film Woman on the Run handles certain similar plot elements more elegantly. None the less there’s a lot of of great material here.

The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang, 1944) – Writer-Producer Nunnally Johnson had submitted some early treatments of Double Indemnity and as part of the effort to get that story passed censors. After the landmark release of that film, he was quick to capitalize off the signaled relaxed censorship and his newfound creative control as the founder of International Pictures. This is a wonderfully scripted and super tense noir. It does a great job of playing the ”involved in your own criminal investigation plot” reminiscent of Double Indemnity, but now with Edward G. Robinson on the other side of the investigation. The way they casually joke about all the evidence pointing to him is simultaneously amusing and terrifying. Though I’ve got somewhat mixed feeling about the ending, this felt like pretty much a certified noir masterpiece.

Moontide (Archie Mayo, 1942) – This is the kind of film that makes me wish it was better than it is, perhaps because it's such a unique production. There’s really great moody atmosphere here, and tons of great performances from the stellar cast. The main source of tension in the film didn’t really work for me. The film simply denies information and then hangs the threat of blackmail and rape over the character’s heads until the final reveal. Still the mood makes the film hold much better than would be expected. An interesting film to be sure, but I can imagine a much better one with similar elements.

The Long Night (Anatole Litvak, 1947) – I couldn’t help but compare this to Le Jour Se Leve while watching it, so I was perhaps incapable of appreciating it on its own terms. Henry Fonda and Vincent Price are inspired casting choices, but I couldn’t help but see them as imitating characters I was already familiar with. Definitely an interesting production and a good attempt at remaking Le Jour Se Leve for American audiences, but I can’t say I was taken with it.

Sorry, Wrong Number (Anatole Litvak, 1948) – For the most part I thought this was really well done, but the flashback structures didn’t work quite as well for me as it does in other films. The opening scene was really terrifying and tense, but then when it goes into the back-story I didn’t really appreciate being dragged away. I don’t theoretically have any problems with the way the film unfolds, but my experience was I felt like was being pulled back and forth between being interested in the backstory of the characters and the tension of the present situation.

RiffRaff (Ted Tetzlaff, 1947) – I’m going to join in the crowd in praising this film, definitely among the most fun noirs I’ve watched for this project. I was really struck by how well the narrative and cinematography work together here. The plot really kicks and effortlessly moves between subtle narrative cues and witty dialog. And looking at the creative personnel behind the film, it's no wonder everything works here so well. Ted Tetzlaff, as mentioned in past discussion, was fresh off from being a cinematographer himself on Hitchcock’s Notorious and would direct the wonderfully tense The Window next. And the cinematographer here George E. Diskant does a really great job of doing subtle, narrative focused cinematography on other noir favorites of mine like They Live By Night and The Narrow Margin just to name two.

A Kiss Before Dying (Gerd Oswald, 1956) – I think this films does some pretty good job juggling a lot of characters and some pretty severe narrative shifts. Most remarkable of which being the first section of the film spending lots of time being put in the POV of a character pulling off a pretty sinister plot. A lot of times this falls into what Bordwell calls clothesline cinematography that a lot of cinemascope films use, but the framing is kept tighter than in some worse offenders, and uses some creative compositions and staging when needed for narrative emphasis. I think it's interesting that we have a younger european émigré director here and the film mixes noir plot elements into a youth problem film so soon after Rebel Without a Cause. Gerd Oswald came to America when he was 18 or 19 with his father, the silent director Richard Oswald. I wish I had more information about the production and a wider exposure to 1950s American films to say anything concrete about this, but it’s a detail that I find interesting and would love to investigate further.

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

#656 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:12 pm

Great thoughts, as always!

Reminder for everyone that lists are due one month from today, November 13th!

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

#657 Post by domino harvey » Wed Oct 14, 2015 6:58 pm

Appointment With Danger (Lewis Allen 1951) The trend of Naked City-inspired procedurals scrapes bottom with this tale hilariously introduced with false pomposity as finally telling the thrilling story of… US Postal Inspectors? The only real interest here is seeing Jack Webb and Harry Morgan working together as the heavies (one lighter than the other, though). Lots of people getting either knocked off or threatened with such, and the Bells of St Mary’s-ish sideplot with the world’s most foolhardy nun doesn’t help matters.

Destination Murder (Edwin L Cahn 1950) Slight but fun b-pic with a few good ideas, including the opening alibi-faking where the shooter excuses himself from a date to smoke a cigarette, goes out and kills someone, then sneaks back in to the theatre through the bathroom window (though this scene seems familiar— did another noir or later film copy it / was this copying an earlier scene?). Apart from the opening, there’s a couple nice twists involving a local crime boss and one woman’s amateur sleuthing. This is pretty baldly a noir pastiche without shame or class, but that’s part of the charm. Recommended.

Rope of Sand (William Dieterle 1949) Thank you lord for sending this film Claude Rains, who makes an otherwise unbearable African adventure tale (calling this a noir is really stretching it) tolerable. But Rains is also great in films which are also great, so go watch the Unsuspected or Notorious instead.

Still of the Night (Robert Benton 1982) Man, Robert Benton was just obsessed with making his own languid noir updates,wasn’t he? Though he at least has one of the absolute best modern noirs to his credit (Nadine), this is less successful (though better than dreck like Twilight) thought I gave it the benefit of the doubt for much of its running time on the strength of its bizarre pacing and tone, which registers just slightly above catatonic. Benton’s follow-up to Kramer vs Kramer’s great success let him make this one fairly unchecked, I suspect, and surely the only reason a sleepy Meryl Streep is here is as a favor to Benton’s role in gaining her first Oscar (she later cited this as the worst film she’s been in— it’s not, but an interesting self-criticism nonetheless).

Storm Fear (Cornel Wilde 1955) Down there with Shack Out on 101 for the dubious honor of worst noir I’ve ever seen. Awful in every conceivable way, this tale of a snowbound pair of criminals holing up in the cabin of one’s ex turned reluctant family gal is only intermittently salvaged by a young Steven Hill’s wildly careening method acting. Other than that, though, Wilde doesn’t much make a convincing argument here in favor of letting actors behind the camera.

the Velvet Touch (Jack Gage 1948) Despite its premise, this is barely a noir, but it is a fun and often delightfully catty Broadway tale, with the queen of these kind of roles Rosalind Russell doing what she does best as the egomaniacal stage actress who kills her manager in order to be freed from her contract. There’s one great moment of misdirection that seems to have been lifted wholesale for Birdman, and a nice sequence wherein Russell, jealous of Claire Trevor being suspected of her crime, goads Sydney Greenstreet’s inspector into considering her (real) guilt so as to steal the spotlight. Leo Genn's entire role and subplot seem C+Ped from an entirely different film, but it's not a terrible one either.

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

#658 Post by life_boy » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:42 pm

Body and Soul (Robert Rossen, 1947)
This is one of those unsung American movies, the kind of thing that the AFI should have been highlighting on their Top 100 redux rather than figuring out ways to squeeze The Sixth Sense onto the list. A stout, rich drama of fate and human frailty played against the backdrop of chance and athletic prowess. John Garfield is always a pleasure but he tops himself here, especially as the noose tightens around his neck. The real surprises though are the standout supporting roles. Lilli Palmer, Anne Revere and Canada Lee all bring a depth and honesty to their portrayals, while the roles were written with much more humanity than the stock tropes these characters might read as in a story synopsis. It is quite unusual to come to a movie like this and be really unsure how it will play out. It's easy to see that Scorsese got a lot of the building materials for Raging Bull from this picture.

Boomerang! (Elia Kazan, 1947)
This is a bitter little pill most of the way through. More like an administrative noir rather than a straight police procedural, Kazan charts the civil proceedings and political posturing of a Connecticut town rocked by the grisly death of a local pastor by a random act of violence. It is an act of murder so random that there is very little the police have to go on besides some vague eyewitness testimony. Their hand is forced by a local government up for reelection and under scrutiny for some recent reforms. They must do something; justice must be expedited. The police sweat a confession out of a guy brought in from out of town, witnesses testify they saw him and even ballistics on his weapon come back positive. It should be open and shut. Though the evidence seems to fit, he doesn't talk like he's guilty.

State attorney Henry Harvey has his doubts too. Once part of the force pushing the police to get a confession, Harvey is now the sole force of reason and justice in town. Honestly weighing the evidence, he shocks everyone with his skepticism at the preliminary hearings. “Is one man’s wife worth more than the community?” he is later asked, his political allies telling him he's sacrificing everything, including his town. There is a frightening herd mentality that Boomerang! is trying to expose; a crime that shakes a town can't go unsolved, they say.

Though it all wraps up a little too quickly and it feels like the stakes are eased before they really had a chance to set in, its depiction of city politics is overall pretty cynical. In the end, it is the difficulty of attaining clear justice in the midst of politics, public outrage and anxious news coverage. Not quite as biting as something like Ace in the Hole but the fact that this case turns out alright begs the question of how many others didn't.

The Chase (Arthur Ripley, 1946)
Here's one of the weirder ones from the era. Military veteran stumbles into the service of a millionaire gangster and ends up trying to steal his wife. That description is nothing special but there is such a delicate mystery at play all around this that it becomes something much greater than the sum of its parts.

Chuck Scott feels about as bland as they come. Even his name is utterly forgettable. But, he is a forgotten man. One of those decent guys who did his service and then finds a country that may pat him on the back for serving but that actually doesn't have much room for him. He happens to find a wallet and returns it to the owner after he buys himself a hot meal. When he meets Eddie Roman, he doesn't try to hide anything. Maybe he is looking for something; maybe he's just a standup guy. Either way, he ends up a chauffeur for Mr. Roman. But Eddie Roman is a gangster, sadist and paranoid micromanager of a frightening order, even going so far as to have an overriding pedal in the back of his car so he can control the speed at will (or torture his chauffeurs with games of chicken with on-coming trains). He likes to maintain psychological leverage over all those around him. Not surprisingly, Lorna Roman is ready to leave the heavy-handed rule of her husband and confides in her chauffeur to help hatch a plan. It all ends up in ethereal territory. This is one of those unheralded films that, had it been produced by Val Lewton, would probably be receiving much more praise now than it is. There are so many simple joys in watching this; I'll save them for those who venture out to discover this unheralded oddity.

Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak, 1949)
A much better flashback noir than Siodmak's overrated The Killers, here he plants his film very deeply in the landscape of urban Los Angeles. Not so much its seediness as its busyness. From the helicopter flyover of City Hall in the opening titles continuing several blocks north to the parking lot of a nightclub, it was pretty evident that we were going to be given a different look at the city for this era. The story in itself has some interest as a fatalistic rendering of relationships (are some relationships literally doomed to failure?--two people somehow attracted despite their better judgment), but the most interesting thing going on in the movie is easily the location filming and the shot framing. That may sound like a mechanical praise, but there is a richness to Siodmak's frames here. Much of this movie had to have been filmed on location, even interiors. It is a masterwork of stylized staging within the real world.

My favorite shot is inside a drug store, presumably right around the block from Steve's apartment, where Steve is meeting his ex-wife. The two have a complicated relationship, the details of which we aren't particularly privy to but just seem to be basic issues of selfishness, irritation and incompatibility - not so much any specific backstory issue (which is, frankly, refreshingly honest). The drug store keeps its door open and just happens to have a perfectly framed view of the Los Angeles City Hall down the street. It is an uncommon angle on that much-photographed structure. At first it seemed like a clever touch by the designers who tried to give the outside matte a distinct visual centerpiece. But, when the end of the scene ends up at the door, it is evident that the outside is no mere matte painting but the actual city at dusk!

In most films noir with an L.A. setting, City Hall seems to serve primarily as a symbol of police authority or as a (in the case of Crime Wave) geographic marker of proximity to the city's urban core. It serves more the purpose of the latter in Criss Cross, but more as a marker and centralizing point for most of the action. Steve's mother lives in Bunker Hill, just north of the City Hall and, as I mentioned, the action at the outset sets us there too. Much has been written about the use of Bunker Hill in film noir, but let me just say that Siodmak seems to go one step further by putting us inside some of the buildings, looking out their doorways and windows into the city around them. All of this gives the film a vitality it would not have as a simple studio production.

There are weaknesses that keep it from masterpiece status. The drama of the central relationship doesn't always feel focused and Dan Duryea didn't make the most menacing villain. Slim would have been better served by an actor that was able to more eccentrically bring out the suave veneer and lurking menace that seemed to be what was intended with Slim, but Duryea never quite got the menace across.

Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) [rewatch]
I had forgotten that this is just great as people say it is, though it is easy to take for granted because it is all pulled off so effortlessly. The Coens have spent their careers basically remaking it.

Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger, 1945) [rewatch]
Hard to call this subpar when you've got Preminger's beautifully baroque camerawork gliding all over the place, but the story for this one just falls a little flat for me on the rewatch. Down on his luck Dana Andrews ends up in a northern California town trying to hustle his way into the hearts of a couple of local ladies. The romances never really felt plausible (Linda Darnell is fine but Andrews' falling for her feels contrived, though he kind of admits to that in the end) and the movie is pretty slow going.

The emotional dead ends of lust and greed are major themes, sure, but the characters feel a little too thin for a movie that's basically supposed to be a character drama. The last 30 minutes have some interesting scenes once Andrews must come to terms with some of his decisions (and the commitment of Alice Faye is an interesting wrinkle); too bad the movie didn't start a little deeper into the story or streamline the telling of it in some way because it feels like there is a great film trapped in here among everything else.

The Killers (Don Siegel, 1964)
Sorry, I really just have no patience for this story at all, I guess. Even Siodmak's stylish original left me pretty cold except for the crackling opening scene in the diner. The great opening is done away with for something much more blunt and forceful. Even the elegance of the dialogue is done away with. We're met with just vicious, thorough murder. The fact that its in a school for the blind is only of passing interest. It doesn't really matter. Maybe its symbolic. Who cares? But it turns out they care - "they" being the contract killers. They start to care about who is behind this job, who is paying them double their standard rate. They get curious because "he just stood there and took it." There's a whole little plot about racing and a heist double-cross. It all feels very flat, painfully slow and dull.

The tension is deflated the moment they start backtracking. Siodmak's film at least had the device of the insurance man trying to work out the claim, here its just a couple of guys who shouldn't care but decide to. Don't get me wrong, Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager are the film's only saving graces, but they spend most of the movie "listening" which puts most of the movie happening without them. And to think, all this snooping could have been avoided if Ronald Reagan had just paid the standard rate for knocking off John Cassavetes.

The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson, 1943) [rewatch]
A strange, sinister and ultimately melancholy descent into urban loneliness and despair, The Seventh Victim is really unlike any other movie from this era, even the other films in the Val Lewton cycle. Where movies like I Walked with a Zombie or Cat People were unsettling by the realization of the supernatural world invading the physical world, The Seventh Victim actually slowly removes the supernatural altogether and finds a bunch of lonely, confused people wandering around grasping for answers. Some have found safety at a religious boarding school, some in science and psychology, some in romance, still others in a Satanic cult. Answers are hard to come by and, in many ways, reality is too depressing to take.

As unsatisfying as it is, everything I have tried to write about this comes up feeling utterly flat, as nothing seems to express the heart of what is going on in this very strange movie. I immediately feel like there are depths to this that I have only scratched the surface of and mysteries worth exploring in detail. I will simply defer to Cold Bishop's wonderful analysis from the first iteration of this project.

The Window (Ted Tetzlaff, 1949)
In addition to dealing with the grisly and the unseemly, film noir often took wrecking balls (in some measure) to the institutions we most often place our trust and comfort in as a society. Whether it be the legal system (Boomerang!), the press (Ace in the Hole), the police force (Kansas City Confidential), religion (The Seventh Victim) or even insurance salesmen (Double Indemnity), it was only a matter of time before someone took a hammer to the nuclear family. While Tetzlaff's film isn't interested in totally deconstructing it, he is interested in examining it from up close, looking particularly at the natural distrust parents have of a child who is prone to lie and the complicated logistics of working class parenting. This film is deeply helped by some great New York location photography and a wonderful integration of the sets and real world. It is clear that Tetzlaff had a very steady hand when it came to storytelling and, while the film feels a bit slight overall, he keeps things moving at a brisk pace and really keeps Bobby Driscoll in check.

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

#659 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 29, 2015 11:16 pm

Due to personal obligations, list submission deadline will be pushed ahead by one week to November 20th. Feel free to use this extra week to watch forty more noirs than you were planning

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

#660 Post by swo17 » Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:47 pm

Here are some titles I plan to vote for that didn't make it onto the last list. There's still about a week and a half left to check some of them out:

Spotlight: The Devil Thumbs a Ride (Felix Feist)
Why does any movie need to last more than an hour? This one is ferocious, and so much happens during that scant runtime. Or maybe it's just that it feels like anything can happen throughout.

Spotlight: The Web (Michael Gordon)
A very confident film, clever enough to be able to grin at how clever it is without it seeming like a boast. There are so many cherries on top of this milkshake, you might almost lose count.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Lewis Milestone)
One of the classiest noirs. Almost feels too refined to be one for some of its runtime, but then eventually shows that it's still hitting the same beats, just in more sophisticated ways.

Drive a Crooked Road/Pushover (Richard Quine)
Both of these films, at their heart, are about sad men taking a misguided path all the way out to its unfortunate conclusion, because they are too weary at that point to double back.

Highway 301 (Andrew Stone)
Steve Cochran's finest hour?

Scene of the Crime (Roy Rowland)
A perhaps average programmer elevated by virtue of some of the genre's snappiest dialogue.

Reign of Terror (Anthony Mann)
One of the few films I'm classifying as noir almost entirely because of its stylistic merits. Same goes for Caged, which I might otherwise see as more of a prison film/social problem picture.

The Sound of Fury (Cy Endfield)
When the film shows its conscience it feels a little phony, but when it shows its fangs (e.g. the finale, every scene with Lloyd Bridges) it's electric.

Tension (John Berry)
Opens with a detective stretching a rubber band until it snaps. This is that kind of movie. Strikes a nice balance between fatalism and playfulness.

The Window (Ted Tetzlaff)
Why isn't this as well regarded as Rear Window?

They Made Me a Fugitive (Alberto Cavalcanti)
The Upturned Glass (Lawrence Huntington)
Frankly, if there were more American noirs that I was passionate about, or that I felt were more prototypical of the genre, I might be inclined to leave British films off of my list entirely. But these two films are so blatantly noir from both thematic and stylistic standpoints that I can overlook the fact that the English spoken in them is just a tad more proper than usual. Plus, it's not as though James Mason wasn't in some legit American noirs.

Rififi (Jules Dassin)
I'd rather rule out Brute Force for being more a prison movie and Thieves' Highway for being more a social problem picture than this and Night of the City just because they're from the wrong country.

Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville)
And this is just a reminder that you can only vote for this in the pre-1970s noir list, so don't let its Frenchness, colorness, or year of release prevent you from voting for it at all.

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

#661 Post by YnEoS » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:30 pm

Didn't quite make it through all the noirs I had lined up for the project, but I've sent my list in. Here's my last batch of reviews.

The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson, 1943) – I've seen this a long time ago when I watch watching a bunch of Val Lewton films, but decided to re-visit it in the context of noir. There are a lot of exceptional scenes here, but overall I wasn’t too involved with the story or most of the characters
SpoilerShow
My favorite character in the movie gets killed off early on, and while it’s a wonderful scene, it would’ve been better if I enjoyed staying with the rest of the characters for the remainder of the film.

Drive a Crooked Road (Richard Quine, 1954)
– Another great example of a basic story ideas executed really well. The film really did the necessary legwork to get me really involved with the characters so the final heist would work well.

Pushover (Richard Quine, 1954) – More familiar ideas, but it does something that really helps improve the investigating your own crime story format, which is that the investigation and the crime are happening simultaneously. As much as I like many of the format templates, I do start losing interest when the protagonist has done something I know they can’t get away with and the film marches inevitably to their capture. Here the protagonist is still evidently screwed from early on, but the film is juggling so many plot threads that I was constantly guessing exactly how everything was going to come together in the end. I thought it did a great job of keep the narrative driving forward while developing its cast of characters, and keeping character traits involved in the narrative.

Dead Reckoning (John Cromwell, 1947) – There’s a good movie in here somewhere, but every time I thought the film was finally getting going it seems to lose its pacing again. It also re-purposes some material from The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.

Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur, 1957) – I quite enjoyed some of the material here, but overall the film felt a bit slight. I enjoyed watching it but not great enough to dent my list.

Detective Story (William Wyler, 1951) – One of the best films I’ve watched for this project, but I wouldn’t put it on a noir list.

Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang, 1945)
– This was very well made, but I had difficulty getting into it because there wasn’t really anything to look forward to. Between the extreme portrayal of Edward G. Robinson’s character as a henpecked husband and him being a total dupe throughout the film didn’t leave me rooting for anything but just squirming at the films plot. My favorite scenes were the ones between Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, and Margaret Lindsay but those were rather sparse throughout the film. When the film starts piling up plot twists and irony in enough quantity the sheer momentum of the narrative kept me involved. Overall I quite liked it, but this isn’t my favorite noir material.

Devil Thumbs a Ride (Felix E. Feist, 1947) – Just a really perfect short and sweet noir. Gets right down to the point and does a good job building tension and developing characters. Lawrence Tierney does an incredible job here and really earns the film its name.

Reckless Moment (Max Ophüls, 1949) – Nice tense and sweet film. James Mason is a cutie here. This was really great but didn't stand out against my other favorite noirs.

The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955) – Overall this was pretty great, but I’ve got 50 other great movies I prefer to it.

He Ran All The Way (John Berry, 1951)
– I’m going to sound bit repetitive here, but yet another example of a great short noir with a nice mix of tension and character development. Despite having a character who’s obviously screwed, the characters are so great here that I was still absorbed by all their interactions that the inevitable trajectory of the plot didn’t hinder my experience.

Body and Soul (Robert Rossen, 1946) – Another really tremendous boxing film, but so far The Set-Up is the only boxing film I’d put on a noir list.

Phenix City Story (Phil Karlson, 1955) – The first 40 or so minutes of this film really take their time with some very slow and uninteresting setup. But boy, when this film gets going does it get going. This normally isn’t my kind of material, but the sheer height of emotion and intensity going on here kept me drawn in. I like that the film regularly denied any kind of cathartic vengeance on the wrongdoers.

The Web (Michael Gordon, 1947) – This didn’t really stand out to me in any particular way, but it was just an overall really solid film in all departments. The cast is really stellar, Edmond O'Brien, Ella Raines, William Bendix, and Vincent Price all give exceptional performances here. So thanks for the last minute recommendation Swo, I quite enjoyed this.

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

#662 Post by swo17 » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:39 pm

Props where they're due: I only checked out The Web because domino raved about it earlier in the thread.

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

#663 Post by YnEoS » Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:49 pm

Ahh, apologies domino, that one must've slipped past my notice. And thanks for spotlighting domino's recommendation, Swo.

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

#664 Post by domino harvey » Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:02 pm

Seven lists in so far, not counting my own (get your lists in, dummies, the deadline's tomorrow)-- it's clear many of our submitters having a go at being iconoclastic, so barring some last minute rallying, I think we're in for a markedly different list this time around

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

#665 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:41 am

Sorry guys, crazy weekend. Submissions closed, results will either be posted late tonite or in the morning, depending.

Fun fact while we wait: exactly 1/4 of the list's participants are made up of previous contributors (all with new lists). Lots of fresh blood in these lists inside and out!

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

#666 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:19 pm

TOP MODERN NOIRS (1970 - PRESENT)

Image

01 Blue Velvet (David Lynch 1986)
02 Chinatown (Roman Polanski 1974)
03 Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese 1976)
04 Mullholland Dr (David Lynch 2001)
05 Fargo (Coen Brothers 1996)
05 the Long Goodbye (Robert Altman 1973)
07 LA Confidential (Curtis Hanson 1997)
08 Blade Runner (Ridley Scott 1982)
09 Memento (Christopher Nolan 2000)
10 Blood Simple (Coen Brothers 1984)
11 Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville 1970)
12 Red Rock West (John Dahl 1993)
13 Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino 1994)



ORPHANS

A History of Violence, A Simple Plan, Amateur

Badlands, Basic Instinct, Batman, the Black Dahlia, Bound, Brick

Cold Weather

Deep Cover, Der Skorpion, Devil in a Blue Dress, Die Sieger, Drive, the Driver

the Friends of Eddie Coyle

Get Carter, Gone Girl

Heist, Homicide, House of Games

Igla, Inherent Vice, Into the Night

Jigoku no banken: akai megane

the Kill-Off, the Killer Inside Me, Killer Joe, the Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Leon: the Professional, Lost Highway

Mad Max, Miller’s Crossing

Nadine, Naked Lunch, Narrow Margin (1990), the Nickel Ride, Night Moves

Road to Salina

the Spanish Prisoner, Spartan, Straight Time

Thief, Thieves Like Us, To Die For

the Way of the Gun, Winter’s Bone

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

#667 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:36 pm

TOP CLASSIC ERA NOIRS (THRU 1969)

Image

“I hate surprises, don’t you?” -- Whit Sterling, Out of the Past

01 Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur 1947) 526
02 Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich 1955) 491
03 Night and the City (Jules Dassin 1950) 479
04 Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder 1944) 416
05 In a Lonely Place (Nicolas Ray 1950) 409
06 Touch of Evil (Orson Welles 1958) 370
07 Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang 1945) 367
08 Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky 1948) 349
09 the Big Heat (Fritz Lang 1953) 332
10 Raw Deal (Anthony Mann 1948) 330

11 Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller 1953) 321
12 Laura (Otto Preminger 1944) 320
12 Thieves Highway (Jules Dassin 1949) 320
14 Detour (Edgar G Ulmer 1945) 300
15 Gun Crazy (Joseph H Lewis 1949) 297
16 Act of Violence (Fred Zinnemann 1948) 284
17 Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick 1957) 277
18 Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder 1951) 264
19 Caged (John Cromwell 1950) 263
20 Pitfall (Andre de Toth 1948) 262

21 the Window (Ted Tetzlaff 1949) 249
22 the Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton 1955) 235
23 the Maltese Falcon (John Huston 1941) 234
24 Angel Face (Otto Preminger 1950) 228
25 Sunset Blvd (Billy Wilder 1950) 225
26 Too Late for Tears (Byron Hasin 1949) 220
27 the Asphalt Jungle (John Huston 1950) 219
28 the Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Lewis Milestone 1946) 217
29 the Big Sleep (Howard Hawks 1946) 215
30 the Lady From Shanghai (Orson Welles 1947) 208

31 the Killing (Stanley Kubrick 1956) 207
31 Tomorrow is Another Day (Felix E Feist 1951) 207
33 Crime Wave (Andre de Toth 1954) 202
33 On Dangerous Ground (Nicolas Ray 1951) 202
35 the Killers (Robert Siodmak 1946) 193
36 Gilda (Charles Vidor 1946) 185
37 Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding 1947) 179
38 the Postman Always Rings Twice (Tay Garnett 1946) 176
39 Woman on the Run (Norman Foster 1950) 170
40 Brute Force (Jules Dassin 1947) 164

41 the Set-Up (Robert Wise 1949) 163
42 Detective Story (William Wyler 1951) 160
43 the Hitch-Hiker (Ida Lupino 1953) 159
44 the Devil Thumbs a Ride (Felix E Feist 1947) 155
45 Murder by Contract (Irving Lerner 1958) 152
46 the Chase (Arthur Ripley 1946) 151
47 Where the Sidewalk Ends (Otto Preminger 1950) 150
48 Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak 1944) 147
49 the Prowler (Joseph Losey 1951) 148
50 They Live by Night (Nicholas Ray 1949) 145

51 Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak 1949) 143
51 Leave Her to Heaven (John M Stahl 1945) 143
53 Riffraff (Ted Tetzlaff 1947) 142
54 Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock 1951) 138
55 Born to Kill (Robert Wise 1947) 130
56 Somewhere in the Night (Joseph L Mankiewicz 1946) 128
57 the Narrow Margin (Richard Fleischer 1952) 125
58 Odd Man Out (Carol Reed 1947) 124
59 Dark Passage (Delmer Daves 1947) 122
60 Moonrise (Frank Borzage 1948) 122

61 the Third Man (Carol Reed 1949) 119
61 Union Station (William Dieterle 1950) 119
63 the Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang 1944) 113
64 Whirlpool (Otto Preminger 1949) 109
65 the Woman on the Beach (Jean Renoir 1947) 107
66 the Seventh Victim (Mark Robson 1943) 104
67 the Lineup (Don Siegel 1958) 99
68 Rififi (Jules Dassin 1955) 98
69 T-Men (Anthony Mann 1947) 95
70 99 River Street (Phil Karlson 1953) 94

71 A Kiss Before Dying (Gerd Oswald 1956) 91
72 the Web (MIchael Gordon 1947) 90
73 the Reckless Moment (Max Ophuls 1949) 87
74 They Made me a Fugitive (Alberto Cavalcanti 1947) 86
75 the Scar / Hollow Triumph (Steve Sekely 1948) 82
76 Two of a Kind (Henry Levin 1951) 81
77 Cause for Alarm (Tay Garnett 1951) 78
77 Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville 1967) 78
79 Reign of Terror / the Black Book (Anthony Mann 1949) 77
80 Body and Soul (Robert Rossen 1947) 75
80 Where Danger Lives (John Farrow 1950) 75

82 the Big Combo (Joseph H Lewis 1955) 74
82 the Spiral Staircase (Robert Siodmak 1946) 74
84 the Blue Dahlia (George Marshall 1946) 72
85 Side Street (Anthony Mann 1950) 71
86 the Phenix City Story (Phil Karlson 1955) 70
87 Panic in the Streets (Elia Kazan 1950) 69
88 Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz 1945) 68
89 Pushover (Richard Quine 1954) 64
90 Murder, My Sweet (Edward Dmytryk 1945) 63
90 the Tall Target (Anthony Mann 1951) 63

92 Key Largo (John Huston 1948) 60
92 Nightfall (Jacques Tourneur 1957) 60
94 the Naked City (Jules Dassin 1948) 59
95 Ride the Pink Horse (Robert Montgomery 1947) 58
96 Slightly Scarlet (Allan Dwan 1956) 57
96 the Wrong Man (Alfred Hitchcock 1956) 57
98 Shockproof (Douglas Sirk 1949) 56
99 Drive a Crooked Road (Richard Quine 1954) 55
100 Armored Car Robbery (Robert Fleischer 1950) 53
100 the Blue Gardenia (Fritz Lang 1953) 53
100 Lady in the Lake (Robert Montgomery 1947) 53
100 Scandal Sheet (Phil Karlson 1952) 53


ALSO RANS

(52) Cry of the City, Pursued

(49-42) Border Incident, the Gangster, Human Desire, the Red House, House by the River, He Ran All the Way

(39-30) Macao, Tension. DOA, Beware, My Lovely, Underworld USA, Crossfire, the Big Night, Kansas City Confidential, Kiss of Death

(24-20) Possessed, the Bribe, Desperate

(19-11) Stranger on the Third Floor, Fury, Ministry of Fear, the Big Steal, Deadline at Dawn, M (Losey), Highway 301

(06-05) Decoy, the Sound of Fury, Storm Warning


ORPHANS

A Place in the Sun, Aar-Paar, the Accused

Bad Day At Black Rock, Behind Locked Doors, Berlin-Alexanderplatz, the Big Clock, the Big Knife, Black Angel, Blast of Silence, Boomerang!, Branded to Kill, the Brasher Doubloon, the Breaking Point, Brighton Rock, the Brothers Rico, the Burglar

Cape Fear, City For Conquest, Crack Up, Crime of Passion, the Crooked Way, Cry Danger

Dangerous Crossing, Dans la nuit, Das Totenschiff, Deadline USA, Deep Valley, Desert Fury, Dial 1119, Dishonored, Dokufu Takahashi Oden, Don’t Bother to Knock, Dragonwyck

Ein Alibi zerbrich, the Enforcer

Fallen Angel, the Fugitive

Gaslight (Cukor), the Glass Wall, the Great Sinner, Green For Danger

Hateshinaki yokubo, He Walked By Night, High Sierra, His Kind of Woman, Homicidal, House of Bamboo

I vigliacchi non pregano, I Wake Up Screaming, I Want to Live!, Impact, It Always Rains on Sunday

Johnny Angel

Kinjirareta tekunikku

Le deuxieme souffle, Le jour se leve

Madchen für die Mambo-Bar, Manon, Monsieur Verdoux

Naked Angels, the Naked Kiss, Night Has a Thousand Eyes, the Night Walker, Nocturne, Non coupable, Nora Prentiss, Notorious

One Way Street, Party Girl, Peeping Tom, Plein soleil, Plunder Road, Pretty Poison, Psycho

the Racket, Rashomon, Rear Window, Road House

Safe in Hell, Scene of the Crime, Shock, Secret Beyond the Door, Sex und noch nicht 16, Shadow of a Doubt, Shakedown, the Shanghai Gesture, the Sniper, So Dark the Night, Spellbound, Split Second, Strait Jacket, the Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, Strange Illusion, the Stranger, Sword of Doom

This Gun For Hire, Tokyo Drifter

Undercurrent, the Underworld Story, the Unsuspected, the Upturned Glass

Vertigo

When Strangers Marry / Betrayed, While the City Sleeps, White Heat, Without Warning!

You Only Live Once

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

#668 Post by swo17 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:00 pm

Thanks for all your hard work compiling! Some stats:

New to the list
Too Late for Tears
the Devil Thumbs a Ride
Riffraff
Odd Man Out
Union Station
Rififi
the Web
They Made Me a Fugitive
Two of a Kind
Cause for Alarm
Le Samouraï
Reign of Terror
Key Largo
the Naked City
the Wrong Man
Drive a Crooked Road
Scandal Sheet

Off the list
Kansas City Confidential
Border Incident
He Walked By Night
Human Desire
He Ran All the Way
Fallen Angel
Shadow of a Doubt
Underworld USA
Kiss of Death
the Naked Kiss
White Heat
the Thief
Crossfire
DOA
the Sniper
the Big Steal
the Racket
Mr Arkadin

Now on the Neo-Noir list
Chinatown
the Long Goodbye

Biggest risers
the Strange Love of Martha Ivers +85
the Window +81
Detective Story +56
Caged +55
Born to Kill +53
Woman on the Run +50
Tomorrow is Another Day +47
Phantom Lady +47
the Chase +40
Mildred Pierce +32
Pitfall +31
the Postman Always Rings Twice +30
Pushover +29
Somewhere in the Night +27
the Woman in the Window +25
Night of the Hunter +24
the Woman on the Beach +22
Moonrise +21
Gilda +18
Leave Her to Heaven +16
Body and Soul +16
Brute Force +15
Laura +14
Whirlpool +13
Panic in the Streets +13
Pickup on South Street +12
Sunset Blvd +11
Murder by Contract +11
the Spiral Staircase +11
Sweet Smell of Success +10
Ace in the Hole +10

Largest falls
the Blue Gardenia -48
Slightly Scarlet -46
Murder, My Sweet -44
Ride the Pink Horse -42
the Reckless Moment -41
Armored Car Robbery -41
Shockproof -40
They Live By Night -35
the Big Combo -34
T-Men -31
Nightmare Alley -30
the Lineup -29
Dark Passage -25
the Lady From Shanghai -22
the Killers -21
Criss Cross -21
99 River Street -21
A Kiss Before Dying -21
the Third Man -20
the Blue Dahlia -19
the Phenix City Story -14
the Big Sleep -13
the Killing -13
Crime Wave -13
Where the Sidewalk Ends -13
Strangers on a Train -12
On Dangerous Ground -11
the Hitch-Hiker -11
the Set-Up -10

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

#669 Post by sinemadelisikiz » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:41 pm

Other new entries:
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (#28)
The Window (#21)
Born to Kill (#55)
Last edited by sinemadelisikiz on Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

#670 Post by swo17 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:16 pm

Whoops, thanks for catching that. They were also rans last time so I put them under biggest risers.

Also, here is my personal noir list. Well, the list I submitted had Le Samouraï on it but for this one I kept a stricter definition of genre. (Interestingly, the Melville was the only '60s film to make the cut this round--not even any of the late Fullers charted.)

It looks like my only orphans were The Upturned Glass and Scene of the Crime.

And my top 10 neo-noirs (orphans bolded):

1. Miller's Crossing (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1990) -- So many of their films are noir in some way, but dialogue-wise, none more than this one.
2. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
3. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
4. Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg, 1991)
5. Le Cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970)
6. Blood Simple (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1984)
7. A Simple Plan (Sam Raimi, 1998)
8. The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)
9. Deep Cover (Bill Duke, 1992) -- Thought I was throwing Cold Bishop a bone here.
10. Red Rock West (John Dahl, 1993)

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

#671 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:22 pm

My Top 10 + Orphans

01 Whirlpool
02 Out of the Past
03 Caged
04 Tomorrow is Another Day
05 A Kiss Before Dying
06 the Blue Gardenia
07 Gun Crazy
08 Night and the City
09 Detective Story
10 Laura

19 Pretty Poison
28 Impact
44 Dragonwyck
50 Night Has a Thousand Eyes


Either the board is getting better taste or I'm getting worse, because I only had four orphans, by far a record for these kind of exercises! That's okay, I made up for it by almost going ten for ten on orphans for the Modern Noir list:

01 Heist
02 Gone Girl
03 Nadine
04 the Spanish Prisoner
05 Into the Night
06 Killer Joe
07 Leon: the Professional
08 Pulp Fiction
09 Red Rock West
10 the Killer Inside Me

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domino harvey
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

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

#672 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:29 pm

Those are pretty good write ups
Laura

Woman sabotages relationship by being dead.

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Ashirg
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:10 am
Location: Atlanta

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

#673 Post by Ashirg » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:58 pm

My top 10 (orphans in bold)

01. The Breaking Point (Michael Curtiz, 1950)
02. Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)
03. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
04. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
05. The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1953)
06. Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953)
07. Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948)
08. Hollow Triumph (Steve Sekely, 1948)
09. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
10. Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)

more orphans -
27. The Crooked Way (Robert Florey, 1949)
34. So Dark the Night (Joseph H. Lewis, 1946)
+ 4 also rans...

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YnEoS
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:30 am

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

#674 Post by YnEoS » Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:43 pm

Thanks for you hard work organizing the project and compiling the list, domino!

I had a lot of fun schooling myself up on all the noir classics I had never seen and getting lots of great recommendations from the discussion. I have to say I'm really happy with the final look of the list. Glad to see a lot of the discussion led to lots of great new films placing on the list.

I was a a bit surprised by the discrepancy between Ted Tetzlaff's The Window with 249 points and only 61 for Riffraff. But narrowing a list down to just 50 noirs means cutting off a lot of great films, so its hard to predict how much enthusiasm will translate into points. Personally, I actually liked Riffraff a little more than The Window, but its great they're both on the list. Which I guess is a long-winded roundabout way of saying that anyone who voted for The Window and hasn't seen Riffraff yet is in for a treat when they get around to it.

I think every movie from my list but 3 made the top 100.

One of my spotlights The Gangster ended up in the Also-Rans, but its noir credentials were always a little suspect, so that's not too surprising. Anyone who hasn't seen it yet, should check it out, its a good film, noir or not. Quite happy to see my other spotlight Cause For Alarm end up on the final list.

I think my only two Orphans I'm a sad panda about are The Big Clock and His Kind of Woman which both ranked very highly on my list. In retrospect I probably should've picked these two as my spotlights, I think I passed them up because there had already been some discussion about them. I'm going to re-watch them and do big write ups on them since I didn't champion them enough during the project.


I entered into this project not being particularly fond of that many noirs I had seen up to that point. By now its probably become pretty obvious there are quite a bunch of noir films I like. I think my original gripes with the genre still stand, its just I was such surprised to find out how diverse the films are. Most of the gripes I had don't really apply to the majority of the films. So I had lot more fun than I was expecting and got a quite a few new favorite films out of the project.

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life_boy
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:51 pm
Location: Mississippi

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

#675 Post by life_boy » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:06 pm

I had a great time with this one. It was a genre I was conversant in but did not feel fluent. Not sure if I'm quite there yet but I do feel a lot closer than I did back in June. Thanks for organizing it and tallying it up, domino. And glad to see some love for Union Station!

TOP 10
01) Night and the City (Dassin, 1950) [#03]
02) Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, 1955) [#02]
03) Nightmare Alley (Goulding, 1947) [#37]
04) Union Station (Maté, 1950) [#61]
05) Force of Evil (Polonsky, 1948) [#08]
06) Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944) [#04]
07) Crime Wave (de Toth, 1955) [#33]
08) Raw Deal (Mann, 1948) [#10]
09) Detective Story (Wyler, 1950) [#43]
10) Riffraff (Tetzlaff, 1947) [#91]

ALSO-RANS
26) Pursued (Walsh, 1947)
35) Kiss of Death (Hathaway, 1947)
40) Kansas City Confidential (Karlson, 1952)
43) Beware, My Lovely (Horner, 1952)

ORPHANS
38) House of Bamboo (Fuller, 1955)
42) Boomerang! (Kazan, 1947)
45) Bad Day at Black Rock (Sturges, 1955)

Total Films Watched for Project: 42
Total Films Re-watched for Project: 9
Total Films Watched for Project that Made my Final List: 18

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