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I thought about setting up a thread like this a couple of months ago but didn't. I was uncertain about the level of general interest.
I'm actually putting together a shortish summary of film noir for a friend (to supplement the Eddie Mueller book that I got him for his last birthday. While they are not in any order - other than release date - here are my "twenty-five essential" film noirs that I'm doing short writeups for:
I'm also rounding out my list with 25 notable mentions and I plan to post something on THIEVES HIGHWAY later this week on the "last movie watched" thread. While not a great film, it does have some notable performances. Especially....
I could talk about noir for hours......
Touch of Evil is so cool. Looking forward to The Third Man, and probably Kiss of Death. A noir with Victor Mature sounds like something I want to watch.
The Third Man is a classic. When I posted a summary of it in the "Last Movie Watched" thread some months ago, I made note of the several connections that it has with Bond.
I'll make sure to check out your post. I recall John Barry was a fan of the music score. I suppose one can hear its influence on him on something like The Ipcress File.
THE ASPHALT JUNGLE is great! I always liked seeing Marilyn in noir.
THIRD MAN is great. I also loved KISS OF DEATH.
This thread is a good a place to post this 2006 documentary: FILM-NOIR: BRINGING DARKNESS TO LIGHT. It is a bit WB centric (hence the many clips from CRIME WAVE), but very enjoyable.
Note: It is included as an extra on the GUN CRAZY blu-Ray.
There are a couple of Japanese films that deserve some recognition as well. High And Love and The Bad Sleep Well in particular.
Edit: Does Seven count? If so it certainly deserves to be up there. So does a couple of Lynch films
I love CHINATOWN. But for the purposes of the project I'm doing (and hence my list), I'm limiting myself to "classic era" noir (i.e., roughly 1945 to 1955 - give or take a couple of years on either side).
Movies like CHINATOWN, BODY HEAT, THE LAST SEDUCTION, etc.. generally fall under the heading of neo-noir. Given that this thread looks at both, feel free to post your thoughts on those films.
Your final point about "foreign" films is well taken. Several months ago TCM (Turner Classic Movies in the US) devoted an entire month to these films in an effort to show just how broad an influential this genre was (and is).
Another one that's great, although I'm not sure if everyone necessarily calls it a Film Noir (a number of critics do for what it's worth) is a French one by Louis Malle called Elevator to The Gallows (1958). It's about a killer who gets trapped in an elevator after he murders someone and the repercussions around it. There's a score by Miles Davis which is great. Highly recommended. Of course, how can anyone talk about French Film Noir (I guess in this specific case Neo-Noir) without talking about La Samourai (Dir. Jean Pierre-Melville, 1967)? Brilliant.
If anyone likes Seven (Dir. David Fincher, 1995) and likes mixing their Neo-Noir with some Horror, I'd recommend Angel Heart (Dir. Alan Parker, 1987). Typical Noir set up - Mickey Rourke plays a private detective, but as the film goes on we learn there's more to it. I won't say any more than that, but if you haven't watched it do so.
As for ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOW; a great movie – very atmospheric and…. Jeanne Moreau!
Several years ago, Eddie Muller (co-hosted with Alicia Malone) screened the film on TCM’s NOIR ALLEY.
Since then NOIR ALLY has screen several “foreign” film noirs like BOB LE FLAMBEUR.
For those interested, I recommend “The Rough Guide to Film Noir” by Alexander Ballinger & Danny Graydon (2007). In addition to the covering classic era noir, it also looks at neo-noir and foreign noir films from Japan, Italy, Germany and France.
I love CHINATOWN!. One of the greatest noirs, IMO. I'll have to do a top 25 neo noir list.
SE7EN is probably my favorite '90's noir. I saw it in it's original release, but oddly didn't come to appreciate it until recently.
Update: here it is..........
Top 25 neo noir- subject to change
3. FAREWELL MY LOVELY
4. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL
5. THE TWO JAKES
6. MILLER'S CROSSING
7. THE LONG GOODBYE
8. BLADE RUNNER
9. DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS
11. THE PUBLIC EYE
12. CHARLEY VARRICK
14. DEATH WISH
15. THE FRENCH CONNECTION
16. THE GIRL HUNTERS
17. PORTRAIT IN BLACK
18. I, THE JURY (1982)
19. THE NEW CENTURIANS
20. MARLOWE (1969)
21. BODY HEAT
22. SUDDEN IMPACT
23. TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.
24. THE BIG SLEEP (1978)
Eleventh Hour: 1942 Episode from animated Superman serie's from 40's in color.
The Saint S1&S2
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Road to Perdition (2002)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Easy Rider (1969)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Live by Night (2016)
Love Ranch (2010)
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Jersey Boys (2014)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Knives Out (2019)
Great documentary, @Dwayne.
I love James Ellroy's definition of noir. His audio commentary with Eddie Muller on the CRIME WAVE DVD is fun as well.
I imagine that's the first time (and in all likelihood the last time) that Breakfast at Tiffany's will be described as a noir film. Still, you've got to love the MI6 Community legend that is @M_Balje! ;)
I think Eddie Muller should do a "Noir or Not" segment on BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. It gets pretty funny some of the films he's asked whether or not they qualify as a noir.
To quote 1970s’ film critic Paul Schrader: “Almost every critic has his own definition of film noir, and a personal list of film titles and dates to back it up.”
To confuse things even more, sometimes the term “noir-adjacent” is used to describe certain films. Movies like BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (1955) and DEADLINE U.S.A (1952) come to mind. And if neo-noir started with CHINATOWN (1974), how do we label films like HARPER (1966) or even GET CARTER (1971) that were made after the classic era but before 1974?
In any case (IMO), the exact ‘era” definitions are somewhat arbitrary. Maybe if Holly Golightly had shot the cat with a 38 and the entire film told as a flashback we could classify it as noir!!! I can see it now: the rain-soaked streets, the back alley…and a dead kitty cat 😊
To me, the best noir film is The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
Good list, but I'd add Point Blank (1967), directed by John Boorman and starring Lee Marvin,
Haven't seen that one yet! Big Lee Marvin fan, though. I'll have to track that film down!
Some of the other suggestions are questionable too though I'm no expert on film noir and have few films which fit that category. I have seen The Third Man though and it's an excellently atmospheric film. There are a few Bond connections here too. Guy Hamilton was an assistant director to Carol Reed on the film and even stood in as a body double for star Orson Welles in some scenes. John Glen also worked on the film in the vision and sound editing department (and it's said that the Vienna fairground scene in The Living Daylights is inspired by the one in The Third Man). Ian Fleming picked the film's zithery Harry Lime Theme by Anton Karas as one of his eight Desert Island Discs when he appeared on that long running BBC Radio show back in June 1963:
I should watch it sometime. Looked great.
I've only seen that bit where Marvin is walking and the sound of his footsteps becomes the beat of the music score. That was fantastic.
And while it may not match seeing Miss Case in hot pants, this is almost as good as my package finally arrived today (and on director Billy Wilder’s birthday no less!!).
Barbara Stanwyck, Fred McMurray, Edward G. Robinson and…..Carol Burnett.
Come to think of it, a faithful period adaptation of Casino Royale, preferably in black and white, could almost qualify as film noir. The book itself is certainly the most hard-boiled of all the Bond novels.
Interestingly, when John Payne's attempts to get the Bond film rights fell through he did his own Bondian noir called HIDDEN FEAR. Gives an idea what a 50's Bond noir might've looked like.
I am not sure about the exact definitions, but wouldn't quite many of the Bond novels qualify as Noir?