250 Quintessential Film Noirs

  • Maxwell Shane – Fear in the Night (1946)

    Maxwell Shane1941-1950250 Quintessential Film NoirsFilm NoirThrillerUSA
    Fear in the Night (1946)
    Fear in the Night (1946)

    A man dreams he committed murder, then begins to suspect it was real.

    Quote:
    This is a classic noir from a classic year in the cycle. Max Shane was a Black Mask writer, the important pulp magazine precursor of the Noir genre. William Irish aka Cornell Woolrich was the master of the period. Cheepo producers Pine and Thomas, known as the Dollar Bills, later took the genre rightward making police the center of the action in the early 50’s (HE WALKED BY NIGHT) and were later Ronald Reagan’s producers. Shane later remade the same story as NIGHTMARE (1956) with Edward G. Robinson again for Pine/Thomas when working for them was a sign of having been absolved of anti-Americanism (which Robinson needed in 1956). Read More »

  • Richard Fleischer – The Narrow Margin (1952)

    1951-1960250 Quintessential Film NoirsCrimeFilm NoirRichard FleischerUSA
    The Narrow Margin (1952)
    The Narrow Margin (1952)

    A Fortune If They Seal Her Lips!…A Bullet If They Fail!

    (Taken from IMDB) Plot-When a mobsters wife decides to testify against his evil deeds she goes undercover to avoid being killed. Now that he’s coming to trial she has to be escorted across country via train in order to testify. Cop Walter Brown and his partner are assigned the task, but the mob are on their trail.

    A great low budget film noir with one of the greats, Charles McGraw.Read More »

  • Lewis Allen – Suddenly (1954)

    1951-1960250 Quintessential Film NoirsFilm NoirLewis AllenUSA
    Suddenly (1954)
    Suddenly (1954)

    Quote:
    For a small film, Suddenly has a lot of baggage. Even after many years, it remains tainted by its eerie foreshadowing of President Kennedy’s assassination nine years following the film’s release—an association made all the more sinister by the oft-repeated (and now disputed) assertion that Lee Harvey Oswald watched the film shortly before the President was gunned down in Dallas. Then there’s the claim that star Frank Sinatra ordered the film withdrawn from circulation after Kennedy was killed, an order Sinatra had no power to give, although he did protest when a TV station aired the film shortly after the 35th President’s death. In the Nineties, the film was the victim of a botched colorization effort that turned Sinatra into Old Brown Eyes, and the failure to renew the film’s copyright caused it to become available through multiple public domain distributors in inferior versions that were painful to watch.Read More »

  • Jules Dassin – Brute Force (1947)

    Jules Dassin1941-1950250 Quintessential Film NoirsCrimeFilm NoirUSA
    Brute Force (1947)
    Brute Force (1947)

    PLOT: At overcrowded Westgate Penitentiary, where violence and fear are the norm and the warden has less power than guards and leading prisoners, the least contented prisoner is tough, single-minded Joe Collins. Most of all, Joe hates chief guard Captain Munsey, a petty dictator who glories in absolute power. After one infraction too many, Joe and his cell-mates are put on the dreaded drain pipe detail; prompting an escape scheme that has every chance of turning into a bloodbath.Read More »

  • Ted Tetzlaff – The Window (1949)

    Ted Tetzlaff1941-1950250 Quintessential Film NoirsDramaFilm NoirUSA
    The Window (1949)
    The Window (1949)

    Synopsis:
    At the age of 9, Tommy Woodry has a reputation for telling tall tales — the latest one being that his family is moving from Manhattan to a ranch out west. When the landlord interrupts the Woodrys at dinner to show their about-to-be-vacated apartment, the Woodrys tell Tommy enough is enough. Then that hot summer night Tommy decides to sleep on the fire escape — outside the Kellerson’s apartment, since it is a story higher and gets more breeze. Tommy sees the Kellersons kill a man. Tommy’s parents and the police won’t believe his story. But the Kellersons want to silence him.Read More »

  • Anatole Litvak – The Long Night (1947)

    Anatole Litvak1941-1950250 Quintessential Film NoirsFilm NoirThrillerUSA

    Synopsis:
    Shortly after a violent encounter with magician Maximilian (Vincent Price), Joe Adams (Henry Fonda) is shot by police. As he lies dying in his apartment, he reflects on his past. The flashbacks follow Joe as he falls in love with young Jo Ann (Barbara Bel Geddes), who is also being courted by Maximilian. Jo Ann begins to favor the compassionate Joe over the possessive magician, and Maximilian heads to Joe’s apartment intending to kill him, resulting in a dramatic standoff.Read More »

  • Cy Endfield – Try and Get Me AKA The Sound of Fury (1950)

    Cy Endfield1941-1950250 Quintessential Film NoirsCrimeFilm NoirUSA

    Todd Wiener writes:
    In 1947, novelist and B-movie screenwriter Jo Pagano published his third novel titled The Condemned. The novel was based upon the 1933 kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart in San Jose, California, and the subsequent lynching of two suspects by a hysterical mob fueled by a frenzied media. Considered the only public lynching covered with such media scrutiny, The New York Times stated the event “was an outburst characterized by hysteria and ribaldry.” Pagano would adapt his novel into the screenplay The Sound of Fury (Fritz Lang’s film Fury (1936) is based on the same shocking event).Read More »

  • Robert Siodmak – Phantom Lady (1944)

    Robert Siodmak1941-1950250 Quintessential Film NoirsDramaFilm NoirUSA

    Quote:
    Phantom Lady (1944) is one of the high points of ’40s film noir, the title alone evoking a potent mythology of this era. At the center of its narrative is the seemingly hopeless search for the title character who potentially serves as the only reliable witness in the murder trial for Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis), falsely accused of killing his wife. But the search is frustrated by Henderson’s inability to remember any details about the woman outside of a flamboyant hat she wore during the night they spent together, an unlikely memory lapse that only intensifies his apparent guilt. Furthermore, no one else who saw Henderson and the woman together will admit to the police that they had seen her.Read More »

  • Henry Hathaway – The Dark Corner (1946)

    1941-1950250 Quintessential Film NoirsFilm NoirHenry HathawayUSA

    Quote:
    A fairly neglected exercise in film noir, The Dark Corner is a more than adequate if less than topflight example of the genre. Director Henry Hathaway was already familiar with crime thrillers, having helmed such previous efforts as Johnny Apollo and The House on 92nd Street, and he competently makes the shift to the edgier, more fatalist film noir game with ease and assurance, if little in the way of virtuosity. The screenplay is solid, hitting all the right plot points and keeping its cards appropriately close to the vest until it’s time to spring a few surprises on the audience, and there’s a good swift line of hardboiled dialogue hiding behind every corner. If Mark Stevens is not an immortal in the pantheon of screen tough guys — his Galt is a little wan, a trifle lightweight — he’s more than credible and makes the character’s tightlipped stoicism appealing. Lucille Ball assays one of her rare non-comedic roles and comes off very well; there’s a welcome mixture of innocence and worldliness to her character that she manages to get across without getting mired down in either extreme. Clifton Webb is deliciously smarmy, a nasty piece of work that’s a joy to watch. Corner misses out on being one of the majors, but as minor leaguers go, it’s one of the best.Read More »

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