250 Quintessential Film Noirs

  • Orson Welles – Touch of Evil [Kino 4K] (1958)

    Directed by Hollywood legend Orson Welles (Citizen Kane, The Stranger, The Lady from Shanghai), Touch of Evil is a film noir masterpiece whose Hollywood backstory is as unforgettable as the movie itself. Starring Charlton Heston (The Big Country, Ben-Hur), Janet Leigh (The Manchurian Candidate, Psycho) and Welles himself, this dark portrait of corruption and morally compromised obsessions tells the story of a crooked police chief who frames a Mexican youth as part of an intricate criminal plot. With its iconic ticking-bomb opening shot, shadowy cinematography by Russell Metty (Spartacus), evocative score by Henry Mancini (Arabesque) and memorable supporting turns by Akim Tamiroff (The General Died at Dawn) and Marlene Dietrich (Desire), Touch of Evil is a stylistic triumph that stands the test of time.Read More »

  • Billy Wilder – Double Indemnity [Criterion 4K] (1944)

    Has dialogue ever been more perfectly hard-boiled? Has a femme fatale ever been as deliciously wicked as Barbara Stanwyck? And has 1940s Los Angeles ever looked so seductively sordid? Working with cowriter Raymond Chandler, director Billy Wilder launched himself onto the Hollywood A-list with this epitome of film-noir fatalism from James M. Cain’s pulp novel. When slick salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) walks into the swank home of dissatisfied housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck), he intends to sell insurance, but he winds up becoming entangled with her in a far more sinister way. Featuring scene-stealing supporting work from Edward G. Robinson and the chiaroscuro of cinematographer John F. Seitz, Double Indemnity is one of the most entertainingly perverse stories ever told and the standard by which all noir must be measured.Read More »

  • Don Siegel – Private Hell 36 (1954)

    Synopsis:
    In New York, a bank robbery of $300,000 goes unsolved for a year, until some of the marked bills are found in a Los Angeles drugstore theft. Police detectives Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran) and Jack Farnham (Howard Duff) investigate and are led from the drugstore to a nightclub, where singer Lili (Ida Lupino) is another recipient of a stolen bill. With Lili’s help, the partners track down the remaining money, but both Lili and Frank are dismayed when Cal decides he wants to keep part of it.Read More »

  • Fritz Lang – House by the River (1950)

    Quote:
    A deranged writer murders a maid after she resists his advances. The writer engages his brother’s help in hiding the body, causing unexpected problems for both of them.Read More »

  • Stuart Heisler – Among the Living (1941)

    A mentally unstable man, who has been kept in isolation for years, escapes and causes trouble for his identical twin brother.

    Letterboxd review
    ★★★½ Rewatched by DopeAssGhost 26 Aug 2019

    AMONG THE LIVING (1941)

    Casting shadows of Southern Gothic overtones and sending shivers of noir through the body, Among The Living is a mix of subgenres including social drama, suspense thriller, and even a bout of horror. It’s a short 67 minute black and white picture that offers a simplistic story- mentally unstable twin brother of an affluent man breaks out of his mansion room prison, kills a couple of people on the outside, and becomes manipulated by an attractive dame. It’s an enjoyable looking film that kept me entertained for the most part, but it doesn’t really have any impact in thematic scope or rewatchability. Plus besides a slightly suspenseful on-foot chase sequence, I didn’t really get any suspense vibes.Read More »

  • Otto Preminger – Fallen Angel (1945)

    Quote:
    The huge success of Laura may have done more ill than good to Otto Preminger’s career, not only for setting expectations high early in the game, but also for forcing a “noir mystery master” image onto an artist much more interested in asking questions than in answering them. Fallen Angel, the director’s follow-up to his 1944 classic, is often predictably looked down as a lesser genre venture, yet its subtle analysis of shadowy tropes proves both a continuation and a deepening of Preminger’s use of moral ambiguity as a tool of human insight. Linda Darnell, a provocative bombshell caught behind the counter of a small-town California roadside café, is the flame around which the picture’s male moths circle, though the titular fallen angel is later revealed to be tainted drifter Dana Andrews, who comes to town and becomes quickly smitten with her. Read More »

  • Raoul Walsh – High Sierra (1941)

    Roy ‘Mad Dog’ Earle is broken out of prison by an old associate who wants him to help with an upcoming robbery. When the robbery goes wrong and a man is shot and killed Earle is forced to go on the run, and with the police and an angry press hot on his tail he eventually takes refuge among the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas, where a tense siege ensues. But will the Police make him regret the attachments he formed with two women during the brief planning of the robbery.Read More »

  • John Brahm – The Lodger (1944)

    In late Victorian London, Jack the Ripper has been killing and maiming actresses in the night. The Burtons are forced to take in a lodger due to financial hardship. He seems like a nice young man, but Mrs. Burton suspects him of being the ripper because of some mysterious and suspicious habits, and fears for her beautiful actress niece who lives with them.Read More »

  • Orson Welles – Touch of Evil [Restored Version] (1958)

    Quote:
    A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.Read More »

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