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FILM NOIR - 100 OF THE BEST


  1. mattpgconway1
  2. Matt

A list of films from my favourite genre. The classic American period of 1940 - 1959. I had no room to put in European films - that will be a separate list.

I have also made a list of film noirs I have not yet seen.

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1
Detour 1945,  Unrated)
Detour
What a loser. First he loses his girlfriend. Then he loses his common sense, by making terrible decisions. Finally he loses his self respect. Al Roberts' life is turned into a living nightmare as he battles against the twist of fate... ...And comes out the loser.

When I first saw this film I thought it was very good. After a few more viewings, I realised that this is the great movie ever made. Director Edgar G Ulmer creates an atmospheric noir with fog bound sets, a scary femme fatale, an excellent choice of song and a whole sense of doom. Best viewed late at night.
2
Double Indemnity 1944,  Unrated)
Double Indemnity
Greatest American film?

This archetypal film noir has all the ingredients. An entertaining story based on a James M Cain novel. Witty dialogue from co scriptwriter Raymond Chandler. A perfect Cast. Barbara Stanwyck is outstanding as the alluring femme fatale. Fred MacMurry is equally as good as the patsy who falls for her charms. Director Billy Wilder creates a dark atmospheric thriller that improves on each viewing. Timeless.
3
The Big Sleep 1946,  PG)
The Big Sleep
The film that changed my life. I first watched this after coming home drunk from the pub and missing the first 15 minutes. And yet, with its twists and turns, I fell in love with it and discovered a new (old) genre: Film Noir. It has witty dialogue, a dreamy score and a great cast of characters popping in and out of the story. Humphrey Bogart became my hero from here on as the laconic private eye Philip Marlowe.

This film also inspired me to read the novels of Raymond Chandler and discover hard boiled fiction. Along with The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity I would recommend these films for any noir vigins. So hurry and pop your cherry tomatoes, seek and enjoy.
4
The Maltese Falcon 1941,  PG)
5
Touch of Evil 1958,  PG-13)
6
The Night of the Hunter 1955,  PG)
7
The Killers 1946,  Unrated)
The Killers
During the 1940's director Robert Siodmak had a string of hits with his dark moody Film Noirs. The Killers was the high point of his oeuvre. Based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway The Killers begins with two tough looking heavies entering a diner in Brentwood, New Jersey. Intimidating the staff they declare they are to kill a man called the Swede and are waiting for his arrival. Learning from the owner that the Swede will probably not enter the diner that night the heavies decide to find his apartment instead. A friendly customer sets off to tip the Swede before the hitmen arrive. On hearing the news the Swede reacts by just lying on his bed not bothering to arm himself or flee. Waiting for his nemisis to arrive, in his dark room he listens to their footsteps as they walk up the stairs. Holding his breath, with his eyes focused on the closed door, then suddenly the door swings open and the sound of rapid gun fire spits out. BANG! BANG! BANG!

This wonderfully controlled sequence sets up the events to follow as insurance investigator Riordan looks into the incident. This is the main part of the film. To tell the story and fate of the Swede, Siodamak uses flashbacks of the past with each character telling their different stories to help paint a picture of the Swede in a similar way used in Citizan Kane. The timeline constantly switches from past events to the present pushing the fascinating narrative along.

The flashbacks reveal a character that is most associated with Film Noir, that is the femme fatale. The entrance of the femme fatale in Film Noir is often memorable and here we have the beautiful actress Ava Gardner vamping it up in a little black dress and beguiling all and sundrie. The Killers in fact has many if not all the traits of a classic Film Noir - the patsy, the femme fatale, the investigative hero, failed boxers, heists, double crosses, flashbacks and high contrast lighting. All the ingredients are used wisely. It epitomises all the great attributes of the genre/style. The archetypal Film Noir.

Music also plays an important part with Miklos Rozsa composing a dramatic score elevating the film to striking highs. Villainous characters are given their own theme tunes whenever they enter a scene creating a sense of danger and terror. There are many memorable sequences and a strong cast of characters including Edmond O'Brian, Sam Levine, Albert Dekker and Burt Lancaster making is screen debut as the Swede. All the other supprting actors play their parts well.

Overall an excellent entry into the wonderful world of Film Noir.
8
Out of the Past 1947,  Unrated)
Out of the Past
"Build my gallows high baby."

In a small town, no-wheresville USA Jeff Baily runs a gas station and has a romantic attachment with sweet local blonde Ann (Virginia Huston). All is going well until Baily's past catches up with him. A history of violence is unveiled through flashback, as he tells his girlfriend of his previous life as a private detective who betrayed a dangerous client. The client, gangster Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) has recently summoned Baily for a job as a debt and favour for his past misgivings. But can Baily trust him or is he set up to be a patsy?

Out Of The Past aka Build My Gallows High is a perfect example of Film Noir. Expertly directed by Jacques Tourneur who creates dark, shadowy, moody melodrama. Laid back Robert Mitchum as Baily is the laconic 'hero' and rivals Humphrey Bogart as the archetypal Noir leading man. The chainsmoking, Fedora and Trench coat wearing hero has his work cut out when he tangles and falls for the trigger happy femme fatale Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer). A duplicitous female who will do anything to stay one step ahead of the game.

The open daylight scenes in the countryside where Baily and innocent Ann elope are shot in strong contrast to the dark urban scenes which Baily is engulfed back into. Nicholas Musuraca the cinematographer perfecting the noir lighting techniques that would influence other similar films.

The dialogue is a real treat. Baily's sardonic one liners only matched when he comes up against another dame, Meta Carson (Rhonda Fleming). The two of them duelling is a joy to be hold.

Out of The Past would later influence David Cronenburg's A History Of Violence (2005). A man seeking a new life in a small town but forever doomed to escape from his past.

A terrific thriller, with more twists and turns than a Chubby Chekker dance revival.
9
Nightmare Alley 1947,  Unrated)
Nightmare Alley
This is a brilliant film noir that lives up to its title. Tyrone Power excels as a circus traveler who uses people to get what he wants. Namely fame, money and dames. He is the male equivelent of the Femme Fatale- a Homme Fatale.

Women have key roles in the film. There is the middle aged traveler, with a heart of gold (Joan Blondell). The young faithful wife (Colleen Grey). And best of all is his nemisis played by Helen Walker.

A dark, moody classic.
10
Murder, My Sweet 1944,  Unrated)
11
The Asphalt Jungle 1950,  Unrated)
12
Strangers on a Train 1951,  PG)
13
The Killing 1956,  Unrated)
14
The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946,  R)
15
Kiss Me Deadly 1955,  Unrated)
16
Vertigo 1958,  PG)
17
The Lady from Shanghai 1948,  Unrated)
The Lady from Shanghai
Director Orsen Welles plays a sailor (with an amusing Oirish accent) who gets involved with a femme fatale (Rita Hayworth) and her oddball collection of associates. An overly complicated labrynth plot which includes murder and betrayal. Plenty of close ups of lovely Rita. Everett Sloane as her successful but sinister lawyer husband is one the many highlights. A scene involving him cross exam himself in a courtroom is hilarious.

Iconic moments include scenes at an aquarium and a famous sequence at the hall of mirrors.

Highly entertaining film noir.
18
Shadow of a Doubt 1943,  PG)
19
Act of Violence 1948,  Unrated)
20
The Set-Up 1949,  Unrated)
21
White Heat 1949,  Unrated)
22
Champion 1949,  Unrated)
Champion
Forget any of his other films, Kirk Douglas is at his best in this dark portrait of a man who works his way to the top of his profession (boxing). On the way up he hurts all the people close to him including his long suffering brother. He uses people then discards them like rubbish. He is a Homme Fatale. A real nasty piece of work. -Brilliant.
23
Where the Sidewalk Ends 1950,  Unrated)
24
The Blue Dahlia 1946,  Unrated)
25
Gun Crazy (Deadly Is the Female) 1950,  R)
Gun Crazy (Deadly Is the Female)
Date: Tuesday 2nd June 2009
Location: Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Mood: Excited

It was a hot summer's day as I arrived at the cinema and I was shaking with anticipation, "Keep cool Matt, keep cool" I kept thinking to myself, "it's only a film". A film though that I had been looking forward to watch for years. A Film Noir showing at the cinema. OMG. Bliss. And for the bargain price of 2. As usual I was the youngest audience member there as the vintage films shown during the day often attracts a more mature crowd. I gave my ticket to the assistant and was complimented on my headgear (I'm not called Matt The Hat for nothing) and took my seat for what would be a roller coaster ride of a movie.

Joseph H Lewis directs this familiar tale about a young couple on the run. Barton (John Dall)is a troubled young man who has spent time in a reform school because of his gun fetish. One day, soon after leaving the army, he visits a travelling fun fair. There, he watches Annie (Peggy Cummins) perform on stage her shooting routine. Instantly beguiled at both her beauty and shooting skills he takes up a challenge, set by her in a shooting contest on stage. As they show off their skills the electricity between them becomes apparent.
The start of a beautiful relationship? Maybe. The only problem being that Annie is an adrenalin junkie and wants nothing in life except danger and money. In Bart she sees the perfect partner. A life of crime beckons...

The film is celebrated, amongst other things, for its famous heist set piece. A camra is placed at the back of the getaway car and we see part of the robbery shot in real time in one long take. An expertly directed scene that is the very definition of simplicity. The film would become an influence on the French New Wave a decade later, using techniques demonstrated in the film.

Welsh born actress Peggy Cummins is outstanding as the Femme Fatale who firmly wears the trousers in their relationship. Dall is solid as the meek beau. The chemistry between the leads is ecstatic, always lusting after each other and unable to leave one another. The original title was Deadly Is The Female which helps sum up the film.

Overall a thrilling, exciting noir that will have you on the edge of your seats. Probably the best 2 quid I've ever spent.
26
The Big Clock 1948,  PG-13)
The Big Clock
Ray Milland plays an editor who has been put in charge to look for an alleged murderer in the building that he works. There is only one problem. He is the alleged murderer and there is a witness. Of course, he is innocent but has been set up. Time is running out...

This is the premise of a tension filled film noir, with the delicious irony of the hunter hunting himself. One of the first noirs that I ever saw and got me into the genre. Co-star Charles Laughton is wonderful as Milland's boss.
27
Pickup on South Street 1953,  Unrated)
Pickup on South Street
Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark) is a low down dirty hood, a pickpocket with a string of offences. One more conviction and he'll be in Sing Sing for a long time. But you got to earn a living some how. On a packed subway train Skip spots a target, a young attractive woman (Jean Peters) and lets his wandering hands steal from her purse. Unbeknown to him, two FBI agents are following her. She's carrying microfilm with important atomic information that's to be passed on to a Communist organisation. Skip has finally hit the jackpot and reckons a big score is to be had. The FBI and the Reds attempt to track him down.

Director Sam Fuller certainly packs a punch with this hard hitting drama. And punches are literally laid out to the females, especially poor old Jean Peters as Candy, the prostitute who gets socked on the jaw as well as being tossed around like a rag doll. One often feels sorry for her, although she does get retribution. Weasel faced Widmark plays to type as the cocky tea leaf all dressed in his trademark fedora and suit. Sexual chemistry between the leads add fission as they try to outwit each other. Although it is Thelma Ritter as Moe who steals the film as a police informer with scruples.

Pickup On South Street is very much of it's time, a propaganda film that points decidedly at the "Commies" as the bad guys as oppose to the more sympathetic characters such as the stool pidgeon and the prostitute who become more patriotic as events unfold. All that is except Skip who will do anything for a quick buck. The Cold War casts a large shadow over the film. Interestingly the French, not liking the anti-Communist message, dubbed in a plot using drugs instead.

A dynamic, violent thriller, Fuller who also wrote the script delivers a visually rewarding film noir that never lets up. With action and interest in every scene and the location shots of New York excitingly staged.

All in all, a cracker!
28
The Seventh Victim 1943,  Unrated)
The Seventh Victim
At RKO studios producer Val Lewton was behind a series of chillers and horrors that redefined the genre during the 1940's. With the use of dark shadows and the power of suggestion there was a sense of not showing explicitly on screen all the action and leaving the viewer to use one's own imagination. The first was Cat People (1942) probably the best known and a good example of the style. The Seventh Victim was 4th film of 9 and an excellent entry it is...

Mary (Kim Hunter) is at a Catholic school when she finds out her older sister Jacqueline has disappeared and has stopped paying for her school fees for a few months. Concerned, Mary travels to New York to find her. There she meets an assortment of Jacqueline's ex-work colleagues, friends and aquaintances but not all are to be trusted. Teaming up with a private detective she discovers that Jacqueline is a member of a group of devil worshippers who are angry at her for giving out secrets about their cult. Mentally unstable, the cult encourage Jacqueline to commit suicide. Can Mary rescue her or will she become the seventh victim?

The unease and tension throughout the film is upheld as this atmospheric drama successfully supplies the thrills and chills at the right moments. Celebrated cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca helps add to the depressing story by painting with light and shadows that contrast with each other. If ever a film could be described as 'dark' then The Seventh Victim is surely it. Satanists, mental cruelty, suicides and murder all add up to a depressingly bleak film but one which conversely, is thoroughly entertaining. One moment that stands out is the shower scene that would have influenced Hitchcock and Psycho.

Not all the motives of certain characters and plotlines always make sense. This is due in part because The Seventh Victim was demoted to a B- film after a disagreement between Val Lewton and studio execs. This meant certain scenes were cut, making the film just 71 minutes. However, the way the film is directed (Mark Robson) still makes it highly watchable.

Kim Hunter does well as the young innocent in a big city but it is Tom Conway as Jacqueline's smarmy psyciatrist who steals the acting honours. Conway was George Sanders brother and they both have similar mannerisms. Also, Jean Brooks as the paranoid Jacqueline is an iconic figure along the lines of the Bride of Frankenstein. With her black bob of a hair-do set agaist her milk white skin and clothed in a big, dark fur coat she's a memorable figure.

Best watched late at night, this morbidly moody mystery is a treat for those who enjoy psycholgical thrillers. A classic.
29
Force of Evil 1948,  PG)
30
D.O.A. 1950,  Unrated)
D.O.A.
A man walks into a police station to report his own murder. We find Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brian) telling the police his story through flashback. Through no fault of his own Bigelow becomes a victim of a slow activating poison, with only days to live.

This is the set up of a thrilling low budget film noir directed by Rudolph Mate. We follow Bigelow turn from an innocent victim to an aggresive detective as he tries to discover his murderer.

Although the subsequent plot is a tad confusing this film has a lot to offer fans of noir. This includes high contrast lighting, the frenzied running on the streets of San Fransisco, a large cast of shady characters and great performance by O'Brian. At only 84 minutes long the film is well paced.

My favourite scene is when the doctor confirms Bigelows fate. My least favourite aspect is the performance of Bigelow's girlfriend (Pamela Britton) who hams it up every time she is on the screen.

The film seems to ask 'What would you do in these circumstances?'
31
Leave Her to Heaven 1945,  Unrated)
32
The Naked City 1948,  Unrated)
33
The Breaking Point 1950,  Unrated)
34
This Gun for Hire 1942,  R)
This Gun for Hire
Raven (Alan Ladd) is a hired killer sent to do a job but is betrayed by his boss William Gates (Laird Creger), who subsequently frames him with a fake robbery charge. Revenge is on the agenda. Whilst on the run he meets cabaret entertainer Ellen Graham (Veronika Lake) who is assisting government agents to spy on her new boss, also William Gates, who they suspect of selling chemical secrets to war time enemies. As Raven, Ladd personifies the lone misanthropist hitman, whose only companion is a cat. He is an antihero who shoots first and doesn't ask any questions. A growing friendship with Ellen warms his cool exterior.

Hitman who avenges his boss? Loner? Possible redemption? If these plot devices sound familiar it's because This Gun For Hire (based on a novel by Graham Greene) is the blue print for many if not all hitman films to follow. It was among the early cycle of film noirs and many iconic imagery and moments occur - trenchcoat wearing protagonist, excitingly staged gaswork scenes, shadowy black and white photography.

This Gun For Hire was the first of three film noirs to pair up Ladd and Lake and catapulted them to fame. Vertically challenged leading man Ladd was the Tom Cruise of his day. He wore platform shoes to make him look taller in scenes and was paired with pretty, petite blonde Lake as she was the only actress small enough to make him appear tall. Luckily the chemistry betweem them made for ideal on screen couple.

Despite it's iconography there are faults such as the complicetd plot which has Ellen at centre of the story, connected coincidentally with all the other main characters.(Her police boyfriend is pursuing Raven). Also we are made to sympathise with coldblooded assasin as the plot unfolds leading to an unsatisfactory patriotic, almost happy ending. Musical interludes pepper the film with Lake miming to popular songs of the time. Depending on mood these are either out of place or utterly charming or a mixture of both. I found myself humming along.

Special mention should go the Laird Creger as William Gates (no relation to the rich fella) as the cowardly villain. A regular of the early noirs who would die only a few years after this film.

Overall this is a must see for all film noir addicts.
35
Thieves' Highway 1949,  Unrated)
36
Sunset Boulevard 1950,  Unrated)
37
Body and Soul (1947) 1947,  Unrated)
Body and Soul (1947)
Good old fashioned boxing yarn. The climatic fight being the highlight of the film.
38
Dark Passage 1947,  Unrated)
39
The Wrong Man 1957,  Unrated)
40
The Big Combo 1955,  Unrated)
41
The Street with No Name 1948,  PG)
42
Key Largo 1948,  Unrated)
43
Somewhere in the Night 2003,  PG)
44
Panic in the Streets 1950,  Unrated)
45
Dead Reckoning 1947,  Unrated)
Dead Reckoning
This Humphrey Bogart film has a familiar feel about it. A film noir that is almost a parody of the genre. It has a Lauren Bacall look alike in the shape of Lizebeth Scott as the femme fatale. Lines such as "When a guy's pal is killed he ought to to do something about it" is similar to The Maltese Falcons "when a man's partner is killed he's supposed to do somthing about it". Even the ending is similar to Out Of The Past.

The film does however move along at a decent pace and is always engaging. It will not disappoint Bogie fans.
46
The Big Heat 1953,  PG)
47
Stranger on the Third Floor 1940,  Unrated)
Stranger on the Third Floor
Considered the first film noir, this epitomises the genre. Using German Expressionist techniques such as the high contrast lighting and angled shots, the film has a dream sequence as its centrepiece. Very arty.

The narrative splinters as there is a shift of point of view from the male protagonist to his girlfriend, as she attempts to help him from a murder rap. Its noir credentials are solidified with the appearance of Elisha Cook Jnr. A character actor who stars in many noirs, often as a hapless victim.
48
Call Northside 777 1948,  Unrated)
49
Ministry of Fear 1944,  Unrated)
50
World for Ransom 1954,  Unrated)
51
The Enforcer 1951,  Unrated)
52
Dillinger 1945,  R)
Dillinger
Made in 1945 this take on Public Enemy #1 John Dillinger is a hard hitting, tough gangster flick. During the Second World War there was an unwritten rule amongst the Hollywood hierachy about not producing gangster films so as not to show America to the rest of the world in a bad light. So it was left to the small production studio Monogram to deliver this version of the infamous crook, near the end of the war. The Gangster film was back with avengence.

Dillinger shows the familiar story of the gangster biopic, as he starts off as a small fry - sticking up a store for a few bucks and quickly getting caught red handed. In prison he joins a hard bitten gang of experienced robbers and his own rise in rank and staus to public enemy #1, as he and the gang rob banks around the country.

Real life bad boy Lawrence Tierney (best known for his role as Joe the boss in Reservoir Dogs) plays the lead with a ruthlessness and tough guy exterior. A charmer with the ladies but a brute when it comes to buisness he is perfectly cast. Unlike other versions of John Dillinger this film portays him very much as a boo-hiss villain which suits the film but was unlike the real life 'Robin Hood' like bank robber who the public admired. Here crossing him in any way is a mistake as he holds on to a grudge like The Statue Of Liberty holds on to her torch.

The rest of the gang is a collection of ugly mugs and rogues who pepper many noirs/gangster flicks including Marc Lawrence, Eduardo Cianelli and Elisha Cook jnr (that's him in my avatar). All give able support.

A violent film that still has cause to shock an audience. This is probably the least factual portrayal of Dillinger but as an entertaining B-movie with noir visuals and a brisk running time it works well.
53
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (Guilty of Murder?) 1945,  Unrated)
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (Guilty of Murder?)
This certainly is a strange affair. A noir melodrama with George Sanders playing the title role as a meek man who lives his two sisters. When a woman enters into his life, one of his sisters becomes a little too jealous and the plot thickens into darker territory. With overtones of incest this was a daring film of its day. However the ending is a total cop out and is quite obviously tacked on. -Loses 10% of its rating.
54
The Lost Weekend 1945,  Unrated)
The Lost Weekend
Never has a film had such a direct influence on me as this. Why? Let me explain...

This film is all about one man's fight against the dreaded vice of alcohol abuse. Ray Milland stars as the novelist with writers block who goes on a two day bender but pummels the depth of depravity, leading to the gutter. His friends who are aware of his addiction try their best to help him but when a man needs a drink he'll stop at nothing to get one.

Why such an influence? For some reason before watching this I hadn't had a drink for a whole 10 days (can't remember why). Watching Milland doing his up most to get a drink started to make me thirsty. As the film rolled on I found myself in need of a fix but low and behold there wasn't a drop in the house- no beer, spirits or wine. Damn! The film was on TV and I wanted to watch it in one sitting but the lure of liquor was calling for me. My only option was to nip over the shops. Decisions, decisions. I started to pull at my hair, panic was creeping in, my heart beating faster, hands becoming clammy, heavy breathing. I need a drink. I NEED A DRINK NOW! Luckily I made a discovery -I found chocolate in the fridge which along with a nice cuppa tea managed to calm me down and I managed to finish the film. Phew...

As for the film this is often described as a film noir because of it's dark atmosphere and story even though no murder is committed, which is the usual requirement.

The moral of my review is to make sure that you are fully stocked up with beers. Don't make the same mistake as me.
55
The Phenix City Story 1955,  Unrated)
The Phenix City Story
The film starts off with a reporter interviewing real people in the streets of Phenix, which this true life story is based on. It is is mindnumbingly tedious. However stay with it as things really hot up into a hard hitting action packed noir.

Beware, as one sequence, involving an African American girl, is one of the most horrific scenes I have ever witnessed on film. Made all the more shocking because it is not expected of in an old black and white film.
56
The Sniper 1952,  Unrated)
57
In a Lonely Place 1950,  Unrated)
58
Border Incident 1949,  Unrated)
59
Suddenly 1954,  PG)
60
Sorry, Wrong Number 1948,  Unrated)
Sorry, Wrong Number
Bed bound Barbara Stanwyck mistakingly over hears a telephone conversation between two men about a murder to take place later that night. She tries to report the incident but is not taken seriously. As a wealthy socialite she is also having marriage problems with her husband Burt Lancaster. As the night rolls on she has numerous conversations on the phone about her husbands misdeeds and suspects that something is afoot...

The main part of the film has a number of back stories and flashbacks that inform and moves the plot along. Stanwyck is excellent as the spoilt hypochondriac unable or unwilling to leave her bedroom. The tension built climax, with it's use of suspenseful music is a spine tingling, goosebump inducing terrorfying moment that sent shivers down my back. I live for moments like these and cannot recommend this highly enough.

Classic Film Noir.
61
He Walked by Night 1948,  Unrated)
62
The Narrow Margin 1952,  Unrated)
63
They Live by Night (The Twisted Road) 1948,  Unrated)
64
Woman on the Run 1950,  Unrated)
65
Fear in the Night 1947,  Unrated)
Fear in the Night
Nightmares. I remember once having a nightmare where I was on top a speeding train. It was dark and I was clinging on to save my life. I my lost grip, fell and BANG! I woke up in a cold sweat and convinced myself it was only a dream. Phew..! But what happens when you have a dream where you find yourself in a room full of mirrored doors, discovering a man and a woman, surprising them, tangling with the man and finally killing him. You wake up, yes? In your own room, right? Well yeah, but where did the bruises on your neck come from? Why is there blood on your wrist? And whose unidentified key and button are in your hand? Well all this happened to Vince, a weak willed man who after an initial panic begins to investigate this strange occurence.

Fear In The Night is a low budget bargain basement Film Noir. Based on a story by Cornell Woolrich, a favourite author of mine, who was able to wring suspense out of every nook and cranny with his masterly style of writing. This is typical of his output. The film is noticable for starring Deforest Kelley better known as Dr 'Bones' McCoy of Star Trek fame. Even as a young man Kelley had an old face and his eyebrows are on overdrive jumping all over his forehead. In many ways he is right for the part as possible the wimpiest character ever to be found in a film. Luckely he has a hard boiled copper of a brother in law to hold his hand and help him through the mess. The overall acting is mediocre at best with the girlfriends of each man being pretty bad almost killing the scenes in which they appear.

With a brisk running time of 70 minutes, cheap sets, and dodgy acting the film is able to move along with it's silly over the top but plausable plot and there is enough mystery and suspense to keep you mildly interested. Dream sequences, suicide attempts and chase scenes add to the limited action.

The main problem is the quality of the DVD. The transfer to disc is terrible. The picture is shoddy and the sound is often inaudable. Some of the dialogue is hard to pick up. The music is probly suspensful but complety ruined. If your eyes are used to the detail of BluRay, HD and all that modern jazz then this will be a big turn off. A real museum piece. A lot is taken away from the enjoyment of the film. I'm going to name and shame - Glass Key. Thanks for releasing it but bad job.
66
Kansas City Confidential (The Secret Four) 1952,  Unrated)
67
Possessed 1947,  Unrated)
68
Dark City 1950,  Unrated)
69
Laura 1944,  Unrated)
Laura
Having grown up on a diet of murder mysteries through both TV and film my initial reaction of Laura was of a good, solid, enjoyable but unremarkable whodunnit when I first watched many moons ago. It was only after watching one of those '100 best moments in cinema' type programmes that I learned of it's classic status. Dennis Rodman (eccentric cross dressing ex basketball star) of all people was the main talking head who bigged up this particular film. It immediately made me want to view it again. If it's good enough for Dennis it's good enough for me.

Laura is famous for it's twist (don't worry I don't do spoilers), characters and theme tune. Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is the cop who investigates the murder of a socialite but is almost a caricature of a hard boiled detective who enters into high society. Think Columbo but more ruder (my, wasn't Columbo the most polite of policemen). I used to think of Andrews as a cut price Bogie but have since changed my mind and think he is a wonderful actor. Minimalist, able to convey emotion just through his eyes.

Gene Tierney as Laura is, as always a delight to watch and the main focus of all the other characters obsessions. Vincent Price is a little hammy (surprise surprise) as a playboy on the make. The star of the show is Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker a slightly feminine (read gay) columnist who has all the best put downs. A bitchy charactor on a par with George Sanders in All About Eve (1950).

Director Otto Preminger would later reunite Andrews and Tierney in the superior Film Noir Where The Sidewalk Ends (1950).

OK, so this is very much a character led mystery drama that leads to the inevitable gathering of suspects at the climax and reveal. I have come to like Laura after several viewings but my initial (stick in the mud) impression still stands, well maybe an extra 10% rating. Which brings me to a question. Do films improve after several viewings or do you get the biggest thrill from the first viewing? You can probably guess my opinion.
70
Mildred Pierce 1945,  Unrated)
71
The Glass Key 1942,  PG)
72
On Dangerous Ground 1952,  R)
73
Brute Force 1947,  G)
74
Fallen Angel 1945,  Unrated)
75
The Dark Mirror 1946,  Unrated)
The Dark Mirror
Robert Siodmak is one of the unsung heroes amongst the directors of film noir. His films are always enjoyable and have something to offer. Here we have Olivia De Havilland in a dual role playing twins, one evil, one good. A psychiatrist (Lew Ayres) has to figure out which is the murderess.

The plot is pretty silly but who cares when so much style is on offer. The studio bound sets with the high contrast lighting, the use of mirrors and the clever use of editing all combine to make this handsome film. I was sure at the beginning that I would be able to see the joins of having one actress play two parts. I was proved wrong.

Sigmund Freud and psychology was a popular topic in Hollywood during the 1940s and it featured in a lot of films. Siodmak has a lot of fun with the doppelganger theme.

Olivia De Havilland is excellent in her dual roles and must have enjoyed the experience. Overall I would recommend this to film noir enthusiasts only, because of it's style over substance.
76
Sweet Smell of Success 1957,  Unrated)
77
The Woman in the Window 1944,  Unrated)
78
Scarlet Street 1945,  PG)
79
Raw Deal 1948,  Unrated)
80
The House on Telegraph Hill 2001,  Unrated)
81
I Wake Up Screaming 1941,  Unrated)
82
The Window 1949,  Unrated)
83
Crossfire 1947,  Unrated)
Crossfire
This low budget film noir deals with serious issues of the day, namely anti-Semitism. Set just after World War 2, a Jewish man is murdered after a group of soldiers have been partying in his apartment. An investigation is set up to find the culprit.

The action is kept to a minimum as this is a drama with a lot of dialogue. Director Edward Dmytryk uses sparse sets with single source lights illuminating dark rooms, such as lamps showing the characters faces in close up. This creates a moody atmosphere. This technique was used in his superior film Murder My Sweet (1944).

The acting is uniformly excellent from the Roberts - Mitchum, Young and Ryan. Robert Ryan stands out as the racist bigot, a role he would often play in his career.

The original story dealt with homophobia instead of anti-Semitism, but that seemed to be an even more controversial subject of the time, so a change in scripted occurred.

Overall this is a good solid drama that successfully combines social commentary with film noir and gives insights into the returning war veterans state of mind.
84
Quicksand (1950) 1950,  Unrated)
85
The Reckless Moment 1949,  Unrated)
86
Moonrise 1948,  PG)
Moonrise
Does bad blood run through the family?

Danny Hawkins (Dane Clerk) is haunted by the past. His father killed a man and was sent to the gallows when Danny was just a baby. Throughout Danny's life he has been taunted because of this, none more so than bully boy Jerry Sykes (Lloyd Bridges). One night things turn ugly as Danny stands up to his tormentor only for a fatal occurance to happen.

Is Danny just like his father? Are you born bad or do you become bad? These are the questions that are raised in this pschological drama that slowly reveals the protagonists state of mind.

A visual treat to the eyes Frank Borzage directs this studio bound drama set mainly in a swamp, near a small town, with flowing camera movements taking in the action. Borzage was a leading director during the silent era and this film often has a sense of that byegone era.

Solid acting by all the cast. There is an amusingly odd character in the Diner who speaks in a 'jive' slang, calling people 'squares', ect. Also look out for a young Henry Morgan and Lloyd Bridges.

The opening scene is spendidly shot, showing a man being escorted to the gallows but viewed from the waist down. It cuts to the man being hanged but we only see the silhouette of his shadow. Cut to a crying baby in a nearby room where the shadow is beamed through, which seamingly highlights the curse on Danny from a young age.

Overall, though slow at times this is beautiful to watch, not too dissimilar to Night Of The Hunter in look and tone.
87
The Big Steal 1949,  Unrated)
88
The Hitch-Hiker 1953,  PG-13)
89
Killer's Kiss 1955,  Unrated)
Killer's Kiss
Some of Kubricks later films are overlong but this is a short, cheap noir, which is highly stylised and always entertaining. I managed to watch this at the local art cinema and it looked great on the big screen.
90
The House on 92nd Street 1945,  Unrated)
91
High Wall 1947,  Unrated)
92
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt 1956,  Unrated)
93
Private Hell 36 (Baby Face Killers) 1954,  Unrated)
94
Journey Into Fear 1943,  Unrated)
95
Born to Kill 1947,  Unrated)
96
The Harder They Fall 1956,  Unrated)
97
The Spiral Staircase 1946,  Unrated)
98
High Sierra 1941,  Unrated)
99
Niagara 1953,  Unrated)
100
The Stranger 1946,  PG)
The Stranger
You know the score. You have a deadline at work (or school). It has to be finished on time. If not, you're in trouble. Well this even applies to filmmaking. Orson Welles, whose battles with the studios meant he did not have the clout or backing to make the films he wanted at this stage of his career. Instead he was given handouts like The Stranger, probably his most conventional film.

The story begins with War Crimes Commissioner Mr Wilson (Edward G Robinson) releasing a notorious Nazi in the hope that he will lead to bigger fish to fry, in this case Franz Kindler a leading Nazi who masterminded genocide but is unrecognisable due to his dislike of publicity. Mr Wilson follows Meinke (Konstantin Shayne) to a small town in Connecticut but loses trace of him after an attempt on his life. Clues lead him to Charles Ranklin (Welles) a respected professor who is about to get married to a local girl. A cat and mouse game ensues.

As much as a psychological drama as a chase thriller, here we have sweet naive Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young) being forced by Mr Wilson and her subconscious to betray her new husband, who she loves dearly, which drives her to hysteria and breaking point. Finding out your spouse is a leading member of a Fascist organistaion is enough to drive anybody loopy. Suspension of disbelief is needed as many of the plot devices are hard to accept, like how a leading Nazi managed to settle in the community so easily. Why he has no trace of a German accent. The problems with the script lead to moments of genuine tension that are interspersed with scenes lacking in suspense. Edward G is solid as ever but Welles is not too convicing and neither is Young. An exciting, if obvious climax saves the film from total failure. The cinematography is decent.

Overall a mixed bag and a minor film in Welles' filmography.

Usefull information: A Welles film wouldn't be a Welles film without interference from his bosses as The Stranger has missing scenes cut (up to 30 minutes) from it's beginning. These scenes are sadly lost forever. It's a shame as Meinke is the most interesting character in the film.
101
Experiment Perilous 1944,  Unrated)
102
Gilda 1946,  PG)
103
The Dark Corner 1946,  PG)
104
Boomerang! 1947,  Unrated)
105
He Ran All the Way 1951,  Unrated)
106
The Tall Target 1951,  Unrated)
107
House of Bamboo 1955,  Unrated)
108
I Confess 1952,  Unrated)
109
Johnny O'Clock 1947,  Unrated)
110
Clash By Night 1952,  Unrated)
111
The Desperate Hours 1955,  Unrated)
112
Rebecca 1940,  Unrated)
113
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye 1950,  R)
114
Crack-Up 1946,  Unrated)
115
Angel Face 1952,  Unrated)
116
Caught 1949,  Unrated)
117
Detective Story 1951,  Unrated)
118
Try and Get Me 1950,  Unrated)
119
The Damned Don't Cry 1950,  Unrated)
120
The Mask of Dimitrios 1944,  Unrated)
121
Beware, My Lovely 1952,  Unrated)
122
The Blue Gardenia 1953,  Unrated)
123
Whirlpool 1949,  Unrated)
124
Human Desire 1954,  Unrated)
125
The Racket 1951,  R)
126
Sleep, My Love 1947,  Unrated)
127
Odds Against Tomorrow 1959,  Unrated)
Odds Against Tomorrow
Released during the last years of the classic period of film noir Odds Against Tomorrow is a heist film involving three desperate men - Robert Ryan, Harry Belafonte and Ed Begley. Ryan in a typical role plays a racist bigot and his animosity towards Belafonte undermines the gangs cause. Both actors put in solid performances with the added bonus of Belafonte performing on stage as a singer in a nightclub. He also produced the film and it is interesting to see a strong role for a black actor in film noir which is very rare.

The film suffers because of its slow build up to the eventual robbery. There is an more emphasis on the reasons for the robbers to get involved but this just drags the drama down.

The jazz score and the use of the New York locations are both noticeable highlights. There seems to be parallels between this and West Side Story which director Robert Wise would later make. The actors seemingly moving around the streets like dancers in the well staged explosive climax.

The most interesting scene is where Ryan and Gloria Graham (another noir stalwart) interact in his apartment. She asks him how it feels to kill a man (he did a stretch for manslaughter) and he realises that she is turned on by his bad boy persona and tells her how much he enjoyed it. They embrace, kiss and the scene ends. No need for any explicit sex scene as the suggestion is made perfectly.

Overall good, with many of its parts making up for the slow build up.

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