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"She can't be all bad. No one is." "Well, she comes the closest."
August 19, 2010 5:43 AM   Subscribe

Over the course of four months earlier this year, Dave at Goodfella's Movie Blog posted 100 (!) sharply written analyses of a wide range of classic Noir films. The top position was a bit of a surprise amid the obvious standards, but the real meat is in his informative takes on dozens of lesser-known gems.

#98-100
#81-97
#65-80
#50-64
#36-49
#22-35
#9-21
#1-8
posted by mediareport (62 comments total) 135 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is fabulous! Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 5:48 AM on August 19, 2010


I have a copy of the script for Sweet Smell of Success, signed by Ernest Lehman. When I asked him to sign it, he was quite pleased to, until I told him how much I love the dialogue.

"Odets wrote most of the dialogue," he said, glumly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:44 AM on August 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is awesome, even ignoring the analysis it is a great resource for finding some of the under-appreciated noir films out there if you've seen all of the well-known classics. I was pleased to see Kiss Me Deadly in the top 5, it really rises above the usual genre tropes and was way ahead of its time.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:48 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Sweet Smell of Success fucking rules.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:49 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sweet. Can't wait to check this out thouroughly.
posted by dortmunder at 6:49 AM on August 19, 2010


This is a pretty good analysis.

& The Sweet Smell of Success is totally awesome.

In Andrew Loog Oldham's memoir he said: "I wanted to be Sidney Falco".
posted by ovvl at 6:55 AM on August 19, 2010


Wonderful, thanks! This will make great cottage viewing this weekend.
posted by SNACKeR at 6:58 AM on August 19, 2010


Excellent! Any excuse to talk about these movies is a good one, and the fact that it's actually a good list makes it even better. Like many movie lists, they occasionally turn me onto some new films, but more often they remind me of so many favorites I haven't seen in a long time.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:05 AM on August 19, 2010


Fantastic - thanks. What would be even better is if the reviews each had an embedded link to that film on Netflix, for more convenient queuing...
posted by twsf at 7:15 AM on August 19, 2010


Wow - I wish there was just a way to automatically put this into my Netflix queue. What a great list! (which means I agree with a lot of the rankings - though since I answer Double Indemnity when people ask my favorite movie -- I may be skewered) Eveyrthing on there I should either have seen already or want to see again (and/or make my boyfriend watch it)

Any noir list that doesn't forget Niagara is a-okay by me. It's one of those movies that you remember in black and white (which in some ways is sad because the color is used so well)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:19 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always forget that The Maltese Falcon is Huston's first time as director. What an asshole.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:19 AM on August 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I love nearly all of these films and it's always great to see them appreciated, but the Top N List format really seems like a plague on amateur film criticism at this point. I mean, it's really the wrong format for this kind of project: it takes what ought to be an extended appreciation of 100 films, each great in its own way, and distorts it into a series of evaluative comparisons, a little pissing-contest between them, for no real or useful reason. The discussions that a list like this starts (on questions like: how in the hell can you possibly claim White Heat is a better film than The Lady from Shanghai?) are not the ones it really seems to want to start (which would address questions like: should the French neo-noirs and crimis of the '50s and '60s be seen as part of the same living genre as the Hollywood noirs, rather than treated as derivative/imitation/revivals?).
posted by RogerB at 7:20 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, now that I look at the site more I'm changing my praise to dislike. I have several books sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read, but now I'm going to end up ignoring those books in favor of watching movies this weekend. All because of this stupid, well written site full of insightful commentary and enthusiasm for film.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:21 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cat's in the bag, bag's in the river.

The Sweet Smell of Success is truly a masterpiece. I love it when J.J. shakes the hand of the huge cruel cop and says "you want me to say uncle?"
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:29 AM on August 19, 2010


Thank you a million times for this terrific post about one of my obsessions, which is (fittingly) film noir. It's great to see that so many other people seem to have that obsession too. I can happily accept his #1 and his top 10 (haven't seen "Rififi" yet, and I need to do that). "In a Lonely Place" will always be my #1, though -- there's no film remotely like it (to me). "Gun Crazy," though, deserves way better than #48.

His point that there's no separation between most of these films, because they're all "the cream of the crop," is a good one, though in that case, why rank them at all?
posted by blucevalo at 7:38 AM on August 19, 2010


Second to my love of roman noir is love of noir film. Rather than quibble about what is ranked where, I'm using this list to search out those I haven't yet seen. Touchez pas les Grisbi tops my list of movies I need to see now.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:02 AM on August 19, 2010


but the Top N List format really seems like a plague on amateur film criticism at this point.

why rank them at all?


An interesting question. I think that many of us can agree that a reasonable word to describe the the Top N List is 'imperfect'. Well, life can be imperfect sometimes, but we have to start somewhere. The Top N List is the springboard to discussion and evaluation.

Even I have moments of existential doubt about these issues. I can state without reservation that "The Sweet Smell of Success is totally awesome!" But I wouldn't feel completely comfortable describing it as the definitive "noir" film either (which might be Double Indemnity (I think?)). Having a Top N List is a good way to lead to this kind of question, and to doubt, explore and test it.

(I think that a definitive noir film has a 'presence of death', that fairly early in the story you just know that someone has been or is going to be murdered. With The Sweet Smell you know that things are getting pretty ugly early on, but the question of actual killing is left open until the conclusion).
posted by ovvl at 8:11 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's the list. Number 66 seems to be missing:

#1: Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957)
#2: Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)
#3: Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)
#4: Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak, 1949)
#5: The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946)
#6: In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
#7: Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
#8: Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
#9: Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955)
#10: The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950)
#11: The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)
#12: The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)
#13: Pitfall (André de Toth, 1948)
#14: Touchez Pas au Grisbi (Jacques Becker, 1954)
#22: The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1953)
#23: Brute Force (Jules Dassin, 1947)
#24: The Set-Up (Robert Wise, 1949)
#25: Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946)
#26: The Letter (William Wyler, 1940)
#27: The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955)
#28: Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945)
#29: Night and the City (Jules Dassin, 1950)
#30: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)
#31: Too Late for Tears (Byron Haskin, 1949)
#32: Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway, 1947)
#33: Murder,
#35: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Otto Preminger, 1950)
#36: White Heat (Raoul Walsh, 1949)
#37: T-Men (Anthony Mann, 1947)
#38: Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding, 1947)
#39: Raw Deal (Anthony Mann, 1948)
#40: Crime Wave (André de Toth, 1954)
#41: Le Doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962)
#42: Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
#43: House of Strangers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1949)
#44: Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961)
#45: Ride the Pink Horse (Robert Montgomery, 1947)
#46: Nobody Lives Forever (Jean Negulesco, 1946)
#47: 99 River Street (Phil Karlson, 1953)
#48: Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1950)
#49: Pushover (Richard Quine, 1954)
#50: D.O.A. (Rudolph Maté, 1950)
#51: The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947)
#52: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (Gordon Douglas, 1950)
#53: Woman on the Run (Norman Foster, 1950)
#54: Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945)
#55: Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953)
#56: Drive a Crooked Road (Richard Quine, 1954)
#57: The Narrow Margin (Richard Fleischer, 1952)
#59: Kansas City Confidential (Phil Karlson, 1952)
#60: Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948)
#61: Somewhere in the Night (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1946)
#62: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Lewis Milestone, 1946)
#63: Tread Softly Stranger (Gordon Parry, 1958)
#64: Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl, 1945)
#65: I Walk Alone (Byron Haskin, 1948)
????? Missing?
#67: Moonrise (Frank Borzage, 1948)
#68: Side Street (Anthony Mann, 1950)
#69: They Live by Night (Nicholas Ray, 1948)
#70: I Wake Up Screaming (H. Bruce Humberstone, 1941)
#71: Born to Kill (Robert Wise, 1947)
#72: The Dark Corner (Henry Hathaway, 1946)
#73: Key Largo (John Huston, 1948)
#74: High Sierra (Raoul Walsh, 1941)
#75: Out of the Fog (Anatole Litvak, 1941)
#76: Decoy (Jack Bernhard, 1946)
#77: On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952)
#78: Union Station (Rudolph Maté, 1950)
#79: Stray Dog (Akira Kurosawa, 1949)
#80: The Big Steal (Don Siegel, 1949)
#81: Road House (Jean Negulesco, 1948)
#82: Niagara (Henry Hathaway, 1953)
#83: Night Has a Thousand Eyes (John Farrow, 1948)
#84: Thieves' Highway (Jules Dassin, 1949)
#85: Journey Into Fear (Norman Foster, 1943)
#86: Tension (John Berry, 1950)
#87: The Big Clock (John Farrow, 1948)
#88: The Blue Dahlia (George Marshall, 1946)
#89: The Street With No Name (William Keighley, 1948)
#90: Illegal (Lewis Allen, 1955)
#91: Sorry, Wrong Number (Anatole Litvak, 1948)
#92: The Stranger (Orson Welles, 1946)
#93: He Walked by Night (Alfred L. Werker, 1948)
#94: The Hitch-Hiker (Ida Lupino, 1953)
#95: Call Northside 777 (Henry Hathaway, 1948)
#96: House of Bamboo (Samuel Fuller, 1955)
#97: The Blue Gardenia (Fritz Lang, 1953)
#98: Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak, 1944)
#99: Act of Violence (Fred Zinnemann, 1948)
#100: The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang, 1944)
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:13 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Sweet Smell of Success fucking rules.

I've never seen the movie except the clip you just linked, but wow! The dialogue is scorching!

*checks Netflix*

*does a little happy-dance*

*adds to queue*

I'm just getting into noir (I just read The Big Sleep), so this list is timely and wonderful.
posted by jnrussell at 8:13 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apologies, I got enthusiastic with my cutting and missed a paste:
#33: Murder, My Sweet (Edward Dmytryk, 1944)
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:14 AM on August 19, 2010


His top eight includes Kiss Me Deadly, In a Lonely Place, Out of the Past, Sunset Boulevard, and Double Indemnity.

This is a blogger who knows what he is talking about. Goddamn, I love resources like this.

Now to add to the Netflix queue the top movies he lists that I haven't seen yet.

Kiss Me Deadly is so insane it must be seen. Gaby Rodgers as Lilly Carter... That character scared the hell out of me, skimming right along the razor's edge between "totally bugfuck" and "strangely alluring" in a way I don't think a movie's ever done before or since. Compelling, confusing, sexy, and almost certainly way more dangerous than I could handle. Which is also the whole movie in a nutshell.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 8:21 AM on August 19, 2010


Speaking of noir, if you're still looking for summer/beach reading, you can't go wrong with this selection of James M. Cain novels. I've not actrually read this collection with the short stories, but the three novels are fun, even if you've already seen the movies of the same name.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:21 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great to see Detour in there at #28, I always had a thing for that movie's wonky dark charms, and I think Goodfella's Dave captured part of it's allure with his closing comment:

"I don’t know, maybe I’ve seen too many David Lynch films, but this is the feeling I get every time I watch it."
posted by fairmettle at 8:22 AM on August 19, 2010


Any other links to lists/reviews of the literature? I need to expand my noir library past Chandler and Hammet.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:25 AM on August 19, 2010


He was totally harsh on Pickup on South Street. Admittedly the movie has problems and I don't disagree with his review, but I love to root for the underdog. Also, Thelma Ritter as a tired old grifter! Sublime.
posted by hermitosis at 8:27 AM on August 19, 2010


Wow - 100 reviews in 4 months makes one review per week (previously, self-link) seem a lazy pace.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:34 AM on August 19, 2010


I love that TCM shows plenty of noir films, though they've been showing fewer of them lately and putting them on at early morning hours (instead favoring repeated showings of, say, "Meet Me in St. Louis" or the greatest hits of Kathryn Grayson at prime hours). They have this one interstitial bit that they show sometimes with these random "experts" and "movie buffs" opining about what how they define noir. One guy smirks and says, "You're ..... asking me what noir is? Nobody's figured that out."

The beauty is that it has been figured out, over and over again, and what's left is fighting over the details.
posted by blucevalo at 8:34 AM on August 19, 2010


Any other links to lists/reviews of the literature? I need to expand my noir library past Chandler and Hammet.

The Library of America's two noir collections (1930s and 1940s, 1950s) would be a good place to start.
posted by otio at 8:36 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great now we're all going to be fighting over the (probably) single copy of Sweet Smell of Success at Netflix.

/moves it to the top
posted by Big_B at 8:37 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was about to link to the Library of America noir anthologies, too, but on preview I see I've been beaten to it.

I can state without reservation that "The Sweet Smell of Success is totally awesome!" But I wouldn't feel completely comfortable describing it as the definitive "noir" film either (which might be Double Indemnity (I think?)). Having a Top N List is a good way to lead to this kind of question, and to doubt, explore and test it.

But that isn't the best, or the right, kind of question for every film-critical situation, and indeed it depends on a bad premise, the conflation of "definitiveness" (how perfectly representative of the genre?) with evaluation (how good as a film?). And honestly, paying this much attention to evaluation at all, elevating which-is-the-best to this level of centrality, is more of a discussion-killer than a good starting point — since it tends to boil all disagreements down to restatements of the different positions, it makes critical discussions into "I liked it" vs. "I didn't" rather than leading to something more expansive and detail-oriented and subject to discussion. This is why evaluation isn't usually the central concern of real criticism in other fields — people don't, thank god, usually make up tossed-off lists of Top 50 Color-Field Paintings or The 35 Best-Ever Jacobean Revenge Tragedies and then fight about the rankings, they just talk about the ones that interest them. But for some reason (which reason I think, not too surprisingly, is the pervasive influence of Hollywood marketing on film-critical discourse) these lists are everyone's model of how to start a discussion about film.
posted by RogerB at 8:40 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stagger Lee: "Here's the list. Number 66 seems to be missing"

#66: Clash by Night (Fritz Lang, 1952)
posted by Bonzai at 8:40 AM on August 19, 2010


Nice site.

"Dave" should reconsider using a celebrity mug as his avatar. That's just plain goofy.
posted by uraniumwilly at 8:42 AM on August 19, 2010


Any other links to lists/reviews of the literature? I need to expand my noir library past Chandler and Hammet.

James Cain is the one to read next. Double Indemnity is the best noir novel I've read.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:51 AM on August 19, 2010


shakespearian: I always forget that The Maltese Falcon is Huston's first time as director. What an asshole.

Who? Huston? I need elaboration here - he's about my favoritest ever. Is he a colossal turd to work for?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:58 AM on August 19, 2010


This has reminded me to try to push Brick onto my friends. It's not old school noir, it's new noir in school. It would make a fine gateway drug to at last being able to watch films more than twenty years old with my friends.
posted by adipocere at 8:59 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love, love , love Out Of The Past. I even love the totally cheesy moment when the deaf kid kills a guy with a fishing pole.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:03 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The ranking conceit just seems like a way to organize the list to make it fun to write.

The discussions that a list like this starts...are not the ones it really seems to want to start (which would address questions like: should the French neo-noirs and crimis of the '50s and '60s be seen as part of the same living genre as the Hollywood noirs, rather than treated as derivative/imitation/revivals?).

Your 2nd example and lots of other thoughtful, similar questions about genre are definitely present throughout Dave's reviews. I think he'd be the first to agree that questions of ranking, while they can be fun, are much less interesting than issues related to film, genre boundaries, directors' histories, etc. I think Dave does a great job balancing the ranking thing with lots of deeper analysis.

Oh, and I watched Detour last night for the first time. What a dark little film. Ulmer's career before, during and after his stint on Poverty Row is pretty fascinating, too.
posted by mediareport at 9:05 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


missing: His Kind Of Woman

I'm liking this list because it has Touchez Pas au Grisbi at #14. This is a very cool film, but only recently available on DVD.
posted by warbaby at 9:19 AM on August 19, 2010


It looks like a cool list of films...

one thing that struck me, at the link and here for that matter, is the absence of bickering over the list, just minor personal quibbles. Which for the internet is like achieving peace in the middle east.
posted by edgeways at 9:34 AM on August 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


As someone who nearly got into a scuffle with some people in a bar who wanted to turn off Double Indemnity to watch a baseball game, I have nothing to add but:

SQUEEEEEE.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:55 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who? Huston? I need elaboration here - he's about my favoritest ever. Is he a colossal turd to work for?
posted by Devils Rancher


I believe he means he's an asshole because his first movie was so good.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:06 AM on August 19, 2010


A lot of directors have good first movies. They get the most time to plan the first one, so those are often well thought out. Later movies, time is tight.
posted by warbaby at 11:12 AM on August 19, 2010


I believe he means he's an asshole because his first movie was so good.

Yeah, this. Other assholes: T.S. Eliot, Mozart, Orson Welles, Miranda July (especially!).
posted by shakespeherian at 11:15 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


A lot of directors have good first movies.

Sure, but there's a difference between Kicking and Screaming good and The Maltese Falcon good.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:19 AM on August 19, 2010


Here's a linkified list, if anybody wants (just copypasted from the source of the page):

  • #1: Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957)

  • #2: Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)

  • #3: Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)

  • #4: Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak, 1949)

  • #5: The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946)

  • #6: In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)

  • #7: Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)

  • #8: Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

  • #9: Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955)

  • #10: The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950)

  • #11: The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)

  • #12: The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)

  • #13: Pitfall (André de Toth, 1948)

  • #14: Touchez Pas au Grisbi (Jacques Becker, 1954)

  • #15: The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941)

  • #16: The Postman Always Rings Twice (Tay Garnett, 1946)

  • #17: The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946)

  • #18: Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

  • #19: Cry of the City (Robert Siodmak, 1948)

  • #20: Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang, 1945)

  • #21: The Reckless Moment (Max Ophüls, 1949)

  • #22: The Big Heat (Frtiz Lang, 1953)

  • #23: Brute Force (Jules Dassin, 1947)

  • #24: The Set-Up (Robert Wise, 1949)

  • #25: Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946)

  • #26: The Letter (William Wyler, 1940)

  • -#27: The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955)

  • #28: Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945)

  • #29: Night and the City (Jules Dassin, 1950)

  • #30: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

  • #31: Too Late for Tears (Byron Haskin, 1949)

  • #32: Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway, 1947)

  • #33: Murder, My Sweet (Edward Dmytryk, 1944)

  • #34: Body and Soul (Robert Rossen, 1947)

  • #35: Where the Sidewalk Ends (Otto Preminger, 1950)

  • #36: White Heat (Raoul Walsh, 1949)

  • #37: T-Men (Anthony Mann, 1947)

  • #38: Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding, 1947)

  • #39: Raw Deal (Anthony Mann, 1948)

  • #40: Crime Wave (André de Toth, 1954)

  • #41: Le Doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962)

  • #42: Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)

  • #43: House of Strangers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1949)

  • #44: Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961)

  • #45: Ride the Pink Horse (Robert Montgomery, 1947)

  • #46: Nobody Lives Forever (Jean Negulesco, 1946)

  • #47: 99 River Street (Phil Karlson, 1953)

  • #48: Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1950)

  • #49: Pushover (Richard Quine, 1954)

  • #50: D.O.A. (Rudolph Maté, 1950)

  • #51: The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947)

  • #52: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (Gordon Douglas, 1950)

  • #53: Woman on the Run (Norman Foster, 1950)

  • #54: Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945)

  • #55: Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953)

  • #56: Drive a Crooked Road (Richard Quine, 1954)

  • #57: The Narrow Margin (Richard Fleischer, 1952)

  • #58: Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (Norman Foster, 1948)

  • #59: Kansas City Confidential (Phil Karlson, 1952)

  • #60: Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948)

  • #61: Somewhere in the Night (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1946)

  • #62: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Lewis Milestone, 1946)

  • #63: Tread Softly Stranger (Gordon Parry, 1958)

  • #64: Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl, 1945)

  • #65: I Walk Alone (Byron Haskin, 1948)

  • #66: Clash by Night (Fritz Lang, 1952)

  • #67: Moonrise (Frank Borzage, 1948)

  • #68: Side Street (Anthony Mann, 1950)

  • #69: They Live by Night (Nicholas Ray, 1948)

  • #70: I Wake Up Screaming (H. Bruce Humberstone, 1941)

  • #71: Born to Kill (Robert Wise, 1947)

  • #72: The Dark Corner (Henry Hathaway, 1946)

  • #73: Key Largo (John Huston, 1948)

  • #74: High Sierra (Raoul Walsh, 1941)

  • #75: Out of the Fog (Anatole Litvak, 1941)

  • #76: Decoy (Jack Bernhard, 1946)

  • #77: On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952)

  • #78: Union Station (Rudolph Maté, 1950)

  • #79: Stray Dog (Akira Kurosawa, 1949)

  • #80: The Big Steal (Don Siegel, 1949)

  • #81: Road House (Jean Negulesco, 1948)

  • #82: Niagara (Henry Hathaway, 1953)

  • #83: Night Has a Thousand Eyes (John Farrow, 1948)

  • #84: Thieves' Highway (Jules Dassin, 1949)

  • #85: Journey Into Fear (Norman Foster, 1943)

  • #86: Tension (John Berry, 1950)

  • #87: The Big Clock (John Farrow, 1948)

  • #88: The Blue Dahlia (George Marshall, 1946)

  • #89: The Street With No Name (William Keighley, 1948)

  • #90: Illegal (Lewis Allen, 1955)

  • #91: Sorry, Wrong Number (Anatole Litvak, 1948)

  • #92: The Stranger (Orson Welles, 1946)

  • #93: He Walked By Night (Alfred L. Werker, 1948)

  • #94: The Hitch-Hiker (Ida Lupino, 1953)

  • #95: Call Northside 777 (Henry Hathaway, 1948)

  • #96: House of Bamboo (Samuel Fuller, 1955)

  • #97: The Blue Gardenia (Fritz Lang, 1953)

  • #98: Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak, 1944)

  • #99: Act of Violence (Fred Zinnemann, 1948)

  • #100: The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang, 1944)

  • posted by koeselitz at 12:07 PM on August 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


    Number 66 seems to be missing

    Here's the direct link to #66; a glitch leaves it off the 65-80 page.
    posted by mediareport at 12:08 PM on August 19, 2010


    Yeah, this. Other assholes: T.S. Eliot, Mozart, Orson Welles, Miranda July (especially!).

    Ah, good. I was worried we'd have to fight on the internet.
    posted by Devils Rancher at 1:22 PM on August 19, 2010


    We still can if you'd like.
    posted by shakespeherian at 1:40 PM on August 19, 2010


    Any other links to lists/reviews of the literature? I need to expand my noir library past Chandler and Hammet.


    Deserving of an FPP itself is the late, lamented Black Lizard imprint, from the late lamented Creative Arts Book Company, which itself filed for bankruptcy protection in 2004. Most of the Black Lizards came out in (imo) sumptuous mass-market paperbacks with cover drawings by Jim Kirwan. Before Black Lizard published the Big Jim Thompson catalog, finding gems like Pop. 1280 or Savage Night used to take considerable trawling at used book stores.

    Most of the Black Lion books have been reprinted in trade paperbacks by Random House's Vintage Crime imprint. The Black Lions just look & feel better in your hand when reading Charles Willeford or Jim Thompson.

    Apparently, Thompson's classic "The Killer Inside Me" was recently remade by director Michael Winterbottom. It got a limited release back in June, and starred Casey Affleck as the inimitable Sheriff Lou Ford. The 1976 version (which starred Stacy Keach) was horrible--if you're a Thompson fan, you already know this.

    I haven't seen the Winterbottom version, but reviews were negative toward Winterbottom's depictions of violence. On the one hand, it sounds as if he's being true to Thompson's misogyny, but the critics note that the camera stares at Jessica Alba's character as she's savagely beaten, while a male victim is allowed to be beaten & die off camera. Again, I haven't seen it, but it sounds as if Winterbottom is being blamed for filming it almost as it was written.
    posted by beelzbubba at 1:43 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


    We still can if you'd like.

    Under the Volcano was the most underrated movie of Huston's career. Take that! C'mon! whaddyagot? I got nuthin'.
    posted by Devils Rancher at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2010


    His best film is the segment of Casino Royale that he directed.
    posted by shakespeherian at 2:04 PM on August 19, 2010


    I spent most of my teens and a good part of my early twenties trying to emulate Robert Mitchum's character in Out of the Past. The DVD should really come with a warning label: "Do not sell to socially maladjusted teenage boys desperate to be cool."
    posted by Rangeboy at 2:05 PM on August 19, 2010


    I spent most of my teens and a good part of my early twenties trying to emulate Robert Mitchum's character in Out of the Past.

    So I assume you opened a gas station?
    posted by burnmp3s at 2:12 PM on August 19, 2010


    So I assume you opened a gas station?

    Mostly I tried to adopt an air of studied nonchalance and fatalism. Oh, and I wore a trenchcoat for a while.

    Christ, what an asshole I was.
    posted by Rangeboy at 2:18 PM on August 19, 2010


    rather than leading to something more expansive and detail-oriented and subject to discussion. This is why evaluation isn't usually the central concern of real criticism in other fields

    Ah, lighten up. I could agree that capital "S" Serious Criticism requires a solemn composure (and it might help if your French), but the integral component of any Real Criticism is: Insight, which does not require a dour demeanor.

    I am feeling the love here for critic Dave Goodfella not just because I think he is a rather good critic, but also because he makes a ranked list with some old standards and some films I haven't seen yet, and many selections which make me think "hey I wouldn't have put that one there, but... since you mention it..."

    So, it makes me think. About aesthetics: What are the elements of a work of art which allow it to function, to capture the imagination. This question relates to value, and as I have said, I am not really %100 comfortable slotting these art-works into a hierarchy, but we have to start somewhere. Related discussion, perhaps not quite so profound but still interesting like: does it fit into a genre straight-jacket and how do we define the genre?

    Actually, I could really go for a Top 50 Abstract Expressionist Paintings List. If Clement Greenberg were alive he... would be rolling in his grave?
    posted by ovvl at 2:30 PM on August 19, 2010


    It's one of those movies that you remember in black and white (which in some ways is sad because the color is used so well)

    Aside from Niagara, what else fits in the "Neo-Noir in Color" sub-genre? I'm kinda thinking of Point Blank and Farewell My Lovely.
    posted by ovvl at 2:41 PM on August 19, 2010


    Speaking of... doesn't the original The Big Sleep fit in here somewhere?
    posted by ovvl at 2:44 PM on August 19, 2010


    oh, #17. Missed it on the omission on first list.
    posted by ovvl at 2:49 PM on August 19, 2010


    Speaking of... doesn't the original The Big Sleep fit in here somewhere?

    It sure does. I'd say Altman's "The Long Goodbye" is good enough to be on the list too.
    posted by blucevalo at 3:35 PM on August 19, 2010


    Altman's isn't a classic noir in the sense of coming from the 1940s-1950s.
    posted by shakespeherian at 3:44 PM on August 19, 2010


    My Netflix queue is going to explode from discoveries (and rediscoveries) from his site - the Noir, the Best per Year, the director features.

    The only other color noir that really stuck with me (I think Niagara was very good, and I also think of it in B&W) was Sightly Scarlet which is really only 80% Noir. Color rockets all over the screen, and there are touches of melodrama and romance in it - but both are rooted in the noir. It's an interesting combination.
    posted by julen at 6:33 PM on August 19, 2010


    Film Noir- so what is it?

    I'd add a few things like mad love - the love that destroys (M probably being the creepiest example); fate as chance (or chance as fate) - like in The Killing; twisted, sublimated or ambiguous sexuality - like Lee Van Cleef's Fante in The Big Combo (whose relationship with his hit-man partner has been pointed to as the only healthy sexual relationship in that film.)

    The protagonist isn't always a morally ambiguous character, for instance, The Street With No Name. In this case, the protagonist is a straight-arrow FBI undercover agent. But everybody else in the film, particularly Richard Widmark, is pretty depraved.

    The elements of noir don't all have to be present in a single film for it to be considered noir. Many of the neo-noir films are shot in color and bright daylight, like Point Blank or Live and Die in LA. But there's definitely a strong noir feel to both of those films.
    posted by warbaby at 9:09 PM on August 19, 2010


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