Sign in to follow this  
LoveFilmNoir

Television shows for a noir fan?

19 posts in this topic

What television shows would you recommend to someone who is a fan of film noir, or do you think a person who likes the genre would enjoy?

 

The first two that come to mind for me are Murder, She Wrote and Alfred Hitchcock Presents/Hour although the latter actually has a noir feel in some episodes where as MSW is just a mystery/whodunit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope some of these are on DVD....because I know this is the only way I will get a chance to check them out.

 

misswonderly, that show looks like it was a lot of fun. I like Karl Malden and I wonder if the show was filmed on location in SF. I think that was one of the reasons I enjoyed Monk .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like most of the earlier choices here, but would add the following, though I'm probably missing some others. Some of these are available on DVD. :

 

*Peter Gunn*: 1958-1961 series with Craig Stevens as the coolest detective ever, created by Blake Edwards. With Lola Albright as a sultry songbird and Hope Emerson as a nice lady (you read that correctly) who runs the club Gunn hangs out in between cases. Interestingly, Stevens never seems in need of money, though he drove a sports car and had great Botany 500 suits. Henry Mancini wrote the theme, and almost all the jazz in the show was great.

 

*M Squad*: 1957-1960 series with Lee Marvin as a very realistic Chicago cop, Detective Lieutenant Frank Ballinger, whose ability to solve cases is often in direct proportion to his capacity for opening a can of wup-you-know-what. Marvin is remarkably electric and scary, but somehow still charismatic.

 

*Richard Diamond, Private Detective*: 1957-1960 with David Janssen as a tough guy with a secretary whose legs are all that's seen (originally said unliberated legs belonged to Mary Tyler Moore, who probably needed the money). Not bad as a story, with Janssen just getting the hang of his appealing screen persona, teetering between smoothness and an indefinable loneliness. Good jazz influenced score by Frank De Vol and later Pete Rugolo.

 

*Johnny Staccato*: 1959-1960 series with jazz pianist John Cassavetes solving cases in and around Greenwich Village with gritty on-location shooting and excellent guest roster. Eduardo Ciannelli, a classic bad guy in the movies (Marked Woman, Gunga Din) played the owner of the quiet little Village bo?te where Johnny's cases often interrupt him at the keyboard.

 

*The Untouchables*: 1959-1963 series with Robert Stack as a highly fictionalized Elliot Ness. This Desilu production almost cornered the market on rain-splattered city streets at night during the late '50s and early '60s. It also had great guests, an arc of a story set during Prohibition, and narration by Walter Winchell.

 

*The Detectives*: 1959-1962 series with Robert Taylor, who was excellent as the head of a group of homicide detectives in a series produced by Levy-Gardner-Laven, a group that made some intriguing feature film noirs (Without Warning! Down Three Dark Streets) prior to concentrating on tv.

 

*East Side/West Side*: 1963-1964 series with George C. Scott creating a believable character each week as a social worker in a series filmed in NYC with great actors (i.e. James Earl Jones, Martin Sheen, Howard Da Silva) as guests and Cicely Tyson and Elizabeth Wilson as regulars. This series had a very NY feel, telling open-ended stories about the flawed people in that time and place full of pain and hope, reflecting the zeitgeist in the country just before the assassination of JFK and as the Civil Rights movement gained momentum.

 

*Banyon*: 1972-1973 series with Robert Forster as a '30s PI in one of the later Quinn-Martin productions. Fell in love with Forster when I saw this as a kid. Still haven't gotten over it.

 

*Crime Story*: Michael Mann '80s series with the great Dennis Farina as a cop in the '60s. Absolutely wonderful, capturing the period, with glorious period detail and first class performances.

 

*Dragnet*: some will dispute this Jack Webb show as a noir, but the '50s version definitely was affected by the Anthony Mann movie, He Walked By Night (1948), in which Webb had a role as a police forensics man, as well as the whole school of Louis de Rochemont docu-noir with just a soupcon of Crane Wilbur thrown in for fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Duh!

 

I forgot *The Lineup*:1953-1959, a series with Det. Warner Anderson and Inspector Tom Tully as a pair of cops in San Francisco (where the show was filmed). Each epi depicted an investigation of a crime by the cops, and its resolution. Very well done, terse, and realistic show that led to a 1958 Don Siegel movie of the same name. The movie is a corker with terrific performances from Eli Wallach & Robert Keith, as well as Richard Jaeckel. (The film has been on TCM)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me, number one on the list of film noir TV shows has to be the 1960 series The Westerner, created by Sam Peckinpah, staring Brian Keith. It is the darkest show I ever saw on TV, and everyone is flawed. It only ran for 13 eps, and was once available on DVD.

 

I would also add the original Perry Mason, and Checkmate.

 

I haven't seen it in years, but as I recall Johnny Yuma, the Rebel, starring Nick Adams, was also very noirish. I'd have to say that a lot of classic westerns on TV were often very noirish. Rawhide, Have Gun Will Travel, The Rifleman, even Steve McQueen's Wanted, Dead or Alive.

 

Almost forgot, the original Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

 

Edited by: ValentineXavier on Jun 15, 2010 10:01 PM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moira, kudos for mentioning East Side/West Side. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who remembers that fine show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found the Peter Gunn theme (on youtube, of course) and although I know we don't usually post songs on this forum, I couldn't resist. It's not the original version (which is great) but it's got the lovely jazz singer Sarah Vaughan singing the theme, and it's got some deliciously noir images in it. I really like this theme song. Thought this clip was fun.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf17nKtllWM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you *moirafinnie6* for that list! I am going to do my research on those shows. Robert Stack, George C. Scott, John Cassavetes, Robert Taylor etc are all people who I definitely would have enjoyed on weekly television (though eerie, I enjoyed Stack's narration of Unsolved Mysteries )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great job, Moira! I had also been thinking of "The Untouchables", "Peter Gunn", and "Richard Diamond", but thought it would have been presumptuous of me to suggest as many as four, with my pedestrian knowledge of old TV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alfred Hitchcock Presents has been mentioned here and I have a few thoughts on the series. I am actually about to order Season 1 on Amazon (on sale for $13.99) and I have watched several episodes from seasons 1-4 for free on Hulu.com...I am finding that the only thing that "dates" this show is Hitchcock's closing statement where he lets us know that the bad guy is caught. I do not listen to his endings most of the time because with some episodes, you already know the person is going to get caught, however with others, their plan was pretty clever and the last part of the scene shows them in a way where the viewer will assume they got away with the crime. Then Hitchcock comes on the screen and lets us know that the person was eventually caught. I know this happens with most crimes, but I figure I may be alone on this one, or maybe I just like the idea of bad guys getting away with crimes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I might include "The Rockford Files." (After including "Murder, She Wrote" that opens up quite a few shows.)

 

As a tough guy who would really rather avoid a fight and surrounding himself with friends from both sides of the law he manages to take all kinds of work. There are often good characters and good story lines. Of course there is the obligatory car chase but what show didn't have one. (Great cars too.)

 

He is not together unlike the Phillip Marlowe character.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If we're counting cable shows, you can't beat PHILIP MARLOWE, PRIVATE EYE. Great atmosphere, good writing. Powers Booth as Marlowe. But that was a limited series. I gather there was a network show about Marlowe in the 1950's, but I know nothing about it. I don't remember NAKED CITY and haven't seen re-runs. Was it like the movie? I think PETER GUNN is one of the better examples just offered. Lighter in tone than classic noir, it none the less featured the hunt, the street and the seedy characters we've come to expect.

 

PERRY MASON may not be as dark and creepy as some other shows. But it's as good as any and better than most. Early episodes, with strong, sophisticated characters, were cleverly scripted and stylishly shot. They don't give you time to think; you're too busy enjoying the ride. Not exactly HILL STREET BLUES, this is the best of the old fashioned cop shows.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=movieman1957 wrote:}{quote}

> I might include "The Rockford Files." (After including "Murder, She Wrote" that opens up quite a few shows.)

>

> As a tough guy who would really rather avoid a fight and surrounding himself with friends from both sides of the law he manages to take all kinds of work. There are often good characters and good story lines. Of course there is the obligatory car chase but what show didn't have one. (Great cars too.)

>

> He is not together unlike the Phillip Marlowe character.

 

Murder, She Wrote is some of the best weekly whodunit fluff a gal can ask for. I just recently started watching Rockford Files, as it shows up on the Retro network. I am considering purchasing the show on DVD. Like MSW, I enjoy the guest stars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us