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YOUR THREE TO FIVE FAVORITE NOIRS OF ALL TIME


lilypond
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Difficult question, isn't it.  I have a "revolving" list;  probably we all do, with some rising and falling over time.  But there's a certain core group I'll always love.  I'd like to know yours, and perhaps your reasons for that, if you care to give them.  Mine are:

"The Big Heat"    directed by Fritz Lang    Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Alexander Scourby, Lee Marvin, Jocelyn Brando

Lang is a favorite.   I like the way Glenn Ford's rage gets turned up and then sustains throughout the film.  He's fantastic when he's "righteous" and roused out of his sort of quiet mien.   Gloria Grahame just right as the moll.  Wicked turn by Lee Marvin.

"Shadow of a Doubt"    Hitchcock     That scene between Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright in the "Take Two" joint (I think it was called "take two". )   Electric.  Those two, operating at such a high level, wow.   Joseph Cotten is wonderful in noir.   Hume Cronyn, lovely.  Another original performance I liked was Patricia Collinge as the vague, doting mother.

"The Big Combo"    Joseph H. Lewis    Evil, taunting performance by Richard Conte.   Jean Wallace has an ethereal, damaged princess quality, kept apart from her rightful prince, Cornel Wilde.   Incredible, jangling, insinuating musical score by David Raksin at the beginning, that sets the whole tone.

"Phantom Lady"   Robert Siodmak    Alan Curtis is accused of strangling his wife, and only "Kansas" his dogged secretary, (Ella Raines) sets out into the underworld to find the mystery woman who can clear him.   New York night world,  Elisha Cook jazz drumming to the point of hysteria,  fear mounting throughout.   Plenty flawed, but vibrant little film.

"The Reckless Moment"   Max Ophuls      Joan Bennett is a housewife on the California coast, and her daughter mixed up with an older, "bohemian" cad.  Tragedy results in Joan going into clandestine, near-criminal mode, and James Mason takes advantage of that, but then falls for her.   LOVE Joan Bennett.  I don't necessarily love James Mason, but gosh he is so memorable as this ambiguous, fringe-y character .

By the way, does anyone know if TCM ever shows "Phantom Lady"--  I can't remember if I saw it on there or not.

Sorry to be so long-winded, but it is almost impossible to keep the number down to five.  Really wanted to put more!

Would love to hear about other's favorites. 

 

 

 

 

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Right at the top would be The Maltese Falcon.   A conventional choice, to be sure, but conventional choices get that way for a reason.

I love the quirkiness of Kiss Me Deadly, and I'm always a sucker for a sci fi twist.

Rounding out the top three would be The Big Heat.  Hey, Fritz Lang.

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Hey Lilypond, great choices! I saw your post on the other TV noir thread about the dearth of replies here.   I'm glad you mentioned it because I think people just get in a habit of posting in certain threads.  I'm guilty of it myself and rarely check this forum because of, well,  laziness, to be honest.    At first I was turned off by the GANGSTER-NOIR heading but I'll get over it and plan to post more on here.

I found it impossible to narrow my list down to 3 - 5 noirs, so forgive me but It's VERY tough.  As of today these would be my top ten desert island flicks.  Probably no big surprises, but to me these are the cream of the crop.  I could watch them over and over on my desert island for maybe 6 months before losing it.

 

1. Sunset Boulevard, 1950 (Billy Wilder) William Holden, Gloria Swanson
2. The Night of The Hunter, 1955 (Charles Laughton) Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters
3. Act of Violence, 1944 (Fred Zinneman) Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Mary Astor
4. In A Lonely Place, 1950 (Nicholas Ray) Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame
5. Rebecca, 1940 (Hitchcock) Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier
6. Scarlet Street, 1945  (Fritz Lang) Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea
7. Ace in the Hole, 1951 (Billy Wilder) Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling
8. Criss Cross, 1949 (Robert Siodmak) Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea
9. Sudden Fear, 1952 (David Miller) Joan Crawford, Gloria Grahame, Jack Palance                                                                                                                  10.Too Late For Tears, 1949 (Byron Haskin) Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea

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Whew, RJBARTROP,  and KATIE_G,    needless to say I'm so glad you weighed in!

I love all three of yours, RJBARTROP.     "Kiss Me Deadly" almost made my top five too.  Such an apocalyptic, florid example of late noir.   So many great touches, like that gangbusters opening with Cloris Leachman running down that lonely highway....

KATIE_G ,  you are so kind to explain to me the ins and outs of posting here!   I was also confused by the "Film Noir-- Gangsters"  designation, but decided it was the closest to my topic and posted there.  

Whoa, your list has so many faves of mine too--  agreed, it is impossible to narrow things down so rigidly, as I was asking!  Your list is an arc of excellence.    Additionally, on your list "Sudden Fear"  and "Too Late for Tears"--   don't you think they generally don't get enough attention?   I notice though that TCM has been showing "Sudden Fear" more than they used to.   I know "Act of Violence" is extremely good, but the sense of dread I have when watching it, has kept me away!   Some powerful noirs are like that... 

 

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3 hours ago, lilypond said:

  Additionally, on your list "Sudden Fear"  and "Too Late for Tears"--   don't you think they generally don't get enough attention?

Absolutely love them.   They may not be thought of as great movies, but I find them to be very entertaining, and Gloria Grahame and Lizabeth Scott are favorites.

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Those are absolute classics, JAMESJAZGUITAR,  setting such a high bar for the noir genre.  I'm really glad to see "The Big Heat" on more than one list.   I think a strong case could be made that "Out of the Past" is the most "perfect" of all noirs.  It yields so much with each viewing.... and that terse dialog-- again, perfection.

Oh, me too,  I have the same reaction to "Sudden Fear" and "Too Late for Tears" , KATIE_G.     They'd make a great, moody double feature!

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 Kiss of Death, Night and The City,  Pick-Up on South Street. Scarlet Street, The Stranger, Odd Man Out, Brighton Rock, The Third Man, The Window, The Big Heat. Leaving out a lot.  Only three-- sadistic.  Am adding Sabotage (Hitchcock) -- because I love it. Chronologically  too soon for noir, but it is pre-noir, noir prototype.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

# 1 Key Largo(1948)

Easy, because before I'd even heard of film noir, it was and is one of my favourite movies of all time. Star power:

Bacall. Bogart. E.G. Robinson.  L. Barrymore. 

Claire Trevors' performance was heartbreaking. 

The unrelenting tension between the victims and criminals along with the horrible storm threat thrown in for good measure.

#2 Gun Crazy(1950)

Peggy Cummins acts and looks absolutely CRAZY.

John Dall plays CREEPY. He is also creepy in Hitchcocks' Rope(1948), but in a totally different way.

Super simple plot. But the cinematography is starkly beautiful.

Watching this movie is like going on a joyride that you know in your gut will end tragically.

#3 Too Late for Tears(1949)

I watched this for the first time because I had read somewhere that Lizabeth Scott sounded like Bacall when she spoke(I love Bacall).

Lizabeth Scott is the perfect femme fatale here. Greedy, immoral, dangerous. 

If I was ever asked to recommend a first noir film for someone, this would be my go-to.

Other favourites:

The Big Sleep(1946)

The Lady from Shanghai(1947) or Touch of Evil(1958). Choosing between Orson Welles movies are always difficult for me. 

 

 

 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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  • 2 months later...
On 10/8/2021 at 3:47 PM, JamesJazGuitar said:

My choices are all very conventional "A" production choices:

The Big Sleep,  Double Indemnity,   Laura,    Out of the Past and The Big Heat.

 

 

Well JamesJaxGuitar, Your top four are mine too. We only differ on the fifth. My #5 is THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW. 

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Off the top of my head.  There are waay too many films that cross the line between noir/gangster/mystery that it makes it hard to pick films that just cover the noir genre.  Here is my list nonetheless:

1. Night of the Hunter ( hard to place in one particular genre.)

2. Double Indemnity

3. Scarlet Street

4. The Woman in the Window

5. Sunset Blvd.

6. Too Late for Tears

7. Strangers on a Train

8. The Prowler

9. The Scarlet Hour

10. The Suspect

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1 hour ago, Moorman said:

Off the top of my head.  There are waay too many films that cross the line between noir/gangster/mystery that it makes it hard to pick films that just cover the noir genre.  Here is my list nonetheless:

1. Night of the Hunter ( hard to place in one particular genre.)

2. Double Indeminity

3. Scarlet Street

4. The Woman in the Window

5. Sunset Blvd.

6. Too Late for Tears

7. Strangers on a Train

8. The Prowler

9. The Scarlet Hour

10. The Suspect

Nice to see you've included THE SUSPECT on your list...great film. THE PROWLER is also very good.

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Nice to see you've included THE SUSPECT on your list...great film. THE PROWLER is also very good.

The Suspect is one of my favorite Charles Laughton films.  He made my list as director and actor.   The Suspect is underrated.  The Prowler is VERY underrated.  It has a edge that borders on "horror" and is ahead of its time in many aspects.  Van Heflin, like  Robert Mitchum in  "The Night of the Hunter",  has a masterpiece performance, going against his normal "good guy" casting.

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2 hours ago, Moorman said:

The Suspect is one of my favorite Charles Laughton films.  He made my list as director and actor.   The Suspect is underrated.  The Prowler is VERY underrated.  It has a edge that borders on "horror" and is ahead of its time in many aspects.  Van Heflin, like  Robert Mitchum in  "The Night of the Hunter",  has a masterpiece performance, going against his normal "good guy" casting.

Your line about actors going against their normal 'good guy' casting reminds me of ROGUE COP (1954) where Robert Taylor, whom MGM usually assigned to heroic roles, gets to play a corrupt policeman.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_Cop

Screen Shot 2022-05-01 at 8.33.15 PM

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On 11/8/2021 at 12:13 AM, Stallion said:

The Night of the Hunter-1955

In a Lonely Place-1950

The Third Man-1949

I'm gonna have to give "The Third Man" another look.  I didn't find it interesting.  It had great cinematography, but the story didn't interest me.  The same with Carol Reed's other highly reviewed film, " Odd Man Out".   Odd Man Out started as a very good heist film, then in my opinion, went downhill as it turned into a entirely different film centered on James Mason's character.

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6 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Your line about actors going against their normal 'good guy' casting reminds me of ROGUE COP (1954) where Robert Taylor, whom MGM usually assigned to heroic roles, gets to play a corrupt policeman.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_Cop

I'm not familiar with Robert Taylor.  Gonna go check out his filmography and see if I've seen any of his films.

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