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The definitive film noir


Guest TCMhost-Claire

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I rather like TENSION as an example of film-noir with excellent performances from Richard Basehart and Audrey Totter, the movie has an undercurrent of 'Tension' throughout and the narrative really adds to the atmosphere. When I first watched this movie I was so impressed that I thought about it for days afterwards. Audrey Totter looks every part the unfaithful-wife and Richard Basehart looks every part the downtrodden husband, also the movie contains a good performance from Cyd Charisse who is a charming as ever, Barry Sullivan adds a certain 'Noir' feel to the film, if you've never seen TENSION then I recommend it completely.

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Film theorists can get very, very touchy over what is and isn't noir. I think "White Heat" and "Asphalt Jungle" are about as noir as it gets, but a number of people put those in either the gangster or heist categories. I've always thought this whole noir business, at some level, is kind of artificial, since it coined by the Cahiers du Cinema crowd to describe a certain kind of pitiless crime film, steeped in German Expressionism, made during the war years, and it becomes increasingly subjective as to what is and isn't noir. That said, my favorite noirs, besides those above, would also include "Key Largo," "The Big Heat," "Double Indemnity," and "The Postman Always Rings Twice."

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I think we all need to keep on the lookout for "Stranger on the Third Floor" 1940, as an example of the first film noir of the new style of mystery films of 1940s. We can all tape it and then discuss it.

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The definitive film noir is "Nightmare Alley"with Tyrone Power.His performance is the best in his underrated career.Helen Walker plays one of the most manipulative woman on screen,as a sinister shrink.Joan Blondell is also excellant,as an older woman(Zeena) manipulated by Power.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'd say for me that the definitive film-noir would have to be Out of the Past, for its twisted plot, seedy locales, devious dames, and an oh so smooth antagonist played to great effect by Kirk Douglas--then again, he's perhaps not the main antagonist here, though his character has the most clout. A must see. Plus, the ending was totally noirish. In a world like that, the happy stuff is best left to Romance films.

 

Also, I loved Sorry, Wrong Number, which, with all its elements tying together quite nicely, has a great payoff ending that can't let one down, if one likes this type of stuff. The last words spoken in the film are the movie's title. Awesome use of it too. Some wouldn't consider this film-noir in essence, but it's various elements places it in that category I believe.

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Of note, I'm new here and this is my very first post. I didn't even realize there was a forum here, filled with fellow classic movie lovers at that. I think I'll like it here.

 

Bogie

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I may not remember that premiere but I watched "Saturday Night at the Movies" almost every week,Unless I was watching "Chiller Theater" the same night. Back in the day (before cable) most channels showed the films we love Today.

 

vallo

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  • 4 weeks later...

> I'd say for me that the definitive film-noir would

> have to be Out of the Past, for its twisted

> plot, seedy locales, devious dames, and an oh so

> smooth antagonist played to great effect by Kirk

> Douglas--then again, he's perhaps not the main

> antagonist here, though his character has the most

> clout. A must see. Plus, the ending was totally

> noirish. In a world like that, the happy stuff is

> best left to Romance films.

>

Out of the Past is a classic. Robert Mitchum is the definitive film noir actor. And how many know that "Against All Odds" was based on this movie.

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  • 3 weeks later...

> Out of the Past is a classic. Robert Mitchum

> is the definitive film noir actor. And how many know

> that "Against All Odds" was based on this movie.

 

And how many people know that, in Against All Odds, Jane Greer plays the mother of her character from Out of the Past (though the femme fatale's name was changed from Kathie Moffat to Jessie Wyler)?

 

My two favorite film noirs (or should that be films noir like brothers-in-law?) are Out of the Past and Double Indemnity. Only don?t make me choose one over the other.

 

DavidE

http://www.classicfilmpreview.com

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  • 2 months later...

i totally agree with you. that's the first noir film i ever saw. i recently saw "kiss me deadly", with ralph meeker. i loved it until the very end, which weirded me out. but ralph meeker is great, i wish he'd had a better career.

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Top 10 Definitive Films Noir:

1. OUT OF THE PAST (1947)

2. KISS ME DEADLY (1955)

3. DETOUR (1945)

4. DECOY (1946)

5. BLACK ANGEL (1946)

6. THE BIG HEAT (1953)

7. STRANGER ON THE 3rd FLOOR (1940)

8. THE KILLING (1956)

9. HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948)

10. ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951)

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  • 1 month later...

While not the "definitive" nor, one that I don't think has been mentioned is ACT OF VIOLENCE (1948), with Robert Ryan, Van Heflin, Janet Leigh and Mary Astor. It has much of the bleakness of noir and Mary Astor's hopeless character brings its own qualifications.

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"Asphalt Jungle" is a must see. Sterling Hayden defines the roughneck. "Detour" I have to say is the innovator of the film noir, though. But there are so many that are so good, how can you pick one? It's an atmosphere that is created - an antithesis to the 50s propaganda ploy that "everyone is happy, everything is all right." In this day in age recreating the conservative 50s, it is a breath of fresh air that the film noir has found resurgence.

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A very good list.

 

I haven't seen them all but one that stands out is 'He Walked By Night'.

 

Very well done on a miniscule budget. What makes it even more interesting is the usage of the Los Angeles sewer system that is used in the film quite like the scene in 'The Third Man'. A good one !

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