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30's-50's mystery and gangster suggestions


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Hello All TCMers, I have a very limited collection of "film noir" mystery/drama/gangster films in glorious B&W. Aside from obvious staples such as the four Bogie/Bacall films, I have only seen/own a few more: "Double Indemnity", "The Maltese Falcon", "Little Caesar", Fritz Lang's "Testament of Dr. Mabuse", and the original "Dracula" ( beautiful quality print, on Laser Disc).Can you folks kindly recommend some more films along those general lines? My knowledge of "noir" films is very limited, most of my money up until now was spent on high end home theater gear and science fiction/horror films, all in widescreen, of course. As an example, I know from "L.A. Confidential" that Veronica Lake was a famous "noir" actress, but I have never seen any of her films. That is the sort of thing I am looking for. Any guidance would be much appreciated. As spectacular as 1080p 24fps 2.40:1 aspect ratio HD color films can look, with 7.2 dedicated channels of surround sound, B&W can still be mesmerizing. I have noticed some of the B&W image quality can vary quite a bit. It disappoints me the Laser Disc version of "Dracula"appears more detailed than Bogie's "The Big Sleep".The version of "The Big Sleep" I am speaking of is from the "Bogie/Bacall Signature Collection" DVD box set, released quite a few years ago. "The Big Sleep" is the only one of the four titles in this box set that is not visually spectacular, IMO. Thanks For Any Suggestions, Mac

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The Alan Ladd Veronica Lake team made some very fine Noirs; This Gun For Hire, The Glass Key (the best of the bunch IMO), and The Blue Dahlia.

 

Another fine noir team was Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell. They only made two movies together but they are first rate; His Kind of Women (with a great performance from Vincent Price), and Marco (which has the noir gal Gloria Grahame). Mitchum also made two fine noircrime prictures with Jane Greer; Out of The Past (some say this is the one noir everyone should see), and The Big Steal.

 

Robert Ryan is one of the top noir actors and deserves a mention for Act of Violence, Crossfire and The Racket (both also include Mitchum), The Set-Up (great boxing noir), and Odds Against Tomorrow (if that isn't a noir title, nothing is!).

 

Other so called must see noirs would be Laura (Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney), The Big Combo, and The Big Heat (Grahame, Glen Ford and a young Lee Marvin).

 

Hey, there are many more but the above is a good place to start. TCM shows most of these movies.

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_Hi, Mac_ -- My suggestions would be:

 

Film Noir:

 

Out of the Past

Night and the City

The Asphalt Jungle

The Big Heat

The Killers

 

Gangster:

 

White Heat

Scarface

The Public Enemy

The Roaring Twenties

G-Men

 

Mystery:

 

Laura

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

Spellbound

I Wake Up Screaming

The Uninvited

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Frank and James, Thank you for taking the time to reply. I will scour EBay for used DVDs, using your recommendations as a guide. I particulalry love movies that are told in a narrative style, like "Double Indemnity". Incidentially, I am a huge Lauren Bacall fan, more specifically her work in B&W.  I have just viewed the TCM clip of the dark, mysterious opening scene of "Confidential Agent" , which includes a stoic Bacall demanding better scotch be brought from the first class bar. I had let the derogatory audio comments on the WB box set's "extras" influence me to not investigate the film, however it looks like it is surely worth acquiring. I can't get enough of Lauren's work in B&W, which of course severly limits my options. Thanks again for the suggestions.     RJM

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Welcome to the Boards.

 

Her's some others well worth your time.

 

"Murder, My Sweet" Dick Powell

 

Sranley Kubricks "The Killing" Sterling Hayden

 

"Narrow Margin" the great Charles McGraw

 

"The Naked City"

 

"Stranger on the Third Floor" with Peter Lorre. Many consider this the first film noir feature.

 

"D.O.A." Edmond O'Brien. Not the remake with Dennid Quaid

 

 "Force of Evil" John Garfield

 

"The Third Man" Orson Wells

 

 "He Walked by Night" Richard Basehart...

 

Just a few of the wonderful world of film noir...Enjoy...

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RJ, first let me welcome you to the boards, you can pick up a lot of interesting insights from some of the people here and your opinions are always welcome.  The previous replies here have hit on a lot of the better films so you have a good starting point to work from. Some of the best films are the low budget ones and may star lesser known actors so always keep an open mind.  One of my very favorite actors is Richard Widmark  (the already mentioned  *Night And The City*  is one of his best) . Other Widmark films to look for are  Kiss Of Death, Pickup On South Street,  The Street With No Name, Road House (the original from 1948 of course) and a very nourish western , Yellow Sky.  Some of the westerns of this time period (like The Anthony Mann, James Stewart films) are very noir like.  So many others to consider, everyone has their opinions and favorites.  For me the "ultimate" noir is the already mentioned Out Of The Past, which made Robert Mitchum a big star and give us maybe the most memorable noir femme fatale in Jane Greer's Kathie Moffat.

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I really love "Dark Passage" with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  Sure, it's not the greatest film noir; but it's very entertaining.  What I love about it is that the first half was filmed from a first person perspective.  The transition between first person and third person is kind of hokey, there is no way that things would turn out the way they do in the movie--that's what makes the movies fun though.  Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart make such a great team.  Agnes Moorehead is in it too.  She's always good for an interesting performance.  One of the highlights of the film is seeing 1940s San Francisco.  Lauren Bacall's apartment is awesome.  I would love to live in a place like that.

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I really love "Dark Passage" with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  Sure, it's not the greatest film noir; but it's very entertaining.  What I love about it is that the first half was filmed from a first person perspective.  The transition between first person and third person is kind of hokey, there is no way that things would turn out the way they do in the movie--that's what makes the movies fun though.  Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart make such a great team.  Agnes Moorehead is in it too.  She's always good for an interesting performance.  One of the highlights of the film is seeing 1940s San Francisco.  Lauren Bacall's apartment is awesome.  I would love to live in a place like that.

 

Totally agree with your take her about Dark Passage.    I saw Dark Passage on the big screen as part of a Bogie\Bacall retro event were all 4 of their films were shown.    Yea,  seeing 1940 San Francisco sitting in the 4th row is something! 

 

Saying Moorehead was good for an interesting performance is being tame.   Moorehead is often just at the line of chewing up the scenery especially in Dark Passage.  But what she brings to each scene is so much energy and this contrast with the lower key styles of Bogie and Bacall in this film.

 

The supporting players in the film are spot on also.    They add a creepy element to the movie.

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Totally agree with your take her about Dark Passage.    I saw Dark Passage on the big screen as part of a Bogie\Bacall retro event were all 4 of their films were shown.    Yea,  seeing 1940 San Francisco sitting in the 4th row is something! 

 

Saying Moorehead was good for an interesting performance is being tame.   Moorehead is often just at the line of chewing up the scenery especially in Dark Passage.  But what she brings to each scene is so much energy and this contrast with the lower key styles of Bogie and Bacall in this film.

 

The supporting players in the film are spot on also.    They add a creepy element to the movie.

I agree with you about the supporting players.  The doctor is especially creepy.  I understand that Humphrey Bogart needed to lay low, but who performs major operations in his house?  The first person perspective is very effective.  Since you can't see Humphrey Bogart in the scene, it's almost like you are him.  It adds something to the experience of watching the film.  While it's not as well known as "To Have and Have Not" and "The Big Sleep," I find it more interesting.  While I like both films, "Dark Passage" holds my interest a little more-- even after having seen it like 10 times.  

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RJ, I'll recommend Pursued. It is an excellent film noir western, starring Robert Mitchum. Also Orson Welles' 1957 Touch of Evil. It is excellent, wide screen, and probably available in Blu-ray. 

 

Others here have mentioned some fine films. There is at least one other thread on this forum with lists of good noirs, so you might want to check it out. Here's a link:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/47780-eddie-mullers-top-25-noir-list/

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To All TCMers, Thanks for all the responses! A lot of titles I have never even seen listed on TCM's nightly broadcast schedule. I particularly like the ideas on the noir westerns, those will be first on my list. I'll have to take another look at "Dark Passage", it has been so long I don't remember the perspective change. I seem to remember not being able to get past the unlikely scenario of a beautiful, unattached woman becoming so intimately involved with a perfect stranger under such mysterious circumstances. It is worth another look for sure as it made such a positive impact on several people who were kind enough to reply. I've got a nice list to work off of, I've printed this thread out and will use it as a guide. Thanks Again,  RJM

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RJ, since you like the idea of noir westerns, I'll also recommend another Mitchum film, Blood on the Moon. Not as surreal as Pursued, but quite good, with one of the best noir bar fight scenes, between Mitchum and the bad guy. Pursued is rarely shown, but Blood on the Moon turns up once or twice a year.

 

If you watch Dark Passage again, you will see why Bacall is so ready to take up with a seeming stranger. 

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