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camarks

What would be the perfect 1st Film Noir to watch

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I have a good friend, who, after hearing about this course wants me to show her my favorite. She's not a huge movie fan. I have MANY faves, what would you show someone to introduce them and get them hooked on film noir?

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The Maltese Falcon and Out of the Past might be good, as they include two of the most notable leading men of the day.  Your profile picture also suggests that Key Largo could be a possibility, even if that movie is not strictly a noir.

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Of course the Maltese Falcon would be a great choice I will also throw in Murder, My Sweet. It has every element you could hope for in a noir flick, plus it's a cracking good story. Forget all the claptrap about Powell not being the arch type Philip Marlowe, he gives a great performance.

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I have a good friend, who, after hearing about this course wants me to show her my favorite. She's not a huge movie fan. I have MANY faves, what would you show someone to introduce them and get them hooked on film noir?

 

Honestly, if someone is new I would go with something like The Big Sleep or Pickup on South Street.

 

One of the biggest biases that people have about older movies is that (1) they are slow-paced, (2) Ew! No color!, and (3) Cheesy acting.

 

I feel like a movie like The Big Sleep is a great beginning noir because it is really funny and intentionally so. The jokes in it are still good for a modern audience. This is the kind of movie that minimizes uncomfortable laughing at the language because (even though some of the vocabulary is dated) the language is being used so well. You can see that the actors are having fun with it.

 

Something like Pickup on South Street has a really enjoyable cast of characters (like Moe), and it's got action sequences that still look decent to a modern eye that is used to more "gritty" violence. It also looks great, which is a great step around the no-color bias. The basic plot (of espionage and double -crossing) still makes sense and has cultural relevance.

 

Mainly, I would think about what your friend likes in general and try to find a noir that best fits that, instead of just going straight away to the "best" noir. If they really like thrillers, something like Experiment in Terror could be a good place to begin. Like, if I wanted to introduce movies to someone, there is no way I'd start with Citizen Kane. Something like Shadow of a Doubt, that is more accessible would be my advice.

 

Classics are classics for a reason, but be aware of content that might be off-putting to a modern audience. Peter Lorre basically fellating his walking stick in The Maltese Falcon was pretty jarring to me when I first watched it, because it's such an odd way (from a modern point of view) to convey that character's sexuality.

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Take them to a local theatre showing Double Indemnity on July 19th. It would be best to show them as they're meant to be seen. A shared experience on the big screen.

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I would agree that if your friend can watch Double Indemnity in a local theater on July 19 or 20, that would be a great introduction.  If not, I would suggest The Maltese Falcon.  I just finished reading the book and coult actually hear Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet and Mary Astor saying the lines as I read the story!!  Also, Laura would be a good introduction.  I haven't read the book but intend to get a copy of it.

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I'll totally agree that if you can see a noir in the theater, that's a great way to do it. Then your friend would get to enjoy the communal vibe of people who really like that style of film. Being around an appreciative audience can really soften someone's attitude toward something new.

 

Not everyone is lucky enough to live near cities or towns that have theaters that play classics, but if you do that could be a fun night out.

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For the first, absolutely show Double Indemnity or the Maltese Falcon. Those two movies are so watchable, they hook even people who don't like black and white films and then go from there

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I would show her one of the color noirs like Niagara 1953. It is a beautiful film with Marylin Monroe and has a great ending.

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Something like Pickup on South Street has a really enjoyable cast of characters (like Moe), and it's got action sequences that still look decent to a modern eye that is used to more "gritty" violence. It also looks great, which is a great step around the no-color bias. The basic plot (of espionage and double -crossing) still makes sense and has cultural relevance.

Agree with this one it's got humor and snappy dialogue to boot.

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There is no "Perfect 1st Film Noir."  Although, I think Double Indemenity would be a great possibility.  Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep (Bogart) are good.  Out of the Past is one of my favorites.  Experiment in Terror sort of drags to me, especially toward  the end.

Farewell My Lovely with Robert Mitchum is an excellent 1970's color noir and better than Murder My Sweet.  Niagra is a good movie, but is it really noir?

To me, there is still confusion or overlap over noir vs. mystery vs. drama.  There are a lot of movies from 30's through 50's that probably are not noir, but are entertaining mystery movies.

 Tell your friend not to try to read more into the movies than is really there or search for hidden subtexts, etc.  Just enjoy them for what they are.

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  Experiment in Terror sort of drags to me, especially toward  the end.

 

Gasp! Oh no he didn't!

 

(You are allowed to think that it drags--but it is one of those movies that I love so much that I refuse to see fault with it. It's also one of the only black-and-white movies I can remember with non-stereotyped/evil Asian characters, something that really popped out to me the first time I watched it.)

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I don't know...in some ways the Maltese Falcon is a fairly obvious choice, but I wonder - if you're trying to introduce a modern viewer to Noir - if it would be really appreciated? I think you maybe better off with a modern Noir such as LA Confidential, full of recognizable actors and tropes, but a great movie nonetheless and one that could be used to lead your friend to older films Noir.

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I don't know...in some ways the Maltese Falcon is a fairly obvious choice, but I wonder - if you're trying to introduce a modern viewer to Noir - if it would be really appreciated? I think you maybe better off with a modern Noir such as LA Confidential, full of recognizable actors and tropes, but a great movie nonetheless and one that could be used to lead your friend to older films Noir.

If going for modern, LAC is great, but so are Mulholland Falls and The Hot Spot.  LAC and MF are set in the 50's, whereas THS is set in the 90's when it was made, but is very noirish.

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Perfect?

 

I'd say go with something very representative. Out of the Past or Double Indemnity would be my picks. Detour is another good one, but I think it helps to be more familiar with noir and, "B" noir, to like it, which is more of an acquired taste.

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All the suggestions thus far are fine choice.

 

My list would include:

 

1. Double Indemnity

2, Sorry, Wrong Number

3. The Postman Always Rings Twice

4. Dial M For Murder

5. Detour

 

The list is not in any particular order.

 

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If going for modern, LAC is great, but so are Mulholland Falls and The Hot Spot.  LAC and MF are set in the 50's, whereas THS is set in the 90's when it was made, but is very noirish.

 

A good modern noir (though set in the 40s) is Devil in a Blue Dress with Denzel Washington.

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Another modern film noir is Se7ven (1995) by David Fincher.

 

A thriller staring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kevin Spacey.

 

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I agree with Takoma1 you should pick a movie that is similar to the type of movies that your friend likes. If they like more realistic movies I would say Naked City. If they like suspense or even horror I would say Stranger on the Third Floor. Murder my Sweet has great dialogue. D.O.A. has a very imaginative storyline. If seeing something in black and white is a problem they could watch the remake of D.O.A although it's not as good. Niagara is a great color film noir. Plus it's fun to see Marilyn Monroe in a serious role. I wish she would have done more of those

 

I go along with others on this board the Double Indemnity is a great place to start. That's the one that got me hooked.

 

And of course Blade Runner is a wonderful neo-noir if they like science fiction.

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A good modern noir (though set in the 40s) is Devil in a Blue Dress with Denzel Washington.

 

A great book and a great movie. Don Cheadle as Mouse is so perfect--a true sociopath.

 

If you've only ever seen the movie, I highly recommend the book.

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