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Darrel Manson

top noir films

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A list of 10 to the top noir films according to Images.

I've been exploring a bit, thought I'd share some findings.

(beats bumping old threads to boost my total)

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Thank you, that did it!

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I've been on something of a noir kick lately. I'm reading Raymond Chandler, I watched Chinatown a couple nights ago.

Any good recommendations?

My obscure recommendation is Farewell, My Love. It's mid-seventies, in color and with voice-over, and stars Mitchum in the title role. It's hard to find but it's a great film - I saw it at a noir festival a year ago and it's stuck with me. Hoping to rediscover it via video soon.

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Any good recommendations?

All of these are absolutely essential viewing: THE BIG HEAT, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, IN A LONELY PLACE, KISS ME DEADLY, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, SCARLET STREET, SUNSET BOULEVARD, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, and TOUCH OF EVIL.

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Any good recommendations?

Those already named, plus Out of the Past, Nightmare Alley, The Big Clock, The Prowler, and Niagara.

My obscure recommendation is Farewell, My Love. It's mid-seventies, in color and with voice-over, and stars Mitchum in the title role. It's hard to find but it's a great film - I saw it at a noir festival a year ago and it's stuck with me. Hoping to rediscover it via video soon.

I'm heartened to see someone mention Farewell, My Lovely! A proficient, largely forgotten contribution to the gumshoe subgenre; I prefer it to Chinatown, in fact.

Edited by Nathaniel

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Everything already mentioned, The Killing, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Laura, The Thin Man, The Third Man, many Hitchcock.

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I'm heartened to see someone mention Farewell, My Lovely! A proficient, largely forgotten contribution to the gumshoe subgenre; I prefer it to Chinatown, in fact.

In my book, that's lofty praise.

FAREWELL, MY LOVELY is available via iTunes in widescreen (Amazon Prime has it, too, but it's a pan-and-scan version). I may have to check it out.

The Big Sleep

Y'know, I enjoy THE BIG SLEEP, but I enjoy the other Bogart/Bacall pictures a lot more. TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, while not, strictly speaking, a noir, is CASABLANCA's superior, lesser-known cousin. KEY LARGO is pure dynamite, all tension and claustrophobia. DARK PASSAGE is rough around the edges, but it has one of my favorite Hollywood endings.

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I don't have much to add to all of the great titles here, but I will throw out some of Jules Dassin's pre-Hollywood exile pictures: Brute Force, The Naked City, and Thieves' Highway. None are as good as his European crime films, but there's something about them that really stuck with me (especially Thieves' Highway). Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets is also another under-appreciated gem.

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I remember an exchange we had about Chinatown a few years ago. I watched it again last year, and came away feeling pretty much the same, albeit with even more admiration for Dunaway's delicate inversion of the femme fatale archetype.

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I remember an exchange we had about Chinatown a few years ago. I watched it again last year, and came away feeling pretty much the same, albeit with even more admiration for Dunaway's delicate inversion of the femme fatale archetype.

I've come around to your stance somewhat (regarding both CHINATOWN and THE NINTH GATE), but I still think CHINATOWN sets a high bar when it comes to narrative construction and that its period recreation of LA is extraordinary. Its Goldsmith score is one of the finest ever written.

FWIW, Polanski is on record as starting that CHINATOWN is his finest film (but not his favorite).

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The Big Sleep

Y'know, I enjoy THE BIG SLEEP, but I enjoy the other Bogart/Bacall pictures a lot more. TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, while not, strictly speaking, a noir, is CASABLANCA's superior, lesser-known cousin. KEY LARGO is pure dynamite, all tension and claustrophobia. DARK PASSAGE is rough around the edges, but it has one of my favorite Hollywood endings.

I need to see more Bogart/Bacall films before I can respond. For now, all I can say is I like The Big Sleep *a lot.*

For some lesser, but still very good noirs, I suggest Gaslight, Mildred Pierce - although I think the ending is too easy to predict in both of those, and Black Widow (1954) - which has enough twists to keep you guessing.

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FWIW, Polanski is on record as starting that CHINATOWN is his finest film (but not his favorite).

That's interesting. Which did he name as his favorite? I'd guess either Repulsion or Cul-de-sac.

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FWIW, Polanski is on record as starting that CHINATOWN is his finest film (but not his favorite).

That's interesting. Which did he name as his favorite? I'd guess either Repulsion or Cul-de-sac.

The latter. He doesn't like REPULSION.

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FWIW, Polanski is on record as starting that CHINATOWN is his finest film (but not his favorite).

That's interesting. Which did he name as his favorite? I'd guess either Repulsion or Cul-de-sac.

The latter. He doesn't like REPULSION.

He may be the only one.wink.png

Any good recommendations?

I can't believe I forgot Detour, the purest noir of all! A terrible crystal of a film. And D.O.A., with Edmond O'Brien.

Edited by Nathaniel

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I'm heartened to see someone mention Farewell, My Lovely! A proficient, largely forgotten contribution to the gumshoe subgenre; I prefer it to Chinatown, in fact.

In my book, that's lofty praise.

FAREWELL, MY LOVELY is available via iTunes in widescreen (Amazon Prime has it, too, but it's a pan-and-scan version). I may have to check it out.

I finally gave FAREWELL, MY LOVELY a look.

 

Reinterpreting Marlowe as an over-the-hill PI in a dying city has a certain appeal; it's Chandler with a dose of Nathanael West. David Shire's score is terrific. That said, there's something very stilted and clunky about it all, with flat performances and stagnant scenes (and not in an interesting, look-at-all-the-ghosts-of-L.A. way, but just a lazy way).

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Huh. I wonder if the things you identify as stilted, clunky, flat and stagnant are the very things I would call clear-eyed, sure-footed, measured and meticulous--part and parcel of the film's careful, rigorous style. Similarly, The Blue Dahlia--another noir I love--tends to get criticized for its "unimaginative" direction, which to me is one of its most compelling features. It's back to basics filmmaking where the style isn't all on the surface, but rather internally consistent, well planned out, methodical.

Edited by Nathaniel

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Maybe. To me, it didn't seem anywhere near rigorous enough; it seemed to halfheartedly go through its motions. It's not style I wanted as much as I just wanted some spark.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I can buy that. I see the film as having been made with a whole heart, but a weary one. It plotting, pacing and visual style reflect something Rod Serling once wrote: "the quiet desperation of men over forty who keep hearing footsteps behind them and are torn between a fear and a compulsion to look over their shoulders." Compare this to the flaccid remake of The Big Sleep (also with Mitchum) and you might see how this one stands out.

 

Also, I find it remarkable that this was made in the '70s, when classical noir models were being parodied or repurposed to reflect contemporary social mores. By comparison, Farewell, My Lovely is refreshingly reverent, satisfyingly straight. Its squareness is part of its appeal.

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Compare this to the flaccid remake of The Big Sleep (also with Mitchum) and you might see how this one stands out.

Oh, I have no doubt it's better. And I don't mean to say that FAREWELL, MY LOVELY doesn't have its bright spots. As I said, I like the idea of a weary noir, an "old man's noir," so to speak, that is permeated with this sense of aging and disease. One moment, in particular, strikes all the right notes, and that's when Marlowe sits in with the drunk old lady who tells her about Velma and starts performing some of her act. If only the rest of the film were as good as that.

While we're on the topic of underrated neo-noirs, I've always felt that THE TWO JAKES was better than its reputation.

Edited by Ryan H.

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