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Darrel Manson

top noir films

38 posts in this topic

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

Agreed—liked this a good bit, though I feel like it's way too long.

Saw Walter Hill's The Driver last night. It's always been a movie that I've seen other filmmakers talk about, but I'd never actually seen it 'til now. It's neo-noir as its most lean and mean; it borrows a ton from Jean-Pierre Melville, and doesn't waste ANY time (or, give any time) to characters' backstory or motivations. I loved it.

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I suppose I can contribute to this thread.  It's hard to rank them, but here's a personal attempt at it.  Also, I still need to see more British and French noir.

 

Tier 1

 

Touch of Evil (1958) - Orson Welles
Laura (1944) - Otto Preminger
The Maltese Falcon (1941) - John Huston
Chinatown (1974) - Roman Polanski
The Big Sleep (1946) - Howard Hawks
The Lady from Shanghai (1948) - Orson Welles
Vertigo (1958) - Alfred Hitchcock
The Thin Man (1934) - W.S. Van Dyke

M. (1931) - Fritz Lang

 

Tier 2

 

The Lady in the Lake (1947) - Robert Montgomery

Angel Heart (1987) - Alan Parker
The Long Goodbye (1973) - Robert Altman
To Have and Have Not (1944) - Howard Hawks

Brick (2005) - Rian Johnson
Snake Eyes (1998) - Brian De Palma
Out of the Past (1947) - Jacques Tourner
Key Largo (1948) - John Huston
The Blue Dahlia (1946) - George Marshall
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - Robert Aldrich
L.A. Confidential (1997) - Curtis Hanson
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) - Tay Garnett
Farewell, My Lovely (1975) - Dick Richards

Harper (1966) - Jack Smight

 

Tier 3

In a Lonely Place (1950) - Nicholas Ray
The Third Man (1949) - Carol Reed
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) - Joel & Ethan Coen
The Big Heat (1953) - Fritz Lang
Night and the City (1950) - Jules Dassin
The Black Dahlia (2006) - Brian De Palma
The Killers (1946) - Robert Siodmak
This Gun For Hire (1942) - Frank Tuttle
Sunset Boulevard (1950) - Billy Wilder
Brighton Rock (1947) - John Boulting
Body Double (1984) - Brian De Palma
The Big Clock (1948) - John Farrow
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) - Shane Black

Devil in the Blue Dress (1995) - Carl Franklin
The Singing Detective (2003) - Keith Gordon

Payback (1999) - Brian Helgeland

(A part of me also wants to add the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo and The Big Lebowski as well.  Another part of me wants to include Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter.  Another part of me says they are not really noir films.)

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I'm not sure a number of those qualify as noir (TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, for instance, which is generally categorized as a war film, as opposed to noir, which odds often understood as having a postwar component). But I do generally agree with the definition of noir staked out by Paul Schrader, and his definition is not the only one.

Also, putting THE BIG HEAT, SUNSET BOULEVARD, and IN A LONELY PLACE in a tier beneath BRICK and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL should be a criminal offense.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Also, putting THE BIG HEAT, SUNSET BOULEVARD, and IN A LONELY PLACE in a tier beneath BRICK and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL should be a criminal offense.

QFT.

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Would anyone classify The Silence of the Lambs as noir?  I could see an argument both for and against including it as a noir. 

 

I suppose I can contribute to this thread.  It's hard to rank them, but here's a personal attempt at it.  Also, I still need to see more British and French noir.

 

Tier 1

 

Touch of Evil (1958) - Orson Welles

Maybe I saw the wrong cut, but I thought Touch of Evil was very, very good but fell short of brilliant.  (I saw the original theatrical release.  Which cut is the "official" one?)

 

 

Also, putting THE BIG HEAT, SUNSET BOULEVARD, and IN A LONELY PLACE in a tier beneath BRICK and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL should be a criminal offense.

 Putting Sunset Boulevard in a tier below any noir should be a criminal offense. The same goes for Double Indemnity.

Edited by Evan C

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I don't think SILENCE OF THE LAMBS can be successfully classified as a noir. It lacks any connection to the hardboiled tradition.

I suppose I can contribute to this thread. It's hard to rank them, but here's a personal attempt at it. Also, I still need to see more British and French noir.

Tier 1

Touch of Evil (1958) - Orson Welles

Maybe I saw the wrong cut, but I thought Touch of Evil was very, very good but fell short of brilliant. (I saw the original theatrical release. Which cut is the "official" one?)
I think TOUCH OF EVIL is probably the greatest of Welles' masterpieces.

No cut of TOUCH OF EVIL is truly official (they're all compromised in one way or another), but the cut most prefer is the 112 minute "restored cut," which was compiled by editor Walter Murch, following Welles' instructions that he provided via memo to Universal, after seeing their re-edited version of his film. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best of the available versions by a long shot.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I'm not sure a number of those qualify as noir (TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, for instance, which is generally categorized as a war film, as opposed to noir, which odds often understood as having a postwar component). But I do generally agree with the definition of noir staked out by Paul Schrader, and his definition is not the only one.

Also, putting THE BIG HEAT, SUNSET BOULEVARD, and IN A LONELY PLACE in a tier beneath BRICK and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL should be a criminal offense.

Yes, I can see that. That's the problem with my own subjective personal tastes. If I make a list based on them it's going to take into account my experience of the films which does not necessarily correlate to the film's quality. I keep having to learn that my ability to experience and appreciate is not what it should be.

For example, Sunset Boulevard is one I can appreciate objectively. But I've always struggled to appreciate it.  William Holden's character annoys me every time.  He usually doesn't play characters so gullible or weak.  And while there's no rule against a weak or dumb noir protagonist, I still personally find it frustrating.  And his voiceover narration is an after-the-fact hindsight sort of narration that doesn't fit his character in the story.  He accepts too much, agrees to too much, goes along with things that any typical noir protagonist would get out of with a single wise-crack.  But, given what others have written about the film, it must be just me.  I'm prejudiced on this one somehow.

 

On the other hand, the very best of noir is a film that succeeds at the atmosphere of noir.  And Sunset Boulevard HAS the atmosphere.  It may just be because of Bogart and Bacall, the night scenes and the shadows, but I've always felt like To Have and Have Not succeeds at the atmosphere too.  Of course, I suppose a not-noir film could still have a noir atmosphere.  Thus the problem with genre definition.

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And while there's no rule against a weak or dumb noir protagonist, I still personally find it frustrating.

I'd wager that the opposite is true: the gullible, broken, bad choice-making protagonist are pretty common in film noir. Even the wise-ass gumshoes like Marlowe tend not to make good choices.

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And while there's no rule against a weak or dumb noir protagonist, I still personally find it frustrating.

I'd wager that the opposite is true: the gullible, broken, bad choice-making protagonist are pretty common in film noir.
Yeah. Just consider THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI or KISS ME DEADLY.

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Maybe I saw the wrong cut, but I thought Touch of Evil was very, very good but fell short of brilliant. (I saw the original theatrical release. Which cut is the "official" one?)

I think TOUCH OF EVIL is probably the greatest of Welles' masterpieces.

No cut of TOUCH OF EVIL is truly official (they're all compromised in one way or another), but the cut most prefer is the 112 minute "restored cut," which was compiled by editor Walter Murch, following Welles' instructions that he provided via memo to Universal, after seeing their re-edited version of his film. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best of the available versions by a long shot.

Yes, definitely.  I watched the restored cut a few days ago, and it is a clear improvement over the theatrical cut.  This time the film totally worked for me, the atmosphere, tension, and conflicts were all there, and it is definitely one of the best/most thrilling noirs.

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No love for The Stranger? (1946 Orson Welles)  So far viewed on a library VHS by Madacy, watchable, but still the image quality was tragic for Welles & Robinson together. A lot of it was presented in near silhouette. Was hoping to hear someone suggest it would be worth seeking out a better copy.

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The Stranger is a frantic hoot, filled to overflowing with Orson's usual baroqueries. On the home video front, the recent Kino Blu-ray is the clear winner, having been mastered from a Library of Congress print. Silver ribbon goes to the MGM noir DVD of 2007. The rest is public domain blurriness.

Edited by Nathaniel

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Nobody has mentioned The Big Combo, which I watched for the first time today. It's pretty spectacular.

large_big_combo_blu-ray_07.jpg

Edited by Ryan H.

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