1,000 Noir Films (D)

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Title / Director / Year / Country
D.O.A.
D.O.A. 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 83m, BW, Mystery-Psychological Thriller
Screenplay Russell Rouse, Clarence Greene Producer Leo C. Popkin Photography Ernest Laszlo Editor Arthur H. Nadel Music Dimitri Tiomkin Cast Edmond O'Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, Beverly Garland, Lynn Baggett, William Ching, Neville Brand, Henry Hart, Laurette Luez, Jess Kirkpatrick.
"Delirious descent into the maelstrom of '40s film noir as a small town businessman trades dull days and a loyal lover for a fling in the jazz nights of San Francisco. How he becomes enmeshed in the crueller, deadlier corruption of LA, solving the case of his own murder, involves a succession of ingenious twists too good to give away. Maté shoots fast and always to the point as he drives his protagonist through endless doorways and rooms which are like trapdoors and boxes in an accelerating nightmare. Maté, whose credits as cameraman include Vampyr, Foreign Correspondent and Gilda, holds it all together with no trouble, and without the slightest appeal to art gives the images the intensity of a dying man's last story. Breathless, indeed." - Chris Petit (Time Out)
The Damned Don't Cry
The Damned Don't Cry
1950, USA, 103m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Harold Medford, Jerome Weidman (based on a story by Gertrude Walker) Producer Jerry Wald Photography Ted McCord Editor Rudi Fehr Music Daniele Amfitheatrof Cast Joan Crawford, David Brian, Steve Cochran, Kent Smith, Hugh Sanders, Selena Royle, Jacqueline de Wit, Morris Ankrum, Eddie Marr, Richard Egan.
"The 1950 Joan Crawford classic The Damned Don't Cry is the perfect counter-argument to claims for the decade as an idyllic era of happy little nuclear families living carefree lives behind picket fences and Leave It to Beaver fantasies. Already unhappy with her lot as a housewife struggling to make ends meet, Crawford flies the coop after her son, her only reason for staying married, is killed riding the bike she just bought him against her husband's orders. What follows is a madcap rise from cigar-stand girl to model to gangster's moll that's equal parts emotional drama and high camp. It's a strange, artificial film designed to showcase everything the star did best, from lounging by the pool in a designer swimsuit to tearfully confessing her every sin. In a way The Damned Don't Cry is an anthology of every scene that made Crawford a star." - Frank Miller (Turner Classic Movies)
Danger Signal
Danger Signal
1945, USA, 78m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Adele Comandini, C. Graham Baker (based on the novel by Phyllis Bottome) Producer William Jacobs Photography James Wong Howe Editor Frank Magee Music Adolph Deutsch Cast Faye Emerson, Zachary Scott, Richard Erdman, Rosemary DeCamp, Bruce Bennett, Mona Freeman, John Ridgely, Mary Servoss, Joyce Compton, Virginia Sale.
"Although you could argue that Danger Signal is really Hilda's (Emerson) story, it's Scott's entertaining performance as the amoral Mason that dominates the film. From the smug look on his face as he watches his evil schemes fall into place to the undisguised glee he registers as the two sisters engage in a jealous rivalry for his affections, Scott has no peer when it comes to playing a smarmy seducer like Mason. The film is equally fascinating for its mixture of film noir techniques (James Wong Howe's atmospheric cinematography), psychological profiling (the introduction of female psychiatrist, Dr. Silla (Rosemary DeCamp), who tries to analyze Mason's character), and a not-so-subtle subtext about male-female relationships.” - Jeff Stafford (Turner Classic Movies)
Dangerous Crossing
Dangerous Crossing Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1953, USA, 75m, BW, Thriller-Mystery
Screenplay Leo Townsend (based on the play Cabin B-13 by John Dickson Carr) Producer Robert Bassler Photography Joseph LaShelle Editor William H. Reynolds Music Lionel Newman Cast Jeanne Crain, Michael Rennie, Max Showalter, Carl Betz, Mary Anderson, Marjorie Hoshelle, Willis Bouchey, Yvonne Peattie, Karl Ludwig Lindt, Stanley Andrews.
"Falling somewhere in the middle distance between Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes and Jodie Foster's Flightplan, the 1953 thriller Dangerous Crossing is another tale of a perilous journey where someone disappears into thin air and only one person even remembers him existing… Though Newman does imbue the ocean liner with an atmosphere of dread, with its endless corridors, foggy decks, and even the occasional, subtle up-and-down shifting of the frame to simulate the queasiness of sea travel, he doesn't take full advantage… Full of mystery and suspense, made the most palpable by Jeanne Crain's tension-filled performance, it's a solid 76-minutes that should keep you on your toes. It's also pretty to look at, with fine black-and-white photography." - Jamie S. Rich (DVD Talk)
Dangerous Profession
A Dangerous Profession
1949, USA, 79m, BW, Crime-Drama-Mystery
Screenplay Martin Rackin, Warren Duff Producer Robert Sparks Photography Robert De Grasse Editor Frederic Knudston Music Frederick Hollander Cast George Raft, Ella Raines, Pat O'Brien, Bill Williams, Jim Backus, Roland Winters, Betty Underwood, Robert Gist, David Wolfe, Barry Brooks.
"The Dangerous Profession of the title is the bail-bond business. George Raft stars as Kane, a former cop turned professional bail-raiser. When one of his customers, robbery suspect Brackett (Bill Williams), is mysteriously murdered, Kane wants to know why. His reasons are twofold: he has an insatiable curiosity, and he's fallen in love with Brackett's widow Lucy (Ella Raines). As his business partner Farley (Pat O'Brien) looks on in mute bewilderment, Kane risks life and limb to solve the mystery. The plot doesn't always make sense, but in 1949 it was reassuring to see George Raft and Pat O'Brien harking back to their cinematic halcyon days of the 1930s." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
Dark City
Dark City Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 98m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay John Meredyth Lucas, Larry Marcus (with contributions from Leonardo Bercovici and adapted by Ketti Frings based on the story No Escape by Larry Marcus) Producer Hal B. Wallis Photography Victor Milner Editor Warren Low Music Franz Waxman Cast Charlton Heston, Lizabeth Scott, Viveca Lindfors, Dean Jagger, Jack Webb, Don DeFore, Ed Begley, Harry Morgan, Mike Mazurki, Walter Sande.
"This is indeed a dark film about two-bit crooks on society's fringes. Charlton Heston is excellent in the lead role, playing a fellow who walks the line between evil and not-so-bad. Everyone, especially the female characters in the film and the police captain (Jay Morley), seems to think Danny Haley (Heston) isn't living up to his potential. Poor Lizabeth Scott can't do much with her role as Danny's neglected girlfriend, Fran Garland, but she shines in her scenes singing in a nightclub... With a tough noir script filled with plenty of one-liners (Morley and Heston get most of the best lines), Dark City is a great little film worth scouring video stores for." - Adam Bregman (Allmovie)
Dark City (1998)
Dark City Available on Blu-ray
SCI-FI NOIR / NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1998, USA-Australia, 100m, Col, Science Fiction-Mystery-Thriller
Screenplay Alex Proyas, David S. Goyer, Lem Dobbs Producer Andrew Mason Photography Dariusz Wolski Editor Dov Hoenig Music Trevor Jones Cast Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, Richard O'Brien, Ian Richardson, Colin Friels, William Hurt, Mitchell Butel, Frank Gallacher, Bruce Spence.
“Alex Proyas's noisy psychedelic movie nightmare, Dark City, is so relentlessly trippy in a fun-house sort of way that it could very easily inspire a daredevil cult of moviegoers who go back again and again to experience its mind-bending twists and turns. Although its story doesn't add up when you analyze it afterward, the movie does take you on a visually arresting ride that offers many unsettling surprises right up to a sentimental sunburst of an ending that has a paranoid undertone… At its best, the movie feels like a magician's trick, a gleefully improvised demonic fantasy of ominous evil genies conjured out of bottles and stirred into a steamy swirl that brings in everything from Franz Kafka to Vincent Price, from Fritz Lang to Star Trek." - Stephen Holden (The New York Times)
The Dark Corner
The Dark Corner 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1946, USA, 99m, BW, Crime-Romantic Mystery
Screenplay Bernard C. Schoenfeld, Jay Dratler (based on the short story by Leo Rosten) Producer Fred Kohlmar Photography Joseph MacDonald Editor J. Watson Webb Music Cyril J. Mockridge Cast Mark Stevens, Lucille Ball, Clifton Webb, William Bendix, Kurt Kreuger, Cathy Downs, Reed Hadley, Constance Collier, Eddie Heywood, Colleen Alpaugh.
"Fine noir thriller, superbly paced by Hathaway, equally superbly shot by Joe MacDonald, and benefiting from the Fox trademark (at this time) of location shooting. Stevens is the private eye just released from jail after being framed for murder, only to find a sinister thug tailing him and gradually driving him into a nightmare which ends with him wanted for murder all over again. Although Webb's suave villain is carried over virtually intact from Laura (complete with the manic possessiveness about beautiful women), The Dark Corner manages its own note of individuality by casting the vulnerable Stevens as a tough Sam Spade whose façade is systematically cracked... Terrific performances, not least from Bendix as the thug in a white suit, Downs as the dark angel of the piece, and Kreuger as a Teutonic snake." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
The Dark Mirror
The Dark Mirror 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1946, USA, 85m, BW, Psychological Thriller-Crime
Screenplay Nunnally Johnson (based on a story by Vladimir Pozner) Producer Nunnally Johnson Photography Milton Krasner Editor Ernest Nims Music Dimitri Tiomkin Cast Olivia de Havilland, Lew Ayres, Thomas Mitchell, Richard Long, Charles Evans, Garry Owen, Lela Bliss, Lester Allen, Jean Andren, Rodney Bell.
"With the screenwriter Nunnally Johnson also producing, the flagrantly expressive director Robert Siodmak seems, at times, constrained by the bulky script of this 1946 film noir. Nonetheless, the twisty mystery—about a pair of identical twins, Terry and Ruth Collins (de Havilland), one of whom is suspected of murder and neither of whom can be charged, owing to the impossibility of an eyewitness identification—shudders with a deep chill of urban solitude... Thanks to technical wizardry, Siodmak often gets the twins onscreen together in the same shot, and he makes the most of it with striking images filled with an oppressive density of doubles—if one person in a frame is too few, two comes off as too many." - Richard Brody (The New Yorker)
Dark Passage
Dark Passage 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 106m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Mystery
Screenplay Delmer Daves (based on the novel by David Goodis) Producer Jerry Wald Photography Sidney Hickox Editor David Weisbart Music Franz Waxman Cast Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bruce Bennett, Agnes Moorehead, Tom D'Andrea, Clifton Young, Douglas Kennedy, Rory Mallinson, Houseley Stevenson, Bob Farber.
"This 1947 Humphrey Bogart number, directed with impressive verve by Delmer Daves, begins with a San Quentin prison break; all we see is a pair of hands sneaking out of an oil barrel on a truck bed. In fact, for more than the first half-hour we don't see Bogart's wary, been-wronged con at all, just his p.o.v. and establishing shots, capturing his sense of alienation after being picked up by sympathetic artist Lauren Bacall and smuggled into San Francisco. Then a back-alley facelift and a seemingly hopeless drift toward salvation, with the wolves coming out of the woodwork. The structure and character sense of the David Goodis novel are intact, and a full-throttle supporting cast has a ball with meaty parts, particularly Tom D'Andrea as an interventionist cabbie and Houseley Stevenson as the black-market surgeon." - Michael Atkinson (The Village Voice)
The Dark Past
The Dark Past
1948, USA, 75m, BW, Crime-Psychological Drama
Screenplay Albert Duffy, Michael Blankfort, Philip MacDonald (adapted by Marvin Wald and Oscar Saul based on the play Blind Alley by James Warwick) Producer Buddy Adler Photography Joseph Walker Editor Viola Lawrence Music George Duning Cast Lee J. Cobb, William Holden, Nina Foch, Adele Jergens, Stephen Dunne, Lois Maxwell, Berry Kroeger, Steven Geray, Wilton Graff, Robert Osterloh.
"The Dark Past, based on the play Blind Alley (which was previously adapted for the 1939 film of the same name), arrived in 1948, a few years after Hollywood's love affair with psychoanalysis first bloomed. It follows in the footsteps of Spellbound, applying Freudian analysis of dream imagery to discover and heal the psychic scars of the past...and in record time!... Mate and his screenwriters never quite smooth over the seams of the play's structure in their adaptation and their simplification of psychoanalysis is, even for 1948, glaringly facile... Mate's strength is his visual sense. He makes the most of the split-level design of the cabin's main room in a few well-staged moments and he applies simple techniques for maximum effect in his visualization of Walker's (Holden) recurrent nightmare." - Sean Axmaker (Turner Classic Movies)
Dark Waters
Dark Waters
1944, USA, 90m, BW, Thriller-Mystery
Screenplay Joan Harrison, Marian Cockrell, Francis Cockrell Producer Benedict Bogeaus Photography Archie Stout, John Mescall Editor James Smith Music Miklos Rozsa Cast Merle Oberon, Franchot Tone, Thomas Mitchell, Fay Bainter, Elisha Cook Jr., John Qualen, Rex Ingram, Nina Mae McKinney, Odette Myrtil, Eugene Borden.
"Mood dictates narrative in Andre de Toth's Dark Waters, a hallucinatory jigsaw puzzle set in the deep swamps of 1940s Louisiana that becomes a perfect breeding ground for nourish shadows and deceptive wordplay... Even though Dark Waters shows its cards soon into the third act, the film achieves so much tension through subtleties of sound and image it's easy to forgive the more familiar thriller tropes at work... Dark Waters ends with multiple dead bodies sinking into the bayou and Leslie (Oberon) directly confronting what one character calls her "persuasion complex." The bravura finale through the oozing locale is a stunner, and despite some surface romance that feels a bit forced, the film stays true to its mystically dark mood, a slithering distant cousin to Tourneur's I Walked with a Zombie." - Glenn Heath Jr. (The House Next Door)
Dead Men Don
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid Available on Blu-ray
COMEDY NOIR / NEO-NOIR
1982, USA, 89m, BW, Crime-Comedy-Parody/Spoof
Screenplay Carl Reiner, George Gipe, Steve Martin Producers David V. Picker, William E. McEuen Photography Michael Chapman Editor Bud Molin Music Miklos Rozsa Cast Steve Martin, Rachel Ward, Carl Reiner, Reni Santoni, George Gaynes, Frank McCarthy, Britt Nilsson, Charles Picerni, Adrian Ricard, George Sawava.
"Not the first movie to be built around cameo performances, but these are somewhat novel. Forties stars (Bergman, Bogart, Cagney, etc.) are exhumed from the Hollywood vaults to live again in a new mystery comedy whose convolutions stem not least from forcing various clips from old thrillers to look as though they belong together. Some amusement is derived from watching a film that so obviously had to be worked out backwards. The bits in between feature likeable Martin as a keen but clumsy detective - with all the good lines, which is no bad thing because he's the best part of this fairly amusing, clever exercise in editing." - Chris Petit (Time Out)
Dead Reckoning
Dead Reckoning 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 100m, BW, Mystery-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Oliver H.P. Garrett, Steve Fisher (adapted by Allen Rivkin, from a story by Gerald Adams and Sidney Biddell) Producer Sidney Biddell Photography Leo Tover Editor Gene Havlick Music Marlin Skiles Cast Humphrey Bogart, Lizabeth Scott, Morris Carnovsky, Charles Cane, William Prince, Marvin Miller, Wallace Ford, James Bell, George Chandler, William Forrest.
"Dead Reckoning doesn't always make a lot of narrative sense. The same goes for a number of classic noirs – including Bogart's previous picture, The Big Sleep (1946) – but as the New York Times diplomatically observed, "there are a lot of things about the script... that an attentive spectator might find disconcerting." Scrambled storytelling isn't the only typical noir element in Dead Reckoning. Also present are the returning-veteran hero, the enigmatic heroine, multiple plot twists, and wisecrack-heavy dialogue, all woven into a story with a flashback structure and constant voiceovers by Rip that sometimes obscure more than they clarify. To his credit, Cromwell makes the convoluted tale reasonably coherent and occasionally quite surprising... he had all the necessary skills to bring a quintessentially noir style to a quintessentially noir project." - David Sterritt (Turner Classic Movies)
Deadline at Dawn
Deadline at Dawn
1946, USA, 83m, BW, Mystery-Thriller
Screenplay Clifford Odets (from the novel by Cornell Woolrich) Producer Adrian Scott Photography Nicholas Musuraca Editor Roland Gross Music Hanns Eisler Cast Susan Hayward, Bill Williams, Paul Lukas, Joseph Calleia, Osa Massen, Lola Lane, Jerome Cowan, Marvin Miller, Roman Bohnen, Steven Geray.
"Deadline At Dawn, a wrong-man nightmare noir set over a long night in an urban jungle, is a film of shadows and secrets and moments of street poetry. It’s the only film directed by Harold Clurman, the influential theater director and producer who formed the Group Theater with Lee Strasberg, and comes from a Cornell Woolrich’s novel adapted for the screen by Clifford Odets, but the performances and dialogue are secondary to the tremendous mood, created in large part by the beautiful budget expressionist lighting of Nicholas Musuraca, who turns the backlot street sets into a nocturnal world of its own with pools light and shadow for the characters to emerge from and disappear back into." - Sean Axmaker (Parallax View)
Deception
Deception
1946, USA, 112m, BW, Melodrama-Crime
Screenplay John Collier, Joseph Than (based on the play Monsieur Lamberthier by Louis Verneuil) Producer Henry Blanke Photography Ernest Haller Editor Alan Crosland Jr. Music Erich Wolfgang Korngold Cast Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, John Abbott, Benson Fong, Richard Walsh, Jane Harker, Suzi Crandall, Richard Erdman, Ross Ford.
"Deception is a strange film with a metropolitan gothic ambience. Quite avant-garde for a Hollywood soapie of the period, with inventive low angles and expressionist lighting deftly overcoming set-bound constraints… The direction is certainly elegant and the collaboration with ace DP Ernest Heller and Art Director Anton Grot produced masterly monochrome visuals ranging from the sumptuous almost decadent elegance of Raines’ palatial home to the stark modernist lines of Davis’ NY loft apartment. This apartment has the city as a brooding backdrop exposed by a massive window running the length of a wall of the tenement. A must-see noir melodrama." - Tony D'Ambra (FilmsNoir.net)
Decoy
Decoy Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1946, USA, 76m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Nedrick Young (from a story by Stanley Rubin) Producers Bernard Brandt, Jack Bernhard Photography L. William O'Connell Editor Jason H. Bernie Music Edward J. Kay Cast Jean Gillie, Edward Norris, Herbert Rudley, Robert Armstrong, Sheldon Leonard, Marjorie Woodworth, Philip Van Zandt, Carole Donne, Bert Roach, Rosemary Bertrand.
"A lot of noirs have absurd plots. And then there’s Decoy, a tilt-a-whirl of absurdities. A full recounting of the ridiculousness of this film’s storyline is beyond my meager powers... While Decoy is a decidedly low budget affair—it was shot on Hollywood’s Poverty Row and released by the Monogram Pictures—it looks pretty good. It’s an example of a fairly undistinguished cast and crew putting together a solid entertainment... B-movie director Jack Bernhard formed a production company to make the film as a showcase for his new wife, the English actress Jean Gillie. Bernhard was on to something special with Gillie, and her ferocious performance is the best reason to see the movie... It would have been interesting to see what Gillie could have done with better scripts, but, sadly, she died of pneumonia not long after the film was released." - Jake Hinkson (The Night Editor)
Deep Valley
Deep Valley
1947, USA, 104m, BW, Drama-Crime-Romance
Screenplay Salka Viertel, Steven Morehouse Avery (based on the novel by Dan Totheroh) Producer Henry Blanke Photography Ted McCord Editor Owen Marks Music Max Steiner Cast Ida Lupino, Dane Clark, Wayne Morris, Fay Bainter, Henry Hull, Willard Robertson, John Alvin, Leonard Bremen, Clancy Cooper, Eddie Dunn.
"Before getting swamped by overproduced CinemaScope features, Jean Negulesco was a skillful director of noirs and other small pictures, as evidenced by Road House (1948) and this neglected drama about a couple on the run. Ida Lupino plays a poor, eccentric 22-year-old in rural California, traumatized by abusive and dysfunctional parents (Henry Hull and Faye Bainter), who falls for a sensitive but volatile escaped convict (Dane Clark). If you can get past the obtrusive Max Steiner score and a surfeit of dog reaction shots, this has a feeling for outcasts and strong, quirky performances that build to the kind of affecting and socially subversive romantic melodrama Nicholas Ray excelled at." - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader)
Desert Fury
Desert Fury
COLOUR NOIR
1947, USA, 95m, Col, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Robert Rossen (based on the novel Desert Town by Ramona Stewart) Producer Hal B. Wallis Photography Charles Lang, Edward Cronjager Editor Warren Low Music Miklos Rozsa Cast John Hodiak, Lizabeth Scott, Burt Lancaster, Wendell Corey, Mary Astor, Kristine Miller, William Harrigan, James Flavin, Jane Novak, Ana Camargo.
"Watching director Lewis Allen’s Desert Fury, it is clear that, as the story moves along, the way in which information is communicated and interpreted, by its characters and the audience, is one of the focal points. Its script, setting, characters photography, and themes come together to make a film that changes tonally and structurally whenever further plot points are revealed… Desert Fury is a far sharper, subversive piece of cinema than meets the eye. Just when the viewer believes they have the story and character motivations all figured out, Allen’s film has some secret cards up its sleeve. Far from duping the audience strictly for the purpose of offering a thrill, the perceptions are altered because of real constraints that blinded them and the characters in the story." - Edgar Chaput (PopOptic)
Desperate
Desperate 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 73m, BW, Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Harry Essex (with additional dialogue by Martin Rackin based on a story by Dorothy Atlas and Anthony Mann) Producer Michael Kraike Photography George E. Diskant Editor Marston Fay Music Paul Sawtell Cast Steve Brodie, Audrey Long, Raymond Burr, Douglas Fowley, William Challee, Jason Robards Sr., Freddie Steele, Robert Peyton, Paul E. Burns, Ilka Gruning.
"Still a few years away from major studio "A" pictures, director Anthony Mann was already showing how he could make something very substantial out of very little with Desperate. This compact noir-ish thriller pulls together a lot of threads -- neatly and convincingly drawn characters, especially Steve Brodie's good-guy trucker, caught in a nightmare not at all of his making, and Raymond Burr's psycho gang leader; a believably dark situation for the hero; and a credible, bare-bones setting and array of supporting characters... In all, this is one neat and diverting low-rent, high-quality thriller, in many ways the direct antecedent to Mann's better-known, bigger-budgeted MGM-made thriller Side Street (1950)." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
The Desperate Hours
The Desperate Hours Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1955, USA, 112m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Joseph Hayes (based on his novel and play) Producer William Wyler Photography Lee Garmes Editor Robert Swink Music Gail Kubik Cast Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March, Arthur Kennedy, Martha Scott, Dewey Martin, Gig Young, Mary Murphy, Robert Middleton, Richard Eyer, Alan Reed.
"From a Broadway play, with Bogart giving his penultimate performance as the desperate fugitive, a role played on stage by Paul Newman. A trio of convicts on the run terrorise an average American suburban family headed by March. One of a number of '50s films which revealed the paranoia lurking under the facade of the American dream, this time the respectability and security of the family being disrupted with a vengeance. Bogart clearly enjoys himself as a man with no redeeming features, and he's well supported by the other two (Martin, Middleton). Wyler directs efficiently, if somewhat mechanically." - Chris Petit (Time Out)
Destination Murder
Destination Murder
1950, USA, 72m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Action
Screenplay Don Martin Producers Edward L. Cahn, Maurie M. Suess Photography Jackson Rose Editor Philip Cahn Music Irving Gertz Cast Joyce MacKenzie, Stanley Clements, Hurd Hatfield, Albert Dekker, Myrna Dell, James Flavin, John Dehner, Richard Emory, Norma Vance, Suzette Harbin.
"Destination Murder is a low-budget crime drama and borderline Film Noir helmed by prolific director Edward L. Cahn... Destination Murder can be termed a Film Noir by virtue of its labyrinth plot, its roster of colorful and somewhat perverse characters, and by a cynical sense that such actions displayed by low-lifes Armitage (Dekker), Norton (Hatfield) and Jackie (Clements) are the norm. Director Cahn makes little attempt to bring any visual Noir elements into play; most of the film takes place in broad daylight and well-lit sets; the lighting, camera set-ups, and editing are all fairly routine. A great attraction of Destination Murder is its cast of well-recognized character actors in featured roles." - John M. Miller (Turner Classic Movies)
Destiny
Destiny
1944, USA, 65m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Ernest Pascal, Roy Chanslor Producers Charles Boyer, Julien Duvivier Photography George Robinson, Paul Ivano Editor Paul Landres Music Alexander Tansman, Frank Skinner Cast Gloria Jean, Alan Curtis, Frank Craven, Grace McDonald, Vivian Austin, Frank Fenton, Minna Gombell, Charles Bates, Lane Chandler, Edgar Dearing.
"When director Julien Duvivier's episodic, all-star drama Flesh and Fantasy proved a bit too long in previews, Universal decided to remove the film's opening segment, which dealt with the foredoomed romance between an escaped criminal and a blind girl. Because this segment was too good to waste, the studio hired screenwriter Roy Chanslor to come up with additional material and Reginald LeBorg to direct a few new scenes, so that the episode could be released as a separate feature film. The result was the 65-minute Destiny, a curious melange of the sublime and the banal… The stylistic schism between the "old" and "new" scenes is glaringly obvious; still, what's left of the original Duvivier footage is terrific, with Alan Curtis and Gloria Jean offering the finest performances of their screen careers." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
Detective Story
Detective Story Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1951, USA, 103m, BW, Crime-Police Drama
Screenplay Philip Yordan, Robert Wyler (based on the play by Sidney Kingsley) Producer William Wyler Photography Lee Garmes Editor Robert Swink Cast Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Cathy O'Donnell, George Macready, Horace McMahon, Joseph Wiseman, Lee Grant, Gladys George, Gerald Mohr.
"While Detective Story remains essentially a filmed play, Wyler manages to use the inherent constraints of such an approach as an artistic advantage. The confined set of the police precinct is not simply a space where various characters observe each other and interact; it also contributes to the underlying thematic thrust and ultimately to the film's emotional power. The staging of the individual scenes, which often plays on foreground-background relationships, is also augmented by Lee Garmes' deep focus photography. (Wyler, of course, used deep focus photography extensively in the films he shot with Gregg Toland.) Detective Story is virtuoso filmmaking that catches the viewer off guard with its seemingly prosaic and unassuming surface." - James Steffen (Turner Classic Movies)
Detour
Detour 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1945, USA, 69m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Martin Goldsmith Producer Leon Fromkess Photography Benjamin Kline Editor George McGuire Music Leo Erdody Cast Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake, Edmund MacDonald, Tim Ryan, Esther Howard, Roger Clark, Pat Gleason, Don Brodie, Eddie Hall.
"Detour is a movie so filled with imperfections that it would not earn the director a passing grade in film school. This movie from Hollywood's poverty row, shot in six days, filled with technical errors and ham-handed narrative, starring a man who can only pout and a woman who can only sneer, should have faded from sight soon after it was released in 1945. And yet it lives on, haunting and creepy, an embodiment of the guilty soul of film noir. No one who has seen it has easily forgotten it... The movie was shot on the cheap with B-minus actors, but it was directed by a man of qualities: Edgar G. Ulmer, a refugee from Hitler, who was an assistant to the great Murnau on The Last Laugh and Sunrise, and provided one of the links between German Expressionism, with its exaggerated lighting, camera angles and dramaturgy, and the American film noir, which added jazz and guilt." - Roger Ebert (Roger Ebert.com)
Devil in a Blue Dress
Devil in a Blue Dress Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1995, USA, 102m, Col, Mystery-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Carl Franklin (based on the novel by Walter Mosley) Producers Gary Goetzman, Jesse Beaton Photography Tak Fujimoto Editor Carole Kravetz Aykanian Music Elmer Bernstein Cast Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals, Don Cheadle, Maury Chaykin, Lisa Nicole Carson, Terry Kinney, Mel Winkler, Jernard Burks, Albert Hall.
"Devil in a Blue Dress is the whip-smart and sexy film version of Walter Mosley's acclaimed 1990 debut novel. Set in Los Angeles in 1948, Devil puts a spin on Chinatown to provide a black perspective on the layers of corruption that stretch from the streets to the corridors of power. Denzel Washington is flat-out perfection as Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins, a private detective almost by accident… Writer and director Carl Franklin (One False Move) scores a triumph in using the brooding atmosphere and racial tension of the sun-kissed, seedy City of Angels to reveal character and reclaim a neglected past that ace cinematographer Tak Fujimoto brings to vivid life." - Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
The Devil Thumbs a Ride
The Devil Thumbs a Ride Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 62m, BW, Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Felix E. Feist (based on the novel by Robert C. DuSoe) Producer Herman Schlom Photography J. Roy Hunt Editor Robert Swink Music Paul Sawtell Cast Lawrence Tierney, Ted North, Nan Leslie, Betty Lawford, Marian Carr, Harry Shannon, Glenn Vernon, Andrew Tombes, William Gould, Josephine Whittell.
"The Devil Thumbs a Ride is a gripping, mesmerizing noir-ish excursion that succeeds in spite of itself. Definitely a "B" movie, Devil's more-or-less hour running time is filled with stumbling blocks that should keep it from being a stand out -- and yet most viewers are more than willing to overlook its flaws because of the undeniable attraction it exerts. Chief among its distinctions is the fact that it is one of the most cold-blooded films of its time. The villain of the piece, a sociopathic killer (Tierney), is the one that engages the audience the most; he fascinates from his first moment on the screen, and the audience finds itself totally drawn in by him... Felix E. Feist directs with an emphasis on tension, but makes plenty of room for comedic touches as well; he tries to get too much into the short running time, but this gives Devil a somewhat relentless quality that suits it." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
Les Diaboliques
Les Diaboliques Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Diabolique (English title)
FRENCH NOIR
1955, France, 114m, BW, Thriller-Mystery
Screenplay Frédéric Grendel, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimii, René Masson (based on the novel Celle qui n'était plus by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac) Producer Henri-Georges Clouzot Photography Armand Thirard Editor Madeleine Gug Music Georges Van Parys Cast Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel, Jean Brochard, Pierre Larquey, Michel Serrault, Noel Roquevert, Therese Dorny, Yves-Marie Maurin.
"Devilishly suspenseful, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s thriller about two women who conspire to knock off a sadistic boarding-school headmaster (Paul Meurisse) – one of the women is his wife, the other his mistress – has all the dark humour and clever tension of a Hitchcock. Simone Signoret as the peroxide-blonde mistress is the harder of the two would-be killers, while Véra Clouzot is shivering and simpering as the wife. It’s a great yarn, with a delicious twist, as Signoret and Clouzot dispose of their victim but then must deal with creepy signs that their plan might be coming unstuck. Charles Vanel steals the show late on as a shambling, pre-Columbo detective, but the real star is Clouzot as director who maintains a sense of dread and mystery until the end by taking his shaggy-dog story deadly seriously." - Dave Calhoun (Time Out)
Dial 1119
Dial 1119
1950, USA, 75m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Crime
Screenplay John Monks Jr. (based on a story by Hugh King and Don McGuire) Producer Richard Goldstone Photography Paul Vogel Editor Newell P. Kimlin Music André Previn Cast Marshall Thompson, Virginia Field, Andrea King, Sam Levene, Leon Ames, Keefe Brasselle, Richard Rober, James Bell, William Conrad, Dick Simmons.
"Oh, what a difference a good screenplay makes. Dial 1119 may be a fairly conventional mad-gunmen picture, but even though John Monks Jr.'s scripting stays within the genre confines, the cast of hostages is filled out with distinct, believable individuals… Monks (The House on 92nd Street) and director Gerald Mayer (Inside Straight) keep the action confined, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for more within the drama. Within the various scenarios, questions of morality, war, and even an early critique on television journalism are raised. The climax also takes a surprising turn, with one death and one act of heroism most viewers won't see coming." - Jamie S. Rich (DVD Talk)
Dillinger
Dillinger Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1945, USA, 70m, BW, Crime-Biography-Gangster Film
Screenplay Philip Yordan Producer Maurice King Photography Jackson Rose Editor Edward Mann Music Dimitri Tiomkin Cast Lawrence Tierney, Edmund Lowe, Anne Jeffreys, Eduardo Ciannelli, Marc Lawrence, Elisha Cook Jr., Ralph Lewis, Elsa Janssen, Ludwig Stossel, Constance Worth.
"A low-budgeted 1945 Monogram exploitation picture with perennial B-player Lawrence Tierney doing a growly take on infamous bank robber John Dillinger. For the dinky Monogram, Dillinger was practically a blockbuster. According to screenwriter Philip Yordan, the studio tackled the Dillinger story because its big-league competition had sworn off gangsters, and increased box-office prospects allowed Monogram to lure capable actors like Tierney and Elisha Cook, Jr. from the RKO character stable. Journeyman director Max Nosseck makes clever use of stock footage and limited locations to tell a vigorously nasty—albeit historically inaccurate—story about one thug's rise to the top. Dillinger is the real 60-cent special, with extra poison." - Noel Murray (A.V. Club)
Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1971, USA, 102m, Col, Crime-Action-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Dean Riesner, Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink Producer Don Siegel Photography Bruce Surtees Editor Carl Pingitore Music Lalo Schifrin Cast Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson, John Mitchum, John Vernon, John Larch, Mae Mercer, Lyn Edgington, Ruth Kobart.
"Dirty Harry may not be Don Siegel's masterpiece— although it is a first-rate policier featuring a career-defining performance by Clint Eastwood. No less than Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it offers a fabulous, multifarious political metaphor. (And, as with Body Snatchers, Siegel's own liberal interpretation was trumped by a more forceful hard-right reading.)… More than the original anti-Miranda, anti–-Great Society cop film, Dirty Harry was Easy Rider in reverse, featuring a hippie as serial killer rather than victim. In its day, the movie was critically and commercially overshadowed by The French Connection, but en route to inspiring four sequels, it became a mainstream cult film." - J. Hoberman (The Village Voice)
Don't Bother to Knock
Don't Bother to Knock
1952, USA, 76m, BW, Thriller
Screenplay Daniel Taradash (based on the novel Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong) Producer Julian Blaustein Photography Lucien Ballard Editor George Gittens Music Lionel Newman Cast Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Bancroft, Jeanne Cagney, Elisha Cook Jr., Jim Backus, Noreen Corcoran, Lurene Tuttle, Verna Felton, Willis Bouchey.
"Unusually seedy and small-scale for a Fox picture of 1952, this black-and-white thriller is set over one evening exclusively inside a middle-class urban hotel and the adjoining bar. The bar's singer (Anne Bancroft in her screen debut) breaks up with her sour pilot boyfriend (Richard Widmark), a hotel guest. He responds by flirting with a woman (Marilyn Monroe) in another room who's babysitting a little girl (Donna Corcoran), but the babysitter turns out to be psychotic and potentially dangerous. Daniel Taradash's script is contrived in spots, and the main virtue of Roy Ward Baker's direction is its low-key plainness, yet Monroe—appearing here just before she became typecast as a gold-plated sex object—is frighteningly real as the confused babysitter, and the deglamorized setting is no less persuasive." - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader)
Double Indemnity
Double Indemnity 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1944, USA, 106m, BW, Crime-Mystery-Thriller
Screenplay Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler (based on the novella by James M. Cain) Producer Joseph Sistrom Photography John F. Seitz Editor Doane Harrison Music Miklos Rozsa Cast Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Jean Heather, Tom Powers, Fortunio Bonanova, Richard Gaines, John Philliber, Bess Flowers.
"Billy Wilder's regular collaborator, the upper-class New Englander Charles Brackett, considered James M Cain's novella too sordid a project. So they briefly split up and Wilder engaged novelist Raymond Chandler, who'd never worked in the movies, to co-write the script. The result was a hard-boiled thriller that helped define the meaning of film noir, bringing together a weak, brash insurance salesman (MacMurray) and a bitchy Los Angeles housewife (Stanwyck) to plot the murder of her heavily insured husband, then play a cat-and-mouse game with an ace claims investigator (Robinson). Greatly improving on Cain's novel, the film approaches perfection with its crackling dialogue, total absence of sentimentality, and depiction of Los Angeles as a new kind of anonymous, amoral, amorphous city." - Philip French (The Observer)
A Double Life
A Double Life Available on Blu-ray
1947, USA, 104m, BW, Drama-Crime-Mystery
Screenplay Garson Kanin, Ruth Gordon Producer Michael Kanin Photography Milton Krasner Editor Robert Parrish Music Miklos Rozsa Cast Ronald Colman, Signe Hasso, Edmond O'Brien, Shelley Winters, Ray Collins, Philip Loeb, Millard Mitchell, Joseph Sawyer, Charles La Torre, Whit Bissell.
"George Cukor's work took an unexpected turn into darkness during the 40s. This film, with Ronald Colman as a Broadway star who succumbs to fits of Shakespearean jealousy while playing Othello, is perhaps the best of the period; it's a reversal of the role-playing theme that Cukor developed during the 30s, in which a fluid, diffuse personality leads not to happiness and liberation (cf Holiday) but to madness and despair. The screenplay, by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, contains shuddering insights into the psychology of the actor, and Cukor has obtained a multilayered performance from Colman to match the complexity of the conception. Though the plot line tends toward a facile parallelism, Cukor keeps the film dense and vivid through strong imagery and behavioral detail." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
Le Doulos
Le Doulos Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
The Finger Man (English title)
FRENCH NOIR / LATE NOIR (1960s)
1962, France-Italy, 108m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Gangster Film
Screenplay Jean-Pierre Melville (based on the novel by Pierre Lesou) Producers Carlo Ponti, Georges de Beauregard Photography Nicholas Hayer Editor Monique Bonnot Music Paul Misraki Cast Jean-Paul Belmondo, Serge Reggiani, Jean Desailly, Rene Lefevre, Fabienne Dali, Michel Piccoli, Marcel Cuvelier, Monique Hennessy, Daniel Crohem, Aime De March.
"The backstabbing criminals in the shadowy underworld of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le doulos have only one guiding principle: “Lie or die.” A stone-faced Jean-Paul Belmondo stars as enigmatic gangster Silien, who may or may not be responsible for squealing on Faugel (Serge Reggiani), just released from the slammer and already involved in what should have been a simple heist. By the end of this brutal, twisting, and multilayered policier, who will be left to trust? Shot and edited with Melville’s trademark cool and featuring masterfully stylized dialogue and performances, Le doulos (slang for “informant”) is one of the filmmaker’s most gripping crime dramas." - The Criterion Collection
Drive
Drive Available on Blu-ray
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
2011, USA, 100m, Col, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Hossein Amini (based on the novel by James Sallis) Producers Adam Siegel, Gigi Pritzker, John Palermo, Marc Platt, Michael Litvak Photography Newton Thomas Sigel Editor Matthew Newman Music Cliff Martinez Cast Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Kaden Leos, Jeff Wolfe, James Biberi.
"Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive is an LA pulp thriller, very brutal, very slick… Drive is a good film with great visual flair, in the style of Elmore Leonard or Quentin Tarantino, and with a little of their natural gruesome gaiety and gallows humour. Gosling has charisma and presence, although his facial expression is often set to "sardonic". Yet I can't quite join in the widespread critical enthusiasm that has greeted this film, and on the two times I've seen it, I couldn't join in the nervous shrieks of audience laughter that its ultra-violence provokes… That said, there are some great cameos with very nice Leonardesque lines. Christina Hendricks almost steals the picture as a mysterious woman called Blanche – suitably white-faced with terror at the awful fate she correctly suspects awaits her when the heist goes wrong." - Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)
Drive a Crooked Road
Drive a Crooked Road
1954, USA, 82m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Drama
Screenplay Blake Edwards (adapted by Richard Quine based on a story by James Benson) Producer Jonie Taps Photography Charles Lawton Jr. Editor Jerome Thoms Music George Duning Cast Mickey Rooney, Dianne Foster, Kevin McCarthy, Jack Kelly, Harry Landers, Jerry Paris, Paul Picerni, Dick Crockett, Irene Bolton, John Close.
"Shaking off his countless prewar roles as an American innocent, baby-faced Mickey Rooney plays a lovelorn garage mechanic and amateur racing enthusiast who finds himself seduced by a gangster’s moll into driving the getaway car after a Palm Springs bank robbery—only to turn the tables when he realizes he’s been duped. This sun-drenched noir, one of Rooney’s favorites, demonstrates the actor’s range and subtlety (in director Richard Quine and screenwriter Blake Edwards he would find sympathetic collaborators, and he enlisted them to work on his popular television show); a sultry Diane Foster and a cunning Kevin McCarthy and Marvin Miller round out the cast." - The Museum of Modern Art
The Driver
The Driver Available on Blu-ray
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1978, USA, 90m, Col, Thriller-Crime
Screenplay Walter Hill Producer Lawrence Gordon Photography Philip Lathrop Editors Robert K. Lambert, Tina Hirsch Music Michael Small Cast Ryan O'Neal, Bruce Dern, Isabelle Adjani, Ronee Blakley, Matt Clark, Felice Orlandi, Joseph Walsh, Rudy Ramos, Denny Macko, Frank Bruno.
"Stripped to its barest neo-noir essentials, The Driver is all fatalistic cool, stoic professionalism, and tire-screeching auto mayhem—a genre vehicle that, like its eponymous Driver (Ryan O’Neal), is defined by its expertly modulated action. Walter Hill’s 1978 film is a work of quiet attitude and breakneck road rage, paying homage to Robert Bresson and Jean-Pierre Melville (in particular, Le Samouraï)… Characters without names, deeds executed without words—Hill reduces everything to its archetypal basics in order to celebrate the nobility and exhilaration of work executed with precision. In the process, he delivers a film that—culminating with a cat-and-mouse duel of mounting suspense—combines existential anxiety and kinetic thrills in a meticulous manner that would make its protagonist proud." - Nick Schager (A.V. Club)
Drunken Angel
Drunken Angel Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Yoidore tenshi (original title)
JAPANESE NOIR
1948, Japan, 98m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Akira Kurosawa, Keinosuke Uegusa Producer Sôjirô Motoki Photography Takeo Ito Editor Akira Kurosawa Music Fumio Hayasaka Cast Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Reisaburo Yamamoto, Michiyo Kogure, Chieko Nakakita, Noriko Sengoku, Shizuko Kasagi, Eitaro Shindo, Chôko Iida, Yoshiko Kuga.
"Kurosawa quotes this, his seventh feature, an atmospheric noir-inflected low life melodrama, as the first in which he felt truly himself as director. Casting the moody 28-year-old Mifune, in the first of their 16 collaborations, as the violent gangster whom boozy doctor Shimura diagnoses as suffering from TB, entailed major rewrites as his part was gradually increased. The movie breathes the polluted air of post-war pessimism, dissipation and poetic fatalism, symbolised in the shots of the oily, malaria-ridden swamp of a Tokyo dockside, but it is dramatically qualified by Mifune's suggested redeemability and Shimura's stoical humanism, the quality he epitomised almost 20 years later in the marvellous Redbeard. Fascinating, highly enjoyable and filled with great scenes - not least the slippery battle to the death in a paint-filled corridor." - Wally Hammond (Time Out)
100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) The 100 Most Cited Noir Films Available on Blu-ray Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Introduction / Updates / Links
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