1,000 Noir Films (M)

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Title / Director / Year / Country
M
M Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NOIR-PRECURSOR / GERMAN NOIR
1931, Germany, 99m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou Producer Seymour Nebenzal Photography Fritz Arno Wagner Editor Paul Falkenberg Music Edvard Grieg Cast Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Ellen Widmann, Gustaf Grundgens, Theodor Loos, Inge Landgut, Theo Lingen, Georg John, Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur, Paul Kemp.
"It’s hard to believe that M was made in 1931. If we allow for the fact that it’s in black and white, it is more engaging to the eye, more incisive in its irony, more firm in its grasp of social complications than most of the films that come along today... The screenplay, by Thea von Harbou, then Lang’s wife, deals with a serial killer of children terrorizing Berlin. But this is not a mystery story: we know virtually from the beginning who the criminal is. We see him writing to the press, begging to be caught. The suspense is in the effect of this murderer and his murders on the structure of a large city—how two kinds of order are galvanized by the murderer’s disorder." - Stanley Kauffman (The Criterion Collection)
M
M Available on Blu-ray
1951, USA, 88m, BW, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Norman Reilly Raine, Leo Katcher (with additional dialogue by Waldo Salt, based on the 1931 screenplay by Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang) Producer Seymour Nebenzal Photography Ernest Laszlo Editor Edward Mann Music Michel Michelet Cast David Wayne, Howard da Silva, Luther Adler, Martin Gabel, Steve Brodie, Raymond Burr, Glenn Anders, Norman Lloyd, Walter Burke, Karen Morley.
"As the Hollywood blacklist swung into high gear, Losey found an ideal vehicle for his increasing alienation from the studio system in this striking and much admired reinterpretation of Fritz Lang's classic tale of a tortured child killer and the malignant society that is unable to help him. Losey assembled many of his stellar cast from the New York theater, including Howard da Silva, Norman Lloyd and the talented David Wayne, who adds a new level of perversity and poignant loneliness to his portrayal of M's hunted psychopath. A key American film of the early 1950s, Losey's M offers a dark cautionary tale for the television age that sees the corrupt intertwining of politics and media fanning the flames of mass hysteria." - Harvard Film Archive
Macao
Macao Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1952, USA, 80m, BW, Crime-Romance-Drama
Screenplay Bernard C. Schoenfeld, Stanley Rubin (from an unpublished story by Bob Williams) Producer Alex Gottlieb Photography Harry Wild Editors Robert Golden, Samuel E. Beetley Music Anthony Collins Cast Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, William Bendix, Gloria Grahame, Thomas Gomez, Brad Dexter, Philip Ahn, Vladimir Sokoloff, Rico Alaniz, Edward Ashley.
"Not an entirely happy production - Sternberg, according to Mitchum, shot and cut it in such a way that characters kept walking into themselves, with the result that Nicholas Ray was called in to reshoot (uncredited) many of the action scenes - but still a delightful bit of RKO exotica. The thin story, set in the port of the title, sees Mitchum's drifter joining up with Russell's sultry singer and helping the local cops catch a criminal bigwig. But what is so enjoyable, apart from Harry Wild's shimmering camerawork, is the tongue-in-cheek tone of the script and performances, best evidenced in the sparkling banter and innuendo between Mitchum and Russell." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
Madigan
Madigan
LATE NOIR (1960s) / COLOUR NOIR
1968, USA, 101m, Col, Crime-Thriller-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Abraham Polonsky, Howard Rodman (from the novel The Commissioner by Richard Dougherty) Producer Frank P. Rosenberg Photography Russell Metty Editor Milton Shifman Music Don Costa Cast Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens, Harry Guardino, James Whitmore, Susan Clark, Michael Dunn, Steve Ihnat, Don Stroud, Sheree North.
"A film that marks a crossroads in Siegel's career. The methods of the two strongarm cops (Richard Widmark and Harry Guardino), given seventy-two hours to find a killer, invite comparisons with those of the two professional gunmen in Siegel's earlier The Killers. But the film also looks forward to Coogan's Bluff and Dirty Harry as the first to exploit the ambivalent enforcer/protector role of the police in society, with Henry Fonda as the martinet police commissioner enforcing strict public morality while practising marital infidelity at home." - Time Out
Make Haste to Live
Make Haste to Live
1954, USA, 90m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Drama
Screenplay Warren Duff (from the novel by Mildred Gordon and Gordon Gordon) Producer William A. Seiter Photography John L. Russell Editor Fred Allen Music Elmer Bernstein Cast Dorothy McGuire, Stephen McNally, Mary Murphy, Edgar Buchanan, John Howard, Ron Hagerthy, Pepe Hern, Eddy Waller, Carolyn Jones, Argentina Brunetti.
"The spooky opening sequence of Make Haste to Live is prototypically noir: a sinister stranger looms in the bedroom where Benson (McGuire) tosses in restive sleep. But having set up an intriguing situation Make Haste to Live loses its way so that an interesting noir narrative becomes a muddled mess. Credulity is strained well past the snapping point, as Benson flip-flops between resourceful adversary for Blackford (McNally) and the most feckless of battered wives… As the narrative meanders from one thing to another, Makes Haste to Live has no urgent destination in mind." - Bill MacVicar (Film Noir: The Encyclopedia)
The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1941, USA, 100m, BW, Mystery-Detective Film
Screenplay John Huston (from the novel by Dashiell Hammett) Producer Henry Blanke Photography Arthur Edeson Editor Thomas Richards Music Adolph Deutsch Cast Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane, Elisha Cook Jr., Lee Patrick, Ward Bond, Jerome Cowan.
"Huston's first film displays the hallmarks that were to distinguish his later work: the mocking attitude toward human greed; the cavalier insolence with which plot details are treated almost as asides; the delight in bizarre characterisations... What makes it a prototype film noir is the vein of unease missing from the two earlier versions of Hammett's novel. Filmed almost entirely in interiors, it presents a claustrophobic world animated by betrayal, perversion and pain, never - even at its most irresistibly funny, as when Cook listens in outraged disbelief while his fat sugar daddy proposes to sell him down the line - quite losing sight of this central abyss of darkness, ultimately embodied by Mary Astor's sadly duplicitous siren." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
The Man I Love
The Man I Love Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 96m, BW, Crime-Melodrama
Screenplay Catherine Turney, Jo Pagano (from the novel Night Shift by Maritta M. Wolff) Producer Arnold Albert Photography Sidney Hickox Editor Owen Marks Music Max Steiner Cast Ida Lupino, Robert Alda, Bruce Bennett, Andrea King, Martha Vickers, Alan Hale, Dolores Moran, Warren Douglas, Don McGuire, John Ridgely.
"The Man I Love isn’t a crime film per se, but it’s far more than a typical melodrama, thanks in large part to the strong, tough direction of Raoul Walsh. Set in the post-war era of swank nightclubs and the seedy types they attract, it’s a refreshingly mature film rich with stories of frustrated lives, unrequited loves and tough times just getting by in the world without selling your soul. Lupino is the calloused heroine, a New York chanteuse who goes home to Los Angeles to see her family – a married sister with a child and a soldier husband in the hospital for shellshock, a sweet younger sister infatuated with the married man next door and a cocky brother who sees his future as a hired thug for sleazy nightclub lothario Robert Alda.” - Sean Axmaker (seanax.com)
Man in the Attic
Man in the Attic
1953, USA, 82m, BW, Crime-Mystery-Whodunit
Screenplay Barré Lyndon, Robert Presnell Jr. (based on the novel The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes) Producer Robert L. Jacks Photography Leo Tover Editor Marjorie Fowler Music Hugo Friedhofer Cast Jack Palance, Constance Smith, Byron Palmer, Frances Bavier, Rhys Williams, Sean McClory, Leslie Bradley, Tita Phillips, Lester Matthews, Harry Cording.
"Unlike its immediate predecessor which was an "A" picture directed by John Brahm with a first rate cast including George Sanders, Merle Oberon, and Cedric Hardwicke, Man in the Attic was clearly a B-movie with Palance as the only high profile name in the cast. Still, the film is atmospheric, faithful to Lowndes's storyline, and an entertaining diversion for Palance fans who enjoy his particular brand of moody self-absorption and intensity. Here he plays a reclusive pathologist named Slade who is looking for lodgings where his privacy will be respected and he can come and go unobserved since he works irregular hours at a nearby university hospital." - Jeff Stafford (Turner Classic Movies)
Man in the Dark
Man in the Dark Available on Blu-ray
1953, USA, 70m, BW, Crime-Drama-Mystery
Screenplay George Bricker, Jack Leonard, William Sackheim (from a story by Tom Van Dycke and Henry Altimus) Producer Wallace MacDonald Photography Floyd Crosby Editor Viola Lawrence Music Russ di Maggio Cast Edmond O'Brien, Audrey Totter, Ted De Corsia, Horace McMahon, Nick Dennis, Dayton Lummis, Dan Riss, Chris Alcaide, Fred Aldrich, Leonard Bremen.
"Columbia chief Harry Cohn's commitment to 3-D had its limits, as Man in the Dark is a real quickie distinguished only by its cast of noir icons. The adapted storyline is packed with somewhat limp 'smart' dialogue. Indicating how conscious writers of this time were of previous hardboiled thrillers. One speech even borrows a line about money "being a piece of paper with germs on it" from Edgar Ulmer's Detour. Man in the Dark is sometimes listed as a sci-fi movie, owing to its notion of using surgery to correct criminal behavior. If that idea had been developed beyond gimmick status the movie might connect with later sci-fi efforts like A Clockwork Orange." - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
The Man Who Cheated Himself
The Man Who Cheated Himself
1950, USA, 81m, BW, Drama-Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Philip MacDonald, Seton I. Miller (from an unpublished story by Seton I. Miller) Producer Jack M. Warner Photography Russell Harlan Editor David Weisbart Music Louis Forbes Cast Lee J. Cobb, John Dall, Jane Wyatt, Lisa Howard, Harlan Warde, Alan Wells, Tito Vuolo, Mimi Aguglia, Charles Arnt, Marjorie Bennett.
"The Man Who Cheated Himself emerges as an interesting and entertaining film noir, a "second tier" noir that deserves to be better known. (The title doesn't really fit the story to a T, but it's a great title nonetheless.) Felix E. Feist directs with all the requisite tension and atmosphere, pulling the viewer in and leading him along in a perfect, acceptable manipulative fashion. Feist's direction lacks some of the great flourishes of the masters of the genre, but it's more than competent and gets no complaints from this corner. Lee J. Cobb gives a very solid performance in the lead, as Lt. Ed Cullen, capturing the conflicting aspects of the character and making him sympathetic, even as he treads down the path of murder." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
The Man Who Wasn't There
The Man Who Wasn’t There Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NEO-NOIR
2001, USA-UK, 116m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Ethan Coen, Joel Coen Producer Ethan Coen Photography Roger Deakins Editors Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Tricia Cooke Music Carter Burwell Cast Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini, Katherine Borowitz, Jon Polito, Scarlett Johansson, Richard Jenkins, Tony Shalhoub, Christopher Kriesa.
"The work is a thriller in the style of James M. Cain, set in suburban California in 1949 and obviously influenced by the movies of the period, yet somehow transmitting the atmospheric crackle of a strange tale from The Twilight Zone The Man Who Wasn't There is shot in black-and-white by the Coens' long-standing cinematographer Roger Deakins, with superbly observed locations and sets: exquisitely lit, designed and furnished… Noir is the catch-all term given to movies like this - yet the Coens achieve their greatest, most disturbing moments in fierce sunlight, in the outdoors and in the dazzling white light of the final sequence. So I propose a new genre for this film - noir-blanc, a seriocomic masterpiece which transforms the quotidian ordinariness of waking lives.” - Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)
The Man with My Face
The Man with My Face
1951, USA, 86m, BW, Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Samuel W. Taylor, Vin Bogert, Tom McGowan, Edward Montagne (from the novel by Samuel W. Taylor) Producer Ed Gardner Photography Fred Jackman Jr. Editor Gene Milford Music Robert McBride Cast Barry Nelson, Carole Mathews, Lynn Ainley, John Harvey, Jim Boles, Jack Warden, Henry Lascoe, Johnny Kane, Chinita, Hazel Sherman.
"The Man with My Face is a better-than-average B movie with some of the attending convenient plot devices, but enough twists and turns to satisfy most Noir fans. Visually, it has enough Noir style to appear connected to the main Noir cycle. The film's plot fits Noir expectations neatly, and it's only limited by a few B movie contrivances. With its unusual setting and well-played lead performance, this is a movie deserving a look by all Noir enthusiasts… The Man with My Face has a combination of the "wrong man" theme (best seen in Hitchcock's The Wrong Man) and the doppelganger idea (exemplified in The Scar). The film has a strongly Noir sense of oppression, felt mainly in the narrative and not supported very much by the visual style. It's a well-done B movie with some exciting episodes and a fine performance by Barry Nelson." - MackJay (Film Noir of the Week)
The Manchurian Candidate
The Manchurian Candidate Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
LATE NOIR (1960s)
1962, USA, 126m, BW, Political-Thriller-Drama
Screenplay George Axelrod (from the novel by Richard Condon) Producers George Axelrod, John Frankenheimer Photography Lionel Lindon Editor Ferris Webster Music David Amram Cast Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, James Gregory, Leslie Parrish, John McGiver, Khigh Dhiegh, James Edwards.
"There are conspiracy movies, there are political thrillers, there are films that spark entirely new cinematic genres — and then there’s The Manchurian Candidate… John Frankenheimer’s masterpiece was the first great conspiracy film — and the movie by which all other conspiracy flicks have been, and always will be, measured… Beyond the heart-racing plot and the tremendous acting (Frank Sinatra is especially good as Laurence Harvey’s old Army buddy), The Manchurian Candidate retains it status as a one-of-a-kind classic in large part because of Frankenheimer’s inventive, highly stylized direction and the film’s confident, propulsive pacing. This is politics, and filmmaking, the way they’re meant to be: breathless." - Ben Cosgrove (TIME)
Manhandled
Manhandled
1949, USA, 97m, BW, Crime-Drama-Detective Film
Screenplay Lewis R. Foster, Whitman Chambers (from the short story The Man Who Stole a Dream by L.S. Goldsmith) Producers William C. Thomas, William H. Pine Photography Ernest Laszlo Editor Howard Smith Music Darrell Calker Cast Dorothy Lamour, Sterling Hayden, Dan Duryea, Irene Hervey, Phillip Reed, Harold Vermilyea, Alan Napier, Art Smith, Irving Bacon, Benny Baker.
"Produced by Paramount's Pine-Thomas unit, Manhandled is a no-nonsense film noir with a well-chosen cast. Small-time hoodlum Karl Benson (Dan Duryea) uses and abuses several innocent people in his efforts to get ahead. Among Benson's victims is Merl Kramer (Dorothy Lamour), who doesn't find out about her boyfriend's perfidy until it's almost too late. Sterling Hayden co-stars as insurance investigator Joe Cooper, who likewise exploits poor Merl, albeit for a good cause… Manhandled's level of tension never lets up, not even in its final scenes." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
Manhunter
Manhunter Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Red Dragon (alternative title)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1986, USA, 119m, Col, Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Michael Mann (based on the novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris) Producer Richard Roth Photography Dante Spinotti Editor Dov Hoenig Music Michel Rubini, The Reds Cast William Petersen, Kim Greist, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Dennis Farina, Stephen Lang, Tom Noonan, David Seaman, Benjamin Hendrickson, Michael Talbott.
"With Manhunter, Mann takes all the instincts he learned as a Miami Vice producer and trims them of their excesses, and the result is an unsettling thriller whose detached style perfectly complements its psychological intensity. When a serial killer begins targeting happy families across a broad geographical area, the FBI summons a specialist (William L. Petersen) whose last case sent him, shaken, into premature retirement… Gripping from its first shot through a finale that should forever taint viewers' pleasant memories of Iron Butterfly, Manhunter lacks only one of the strong male leads from Mann's later work. Petersen fills the role effectively enough… But he makes it hard not to wish for a Pacino or a Crowe, even if the film around him makes their absence easy to forget, and makes it hard to wish for the story to be done any better." - Keith Phipps (A.V. Club)
The Mark of the Whistler
The Mark of the Whistler
1944, USA, 60m, BW, Mystery-Drama
Screenplay George Bricker (based on the short story Dormant Account by Cornell Woolrich) Producer Rudolph C. Flothow Photography George Meehan Editor Reg Browne Music Lucien Moraweck, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Cast Richard Dix, Janis Carter, Porter Hall, Paul Guilfoyle, John Calvert, Matt Willis, Walter Baldwin, Willie Best, Edgar Dearing, Otto Forrest.
"The Whistler, the unseen mystery-story narrator of radio fame, relates another tale that he's gleaned from "walking by night" in Mark of the Whistler. Richard Dix stars as a drifter who poses as the owner of an unclaimed bank account. Dix's new identity brings him nothing but misery as he falls victim to the actual claimant's startling secrets, lost loves and dangerous enemies--including one bent on killing for revenge. The second of Columbia's Whistler series, Mark of the Whistler was an enormous improvement on the first film, with a healthy number of unexpected plot twists within its 60-minute time frame. Mark of the Whistler was based on a story by Cornell Woolrich and directed by future horror specialist William Castle." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
The Mask of Dimitrios
The Mask of Dimitrios
1944, USA, 95m, BW, Spy-Crime-Mystery
Screenplay Frank Gruber (from the novel A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler) Producer Henry Blanke Photography Arthur Edeson Editor Frederick Richards Music Adolph Deutsch Cast Zachary Scott, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Faye Emerson, George Tobias, Victor Francen, Eduardo Ciannelli, Steven Geray, Florence Bates, Kurt Katch.
"Ambler’s twisty and resourceful influence towers over the thriller genre, and the sordid Dimitrios (Scott) might have inspired Graham Greene’s more sophisticated and ambiguous Harry Lime in The Third Man. Director Jean Negulesco and great photographer Arthur Edeson (The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca) maneuver the camera closely around the characters and their densely decorated surroundings of shadowy bric-a-brac. This visual pleasure combines with the pleasure of Greenstreet, Lorre and the character actors around them to offer a film that’s sleekly watchable if ultimately as insubstantial as a rumour." - Michael Barrett (PopMatters)
Memento
Memento Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
2000, USA, 113m, Col, Thriller-Mystery-Drama
Screenplay Christopher Nolan (based on the story Memento Mori by Jonathan Nolan) Producer Suzanne Todd Photography Wally Pfister Editor Dody Dorn Music David Julyan Cast Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Jr., Stephen Tobolowsky, Harriet Sansom Harris, Callum Keith Rennie, Larry Holden, Russ Fega, Jorja Fox.
"For cinephiles of a certain disposition, Memento has become the expert-level Sudoku of the ’00s, a puzzle that takes a lot of scribbling and erasing before the numbers add up. But the wonkery of it sometimes obscures the fact that it’s a hugely entertaining movie, too, exploiting Leonard’s (Pearce) memory lapses for big laughs and constantly scrambling our perceptions in much the same way Natalie (Moss) and Teddy (Pantoliano) scramble Leonard’s. Nolan later teased viewers on a much larger scale with Inception, a nesting doll of dreams within dreams, but Memento is cleaner and more complex, with better insight into how the human mind works. Nolan delights in playing head games with Leonard’s amnesia, but his hidden strategy is to expose us, too. If Leonard is a freak, so are we all." - Scott Tobias (A.V. Club)
Mildred Pierce
Mildred Pierce 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1945, USA, 109m, BW, Melodrama-Family Drama-Crime
Screenplay Ranald MacDougall, William Faulkner, Catherine Turney (from the novel by James M. Cain) Producer Jerry Wald Photography Ernest Haller Editor David Weisbart Music Max Steiner Cast Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, Ann Blyth, Bruce Bennett, George Tobias, Lee Patrick, Moroni Olsen, Jo Ann Marlowe.
"James Cain's novel of the treacherous life in Southern California that sets house-wife-turned waitress-turned-successful restauranteur (Crawford) against her own daughter (Blyth) in competition for the love of playboy Zachary Scott, is brought fastidiously and bleakly to life by Curtiz' direction, Ernest Haller's camerawork, and Anton Grot's magnificent sets. Told in flashback from the moment of Scott's murder, the film is a chilling demonstration of the fact that, in a patriarchal society, when a woman steps outside the home the end result may be disastrous." - Phil Hardy (Time Out)
Miller's Crossing
Miller's Crossing Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1990, USA, 115m, Col, Crime-Gangster Film
Screenplay Ethan Coen, Joel Coen (based, uncredited, on the novels Red Harvest and The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett) Producer Ethan Coen Photography Barry Sonnenfeld Editor Michael R. Miller Music Carter Burwell Cast Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, Jon Polito, J.E. Freeman, Mike Starr, Al Mancini, Richard Woods, Steve Buscemi.
"It has always been one of the special pleasures of movies that they dream worlds and map them at the same time. Miller’s Crossing dreams a beaut, no less so for the fact that Joel and Ethan Coen’s film is a reverent, rigorous reimagining of the world of Dashiell Hammett, especially as limned in The Glass Key and Red Harvest. The look is right, from first frame to last – even the aural “look” of that ice: this is a movie that knows what drinking is about in Hammett, what it has to do with rumination and gravity, coolheadedness and rash error, and every coloration of brown study. The mood is instinct with the private pain that separates reticence from caring and conceals itself, with desperation and anger, in seeming not to care." - Richard T. Jameson (Film Comment via Parallax View)
Ministry of Fear
Ministry of Fear Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1944, USA, 85m, BW, Mystery-Thriller-War Spy Film
Screenplay Seton I. Miller (from the novel by Graham Greene) Producer Seton I. Miller Photography Henry Sharp Editor Archie Marshek Music Victor Young Cast Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Carl Esmond, Hillary Brooke, Percy Waram, Dan Duryea, Alan Napier, Erskine Sanford, Frank Dawson, Aminta Dyne.
"This 1944 thriller represents an epochal meeting of two masters of Catholic guilt and paranoia, novelist Graham Greene and director Fritz Lang. Ray Milland, just released from a sanitorium, finds the outside world more than a fit match for his delusions as he stumbles into an elaborate Nazi plot. The hallucinatory quality of the opening scene (an innocent country fair turns out to be a nest of spies) is reminiscent of Lang's expressionist films of the 20s, but this is a more mature, more controlled film, Lang at his finest and purest." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
The Mob
The Mob
1951, USA, 87m, BW, Crime-Drama-Police Detective Film
Screenplay William Bowers (from the novel Waterfront by Ferguson Findley) Producer Jerry Bresler Photography Joseph Walker Editor Charles Nelson Music George Duning Cast Broderick Crawford, Betty Buehler, Richard Kiley, Otto Hulett, Matt Crowley, Neville Brand, Ernest Borgnine, Walter Klavun, Lynn Baggett, Jean Alexander.
"Familiar gang-busting stuff set in On the Waterfront territory, with Crawford as a cop who, inadvertently goofing on duty, is officially reported as suspended and sent undercover to make good the damage by finding out who is masterminding the brutal extortion racket among longshoremen. William Bowers' script manages one or two genuine surprises - with Crawford at one point being hired to eliminate himself - but its main contribution is a nice line in sharp, waywardly witty dialogue. Given fast, flexible direction by Parrish, excellent camerawork (Joseph Walker) and a full house of vivid performances, the result is an unusually tense and enjoyable genre piece. Pity about the last reel, when everything collapses (though not too destructively) into routine histrionics." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
Pickup
The Money Trap
LATE NOIR (1960s)
1965, USA, 91m, BW, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Walter Bernstein (from the novel by Lionel White) Producer David Karr, Max E. Youngstein Photography Paul Vogel Editor John McSweeney Jr. Music Hal Schaefer Cast Glenn Ford, Elke Sommer, Rita Hayworth, Joseph Cotten, Ricardo Montalban, Tom Reese, James Mitchum, Argentina Brunetti, Fred Essler, Eugene Iglesias.
"The Money Trap is one of the last of the films noir produced in Hollywood before the industry became conscious of its own legacy of atmospheric crime thrillers. The 1965 film is a key title for screenwriter Walter Bernstein, a blacklistee who had definite grudges to air. Crime author Lionel White, the author of the source book for Stanley Kubrick's The Killing, provides the skeleton of a story of police corruption. Bernstein's screenplay adds a sour taste of seedy avarice… The Money Trap is a perfectly acceptable bad cop story, but it doesn't distinguish itself. The fault really lies with director Burt Kennedy, a great writer whose films became less interesting when he moved behind the camera. The Money Trap plays like a movie and looks like a movie but isn't particularly well directed for camera or for actors." - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
Moonrise
Moonrise Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1948, USA, 90m, BW, Crime-Melodrama
Screenplay Charles Haas (from the novel by Theodore Strauss) Producer Charles Haas Photography John L. Russell Editor Harry Keller Music William Lava Cast Dane Clark, Gail Russell, Ethel Barrymore, Allyn Joslyn, Rex Ingram, Harry Morgan, Lloyd Bridges, Selena Royle, David Street, Harry Carey Jr.
"Moonrise is Frank Borzage's sensual scrutiny of a man's free will. In the film's striking opening moments, a dazzling spectacle of black-and-white chiaroscuro conveys a throbbing sense of madness cattle-branded into the imagination of a young Danny Hawkins, who is terrorized by bullies from childhood to adulthood because of his father's execution. When Danny (Dane Clark) kills one of his tormentors, he must struggle with the terrible push-pull effect of the past and the memory of his father on his psyche. Borzage magnificently frames the film along very severe, richly layered diagonal angles, catching nervous hands and faces from odd positions and giving startling visual expression to Danny's loose grip on his moral compass." - Ed Gonzalez (Slant Magazine)
Moontide
Moontide
1942, USA, 94m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay John O'Hara (based on the novel Moon Tide by Willard Robertson) Producer Mark Hellinger Photography Charles G. Clarke Editor William Reynolds Music Cyril J. Mockbridge, David Buttolph Cast Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains, Jerome Cowan, Helene Reynolds, Ralph Byrd, William Halligan, Victor Sen Yung, Chester Gan.
"Jean Gabin was in his early forties when he made his first American film during the Second World War, when he was stranded in Hollywood. This was Moontide… Fritz Lang worked on the film for four days… Archie L. Mayo, whose ethnicity I do not know, took over Moontide, and the result is a slow though extraordinarily beautiful black-and-white film, with a titanic performance by Gabin that nearly matches his work, in France… Mayo and his cinematographer, Oscar-nominated Charles G. Clarke, conjure a haunting, poetic vision of suspended lives in a suspended time and place—a San Francisco Bay of the mind. (The studio set thus helps, not hinders Mayo’s artistic achievement.) The film noir elements perhaps count for less; a blackout dream sequence, for example, is close to ridiculous.“ - Dennis Grunes
Mr. Arkadin
Mr. Arkadin Available on Blu-ray
Confidential Report (alternative title)
INTERNATIONAL NOIR
1955, France-Spain-Switzerland, 99m, BW, Mystery-Thriller
Screenplay Orson Welles Producer Orson Welles Photography Jean Bourgoin Editor Renzo Lucidi Music Paul Misraki Cast Orson Welles, Paola Mori, Robert Arden, Michael Redgrave, Patricia Medina, Akim Tamiroff, Mischa Auer, Katina Paxinou, Jack Watling, Gregoire Aslan.
"Orson Welles's 1955 film seems a deliberate, bitter parody of Citizen Kane, with the grandeur turned to transparent theatrical fakery and the quest for truth deflected into shoddy opportunism. The film has the eerie, placeless quality of international coproduction (France and Spain in this case); many of the minor characters have been dubbed with Welles's voice, which increases the sense of a sinister puppet show. Sporting an outrageously false beard, Welles plays the mysterious title character, an international businessman who lures a young hustler (Robert Arden) into investigating his past. For all of the film's perversity, there is greatness in it—a greatness harshly criticizing itself." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
Mulholland Dr.
Mulholland Dr. Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Mulholland Drive (alternative title)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
2001, France-USA, 147m, Col, Mystery-Drama-Psychological Thriller
Screenplay David Lynch Producers Alain Sarde, Mary Sweeney, Michael Polaire, Neal Edelstein, Tony Krantz Photography Peter Deming Editor Mary Sweeney Music Angelo Badalamenti Cast Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Ann Miller, Justin Theroux, Dan Hedaya, Robert Forster, Katharine Towne, Lee Grant, Billy Ray Cyrus, Chad Everett.
"Mulholland Drive parts the veil on a totally cracked, utterly convincing world with David Lynch its brooding demiurge... Fashioned from the ruins of a two-hour TV pilot rejected by ABC in 1999, Lynch's erotic thriller careens from one violent non sequitur to another. The movie boldly teeters on the brink of self-parody, reveling in its own excess and resisting narrative logic. This voluptuous phantasmagoria is certainly Lynch's strongest movie since Blue Velvet and maybe Eraserhead. The very things that failed him in the bad-boy rockabilly debacle of Lost Highway—the atmosphere of free-floating menace, pointless transmigration of souls, provocatively dropped plot stitches, gimcrack alternate universes—are here brilliantly rehabilitated." - J. Hoberman (The Village Voice)
Murder by Contract
Murder by Contract Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1958, USA, 81m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Ben Simcoe, Ben Maddow [uncredited] Producer Leon Chooluck Photography Lucien Ballard Editor Carlo Lodato Music Perry Botkin Cast Vince Edwards, Phillip Pine, Herschel Bernardi, Caprice Toriel, Michael Granger, Kathie Browne, Joseph Mell, Frances Osborne, Steven Ritch, Janet Brandt.
"A quickie shot in eight days on a microscopic budget, it's a potent reminder of how less can be more, centered on Vince Edwards' loner killer for hire. Cool on the outside, tightly coiled on the inside, Edwards' Claude, priding himself on having put his emotions on ice, exemplifies a sort of cusp noir, a harbinger of postwar American change... Clean, lean and mean, tight, tense and satisfyingly reverberant, Murder by Contract vaults over its Poverty Row origins. We can understand why the young Scorsese was much more taken by it than by the A-movie on the double bill he saw. We see in Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976) Travis Bickle's genuflections to Edwards' ascetic preparations.... In its pared-down imperative, and its distant early warning signals of postwar societal upheaval, Murder by Contract, with its fade to white, is a big little film noir turned film blanc." - Jay Carr (Turner Classic Movies)
Murder by Proxy
Murder by Proxy
Blackout (USA title)
BRIT-NOIR
1954, UK, 87m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Richard H. Landau (based on the novel Gold Coast Nocturne by Helen Nielsen) Producer Michael Carreras Photography Walter J. Harvey Editor Maurice Rootes Music Ivor Slaney Cast Dane Clark, Belinda Lee, Betty Ann Davies, Eleanor Summerfield, Andrew Osborn, Harold Lang, Jill Melford, Alvys Maben, Michael Golden, Nora Gordon.
"An American ex-patriot with a drinking problem gets propositioned in a high-falutin' jazz bar by a gorgeous blonde. She'll pay him a healthy sum of money if he marries her. Doesn't sound too bad, does it? Next thing Casey (Dane Clark) knows, he's waking up in a strange bed, unsure of whether or not he's a newlywed… Blackout is a taut thriller. It doesn't necessarily move at D.O.A. speeds, but it barely pauses as Casey goes on the hunt to find out who really killed his maybe father-in-law and clear his name. Along the way, he runs afoul of Phyllis' real fiancé (Andrew Osborn), his goons, and a pair of mothers, Phyllis' mom and his own." - Jamie S. Rich (DVD Talk)
Murder is My Beat
Murder is My Beat
1955, USA, 77m, BW, Mystery-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Aubrey Wisberg (from an unpublished story by Aubrey Wisberg and Martin Field) Producer Aubrey Wisberg Photography Harold Wellman Editor Fred R. Feitshans Jr. Music Albert Glasser Cast Paul Langton, Barbara Payton, Robert Shayne, Tracey Roberts, Jay Adler, Roy Gordon, Harry Harvey, Kate MacKenna, Selena Royle, William Fawcett.
"Fans of pointy Fifties boobs take note: this poverty row noir is for you. The first half of Edgar Ulmer’s 1955 film economically unravels a seemingly bland murder mystery through stock footage and the narrated flashbacks of detective Ray Patrick (Paul Langton). But what raises doubts about whodunit in the mind of the Brylcreem-addicted cop—and effectively ends his career—are the curves and possible innocence of tried-and-convicted Eden Lane (the tragic starlet Barbara Payton, in her penultimate screen appearance). Jumping with Eden from the train taking her to prison, Patrick attempts to find the man who actually committed the murder and instead discovers a blackmail plot. Most of its expressionist-tinged visual flourishes are withheld until the very end, with a final twist that’s legitimately thrilling." - Violet Lucca (Film Comment)
Murder, My Sweet
Murder, My Sweet 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Farewell, My Lovely (alternative title)
1944, USA, 95m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Thriller
Screenplay John Paxton (from the novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler Producer Adrian Scott Photography Harry Wild Editor Joseph Noriega Music Roy Webb Cast Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger, Mike Mazurki, Miles Mander, Esther Howard, Douglas Walton, Don Douglas, Ralf Harolde.
"Fine adaptation of Chandler's novel (which had served as plot fodder for The Falcon Takes Over only two years earlier), evocatively creating a seedy, sordid world of shifting loyalties and unseen evil as Marlowe goes in search of the young and missing Velma at the urgent behest of Moose Malloy (Mazurki in fine form), a brutish ex-con unaware that the girl he left behind when he went to jail has metamorphosed into the dangerously duplicitous Claire Trevor (another marvellous performance). Powell is surprisingly good as Marlowe, certainly more faithful to the writer's conception than Bogart was in The Big Sleep, while the supporting cast make the most of John Paxton's superb dialogue. And Harry Wild's chiaroscuro camerawork is the true stuff of noir." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
My Name is Julia Ross
My Name is Julia Ross Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1945, USA, 65m, BW, Mystery-Thriller
Screenplay Muriel Roy Bolton (from the novel The Woman in Red by Anthony Gilbert) Producer Wallace MacDonald Photography Burnett Guffey Editors Henry Batista, James Sweeney Music Mischa Bakaleinikoff Cast Nina Foch, George Macready, Dame May Whitty, Roland Varno, Anita Sharp Bolster, Doris Lloyd, Leonard Mudie, Joy Harrington, Queenie Leonard, Harry Hays Morgan.
"He [Lewis] had more than 20 features to his credit when he was handed the script that would give him the opportunity to bring his experiments together in a single, stand-out film: My Name is Julia Ross, a modest little thriller made for Columbia's B-movie unit. The story is a gothic thriller about an unemployed London secretary hired as a live-in assistant to a seemingly sweet old lady... Compared to Lewis' best work, notably his thrilling masterpiece Gun Crazy [1950] and the film noir classic The Big Combo [1955], My Name is Julia Ross is a minor but impressive showpiece: crisply directed, smartly shot, handsomely mounted. It showed producers that Lewis had talent and ambition and, if he never quite broke out of the low-budget end of studio filmmaking, it at least moved him out of the B-movie units." - Sean Axmaker (Turner Classic Movies)
Mystery Street
Mystery Street
1950, USA, 93m, BW, Thriller-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Richard Brooks, Sydney Boehm (from an unpublished story by Leonard Spigelgass) Producer Frank E. Taylor Photography John Alton Editor Ferris Webster Music Rudolph G. Kopp Cast Ricardo Montalban, Sally Forrest, Marshall Thompson, Bruce Bennett, Elsa Lanchester, Jan Sterling, Edmon Ryan, Betsy Blair, Wally Maher, Ralph Dumke.
"A neat thriller, despite getting itself a little hung up on the contemporary vogue for documentary trimmings. The opening sequences, set in Boston for a change and magnificently shot by John Alton, are classic film noir, detailing the circumstances leading inexorably to the murder of Jan Sterling, a girl on the make and not above a bit of blackmail. Next comes the police procedural bit, featuring a didactic (but not uninteresting and cleverly integrated) sequence set in the Harvard Department of Legal Medicine. The temperature never fully recovers, although Sturges handles the rest... with considerable deftness and some subtlety. Nice performances, too, especially from Montalban as the zealous but still self-questioning cop, while Elsa Lanchester revels in one of her inimitably batty, gin-swilling landladies." - Tom Milne (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)
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