1,000 Noir Films (P)

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Title / Director / Year / Country
Panic in the Streets
Panic in the Streets 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 93m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Chase Movie
Screenplay Richard Murphy (adapted by Daniel Fuchs from an unpublished story by Edna Anhalt and Edward Anhalt) Producer Sol C. Siegel Photography Joseph MacDonald Editor Harmon Jones Music Alfred Newman Cast Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jack Palance, Zero Mostel, Alexis Minotis, Dan Riss, Guy Thomajan, Tommy Cook, Edward Kennedy.
"Opening up the noir genre to the Kazan street realism that would transform American movies forever, Panic In The Streets begins in the dark, rain-slickened portside of New Orleans, where the murder of a foreign hood is about to take on more significance than it might otherwise... Given the opportunity to shoot on location in New Orleans, Kazan doesn’t visit the obvious French Quarter landmarks, choosing instead to follow Widmark into the places where the tourists never roam. Palance gives the criminal underground an imposing menace, and cinematographer Joseph MacDonald, a veteran who had worked with John Ford and William Wellman, applies the single-source noir aesthetic to the real world." - Scott Tobias (A.V. Club)
The Paradine Case
The Paradine Case
1947, USA, 125m, BW, Crime-Courtroom Drama
Screenplay Alma Reville, David O. Selznick, James Bridie, Ben Hecht [uncredited] (based on the novel by Robert Hichens) Producer David O. Selznick Photography Lee Garmes Editor Hal C. Kern Music Franz Waxman Cast Gregory Peck, Alida Valli, Ann Todd, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ethel Barrymore, Louis Jourdan, Leo G. Carroll, Joan Tetzel, Isobel Elsom.
"In no sense a 'wronged innocent' thriller, The Paradine Case sets out to be a morality tale on the dangers of Strong Emotion. A happy marriage is threatened when rising young barrister Peck falls hopelessly in love with the woman (Valli) he is defending on a murder rap. Blinded by passion, he can see neither her guilt, nor that her obsession lies elsewhere - with the man (Jourdan) whom he would destroy in her stead. Bleak in its message (those who love passionately inevitably destroy the object of their desire), the movie only half works; Peck is rather half-hearted, Valli coldly cat-like, Ann Todd as the rejected wife too self-sacrificing and loyally forgiving to be true. And the intricate, triangular plot is finally overburdened by the courtroom setting from which it tries to draw a laborious analogy between the perversion of love and justice." - Fiona Ferguson (Time Out)
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The Parallax View Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1974, USA, 102m, Col, Political Thriller
Screenplay David Giler, Lorenzo Semple Jr. (based on the novel by Loren Singer) Producer Alan J. Pakula Photography Gordon Willis Editor John W. Wheeler Music Michael Small Cast Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels, Hume Cronyn, Kelly Thordsen, Walter McGinn, Chuck Waters, Earl Hindman, Bill Joyce, Bettie Johnson.
"The Parallax View features Warren Beatty as an investigative journalist uncovering a sinister organisation that arranges assassinations and such for rogue elements within the US government (and elsewhere)… Everybody involved deserves commendation. The great, mighty Gordon Willis — Prince of Darkness — brings his usual shadowy menace to the images. Beatty is excellent as a slightly slippery customer. Hume Cronyn is great as his honest boss. Let us, however, give particular praise to an under-admired Hollywood professional. The late Michael Small’s score is among the best ever composed for a Hollywood film." - Donald Clarke (The Irish Times)
Parole, Inc.
Parole, Inc.
1948, USA, 71m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Sherman L. Lowe (from a story by Sherman L. Lowe and Royal K. Cole) Producer Constantin J. David Photography Gilbert Warrenton Editor John Faure Music Alexander Laszlo Cast Michael O'Shea, Turhan Bey, Evelyn Ankers, Virginia Lee, Charles Bradstreet, Lyle Talbot, Michael Whalen, Charles Williams, James Cardwell, Paul Bryar.
"Government agent Richard Hendricks (Michael O'Shea) goes undercover to get goods on a gang responsible for dispensing illegal paroles. Posing as a prisoner, Hendricks links up with the gang's inside man, Barney Rodescu (Turhan Bey). As often happens in real life, several pillars of society are getting rich by manipulating the lives of others. The plot is not always logical, but audience involvement is sustained every step of the way. Parole Inc was one of the "in-between" pictures -- not quite a "B", not expensive enough for "A" -- produced by young-and-hungry Eagle Lion studios in the late 1940s." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
Party Girl
Party Girl Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1958, USA, 99m, Col, Crime-Drama
Screenplay George Wells (from an unpublished story by Leo Katcher) Producer Joe Pasternak Photography Robert Bronner Editor John McSweeney Jr. Music Jeff Alexander Cast Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cobb, John Ireland, Kent Smith, Claire Kelly, Corey Allen, Lewis Charles, David Opatoshu, Kem Dibbs.
"In his last Hollywood studio production, Ray once again effortlessly combines seemingly incompatible genres into a captivating synthesis of his lasting thematic preoccupations. A Technicolor crime drama, Party Girl offers a glossy and extravagant vision of Depression-era gangsterdom, enlivened by two dance numbers performed by a smoldering Cyd Charisse... Ripe with sexual undercurrents and symbols, Party Girl features a remarkable turn by Lee J. Cobb as an overheated mob boss, a violent false father spewing Freudian fire and brimstone. Ray’s always-impressive use of color is brilliantly amplified, lending his gangster film a saturated hyper-reality equal to his operatic Westerns." - Harvard Film Archive
1999, USA, 110m, Col, Thriller-Crime-Action
Screenplay Brian Helgeland, Terry Hayes (based on the novel The Hunter by Donald E. Westlake, as Richard Stark) Producer Bruce Davey Photography Ericson Core Editor Kevin Stitt Music Chris Boardman Cast Mel Gibson, Maria Bello, Kris Kristofferson, Gregg Henry, David Paymer, Bill Duke, Deborah Unger, John Glover, William Devane, James Coburn.
"This bizarre dud of a genre movie, adapted from the same Richard Stark novel (The Hunter) that inspired the 1967 film Point Blank, is set in a dank, urban no-man's land that might be called Film Noir Manque. Here sadism rules, all women are prostitutes, the cops corrupt and morality a matter of evil versus evil. Gibson is Porter, a career criminal who after recovering from near-fatal gunshot wounds at the hands of his double-crossing partner, Val (Gregg Henry), embarks on a killing spree to recover the $70,000 his sidekick stole from him… Payback, directed by Brian Helgeland, one of the writers responsible for the elegant screenplay of L.A. Confidential, comes at you (not just your toes but your mind) with the subtlety of a sledgehammer." - Stephen Holden (The New York Times)
Peeping Tom
Peeping Tom Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1960, UK, 109m, Col, Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Leo Marks Producer Michael Powell Photography Otto Heller Editor Noreen Ackland Music Brian Easdale Cast Karlheinz Bohm, Anna Massey, Maxine Audley, Moira Shearer, Esmond Knight, Michael Goodliffe, Shirley Anne Field, Brenda Bruce, Bartlett Mullins, Martin Miller.
"Michael Powell's suppressed masterpiece, made in 1960 but sparsely shown in the U.S. with its ferocity and compassion intact. The German actor Carl Boehm plays a shy, sensitive British boy (Powell doesn't try to cover his accent, which is typical of the film's deliberate sacrifice of realism for effect) who loves movies with all his heart and soul because he knows what they're really about—sex and death. This seductive, brightly colored thriller isn't about the “problem” of voyeurism as much as the sub-rosa fascinations of the cinema. It's an understanding and at times even celebratory film—attitudes that scandalized critics years ago and are still pretty potent today. The uniformly excellent cast includes Anna Massey, Moira Shearer (the ballerina of Powell's The Red Shoes), and Maxine Audley." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
The People Against O'Hara
The People Against O'Hara
1951, USA, 102m, BW, Crime-Courtroom Drama-Mystery
Screenplay John Monks Jr. (from the novel by Eleazar Lipsky) Producer William H. Wright Photography John Alton Editor Gene Ruggiero Music Carmen Dragon Cast Spencer Tracy, Pat O'Brien, Diana Lynn, John Hodiak, Eduardo Ciannelli, James Arness, Yvette Duguay, Jay C. Flippen, William Campbell, Richard Anderson.
"Yes; this picture works quite nicely as what you might call a "process film," a kind of sub-genre that achieved its apex with 2007's Zodiac. Beyond that, it's also a first-rate character study. Spencer Tracy plays James Curtayne, a veteran lawyer who's kicked both booze and criminal cases… Director Sturges was one of the most reliable journeymen of the day. Cinematographer John Alton doesn't walk on the same high-wire here that he did for his noirs with Anthony Mann, but he gives the picture a look of deceptively plain realism. And Tracy delivers one of his very best performances. The combination of these talents yields a film of remarkable solidity and briskness, and the ending is one of the most compellingly bleak of any film from any era.” - Glenn Kenny (Some Came Running)
Pépé le Moko
Pépé le Moko Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1937, France, 94m, BW, Crime-Romantic Drama-Gangster Film
Screenplay Henri Jeanson, Henri La Barthe, Jacques Constant, Julien Duvivier (based on the novel by Henri La Barthe) Producers Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim Photography Jules Kruger, Marc Fossard Editor Marguerite Beaugé Music Mohamed Ygerbuchen, Vincent Scotto Cast Jean Gabin, Mireille Balin, Gabriel Gabrio, Lucas Gridoux, Gilbert Gil, Line Noro, Saturnin Fabre, Fernand Charpin, Marcel Dalio, Charles Granval.
"Julien Duvivier's 1937 drama stars Jean Gabin as Pépé, the dashing thief whose renown is equal only to the police's desire to track him down. Within the Algerian Casbah, introduced in a memorable montage, Pépé is king, but he can't leave without being caught. That's fine by Pépé until he falls for Gaby (Mireille Balin), a champagne magnate's kept woman who can't figure out if Pépé wants her or her diamond bracelets. Gabin's iconic performance is rock-hard, characteristically French but inspired by American actors like James Cagney (just as Henri la Barthe's source novel was inspired by Scarface)… Its influence is indisputable, perhaps most notably on Casablanca, which lifted its setting, several of its relationships and one of its actors: Marcel Dalio, who played Casablanca's croupier." - Sam Adams (Philadelphia City Paper)
Phantom Lady
Phantom Lady 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1944, USA, 87m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Psychological Thriller
Screenplay Bernard C. Schoenfeld (from the novel by Cornell Woolrich) Producer Joan Harrison Photography Elwood Bredell Editor Arthur Hilton Music Hans J. Salter Cast Ella Raines, Franchot Tone, Alan Curtis, Aurora Miranda, Thomas Gomez, Fay Helm, Elisha Cook Jr., Andrew Tombes, Regis Toomey, Joseph Crehan.
"Siodmak's first American success, a moody thriller from a Cornell Woolrich novel which set the mould for a string of dark classics. The wife of an engineer (Curtis) is murdered, his female alibi's very existence is denied by every witness, and he faces the chair. His secretary (Raines) and a curious off-duty cop (Gomez) investigate... Siodmak's angled compositions and dramatic lighting might be uncharitably ticked off as genre staples, but his manipulation of the film's key motif is masterly. He concentrates on the tangible and psychological evidence - the 'records' - of absence: the wife's portrait, the messages on the office dictaphone, the court transcript, the dead witness' typed address, the hat that recalls a dead fiancé. And the film's quest is for a woman who exists only in the memories of the condemned man and the audience." - Paul Taylor (Time Out)
The Phenix City Story
The Phenix City Story Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1955, USA, 100m, BW, Crime-Docudrama-Social Problem Film
Screenplay Crane Wilbur, Daniel Mainwaring Producer David Diamond, Samuel Bischoff Photography Harry Neumann Editor George White Music Harry Sukman Cast Richard Kiley, Edward Andrews, John McIntire, Kathryn Grant, Lenka Peterson, Biff McGuire, Truman Smith, Jean Carson, John Larch, James Edwards.
"Phil Karlson's noirish 1955 docudrama about organized crime is authentically seedy, shot in Alabama with adept use of many locals and an unusual candor about racist violence. Phenix City lawyer Albert Patterson (John McIntire) vows to clean up the corrupt gambling town as state attorney general, but he's assassinated before he can take office, leaving his son (Richard Kiley) to pursue a local mobster (Edward Andrews, who makes a wonderful villain). The corrosive script was coauthored by Daniel Mainwaring (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), a kind of specialist in 50s paranoia, and though the movie's politics are liberal, its moral outrage is so intense you may come out of it wanting to join a lynch mob." - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader)
1951, USA, 78m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Arnold Lipp, Hugo Haas (based on the novel Watchman 47 by Josef Kopta) Producer Hugo Haas Photography Paul Ivano Editor W.L. Bagier Music Harold Byrns Cast Hugo Haas, Beverly Michaels, Allan Nixon, Howland Chamberlain, Jo-Carroll Dennison, Bernard Gorcey, Robert Lowell, Jack Daley, Art Lewis, Marjorie Beckett.
"In his first independently produced American film, Czechoslovakian director Hugo Haas took a fairly standard tale of greed and cuckoldry and turned it into a tawdry, low-budget B-classic. He’s aided in no small part by sexy Beverly Michaels’ performance — while she’s no great actress, her droll sneers and deadpan delivery are perfect here; she never overplays her scenes… Haas’s screenplay is overly predictable (particularly the love triangle aspect), and his cuckolded character is too naive to be believed; but the film is redeemed by plenty of zingy dialogue, some creative plot twists (including Haas’s sudden deafness), and Michaels’ sultry allure. Definitely a worthy B-flick." - FilmFanatic.org
Pickup on South Street
Pickup on South Street
100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1953, USA, 80m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Spy Film
Screenplay Samuel Fuller (from an unpublished story by Dwight Taylor) Producer Jules Schermer Photography Joseph MacDonald Editor Nick DeMaggio Music Leigh Harline Cast Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter, Murvyn Vye, Richard Kiley, Willis Bouchey, Milburn Stone, Henry Slate, Jerry O'Sullivan, Harry Carter.
"Fuller is crude and subtle, blatant and deep, unschooled and spilling over with ancient lore, harsh and plaintive, cynical and so attuned to complicated human emotions, you can’t accuse him of being merely sentimental. Pickup on South Street, it follows, is a penny dreadful with a hundred layers of felt meaning—the kind you register subcutaneously, without requiring professors to dissect and explicate it. If film noir is a genre in which tin-pot crimes are merely the outer manifestations of the churning unconscious, then Pickup on South Street is quintessential noir. Like so many of the worthwhile products of the American 1950s, it is a work of reverberating complexity, wrapped up to look like a candy bar." - Luc Sante (The Criterion Collection)
Pitfall 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1948, USA, 86m, BW, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Karl Kamb, William Bowers [uncredited], André De Toth [uncredited] (from the novel by Jay Dratler) Producer Samuel Bischoff Photography Harry Wild Editor Walter Thompson Music Louis Forbes Cast Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr, John Litel, Byron Barr, Ann Doran, Jimmy Hunt, Selmer Jackson, Selmer Jackson.
"An unrecognized classic noir that nails the soul-sickness of the new peacetime prosperity. The leading character is not a private eye but an insurance man, a 9 to 5 plodder who describes himself as being "in a rut six feet deep". We meet John Forbes (Powell) on his way from his modest hillside home to work in downtown Los Angeles; Pitfall is an amazing time capsule of The City of Angels in the immediate postwar period... André De Toth's career wandered all over the genre map, and many of his movies have a genuine bite and a keen intelligence, as with the superior war film Play Dirty. There's not a wasted shot or facial expression in Pitfall." - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
A Place in the Sun
A Place in the Sun Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1951, USA, 122m, BW, Romance-Drama
Screenplay Harry Brown, Michael Wilson (based on the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, and play An American Tragedy by Patrick Kearney) Producer George Stevens Photography William Mellor Editor William Hornbeck Music Franz Waxman Cast Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters, Anne Revere, Keefe Brasselle, Raymond Burr, Fred Clark, Herbert Heyes, Shepperd Strudwick, Frieda Inescort.
"A manipulative psychodrama seething with sex and class jealousy, A Place in the Sun was the second and best known adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel An American Tragedy… Montgomery Clift is at his most charismatic (and, let’s face it, absurdly good looking) as George Eastman, the hardworking social climber torn between devoted but drab Alice (Shelley Winters, looking severely trampled) and glamorous good-time girl Angela (Elizabeth Taylor)… The chemistry between Clift and Taylor is unmistakeable – this is one of the great cinematic portraits of untamed desire – and there’s a compelling sense of unavoidable destiny, of a societal trap slowly, inexorably snapping shut." - Tom Huddleston (Time Out)
1954, USA, 85m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Robert Blees (based on a story by Ray Buffum) Producer Albert J. Cohen Photography Carl Guthrie Editor Virgil W. Vogel Music Frank Skinner Cast Shelley Winters, Barry Sullivan, Colleen Miller, Gregg Palmer, Kent Taylor, Richard Long, Jacqueline de Wit, Dave Barry, Philip Van Zandt, James McCallion.
"Shelley Winters was still in the sex-symbol phase of her career when she headed the cast of Universal's Playgirl. Ms. Winters plays Fran, a nightclub vocalist whose main squeeze is married publisher Mike Marsh (Barry Sullivan). When Mike makes a play for new employee Phyllis Matthews (Colleen Miller), the jealous Fran shoots him down. The ensuing scandal ruins Phyllis' reputation, whereupon she, and not Fran, becomes the libertine $100-dollar-a-night playgirl of the title… Though dealing with a censorable subject, Playgirl manages to stay within the bounds of good taste, for better or worse." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
Please Murder Me!
Please Murder Me!
1956, USA, 78m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Al C. Ward, Donald Hyde (based on an original story by E.A. Dupont and David T. Chantler) Producer Donald Hyde Photography Alan Stensvold Editor Kenneth G. Crane Music Albert Glasser Cast Raymond Burr, Angela Lansbury, Lamont Johnson, John Dehner, Robert Griffin, Dick Foran, Denver Pyle, Alex Sharp, Russell Thorson, Lee Miller.
"Peter Godfrey (The Woman in White/The Two Mrs. Carrolls) helms this more than adequate Poverty Row courtroom drama. It's based on an original story by David Chantler & E.A. Dupont; the writers are Donald Hyde and Al C. Ward. The film's implausible gimmick is given away by the title. What makes this programmer satisfying are the solid performances by Raymond Burr and Angela Lansbury. It opens with hotshot criminal defense attorney Craig Carlson (Raymond Burr) dictating to Ray Willis (John Dehner), the DA, on a tape recorder, in his office late at night. The film goes into flashback over events that took place starting six months ago." - Dennis Schwartz (World Movie Reviews)
Plein soleil
Plein soleil Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Purple Noon (English title)
1960, France-Italy, 119m, Col, Psychological Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Paul Gégauff, René Clément (based on the novel The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith) Producers Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim Photography Henri Decaë Editor Francoise Javet Music Nino Rota Cast Alain Delon, Marie Laforêt, Maurice Ronet, Erno Crisa, Frank Latimore, Billy Kearns, Ave Ninchi, Viviane Chantel, Elvire Popesco, Romy Schneider.
"This neglected 1960 French classic might just as easily have been pulled from an alternate universe in which Hitchcock was first incarnated as a member of the French New Wave. Alain Delon plays a young drifter who, jealous of his successful friend, sets out to take his place. Purple Noon is a rarity in that it is a genuinely unpredictable and suspenseful film: Throw in a heavy dose of moral ambiguity, a subtext that raises questions about the nature of identity, stunning cinematography, and a score by Nino Rota that will stay in your head for weeks, and you have the sort of can't-miss rental that doesn't show up too often." - Keith Phipps (The A.V. Club)
Plunder Road
Plunder Road
1957, USA, 72m, BW, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Steven Ritch (from an unpublished story by Steven Ritch and Jack Charney) Producers Laurence Stewart, Leon Chooluck Photography Ernest Haller Editors Jerry Young, Warren Adams Music Irving Gertz Cast Gene Raymond, Jeanne Cooper, Wayne Morris, Elisha Cook Jr., Stafford Repp, Steven Ritch, Naura Hayden, Helene Heigh, Paul Harber, Don Garrett.
"A fairly unique caper thriller from 1957 is Hubert Cornfield's Plunder Road, a somewhat artsy but very progressive show that carries over some of the existentialist feel of French crime pix... Plunder Road raises the concept of fate in film noir to cosmic dimensions. Everything about the robbery is such hard work and such a psychic strain that we almost feel the men deserve their hard-earned loot. Unlike other caper pictures, Eddie's (Raymond) master plan goes like clockwork. When things go wrong, it's because of stupid mistakes, some of them linked directly to Eddie's supposed safeguards. Plunder Road is similar to Stanley Kubrick's crime classic of the previous year, The Killing, in that it observes its thieves with an almost complete emotional detachment, as if they were mice in a maze of their own making. " - Glenn Erickson (Turner Classic Movies)
Point Blank
Point Blank Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1967, USA, 92m, Col, Thriller-Crime-Action
Screenplay Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse, Rafe Newhouse (from the novel The Hunter by Richard Stark) Producers Judd Bernard, Robert Chartoff Photography Philip Lathrop Editor Henry Berman Music Johnny Mandel Cast Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O'Connor, Lloyd Bochner, Michael Strong, John Vernon, Sharon Acker, James B. Sikking, Sandra Warner.
"John Boorman brought grit to swinging London with his 1965 feature debut Catch Us If You Can. He then brought the hard-edged European avant-garde of Resnais and Antonioni to Hollywood with his groundbreaking 1967 thriller Point Blank... One of the four supreme masterworks in a major oeuvre, it begins and ends on a deserted Alcatraz, bookending the bloody swath Lee Marvin's gangster cuts across Los Angeles that may be a dying man's dream. A landmark in the history of the crime movie, Point Blank's expressive feeling for landscape and architecture anticipates Michael Mann's Heat. " - Philip French (The Observer)
Port of New York
Port of New York
1949, USA, 82m, BW, Crime-Drama-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Eugene Ling, Leo Townsend (based on a story by Bert Murray and Arthur A. Ross) Producer Aubrey Schenck Photography George E. Diskant Editor Norman Colbert Music Sol Kaplan Cast Scott Brady, Richard Rober, K.T. Stevens, Yul Brynner, Arthur Blake, Lynne Carter, John Kellogg, William Challee, Neville Brand, Barry Brooks.
"The war on drugs, 1949-style… Semi-documentary police procedurals became quite popular for a while in the late Forties, with lots of location shooting and official-sounding voiceovers. Port of New York follows in the style of House on 92nd Street and Jules Dassin's Naked City, with a fair amount of suspense and plenty of violent fisticuffs. George Diskant brought his striking camera work to bear as well; sometimes the "dark film" is so dark it's hard to even see what's going on. Most notable, however, is Brynner's first film role; he plays Vicola with sleek menace and self-assured evil (and with a full head of hair, too, I might add). Not an outstanding film, Port of New York is well-suited to its subject matter and has been rather neglected for years." - The Austin Chronicle
Port of Shadows
Port of Shadows Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Le Quai des brumes (original title)
1938, France, 91m, BW, Drama-Romance-Crime
Screenplay Jacques Prévert (based on the novel by Pierre Mac Orlan) Producer Gregor Rabinovitch Photography Eugen Schüfftan Editor René Le Hénaff Music Maurice Jaubert Cast Jean Gabin, Michele Morgan, Michel Simon, Pierre Brasseur, Robert Le Vigan, Raymond Aimos, Marcel Peres, Jenny Burnay, Edouard Delmont, Rene Genin.
"Down a foggy, desolate road to the port city of Le Havre travels Jean (Jean Gabin), an army deserter looking for another chance to make good on life. Fate, however, has a different plan for him, as acts of both revenge and kindness render him front-page news. Also starring the blue-eyed phenomenon Michèle Morgan in her first major role, and the menacing Michel Simon, Port of Shadows (Le Quai des brumes) starkly portrays an underworld of lonely souls wrestling with their own destinies. Based on the novel by Pierre Mac Orlan, the inimitable team of director Marcel Carné and writer Jacques Prévert deliver a quintessential example of poetic realism and a classic film from the golden age of French cinema." - The Criterion Collection
Possessed Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 108m, BW, Melodrama
Screenplay Ranald MacDougall, Silvia Richards (from the magazine novelette One Man's Secret by Rita Weiman) Producer Jerry Wald Photography Joseph Valentine Editor Rudi Fehr Music Franz Waxman Cast Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, Raymond Massey, Geraldine Brooks, Stanley Ridges, John Ridgely, Moroni Olsen, Nana Bryant, Erskine Sanford, Peter Miles.
"Crawford may play a nurse, but she'd need a warehouse of Phensics to clear up her troubles in this one. Madly in love with nogoodnik Heflin, she chooses to marry her wealthy employer (Massey) after his own ailing wife has tottered into insanity and suicide. Joan totters the same way soon after, and no one in the '40s could do it with such steely eyes or tautened shoulders. And she's helped every inch of the way by the Warners melodrama machine, working at fever pitch under the direction of German émigré Bernhardt, revelling in the expressionist tradition of morbid fantasy and psychological anguish. Compelling viewing, then, and a film even madder than most of its characters." - Geoff Brown (Time Out)
The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Postman Always Rings Twice 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1946, USA, 113m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Harry Ruskin, Niven Busch (from the novel by James M. Cain) Producer Carey Wilson Photography Sidney Wagner Editor George White Music George Bassman Cast Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames, Audrey Totter, Alan Reed, Jeff York, Charles Williams, A. Cameron Grant.
"This first and finest Hollywood adaptation of James M Cain's legendary crime novel (instantaneously banned in Boston on its first publication) was actually the third filmed version after unlicensed French and Italian versions in 1932 and 1944. Hollywood itself only dared approach the novel's white-hot subject matter after Billy Wilder had made his stinging adaptation of Cain's second novel, Double Indemnity... More film gris than film noir, it offers a biting moral conundrum at every turn. It must have driven the censors nuts with all its buried hints of sexual depravity." - John Patterson (The Observer)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
The Postman Always Rings Twice
1981, USA, 123m, Col, Crime-Drama
Screenplay David Mamet (based on the novel by James M. Cain) Producers Bob Rafelson, Charles Mulvehill Photography Sven Nykvist Editor Graeme Clifford Music Michael Small Cast Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, John Colicos, Michael Lerner, John P. Ryan, Anjelica Huston, William Traylor, Christopher Lloyd, Dick Balduzzi, Raleigh Bond.
"This update of The Postman Always Rings Twice doesn't necessarily surpass either of the original sources, but it does walk in stride and without shame alongside its predecessors. The Bob Rafelson/David Mamet take of the James M. Cain novel retains the essential plot while also digging deeper into the perversions of its core criminal couple in ways the older film versions never could. Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange make for a fiery combination, believable as lovers desperate enough to turn to murder to get what they want." - Jamie S. Rich (DVD Talk)
The Pretender
The Pretender
1947, USA, 69m, BW, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Don Martin (with additional dialogue by Doris Miller) Producer W. Lee Wilder Photography John Alton Editors Asa Boyd Clark, John F. Link Music Paul Dessau Cast Albert Dekker, Catherine Craig, Charles Drake, Alan Carney, Linda Stirling, Tom Kennedy, Selmer Jackson, Charles Middleton, Ernie Adams, Ben Welden.
"Billy Wilder's lesser known elder brother William Lee Wilder (The Glass Alibi/The Vicious Circle) directs this striking film noir about a successful man becoming paranoiac and placing himself in entrapment. In one amazing characteristic noir scene, the protagonist is seated on the floor of his unlit, locked room eating crackers and canned food, afraid of being poisoned. This is one of the first movies to score for theremin, an effectively chilling mood music which later became a cliché for many 1950s sci-fi films about aliens. John Alton's dark film noir photography sets the proper mood for the melodrama. The film noir is absorbing despite stilted dialogue and flat direction." - Dennis Schwartz (Movie Reviews)
The Price of Fear
The Price of Fear
1956, USA, 79m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Robert Tallman (based on a story by Dick Irving Hyland) Producer Howard Christie Photography Irving Glassberg Editor Ray Snyder Music Heinz Roemheld Cast Merle Oberon, Lex Barker, Charles Drake, Gia Scala, Warren Stevens, Phillip Pine, Mary Field, Dan Riss, Konstantin Shayne, Stafford Repp.
"Abner Biberman (Gun for a Coward/Night Runner/Golden Mistress) helms this twisty and diverting damsel in distress minor noir film, that features no sympathetic characters and depends too much on coincidences to be easily swallowed whole. But Merle Oberon shines against type as the femme fatale, as she goes slumming after starring in such classics as Wuthering Heights. The pulp film is based on a story by Dick Irving and is written by Robert Tallman… The powerful conclusion, resulting in the pursuit of justice through violent means, is unpredictable and chilling, giving the amoral noir film its darkness and cynicism." - Dennis Schwartz (Movie Reviews)
Private Hell 36
Private Hell 36
1954, USA, 81m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Collier Young, Ida Lupino Producer Collier Young Photography Burnett Guffey Editor Stanford Tischler Music Leith Stevens Cast Ida Lupino, Steve Cochran, Howard Duff, Dean Jagger, Dorothy Malone, Bridget Duff, Jerry Hausner, Dabbs Greer, Chris O'Brien, Ken Paterson.
"Private Hell 36 is one of that special brand of B noir that just revels in the claustrophobic tawdriness of its characters. But it’s also one of those—like Crime Wave and Pushover—that is at least twice as smart and potent as its gears-turning plot first reveals. Shot through with the 50s-noir nihilism of Kiss Me Deadly, it’s also a film very much of its moment—that 50s midpoint that, arguably, summons up the world of standard love-gone-wrong big-city noir only to smash it against Eisenhower-era ideals: suburbia, security, family... Among its greatest, grittiest pleasures is seeing Lupino and Cochran spark off each other. Has any actor ever so consistently made seedy cunning so seductive as Cochran, his eyes glittering with mayhem?" - Megan Abbott (Film Noir of the Week)
The Prowler
The Prowler 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1951, USA, 92m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Dalton Trumbo, Hugo Butler (from an unpublished story by Robert Thoeren and Hans Wilhelm) Producer Sam Spiegel Photography Arthur C. Miller Editor Paul Weatherwax Music Lyn Murray Cast Van Heflin, Evelyn Keyes, John Maxwell, Katherine Warren, Emerson Treacy, Madge Blake, Wheaton Chambers, Robert Osterloh, Sherry Hall, Louise Lorimer.
"The Prowler may be the creepiest of classic noirs. Joseph Losey's hard-to-see third feature is a tawdry tale of sexual power relations that anticipates the director's early-'60s art-house comeback, The Servant... Called to investigate the Peeping Tom outside her bathroom window, Van Heflin's predatory cop immediately goes on the prowl himself—stalking Keyes until she's frightened into betraying her older husband, a late-night DJ who keeps her spellbound by the radio. Keyes walks through the movie in a trance, helplessly in thrall to Van Heflin's big-faced, self-entitled cop. Spooky as the movie is, the climactic cosmic retribution is fittingly set in a Nevada ghost town. Like all of Losey's Hollywood films, The Prowler involved a number of movieland leftists—notably, Dalton Trumbo, who wrote the script with subsequently blacklisted Hugo Butler as his front." - J. Hoberman (The Village Voice)
The Public Enemy
The Public Enemy Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1931, USA, 84m, BW, Crime-Drama-Gangster Film
Screenplay Harvey F. Thew, John Bright, Kubec Glasmon (based on an unpublished story Beer and Blood by John Bright and Kubec Glasmon) Producer Darryl F. Zanuck Photography Devereaux Jennings Editor Edward M. McDermott Music David Mendoza Cast James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Eddie Woods, Joan Blondell, Beryl Mercer, Donald Cook, Mae Clarke, Mia Marvin, Leslie Fenton, Robert Emmett O'Connor.
"Hard to believe that it was the aptly named Woods and not Cagney who was originally slated for the lead role of Tom Powers, the part that rocketed Cagney to stardom and typecast him as a trigger-happy punk. Now, of course, the film seems the archetypal Cagney vehicle as he graduates from petty theft to big-time bootlegging and murder, but it's fairly seminal for other reasons: the acknowledgment that crime is at least partly the product of poor social conditions, the emphasis on booze as the mainspring for the Mob's illegal income, the deployment of events and characteristics from the lives of real-life gangsters (in this case Hymie Weiss) to create myth from fact… Cagney's energy and Wellman's gutsy direction carry the day, counteracting the moralistic sentimentality of the script and indelibly etching the star on the memory as a definitive gangster hero." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
The Public Eye
The Public Eye
1992, USA, 99m, Col, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Howard Franklin Producer Susan Baden-Powell Photography Peter Suschitzky Editor Peter Suschitzky Music Mark Isham Cast Joe Pesci, Barbara Hershey, Stanley Tucci, Richard Riehle, Jerry Adler, Jared Harris, David Gianopoulos, Bryan Travis Smith, Max Brooks, Richard Schiff.
"An interesting, melancholy mood piece written and directed by Howard Franklin (writer of Someone to Watch Over Me and writer and codirector of the underrated Quick Change) and set in New York City in 1942. Joe Pesci plays an artistically inclined tabloid photographer (loosely based on Weegee) and Barbara Hershey is a nightclub owner who enlists his aid. As the film itself suggests at one point, this is basically The Hunchback of Notre Dame relocated in Manhattan's nightclub life of the 40s, and Franklin gives it all a memorable burnished finish." - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader)
Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1994, USA, 154m, Col, Drama-Crime-Comedy
Screenplay Quentin Tarantino (based on a story by Roger Avary & Quentin Tarantino) Producer Lawrence Bender Photography Andrzej Sekula Editor Sally Menke Cast John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Bruce Willis, Rosanna Arquette, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz, Steve Buscemi.
"It must be hard to believe that Mr. Tarantino, a mostly self-taught, mostly untested talent who spent his formative creative years working in a video store, has come up with a work of such depth, wit and blazing originality that it places him in the front ranks of American film makers... Pulp Fiction is the work of a film maker whose avid embrace of pop culture manifests itself in fresh, amazing ways. From surf-guitar music on the soundtrack to allusions to film noir, television, teen-age B movies and Jean-Luc Godard (note Ms. Thurman's wig), Pulp Fiction smacks of the second-hand. Yet these references are exuberantly playful, never pretentious. Despite its fascination with the familiar, this film itself is absolutely new." - Janet Maslin (New York Times)
Pursued Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 101m, BW, Psychological Western-Thriller
Screenplay Niven Busch Producer Milton Sperling Photography James Wong Howe Editor Christian Nyby Music Max Steiner Cast Robert Mitchum, Teresa Wright, Judith Anderson, Dean Jagger, Alan Hale, John Rodney, Harry Carey Jr., Clifton Young, Ernest Severn, Charles Bates.
"A superb Western film noir, with Mitchum pursued through near-epic landscapes of the mind by the indistinct demons of childhood trauma, and the narrative boldly structured around flashback insights which gradually provide both a key to his identity and the inexorable impetus for a violent catharsis. Walsh's intelligent handling of Oedipal themes here and in White Heat gives the definitive lie to his self-cultured image as merely an adventuresome Hollywood primitive, while the film proves that the late '40s noir sensibility spread way beyond the bounds of the urban crime thriller." - Paul Taylor (Time Out)
1954, USA, 88m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Roy Huggins (from the serialized story The Killer Wore a Badge by Thomas Walsh, the novel The Night Watch by Thomas Walsh, and the novel Rafferty by William S. Ballinger) Producer Jules Schermer Photography Lester White Editor Jerome Thoms Music Arthur Morton Cast Fred MacMurray, Kim Novak, Philip Carey, Dorothy Malone, E.G. Marshall, Allen Nourse, Phil Chambers, Alan Dexter, Robert Stevenson, Don C. Harvey.
"Pushover offers a good example of the pleasures you can find even in supposedly lesser entries in the film noir cycle of the late Forties and early Fifties. Besides the memorable presence of Kim Novak in her first starring role, the film features taut direction by Richard Quine; notice, for instance, how simply and effectively the initial bank heist is staged. Lester White, who served as the director of photography on several Andy Hardy films, provides the film's moody, low-key photography; much of the film is set at night, and he takes full advantage of it." - James Steffen (Turner Classic Movies)
100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) The 100 Most Cited Noir Films
Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
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