1,000 Noir Films (B)

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Title / Director / Year / Country
Baby Face Nelson
Baby Face Nelson
1957, USA, 85m, BW, Crime-Gangster Film-Biography
Screenplay Irving Shulman, Daniel Mainwaring Producer Al Zimbalist Photography Hal Mohr Editor Leon Barsha Music Van Alexander Cast Mickey Rooney, Carolyn Jones, Cedric Hardwicke, Leo Gordon, Anthony Caruso, Jack Elam, John Hoyt, Ted De Corsia, Elisha Cook Jr., Robert Osterloh.
"One of Siegel's most vigorous crime-thrillers, and a key study of the gangster as psychotic. Rooney is surprisingly and superbly cast as the Depression desperado increasingly unable to control his outbursts of irrational violence, while the supporting cast - including Gordon as John Dillinger - is expertly deployed. But it is the sheer pace and economy of Siegel's direction that lend the film its anarchic energy; recreation of period is almost ignored in favour of an emphasis on actions exemplifying the anti-hero's sexually-insecure neuroses. A superior example of the way B-movie conventions may be transcended by wit and a fertile imagination." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
Backfire
Backfire
1950, USA, 91m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Ben Roberts, Ivan Goff, Larry Marcus (from a story by Larry Marcus) Producer Anthony Veiller Photography Carl Guthrie Editor Thomas Reilly Music Daniele Amfitheatrof Cast Virginia Mayo, Gordon MacRae, Edmond O'Brien, Viveca Lindfors, Dane Clark, Ed Begley, Frances Robinson, Richard Rober, David Hoffman, Monte Blue.
"Another crime drama featuring men who had lost their way after the war. Bob Corey (Gordon MacRae, The West Point Story) and Steve Connelly (Edmond O'Brien, D.O.A.) shared combat from inside a tank, and they dreamed of being civilians again, when they'd get a ranch or some other business full of open spaces… Backfire was directed by Vincent Sherman (The Damned Don't Cry) from a story by Larry Marcus (Dark City). It's told efficiently enough that it holds one's interest. The lead men are kind of starchy, but Ed Begley has some fun ranting and raving as a homicide detective, and Sheila MacRae turns in a fine comic performance as the singer's goofier roommate. All in all, a B-movie that earns its B." - Jamie S. Rich (DVD Talk)
Backlash
Backlash
1947, USA, 66m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Irving Elman Producer Sol M. Wurtzel Photography Benjamin Kline Editor William Claxton Music Darrell Calker Cast Jean Rogers, Richard Travis, Larry J. Blake, John Eldredge, Leonard Strong, Robert Shayne, Louise Currie, Douglas Fowley, Sara Berner, Richard Benedict.
"Weirdo little noir programmer, featuring endless "it's so boring it's fascinating... nope, it's boring" dialogue, a cast of familiar "B" faces, and one or two inexplicably good scenes, god knows how… Not a noir jewel waiting to be uncovered, not a meat-and-potatoes entry that can be enjoyed for its impersonal-yet-solid professionalism, and not crappy or inept enough to be enjoyed as a "so bad it's good" number, Backlash is an exceedingly pedestrian, perfunctory low-grade "B" programmer that produces only brief, momentary flashes of interest." - Paul Mavis (DVD Talk)
Basic Instinct
Basic Instinct Available on Blu-ray
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1992, USA, 127m, Col, Erotic Thriller-Drama
Screenplay Joe Eszterhas Producer Alan Marshall Photography Jan De Bont Editor Frank J. Urioste Music Jerry Goldsmith Cast Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Denis Arndt, Leilani Sarelle, Bruce A. Young, Chelcie Ross, Dorothy Malone, Stephen Tobolowsky.
"This is one charged-up erotic thriller — gory, lurid, brutally funny and without a politically correct thought in its unapologetically empty head. Still, director Paul Verhoeven's cinematic wet dream delivers the goods, especially when Sharon Stone struts on with enough come-on carnality to singe the screen… What makes Basic Instinct a guilty pleasure is the shameless and stylish way Verhoeven lets rip with his own basic instinct for disreputably alluring entertainment. The film is for horny pups of all ages who relish the memory of reading stroke books under the covers with a flashlight. Verhoeven has spent $49 million to reproduce that dirty little thrill on the big screen. You can practically hear him giggling behind the camera. His audacity makes you giggle along with him." - Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
The Beast of the City
The Beast of the City Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NOIR-PRECURSOR
1932, USA, 87m, BW, Drama-Crime-Police Detective Film
Screenplay John Lee Mahin, Ben Hecht [uncredited] (from the story by W.R. Burnett) Producer Hunt Stromberg Photography Norbert Brodine Editor Anne Bauchens Cast Walter Huston, Jean Harlow, Wallace Ford, Jean Hersholt, Dorothy Peterson, Tully Marshall, John Miljan, Emmett Corrigan, Warner Richmond, Mickey Rooney.
"This is a very elaborate production for an early 30's film. The camera was surprisingly fluid with some strong cinematography. The Beast of the City was the precursor to many modern crime drama films that pit the gangsters vs. the diligent cops - eventually in a courtroom setting. I couldn't help but think of Basic Instinct as the police ogled Harlow in a 'line-up'. This was a better, or should I say - 'more sophisticated', film than I was anticipating. It was also certainly racy for it's time - made a couple of years before enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code (also known as the Hays Code)." - Gary W. Tooze (DVD Beaver)
The Beat Generation
The Beat Generation Available on Blu-ray
1959, USA, 95m, BW, Crime-Drama-Detective Film
Screenplay Lewis Meltzer, Richard Matheson Producer Albert Zugsmith Photography Walter Castle Editor Ben Lewis Music Albert Glasser Cast Steve Cochran, Mamie Van Doren, Ray Danton, Fay Spain, Louis Armstrong, Maggie Hayes, Jackie Coogan, James Mitchum, Cathy Crosby, Ray Anthony.
"In the tradition of the classic High School Confidential, producer Albert Zugsmith brings us another utterly-unrealistic 'expose' into '50s youth culture. This time taking his dimwit viewers into the then-scandalous world of the beat poets and their coffee house ilk. And what a far-out cast he pulls together for the trip! We get sultry platinum blonde hussy Mamie Van Doren; Louie Armstrong blowin' his horn and growlin' the theme song; Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester) as a cop who has to dress up in drag for a Lovers' Lane stakeout; plus Irish McCalla (TV's Sheena, Queen of the Jungle), Charlie Chaplin Jr.; and Vampira as a horrible free verse poetess who lugs around a pet white rat. It's just too bad that the film isn't really about the beats and their lifestyle--instead it turns out to be your ordinary grade-B detective flick, hopped up with some cool cat trappings." - Steven Puchalski (Shock Cinema)
Behind Locked Doors
Behind Locked Doors
1948, USA, 62m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Eugene Ling, Marvin Wald Producer Eugene Ling Photography Guy Roe Editor Norman Colbert Music Irving Friedman Cast Richard Carlson, Lucille Bremer, Douglas Fowley, Ralf Harolde, Thomas Browne Henry, Herbert Heyes, Gwen Donovan, Trevor Bardette, Dickie Moore, Tor Johnson.
"An early low-budget film from boxer turned matador turned filmmaker Oscar "Budd" Boetticher (best known for his '50s westerns with Randolph Scott), Doors turns its lack of funds to its advantage, using a small cast, a few small sets, and creative noir lighting to suggest the claustrophobia of its sanitarium setting. There, a corrupt judge has chosen to hide out from the law, an arrangement that works until a jocular private eye (Carlson) goes undercover as a mental patient after he's hired by a pretty journalist (Bremer) in search of a scoop and some reward money... A probable inspiration for Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor, Doors suffers in comparison; Fuller made transcendent B-movies, and this isn't one. In just about every other respect, however, it's everything it should be: fast-paced, stylishly shot, a little lurid, a little topical, and thoroughly entertaining." - Keith Phipps (A.V. Club)
Berlin Express
Berlin Express
1948, USA, 86m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Spy Film
Screenplay Harold Medford (based on a story by Curt Siodmak) Producer Bert Granet Photography Lucien Ballard Editor Sherman Todd Music Frederick Hollander Cast Merle Oberon, Robert Ryan, Paul Lukas, Charles Korvin, Robert Coote, Reinhold Schunzel, Roman Toporow, Peter von Zerneck, Otto Waldis, Fritz Kortner.
"The nondescript title hides a really tense suspense tale from talented cult director Jacques Tourneur, in his film noir period before he hit his swashbuckling stride with The Flame and the Arrow and Anne of the Indies. Paul Lukas plays a suave German democrat who's kidnapped by an underground group of Nazis opposed to the unification of their country. Merle Oberon and the impressive Robert Ryan star as the fellow travellers who become involved in the plot. The Nazis are strictly clichéd, but the view of postwar Germany rings very true and Tourneur keeps up the tension throughout." - Tony Sloman (Radio Times)
La Bête humaine
La Bête humaine Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NOIR-PRECURSOR / FRENCH NOIR
1938, France, 99m, BW, Crime Drama-Psychological Drama
Screenplay Jean Renoir, Denise Leblond [uncredited] (based on the novel by Emile Zola) Producers Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim Photography Curt Courant Editors Marguerite Renoir, Suzanne de Troeye Music Joseph Kosma Cast Jean Gabin, Simone Simon, Fernand Ledoux, Julien Carette, Blanchette Brunoy, Jean Renoir, Gerard Landry, Jenny Helia, Colette Regis, Jacques Berlioz.
"Stunning images of trains and railway lines as a metaphor for the blind, immutable forces that drive human passions to destruction. Superb performances from Gabin, Simon and Ledoux as the classic tragic love triangle. The deterministic principles of Zola's novel, replaced by destiny in Lang's remake Human Desire, are slightly muffled here. But given the overwhelming tenderness and brutality of Renoir's vision, it hardly matters that the hero's compulsion to kill, the result of hereditary alcoholism, is left half-explained." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
Between Midnight and Dawn
Between Midnight and Dawn
1950, USA, 89m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Eugene Ling (based on a story by Gerald Adams and Leo Katcher) Producer Hunt Stromberg Photography George E. Diskant Editor Gene Havlick Music George Duning Cast Mark Stevens, Edmond O'Brien, Gale Storm, Donald Buka, Gale Robbins, Anthony Ross, Roland Winters, Tito Vuolo, Grazia Narciso, Madge Blake.
"Looking back at Between Midnight and Dawn, a 1950 crime drama of radio patrolmen and gangsters on the streets of Los Angeles, we would likely classify it as film noir. But that term was coined by French film critics in the late 1950s as they looked back at the dark strain of American crime pictures in the past decade. In Hollywood's mind, this was a classic cop picture, a policier about partners on the beat who put their lives on the line every day… While Between Midnight and Dawn doesn't offer any surprises to its story of cops, crooks and vengeance, it's a sturdy crime picture with a solid performance grounding the story and a hard, gritty attitude when it comes to life on the beat.” - Sean Axmaker (Turner Classic Movies)
Beware, My Lovely
Beware, My Lovely
1952, USA, 77m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Mel Dinelli (based on his play and short story The Man) Producer Collier Young Photography George E. Diskant Editor Paul Weatherwax Music Leith Stevens Cast Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Taylor Holmes, Barbara Whiting, O.Z. Whitehead, James Williams, Dee Pollock, Brad Morrow, Jimmy Mobley, Shelly Lynn Anderson.
"A Poverty Row picture shot by a journeyman filmmaker, Beware My Lovely stands apart from its B-movie brethren thanks to it being a forerunner of that perennially popular thriller sub-genre, the stalker movie. British-born actress Ida Lupino stars as Helen Gordon, a widow who seeks to stave off loneliness by hiring Howard Wilton (Ryan) to help out around the house... Tame by today's standards, Beware My Lovely must have caused the odd pulse to race in the pre-Psycho 1950s. That the film still generates the odd shiver is entirely down to its leading lady and her barking mad nemesis." - Richard Luck (Film4)
Bewitched
Bewitched
1945, USA, 65m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Arch Oboler Producer Jerry Bresler Photography Charles Salerno Jr. Editor Harry Komer Music Bronislau Kaper Cast Phyllis Thaxter, Edmund Gwenn, Stephen McNally, Henry Daniels Jr., Minor Watson, Addison Richards, Kathleen Lockhart, Gladys Blake, Virginia Brissac, Sharon McManus.
"Considering many viewers don’t seem to care for Bewitched, there’s a lot of ink floating around out there about this slick little second feature from MGM. I find myself in the minority, because I think it’s a gem. Make no mistake, in one important way (depending on your point of view) it hasn’t aged well: it’s a rather crude look at schizophrenia in its most sensational form — multiple personality disorders… Be that as it may, the problems are easily forgiven, and what remains is a well-made and inventive thriller with a few great moments." - Mark Fertig (Where Danger Lives)
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1956, USA, 80m, BW, Mystery-Courtroom Drama-Crime
Screenplay Douglas Morrow Producer Bert E. Friedlob Photography William Snyder Editor Gene Fowler Jr. Music Herschel Burke Gilbert Cast Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, Sidney Blackmer, Philip Bourneuf, Shepperd Strudwick, Arthur Franz, Edward Binns, Robin Raymond, Barbara Nichols, William Leicester.
"The surprise-filled thriller Beyond a Reasonable Doubt may have been director Fritz Lang's final American film but it's certainly not one of his lesser ones. Analytically inclined viewers can still find Lang's familiar themes of guilt and innocence but anybody else will delight in trying to out-guess the various twists in the engaging story. Critic Derek Malcolm wrote, "It is a film of great economy and precision (it lasts only 80 minutes), with the terrifying inevitability of Greek tragedy and a pervading sense that man is his own worst enemy." - Lang Thompson (Turner Classic Movies)
Beyond the Forest
Beyond the Forest Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1949, USA, 96m, BW, Melodrama
Screenplay Lenore Coffee (based on the novel by Stuart Engstrand) Producer Henry Blanke Photography Robert Burks Editor Rudi Fehr Music Max Steiner Cast Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, David Brian, Ruth Roman, Dona Drake, Regis Toomey, Minor Watson, Frances Charles, Sarah Selby, Mary Servoss.
"Rosa Moline (Davis) is a twelve o'clock girl in a nine o'clock town. Loyalton is the burg in question, and Rosa doesn't like it one bit: 'What a dump... like sitting in a coffin and waiting to be carried out!' Her personal rebellion takes the form of adultery, miscarriage and murder, in King Vidor's most demented film from his most frenzied period, immediately after Duel in the Sun and The Fountainhead and before Ruby Gentry. Davis, done up for all the world like Jennifer Jones, is too old for the part, but gives it her all (she used the film for her own rebellion, escaping a Warner Bros contract that still had ten years to run). She's like a caricature of herself, and the movie, too, is soap gone into lather. Laugh it off, by all means, but American melodrama at this pitch of alienation is quite fascinating." - Tom Charity (Time Out)
The Big Bluff
The Big Bluff
1955, USA, 70m, BW, Drama-Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Fred Freiberger (from a story by Mindret Lord) Producer W. Lee Wilder Photography Gordon Avil Editor Terry Morse Music Manuel Compinsky Cast John Bromfield, Martha Vickers, Robert Hutton, Rosemarie Stack, Eve Miller, Max Palmer, Eddie Bee, Robert Bice, Pierre Watkin, Beal Wong.
"A suave grifter latches on to a dying woman with dough, only he is impatient to see her gone. His evil machinations are his undoing. The sheer perversity of the scenario and its relentless immorality leave you stunned. Don’t go figuring this is a cinematic experience. It has the bitter flavour of festering reality, and is played out in a fetid LA where evil ambition and a conniving race to the bottom suck you down into a putrid swamp. The homme-fatale is tripped-up in a quintessential noir dénouement, twisted and out of left field. A b-movie par-excellence that is so compelling it feels much longer than the economical 70 minutes it takes to go from melodrama to perdition." - Tony D'Ambra (FilmsNoir.net)
The Big Clock
The Big Clock 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1948, USA, 95m, BW, Crime-Psychological Thriller
Screenplay Jonathan Latimer (adapted by Harold Goldman based on the novel by Kenneth Fearing) Producer Richard Maibaum Photography John F. Seitz Editor Eda Warren Music Victor Young Cast Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Sullivan, George Macready, Rita Johnson, Elsa Lanchester, Harold Vermilyea, Dan Tobin, Harry Morgan, Richard Webb.
"John Farrow directed this tasteful film noir, which is something of a contradiction in terms; it's reminiscent of Fritz Lang without Lang's hysteria. Ray Milland stars as a crime reporter working for a magazine run by Charles Laughton, and his investigation of a murder leads him right to the boss's office. Farrow creates a coldly threatening atmosphere, mainly through his expert use of the styles and shapes of modern architecture. Not a great thriller, but not bad. Based on a novel by Kenneth Fearing; it was remade almost 40 years later as No Way Out." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
The Big Combo
The Big Combo 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1955, USA, 89m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Philip Yordan Producer Sidney Harmon Photography John Alton Editor Robert S. Eisen Music David Raksin Cast Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Jean Wallace, Brian Donlevy, Lee Van Cleef, Earl Holliman, Robert Middleton, Helen Walker, Jay Adler, John Hoyt.
"Terrific gangster movie, although - despite the syndicate shenanigans promised by the title - it's more of a film noir focusing on the private, obsessional duel between Wilde's cop and Conte's gangster, each variously haunted by a woman and virtually becoming the other's alter ego during the course of their deadly vendetta. A film structured by viciousness and pain (amplified by two peculiarly hideous torture scenes involving a hearing aid), it's a dark night of several souls perfectly visualised in John Alton's extraordinary camerawork. Even better than Lewis' earlier - and remarkable - Gun Crazy." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
The Big Heat
The Big Heat 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1953, USA, 90m, BW, Drama-Crime-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Sydney Boehm (based on the novel by William P. McGivern) Producer Robert Arthur Photography Charles Lang Editor Charles Nelson Music Daniele Amfitheatrof Cast Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando, Alexander Scourby, Lee Marvin, Carolyn Jones, Jeanette Nolan, Peter Whitney, Willis Bouchey, Robert Burton.
"The Big Heat is the ultimate angry cop noir, its tale of vengeance rendered with almost tantalizing perfection. Uptown critics dismissed it at the time as just another crime potboiler, signifying Fritz Lang's demise as an A-list director. They missed the cold brilliance that electrified genre conventions, and the exhilarating union of brooding Germanic fatalism and Wild West ass-kicking... With The Big Heat, Lang shook off several desultory years, inspired by the crisp geometry of Boehm's script – and perhaps by its ferocious outrage." - Eddie Muller (Film Noir of the Week)
The Big Knife
The Big Knife Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1955, USA, 111m, BW, Showbiz Drama-Melodrama
Screenplay James Poe (based on the play by Clifford Odets) Producer Robert Aldrich Photography Ernest Laszlo Editor Michael Luciano Music Frank De Vol Cast Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Shelley Winters, Wendell Corey, Jean Hagen, Rod Steiger, Everett Sloane, Wesley Addy, Ilka Chase, Paul Langton.
"A dynamite portrait of a man on the verge of total psychological and moral collapse, Robert Aldrich's 1955 indictment of Hollywood stars Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, and Rod Steiger. Adapted from a series of plays by Clifford Odets, Aldrich's film focuses on the ways in which a man's freedom is systematically denied him by the forces that control his world, whether that world is the arts, business, or politics. Palance is superb as the Hollywood star who now has to be blackmailed to continue starring in the dreadful films produced by Rod Steiger (in a magnificent portrayal of Harry Cohn, Louis B. Mayer, and Jack Warner rolled into one). Electric, exciting, and ultimately very depressing." - Don Druker (Chicago Reader)
The Big Night
The Big Night Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1951, USA, 75m, BW, Drama-Thriller-Coming-of-Age
Screenplay Joseph Losey, Stanley Ellin (based on the novel Dreadful Summit by Stanley Ellin) Producer Philip A. Waxman Photography Hal Mohr Editor Edward Mann Music Lyn Murray Cast John Barrymore Jr., Preston Foster, Howland Chamberlain, Joan Lorring, Howard St. John, Dorothy Comingore, Philip Bourneuf, Myron Healey, Emile Meyer, Mauri Lynn.
"Among Losey's most powerful and personal films are those that deal, like The Big Night, with youth and the difficult passage into the adult world. John Barrymore, Jr. gives the performance of his tragically foreshortened career in this story of a young man shaken to the core by the sight of his father's humiliation at the hand of a sadistic mobster. Wandering through seedy nightspots, the boy encounters a frightening and fascinating nocturnal world that he has never known. By carefully refusing expected stereotypes, the refreshingly awkward and unpredictable characters in The Big Night reveal the complexity and nuance of character and motivation that stands among the important achievements of Losey's cinema." - Harvard Film Archive
The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1946, USA, 114m, BW, Mystery-Crime
Screenplay William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, Jules Furthman (based on the novel by Raymond Chandler) Producer Howard Hawks Photography Sidney Hickox Editor Christian Nyby Music Max Steiner Cast Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Elisha Cook Jr., Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, Regis Toomey, Louis Jean Heydt, Sonia Darrin, Bob Steele.
"The big sleep of the title may be death, but it may also be just slumber, and dream. Few thrillers are as mesmerically dream-like... Cameraman Sid Hickox's wet, foggy night scenes make the film less noir than perplexingly grey and hazy, like the damp tweed of mobsters' overcoats. As the plot thickens like narcotic vapour, no one is more fascinated than Bacall's Vivian: her awkward slumped posture in Marlowe's car suggests that she's ready at any moment to subside into sleep, or into his bed. The closing title card features as overt a post-coital metaphor as any ever seen in film: two cigarettes and an ashtray... The Big Sleep is as fresh and perverse as ever, and remains one of Hollywood's most entrancingly strange bedtime stories." - Jonathan Romney (The Independent)
The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep
BRIT-NOIR / NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1978, UK, 99m, Col, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Michael Winner (based on the novel by Raymond Chandler) Producers Elliott Kastner, Jerry Bick, Michael Winner Photography Robert Paynter Editor Frederick Wilson Music Jerry Fielding Cast Robert Mitchum, Sarah Miles, Richard Boone, Candy Clark, Joan Collins, Edward Fox, John Mills, James Stewart, Oliver Reed, Harry Andrews.
"The residue of Chandler in Winner's remake of The Big Sleep might just con audiences unfamiliar with the novels and who haven't seen the 1946 Hawks/Bogart version. Otherwise, it's on very shaky ground indeed. Spuriously relocated in London (Winner's facility with luxurious location set pieces is anything but masterful), and with Marlowe dressed by Savile Row (Mitchum seems to sleepwalk through the part), the film sorely lacks any of the seediness and menace which made the 1973 remake of Farewell My Lovely at least watchable. Winner's insistence as a director on making everything as explicit as possible is often stultifying beyond belief." - Rod McShane (Time Out)
The Big Steal
The Big Steal Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1949, USA, 71m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Chase Movie
Screenplay Daniel Mainwaring, Gerald Drayson Adams (based on the story The Road to Carmichael's by Richard Wormser) Producer Jack J. Gross Photography Harry Wild Editor Samuel E. Beetley Music Leigh Harline Cast Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, William Bendix, Patric Knowles, Ramon Novarro, Don Alvarado, John Qualen, Pascual Garcia Pena, Dorothy Mitchum, Carmen Morales.
"The Big Steal was one of Don Siegel's first directorial efforts and it stands as a good preview of what was to become his specialty in the fifties - taut little B-movie thrillers and melodramas like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Baby Face Nelson (1957), and The Lineup (1958). While the plot of The Big Steal was fairly derivative of numerous other chase thrillers - an army lieutenant and his female companion race across Mexico in pursuit of a man who stole a $300,000 army payroll - it was the re-teaming of Mitchum and Jane Greer, his co-star from the film noir classic, Out of the Past (1947), and Siegel's breathless direction that elevated this melodrama above the standard B-movie." - Jeff Stafford (Turner Classic Movies)
The Black Angel
The Black Angel 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1946, USA, 80m, BW, Mystery
Screenplay Roy Chanslor (based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich) Producers Roy William Neill, Tom McKnight Photography Paul Ivano Editor Saul A. Goodkind Music Frank Skinner Cast Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford, Wallace Ford, Hobart Cavanaugh, Constance Dowling, Freddie Steele, Ben Bard, John Phillips.
"Not exactly a pristine Cornell Woolrich adaptation, since the brooding subjectivism (so lovingly preserved in a real poverty row quickie like Fear in the Night) has been partly pruned to leave a moody thriller along the lines of Phantom Lady, beautifully crafted with the sort of unpretentious skill Neill brought to the Rathbone-Bruce Sherlock Holmes series. The authentic tang of noir is lent by Duryea, superb in (for once) a sympathetic role as the tormented musician with the faithless wife who finds the solution to the mystery of her murder surfacing through the alcoholic haze of his memory. Lovely supporting cast too." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
Black Tuesday
Black Tuesday
1954, USA, 80m, BW, Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Sydney Boehm Producer Robert Goldstein Photography Stanley Cortez Editor Robert Golden Music Paul Dunlap Cast Edward G. Robinson, Peter Graves, Jean Parker, Milburn Stone, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Sylvia Findley, James Bell, Vic Perrin, Harry Bartell.
"Black Tuesday positively crackles. No pun intended. It’s a mean movie — cynical, cold-blooded, and hardboiled as hell. The title refers to the day when death row inmates are fated for their turn in the electric chair… As the level of activity in the prison reaches a fever-pitch, Black Tuesday takes on a documentary tone — denizens on both sides of the law scramble through eleventh-hour preparations for the looming event… The final twenty minutes are talky, but worth it — in the hands of a lesser screenwriter the film would have ended quickly and disappointingly under a hail of rote gunfire. Instead Boehm uses the claustrophobic tension of the warehouse to further develop his characters, and in the end offer one of them a sort of redemption." - Mark Fertig (Where Danger Lives)
Blackmail
Blackmail
1947, USA, 67m, BW, Crime-Drama-Detective Film
Screenplay Royal K. Cole, Albert DeMond (based on a story by Robert Leslie Bellem) Producer William J. O'Sullivan Photography Reggie Lanning Editor Tony Martinelli Music Mort Glickman Cast William Marshall, Adele Mara, Ricardo Cortez, Grant Withers, Stephanie Bachelor, Richard Fraser, Roy Barcroft, George J. Lewis, Gregory Gaye, Tristram Coffin.
"The all-purpose title Blackmail was again revived for this breezy Republic comedy-mystery. William Marshall (not the African American star of Blacula) plays private eye Dan Turner, assigned to shield playboy Ziggy Cranston (Ricardo Cortez) from a pair of clever blackmailers (Adele Mara, Richard Fraser). As a result of Turner's interference, the extortionists up the ante from $50,000 to three times that amount. A few murders and plot twists later, Turner emerges triumphant; still, one wonders if Cranston wouldn't have been better off handling his persecutors by himself." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
Blade Runner
Blade Runner Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
SCI-FI NOIR / NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1982, USA, 118m, Col, Science Fiction-Thriller-Drama
Screenplay David Peoples, Hampton Fancher (based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick) Producer Michael Deeley Photography Jordan Cronenweth Editor Martha Nakashima Music Vangelis Cast Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joseph Turkel, Joanna Cassidy.
"This is still the most remarkably and densely imagined and visualized SF film since 2001: A Space Odyssey, a hauntingly erotic meditation on the difference between the human and the nonhuman. Set in a grungy LA of the 21st century characterized by nearly constant rain and a good many Chinese restaurants—yielding textures worthy of Welles or Sternberg—the plot involves a former cop (Ford) hired to track down and kill a series of androids. The results are largely a triumph of production design, but as in Forbidden Planet and 2001, it's often hard to determine where production design leaves off and direction begins." - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader)
Blast of Silence
Blast of Silence Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
LATE NOIR (1960s)
1961, USA, 77m, BW, Drama-Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Allen Baron, Waldo Salt Producer Merrill S. Brody Photography Merrill S. Brody Editor Merrill S. Brody, Peggy Lawson Music Meyer Kupferman Cast Allen Baron, Molly McCarthy, Larry Tucker, Peter Clume, Danny Mechan, Dean Sheldon, Charles Creasap, Bill DePrato, Erich Kollmar, Joe Bussico.
"Allen Baron’s stark, moody Blast of Silence is a movie of many strange distinctions. It’s among the last of the true film noirs, those fatalistic black-and-white urban crime dramas that darkened the American screen so gloriously in the years after World War II. It was, along with John Cassavetes’s Shadows (1959) and Shirley Clarke’s The Connection (1960), one of the first of the low-budget independent movies that suggested the existence of a uniquely New York style of filmmaking, documentary-like and expressively unpolished. It’s among the very few works in the history of cinema to boast a voice-over narration in the second person. And it is, hands down, the best movie ever made about a common, important, and unjustly neglected American experience: the really bad business trip." - Terrence Rafferty (The Criterion Collection)
Blind Spot
Blind Spot
1947, USA, 73m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Martin Goldsmith (from a story by Harry Perowne) Producer Ted Richmond Photography George Meehan Editor Henry Batista Music Paul Sawtell Cast Chester Morris, Constance Dowling, Steven Geray, James Bell, William Forrest, Sid Tomack, Paul E. Burns, Harry Strang, Steve Benton, Paul Bryar.
"Taking a break from Columbia’s Boston Blackie series, aging matinee idol Chester Morris stars as a vividly alcoholic author of pulp novels who falls under suspicion when his penny-pinching publisher is murdered by a method described in one of his stories. With a screenplay by Martin Goldsmith, the author of the novel that became Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, this casually sordid, micro-budgeted noir features some inventive staging by the director Robert Gordon, including a one-shot, subjective camera scene strikingly similar to a famous sequence in Ulmer’s film, as well as a rare sympathetic performance by the professional femme fatale Constance Dowling, whose romantic rejection of the Italian poet Cesare Pavese contributed to his suicide." - The Museum of Modern Art
Blonde Ice
Blonde Ice
1948, USA, 73m, BW, Crime-Drama-Mystery
Screenplay Kenneth Gamet, Dick Irving Hyland [uncredited], Raymond L. Schrock [uncredited] (based on the novel Once Too Often by Whitman Chambers) Producer Martin Mooney Photography George Robinson Editor Jason H. Bernie, W.L. Bagier Music Irving Gertz Cast Robert Paige, Leslie Brooks, Russ Vincent, Michael Whalen, James Griffith, Emory Parnell, Walter Sande, John Holland, Mildred Coles, Selmer Jackson.
"Among even the hardiest of film noir fans, the movie title Blonde Ice isn't likely to bring many looks of recognition. It's a relatively obscure film, cranked out in 1948 by Film Classics, which only produced a grand total of 12 films… The acting is merely adequate and the direction is severely hampered by the low budget (although director Jack Bernhard and cameraman George Robinson do manage a few surprising camera angles). But the screenplay is a deliciously nasty and audacious exposé on the twisted psyche of a truly lethal femme fatale. Claire Cummings (Brooks) is a gold digger with no conscious whatsoever… Director Jack Bernhard is mostly known for directing the sci-fi disaster Unknown Island. Here he occasionally channels the stylistics of film noir, particularly chiaroscuro lighting." - Gary Johnson (Images Journal) 
Blood on the Moon
Blood on the Moon Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
WESTERN NOIR
1948, USA, 88m, BW, Psychological Western-Drama
Screenplay Lillie Hayward (adapted by Luke Short and Harold Shumate from the novel Gunman's Chance by Luke Short) Producer Theron Warth Photography Nicholas Musuraca Editor Samuel E. Beetley Music Roy Webb Cast Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Preston, Walter Brennan, Tom Tyler, Harry Carey Jr., Phyllis Thaxter, Frank Faylen, Tom Tully, Charles McGraw.
"The film weaves a classic noir scenario into a western with all the motifs of the genre: the mysterious drifter with divided loyalties, the virginal rancher’s daughter in britches, the conniving proto-gangster, the crooked Indian-Reservation agent, hired-guns, shout-outs, bar-room brawls, and the Arizona backdrop, while organically integrating the noir elements of the redeemed noir protagonist, doom-laden atmospherics, outbursts of violence, and vengeance into the story. Mitchum as the drifter is classic Mitchum, and Barbara Bel Geddes truly engaging as the rancher’s younger daughter… But the movie belongs to director Wise and cinematographer Musuraca. From the opening frame of the drifter’s silhouette riding over a mountain pass in driving rain in the day’s gloaming, you know you are in noir territory." - Tony D'Ambra (FilmsNoir.net)
Blood Simple
Blood Simple Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1984, USA, 97m, Col, Thriller-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Ethan Coen, Joel Coen Producer Ethan Coen Photography Barry Sonnenfeld Editor Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Don Wiegmann Music Carter Burwell Cast John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh, Samm-Art Williams, Deborah Neumann, Raquel Gavia, Van Brooks, Senor Marco, William Creamer.
"The genius of Blood Simple is that everything that happens seems necessary. The movie's a blood-soaked nightmare in which greed and lust trap the characters in escalating horror. The plot twists in upon itself. Characters are found in situations of diabolical complexity. And yet it doesn't feel like the film is just piling it on. Step by inexorable step, logically, one damned thing leads to another... It is one of the best of the modern films noir, a grimy story of sleazy people trapped in a net of betrayal and double-cross. When it uses cliches like the Corpse That Will Not Die, they raise it to a whole new level of usefulness. The Coens are usually original, but when they borrow a movie convention, they rotate it so that the light shines through in an unexpected way." - Roger Ebert (Roger Ebert.com)
The Blue Dahlia
The Blue Dahlia Available on Blu-ray 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1946, USA, 99m, BW, Mystery-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Raymond Chandler Producer John Houseman Photography Lionel Lindon Editor Arthur Schmidt Music Victor Young Cast Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Howard da Silva, Doris Dowling, Hugh Beaumont, Tom Powers, Howard Freeman, Don Costello, Will Wright.
"Ladd's returning war veteran stalks stoically down those mean streets once more in search of the killer of his wife (Dowling), a faithless floozie undeserving of his concern. Raymond Chandler's script never quite recovers from the Navy Department's objection to having Ladd's war-wounded buddy Bendix, wandering around with a steel plate in his head and intermittent amnesia, turn out to have done the killing (out of outraged loyalty to his friend, then blanking it out in his memory). The plot rewrite involves one or two arbitrary connections and a much less satisfactory conclusion. A fine hardboiled thriller for all that, with excellent dialogue and performances, and much more apt direction from Marshall than one might expect." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
The Blue Gardenia
The Blue Gardenia 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1953, USA, 90m, BW, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Charles Hoffman (based on the short story Gardenia by Vera Caspary) Producer Alex Gottlieb Photography Nicholas Musuraca Editor Edward Mann Music Raoul Kraushaar Cast Anne Baxter, Richard Conte, Ann Sothern, Raymond Burr, Jeff Donnell, Richard Erdman, George Reeves, Ruth Storey, Ray Walker, Nat King Cole.
"Relatively minor but still gripping film noir, in which Baxter, jilted by her soldier fiancé, goes on a blind date with Burr, gets drunk... and awakes to discover that the pushy playboy has been murdered, quite possibly by herself. The story, which continues with news-reporter Conte's attempts first to get the killer to come forward and then to clear Baxter's name, is not altogether original, but Lang, his cast, and cameraman Nic Musuraca manage to inject the proceedings with a grimly compelling atmosphere. And the title? It's the name of the nightclub where Baxter's fateful encounter with Burr occurs, and where Nat King Cole contributes a welcome musical cameo." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
Blue Velvet
Blue Velvet Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1986, USA, 120m, Col, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay David Lynch Producer Richard Roth Photography Frederick Elmes Editor Duwayne Dunham Music Angelo Badalamenti Cast Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Hope Lange, Dean Stockwell, George Dickerson, Priscilla Pointer, Frances Bay, Jack Harvey.
"Jeffrey (MacLachlan) is the contemporary knight in slightly tarnished armour, a shy and adolescent inhabitant of Lumberton, USA. After discovering a severed ear in an overgrown backlot, he embarks upon an investigation that leads him into a hellish netherworld... Grafting on to this story his own idiosyncratic preoccupations, Lynch creates a visually stunning, convincingly coherent portrait of a nightmarish substratum to conventional, respectable society. The seamless blending of beauty and horror is remarkable - although many will be profoundly disturbed by Lynch's vision of male-female relationships, centred as it is on Dorothy's (Rossellini) psychopathic hunger for violence - the terror very real, and the sheer wealth of imagination virtually unequalled in recent cinema." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
Bluebeard
Bluebeard
1944, USA, 73m, BW, Thriller-Crime
Screenplay Pierre Gendron Producer Leon Fromkess Photography Arthur Feindel Editor Carl Pierson Music Leo Erdody Cast John Carradine, Jean Parker, Nils Asther, Ludwig Stossel, George Pembroke, Teala Loring, Sonia Sorel, Iris Adrian, Henry Kolker, Emmett Lynn.
"It's incorrect and too easy, given what he had to work with, to overstate Ulmer's skill: He doesn't always spin gold out of straw, but he rarely winds up with mere straw. Bluebeard, in which Ulmer transforms his protagonist from a creature of folklore into a Jack The Ripper-like serial killer in 19th-century Paris, has the odd habit of vacillating between a police procedural and a horror film in the Universal mold. But to compensate for its unevenness, Ulmer offers a pervasive stylishness, particularly in the form of creepy lighting, and several unforgettable moments, such as a puppet production of Faust. It may not be enough to elevate Bluebeard to the status of a classic, but it's more than enough to make it worth watching.” - Keith Phipps (A.V. Club)
A Blueprint for Murder
A Blueprint for Murder
1953, USA, 77m, BW, Thriller-Mystery-Drama
Screenplay Andrew L. Stone Producer Michael Abel Photography Leo Tover Editor William B. Murphy Music Lionel Newman Cast Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, Gary Merrill, Catherine McLeod, Jack Kruschen, Barney Phillips, Freddy Ridgeway, Joyce McCluskey, Mae Marsh, Harry Carter.
"A Blueprint for Murder is a moderately entertaining crime thriller… Despite trying to sow some seeds of doubt along the way, the identity of the killer is established early on, which means that clever plotting and neat tricks are needed to add suspense and keep the story moving. Blueprint falls short in this area, both in the writing and in the directing… Andrew L. Stone's direction is also a bit too by-the-book. A bit more imagination would have brought a higher level of excitement to the film. However, Blueprint does benefit from a fine cast." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
Blues in the Night
Blues in the Night Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
MUSICAL NOIR
1941, USA, 88m, BW, Crime-Drama-Musical
Screenplay Robert Rossen, Elia Kazan [uncredited] (based on the unproduced play Hot Nocturne by Edwin Gilbert) Producer Henry Blanke Photography Ernest Haller Editor Owen Marks Music Heinz Roemheld Cast Priscilla Lane, Richard Whorf, Betty Field, Lloyd Nolan, Jack Carson, Wallace Ford, Elia Kazan, Peter Whitney, Billy Halop, Jimmy Lunceford.
"The movie tends to be listed as a musical, which was also how it was treated (none too favorably) on its release. And, in a sense, it is a musical, in that we see lots of musical performances, but it’s a film noir more than in it’s anything else, and a fully formed one at that. We have criminals, a sap or two, a memorable femme fatale, amnesia, hallucinatory sequences, violent deaths… and, although our heroes do find a happy ending of sorts, in the eyes of the world they’d be seen as losers, as consignees to the abyss of nonentity." - John Grant (Noirish)
Bob le flambeur
Bob le flambeur Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Bob the Gambler (English title)
FRENCH NOIR
1955, France, 102m, BW, Crime-Caper-Gangster Film
Screenplay Auguste Le Breton, Jean-Pierre Melville Producer Jean-Pierre Melville Photography Maurice Blettery, Henri Decaë Editor Monique Bonnot Music Eddie Barclay, Jo Boyer Cast Roger Duchesne, Isabel Corey, Daniel Cauchy, Guy Decomble, André Garet, Claude Cerval, Simone Paris, Howard Vernon, Gérard Buhr, Colette Fleury.
"The French have made some first-class crime pictures, which Americans have been given too few opportunities to see. Luckily, we have Bob le Flambeur, one of the greatest caper movies in any language. Non-Francophones might not understand its crackling and untranslatable slang dialogue by Auguste le Breton, who also wrote the incomparable Rififi, but they will feel its rhythm, which is sufficient. And the picture was directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, who might as well have invented the French crime movie... Bob le Flambeur may be the most elegantly rigorous movie ever made about a cockeyed heist. It is also one of the most elegiac, with a twilight mood about it... There is not a breath of falsehood about Bob le Flambeur. Its tenderness is every bit as strong as its dramatic irony, and its romance can outshoot any lesser picture’s cynicism." - Luc Sante (The Criterion Collection)
Body and Soul
Body and Soul 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 104m, BW, Sports-Drama
Screenplay Abraham Polonsky Producer Bob Roberts Photography James Wong Howe Editor Robert Parrish Music Hugo Friedhofer Cast John Garfield, Lilli Palmer, Hazel Brooks, Anne Revere, William Conrad, Joseph Pevney, Canada Lee, Lloyd Gough, Art Smith, James Burke.
"There’s a claustrophobic concentration of mood and dialogue, of characters and performances, that makes Body and Soul not only the bleakest — and, perversely, the most exhilarating — of postwar fight movies but also one of the best and blackest examples of film noir. The climactic bout, which cinematographer James Wong Howe shot by circling the boxers on roller skates, is so exciting and involving that it explains our hero’s fascination with “the game” and nearly makes us regret that he has to give it up. After the fight, Charlie tells the crime boss who has Svengalied his career that “everybody dies” — a declaration of independence for a tough guy who had to put his body on the line before he could pick up the chips of his soul." - Richard Corliss (TIME)
Body Heat
Body Heat Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1981, USA, 113m, Col, Erotic Thriller-Crime
Screenplay Lawrence Kasdan Producer Fred T. Gallo Photography Richard H. Kline Editor Carol Littleton Music John Barry Cast William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, J.A. Preston, Mickey Rourke, Kim Zimmer, Jane Hallaren, Lanna Saunders, Michael Ryan.
"Kasdan's scripts for Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back paid reverent homage to adventure and science-fiction serials, respectively. More importantly, Kasdan helped resurrect the shadowy world of film noir, and he set off a neo-noir boom with his justly acclaimed directorial debut, 1981's Body Heat. Set during a Florida heat wave so viscerally conveyed that the film stock itself seems to be perspiring, Kasdan's loose Double Indemnity redux casts William Hurt as a low-rent lawyer unencumbered by excesses of intelligence or integrity. When Hurt meets unhappily married sexpot Kathleen Turner, his already shaky sense of morality takes a dive... Kasdan's moody tribute to cinema's dark past set a gold standard for neo-noirs that has seldom been equaled." - Nathan Rabin (A.V. Club)
Bodyguard
Bodyguard
1948, USA, 62m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Fred Niblo Jr., Harry Essex (from a story by Geo. W. George and Robert Altman) Producer Sid Rogell Photography Robert De Grasse Editor Elmo Williams Music Paul Sawtell Cast Lawrence Tierney, Priscilla Lane, Phillip Reed, June Clayworth, Elisabeth Risdon, Steve Brodie, Frank Fenton, Charles Cane, Erville Alderson, Bobby Barber.
"Lawrence Tierney (whose brother was the equally tough actor Scott Brady) pushes his way through Richard Fleischer’s Bodyguard with the same brutal assurance he brought to such films as Max Nosseck’s Dillinger (1945)… Tierney is one of the cinema’s unique characters, indelibly identified with violent roles, and in real life, just as much of a loose cannon as he was on the screen. Bodyguard is a distinctly down-market affair, with a running time of a mere 62 minutes, and was produced by RKO’s B unit, but it still packs a punch; in many ways, the noirs that Fleischer directed for RKO in the first days of his career, such as Follow Me Quietly (1949), Armored Car Robbery (1950), and The Narrow Margin (1952) are his best work.” - Wheeler Winston Dixon (Film Noir of the Week)
Boomerang
Boomerang! Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 88m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Richard Murphy (based on an article by Anthony Abbot) Producer Louis de Rochemont Photography Norbert Brodine Editor Harmon Jones Music David Buttolph Cast Dana Andrews, Jane Wyatt, Lee J. Cobb, Arthur Kennedy, Sam Levene, Ed Begley, Karl Malden, Cara Williams, Taylor Holmes, Robert Keith.
"Kazan's third film, a semi-documentary thriller loaded with social conscience (it was produced by Louis de Rochemont, the man behind The March of Time). Shot on location in a small New England town, it follows State Attorney Andrews' attempts to prove that a tramp (Kennedy) accused of murdering an elderly priest may, despite the town's prejudices, be innocent. The unemphatic presentation of details, the use of locations, and strong performances from a largely non-professional supporting cast, lend the film authenticity and power." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
Border Incident
Border Incident 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir)
1949, USA, 92m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay John C. Higgins (based on a story by John C. Higgins and George Zuckerman) Producer Nicholas Nayfack Photography John Alton Editor Conrad A. Nervig Music Andre Previn Cast Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, Howard da Silva, James Mitchell, Arnold Moss, Alfonso Bedoya, Teresa Celli, Charles McGraw, Jose Torvay, John Ridgely.
"A dark, gripping film noir about illegal immigration on the Mexican border, the picture doesn't overly concern itself with politics. Instead, it depicts the plight of the immigrants, the ruthless cruelty of the smugglers, and the crime genre dramatics of the agents assigned to infiltrate the smuggling ring and bring it down. Gorgeously shot by the great cinematographer John Alton - who worked with Mann many times - Border Incident is also a fine example of a film which makes its cheap budget an advantage, using shadows and lighting effects to involve an audience." - Jeremy Arnold (Turner Classic Movies)
Born to Be Bad
Born to Be Bad Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 94m, BW, Melodrama
Screenplay Charles Schnee, Edith Sommer (based on the novel All Kneeling by Anne Parrish) Producer Robert Sparks Photography Nicholas Musuraca Editor Frederic Knudtson Music Frederick Hollander Cast Joan Fontaine, Robert Ryan, Zachary Scott, Joan Leslie, Mel Ferrer, Harold Vermilyea, Virginia Farmer, Kathleen Howard, Dick Ryan, Bess Flowers.
"It doesn't have any reputation, probably because Nicholas Ray isn't known for his women's pictures, but this is a lively, vicious, and daring film—perhaps the most stylistically audacious of Ray's films before his delirious Johnny Guitar. Joan Fontaine is the apparently innocent girl who marries millionaire Zachary Scott while continuing her passionate affair with novelist Robert Ryan (excellent as always under Ray's direction). Meanwhile, waspish Mel Ferrer hovers around the action, threatening to expose Joan's true character. Ray insistently cuts on movement, giving the whole film an effective instability; every sequence seems volatile, every exchange of looks a threat." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
Born to Kill
Born to Kill 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 92m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Eve Greene, Richard Macaulay (based on the novel Deadlier Than the Male by James Gunn) Producer Herman Schlom Photography Robert De Grasse Editor Les Millbrook Music Paul Sawtell Cast Claire Trevor, Lawrence Tierney, Walter Slezak, Phillip Terry, Audrey Long, Elisha Cook Jr., Isabel Jewell, Esther Howard, Kathryn Card, Tony Barrett.
"The usually meek Robert Wise trades his chameleonic tastefulness for full-on, jazzy misanthropy in this nasty melodrama. The main vipers on display are Lawrence Tierney's blithely murdering thug and Claire Trevor's randy socialite, braided together by each other's lowdown wiles. The action shoots from seedy Reno to moneyed San Francisco, where Tierney marries Trevor's newspaper heiress sister as a way to stay within screwing distance of his perverse "soul mate," whose lust scarcely diminishes upon discovery of his throttling, stabbing past. Wise swims in the genre's amorality, scoring a kitchen brawl to big-band radio tunes, terrorizing a soused matron at a nocturnal beach skirmish, and leaving the last word to Walter Slezak's jovially corrupt detective." - Fernando F. Croce (Slant Magazine)
Bound
Bound Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
1996, USA, 108m, Col, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski Producer Andrew Lazar, Stuart Boros Photography Bill Pope Editor Zach Staenberg Music Don Davis Cast Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan, Christopher Meloni, Richard Sarafian, Barry Kivel, Mary Mara, Peter Spellos, Susie Bright.
"Bound is one of those movies that works you up, wrings you out and leaves you gasping. It's pure cinema, spread over several genres. It's a caper movie, a gangster movie, a sex movie and a slapstick comedy. It's not often you think of The Last Seduction and the Marx Brothers during the same film, but I did during this one--and I also thought about Blood Simple and Woody Allen. It's amazing to discover all this virtuosity and confidence in two first-time filmmakers, Larry and Andy Wachowski, self-described college dropouts, still in their 20s, from Chicago… Bound is shocking and violent, and will offend some audiences. It's that kind of movie. But it's skillful filmmaking, setting a puzzle that involves time, space, money and danger, and seeing how many different ways it can be solved." - Roger Ebert (Roger Ebert.com)
Brainstorm
Brainstorm
LATE NOIR (1960s)
1965, USA, 114m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Drama
Screenplay Mann Rubin (based on a story by Lawrence B. Marcus) Producer William Conrad Photography Sam Leavitt Editor William Ziegler Music George Duning Cast Jeffrey Hunter, Anne Francis, Dana Andrews, Viveca Lindfors, Stacy Harris, Kathie Browne, Phillip Pine, Michael Pate, Robert McQueeney, Strother Martin.
"A Double Indemnity for the psyche-scarred Sixties - Brainstorm works from, modifies, and darkens that film's murderous-love-triangle template - while never sacrificing it's essence. Stripped of Indemnity's sultriness and first-person narrative technique (our protagonist remains elusive throughout - whether from Hunter's interesting, guarded performance, or his slim-to-none character development, or both) the film nevertheless succeeds at updating one of noir's most identifiable themes; boy meets girl - boy falls for girl - boy and girl plot to kill girl's husband. Thankfully though, director William Conrad eschews pastiche, and keeps his film fresh, linear, and free of needless frills." - Dave (Film Noir of the Week)
Branded to Kill
Branded to Kill Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Koroshi no rakuin (original title)
LATE NOIR (1960s) / JAPANESE NOIR
1967, Japan, 91m, BW, Crime-Action-Gangster Film
Screenplay Hachiro Guryu Producer Kaneo Iwai Photography Kazue Nagatsuka Editor Akira Suzuki Music Naozumi Yamamoto Cast Jo Shishido, Koji Nanbara, Isao Tamagawa, Anne Mari, Mariko Ogawa, Hiroshi Minami, Hiroshi Cho, Atsushi Yamatoya, Takashi Nomura, Tokuhei Miyahara, Akira Takahashi.
"Branded To Kill remains a mesmerising experience. It’s an exploitation art movie comedy rooted in B-movie conventions as dependable and crowd-pleasing as completely gratuitous nudity, endless gunplay, cool cars, suave outfits and tons of bloodshed. But it’s as as visceral, audacious and hysterical as Sam Fuller, as punchy and tightly paced as Don Siegel, as archly, ridiculously satiric as Russ Meyer and as moody and fatalistic as Jean-Pierre Melville. It’s as if the plot of a hitman movie was storyboarded on a gigantic mirror that was then shattered on the ground. Branded To Kill comes at you fractured, in flying shards of shorthand noir narrative, bravura action set-pieces and self-conscious genre cliches." - John Patterson (The Guardian)
The Brasher Doubloon
The Brasher Doubloon
1947, USA, 72m, BW, Mystery-Thriller
Screenplay Dorothy Bennett (adapted by Dorothy Bennett and Leonard Praskins from the novel The High Window by Raymond Chandler) Producer Robert Bassler Photography Lloyd Ahern Editor Harry Reynolds Music David Buttolph Cast George Montgomery, Nancy Guild, Conrad Janis, Roy Roberts, Fritz Kortner, Florence Bates, Marvin Miller, Robert Adler, Jack Conrad, Al Eben.
"Usually shrugged aside as a negligible Chandler adaptation, but Brahm has other fish to fry. The tone is set by the opening shot of an old dark house as Philip Marlowe's offscreen voice complains about the wind blowing eternally off the Mojave. That wind continues throughout, stirring the mood of malaise as swaying branches set shadows flickering in dim-lit rooms where the heroine is being slowly driven mad... The middle stretches, with Kortner outstanding in the Lorre role, produce as vivid a set of grotesques as The Maltese Falcon. But what keeps the last third afloat owes less to Chandler or Hammett than to the sense of brooding Gothic melodrama in which Brahm specialised. Forget Philip Marlowe, enjoy a fine companion piece to The Lodger, Guest in the House, Hanover Square and The Locket." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
The Breaking Point
The Breaking Point Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 97m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Ranald MacDougall (based on the novel To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway) Producer Jerry Wald Photography Ted McCord Editor Alan Crosland Jr. Music Ray Heindorf Cast John Garfield, Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter, Juano Hernandez, Wallace Ford, Edmon Ryan, Ralph Dumke, Guy Thomajan, William Campbell, Sherry Jackson.
"Hawks messed around with Hemingway and made To Have and Have Not (1944); six years later Curtiz played it straighter and wound up with this thoroughly competent smuggling drama, which, without Bogey and Bacall on board, has faded into the celluloid woodwork. Garfield works hard though as the Southern California boat-owner who puts himself in danger when he agrees to take on illegal cargo to pay his debts, and even if you know and love the Hawks' movie there's still much to intrigue here. (Don Siegel directed a third version, The Gun Runners, with Audie Murphy in 1958)." - Trevor Johnston (Time Out)
Breathless
Breathless Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
À bout de souffle (original title)
LATE NOIR (1960s) / FRENCH NOIR
1960, France, 89m, BW, Romance-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Jean-Luc Godard (based on a story by François Truffaut) Producer Georges de Beauregard Photography Raoul Coutard Editor Cécile Decugis Music Martial Solal Cast Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Jean-Pierre Melville, Van Doude, Liliane Robin, Henri-Jacques Huet, Claude Mansard, Michel Fabre, Jean-Luc Godard.
"Modern movies begin here, with Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless in 1960. No debut film since Citizen Kane in 1942 has been as influential. It is dutifully repeated that Godard's technique of "jump cuts" is the great breakthrough, but startling as they were, they were actually an afterthought, and what is most revolutionary about the movie is its headlong pacing, its cool detachment, its dismissal of authority, and the way its narcissistic young heroes are obsessed with themselves and oblivious to the larger society." - Roger Ebert (Roger Ebert.com)
The Bribe
The Bribe
1949, USA, 98m, BW, Thriller-Mystery-Crime
Screenplay Marguerite Roberts (based on the short story by Frederick Nebel) Producer Pandro S. Berman Photography Joseph Ruttenberg Editor Gene Ruggiero Music Miklos Rozsa Cast Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price, John Hodiak, Samuel S. Hinds, John Hoyt, Tito Renaldo, Martin Garralaga, Fernando Alvarado.
"While not a great crime thriller, The Bribe is a very good one and one worth seeking out. The basic elements of Bribe have been seen before, but that's to be expected. Most of the fun in these kinds of films are in the details, the variations on the basic elements, and Bribe does a more than decent job here. True, it does fall down in the "MacGuffin" aspect; the reason that Robert Taylor is sent into this mess in the first place doesn't ring true. But that aside, Bribe takes its familiar playing pieces and arranges them in a pattern that is fairly entertaining... Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner -- both in fine form physically -- do very well with their parts, but it is Charles Laughton and Vincent Price that walk off with the film." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
Brick
Brick Available on Blu-ray
NEO-NOIR / COLOUR NOIR
2005, USA, 110m, Col, Crime-Mystery-Drama
Screenplay Rian Johnson Producers Mark G. Mathis, Ram Bergman Photography Steve Yedlin Editor Rian Johnson Music Nathan Johnson Cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Noah Fleiss, Matt O'Leary, Noah Segan, Meagan Good, Emilie de Ravin, Brian J. White, Richard Roundtree, Lukas Haas.
"Students in a contemporary California high school t talking and butting heads like characters out of the 1940s crime fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. It's a stunt, but a good one, so it should be duck soup for you yeggs. Debuting director and screenwriter Rian Johnson stakes his claim to a potent future in film based on the passion and craft he pours into Brick. A spoof would have been easy. Instead, Johnson plunges off the deep end, risking ridicule by shaping this spellbinder with grit and gravitas. There are times when Johnson loses his balance and his pitch, but in cookie-cutter Hollywood you have to admire a young filmmaker with moxie… Cinematographer Steve Yedlin gives the film a seductive gleam of danger — just the thing to draw us into Johnson's tantalizing web.” - Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
Brighton Rock
Brighton Rock Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Young Scarface (USA title)
BRIT-NOIR
1947, UK, 86m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Graham Greene, Terence Rattigan (from the novel by Graham Greene) Producer Roy Boulting Photography Harry Waxman Editor Peter Graham Scott Music Hans May Cast Richard Attenborough, Carol Marsh, Hermione Baddeley, William Hartnell, Harcourt Williams, Alan Wheatley, Nigel Stock, Wylie Watson, George Carney, Charles Goldner.
"If nothing else, 1947's Brighton Rock marked the first time Graham Greene was pleased by an on-screen rendition of his work—but it's much more than a Third Man dry run. A seedy noir, equal parts concealed-camera atmosphere and tense set pieces, director John Boulting's adaptation primarily concerns itself with the last days and maneuverings of young psychopath Pinkie Brown (Richard Attenborough, before the suffocating kindliness and prestige projects)... More Dickensian than usual for Greene, there's colorful, larger-than-life supporting players aplenty, and the location shooting is even stronger than in Rialto Pictures' last British exhumation, It Always Rains on Sunday." - Vadim Rizov (The Village Voice)
The Brothers Rico
The Brothers Rico Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1957, USA, 92m, BW, Crime-Drama-Gangster Film
Screenplay Ben Perry, Lewis Meltzer (based on the novelette Les Freres Rico by Georges Simenon) Producers Lewis J. Rachmil, William Goetz Photography Burnett Guffey Editor Charles Nelson Music George Duning Cast Richard Conte, Dianne Foster, Kathryn Grant, Larry Gates, James Darren, Argentina Brunetti, Lamont Johnson, Harry Bellaver, Paul Picerni, Paul Dubov.
"After a series of classic films noir, the great "B" movie filmmaker Phil Karlson (Kansas City Confidential, 99 River Street) returned with the terrific gangster picture The Brothers Rico. Richard Conte stars as the oldest Rico brother, Eddie. He runs a legitimate cleaning business, hopes to adopt a baby with his wife, and believes that his ties to the mob are a thing of the past... Based on a story by Georges Simenon (Monsieur Hire), it's a fairly complex setup, to be sure, but Karlson lays it all out very clearly, so that even the absent characters have a kind of presence. Conte must carry most of the burden himself; the script requires him to be a little bit clueless, and he can't quite pull this off. But otherwise, this is an excellent crime picture." - Jeffrey M. Anderson (Combustible Celluloid)
Brute Force
Brute Force 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 98m, BW, Prison-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Richard Brooks (based on a story by Robert Patterson) Producer Mark Hellinger Photography William Daniels Editor Edward Curtiss Music Miklos Rozsa Cast Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford, Yvonne De Carlo, Ann Blyth, Sam Levene, John Hoyt, Whit Bissell, Art Smith, Howard Duff.
"Despite a loss of temperature through the flashbacks which let in some female interest, this is one of Dassin's best films. Less coherent than Siegel's Riot in Cell Block 11 in its challenge to prison conditions, it draws on WWII experience to draw a powerful analogy between the prison (where Cronyn's sadistic chief guard beats up prisoners to the strains of Wagner) and a fascist state. With brutality breeding brutality in this world which the dialogue defines as an existentialist hell from which there is no escape, Brute Force was a notably violent film in its day. The scene in which an informer is herded by blow-torches to execution in a steam press still chills." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
A Bullet for Joey
A Bullet for Joey Available on Blu-ray
1955, USA, 85m, BW, Crime-Drama-Spy Film
Screenplay A.I. Bezzerides, Daniel Mainwaring (based on a story by James Benson Nablo) Producers David Diamond, Samuel Bischoff Photography Harry Neumann Editor Leon Barsha Music Harry Sukman Cast Edward G. Robinson, George Raft, Audrey Totter, George Dolenz, Peter Van Eyck, Toni Gerry, William Bryant, John Cliff, Steven Geray, Joseph Vitale.
"As a movie, A Bullet for Joey isn't much. But for film buffs, its genre fusing of film noir and ‘50s anticommunism themes with ‘30s Warner Bros. style gangster melodrama featuring "the screen's top ‘tough guys'" (so said the posters) makes for a fascinating if deeply disappointing mix… Despite the promise of the cast, key creative personnel, and the basic set-up, A Bullet for Joey's disparate elements never ever gel. Raft and his motley crew are real throwbacks to an earlier type of American cinema, though Robinson transitions well to the postwar (and Canadian) setting." - Stuart Galbraith IV (DVD Talk)
The Burglar
The Burglar Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1957, USA, 90m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Drama
Screenplay David Goodis (based on his novel) Producer Louis W. Kellman Photography Don Malkames Editor Paul Wendkos Music Sol Kaplan Cast Dan Duryea, Jayne Mansfield, Peter Capell, Martha Vickers, Mickey Shaughnessy, Wendell K. Phillips, Phoebe Mackay, Stewart Bradley, John Facenda, Sam Elber.
"Pulp existentialist David Goodis brings his own crime novel to the screen in classic hardboiled fashion. A botched jewel heist sparks sexual tension, incestuous childhood guilt, and treachery among thieves and crooked cops—and who can blame them, with voluptuous Jayne Mansfield at the center of it all? Eagerly making his feature debut, Wendkos employs various Wellesian devices including a newsreel prologue, a climax in a fun house on Atlantic City’s Steel Pier, and a profusion of sweaty, deep focus close-ups. The Burglar represents a transitional, self-reflexive noir made at the twilight of the studio system in the late 1950s." - The Museum of Modern Art
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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