1,000 Noir Films (C)

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Title / Director / Year / Country
Caged Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 96m, BW, Prison-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Bernard C. Schoenfeld, Virginia Kellogg Producer Jerry Wald Photography Carl Guthrie Editor Owen Marks Music Max Steiner Cast Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby, Hope Emerson, Betty Garde, Jan Sterling, Lee Patrick, Olive Deering, Jane Darwell, Gertrude Michael.
"The metamorphosis of Eleanor Parker from a tear-streaked pregnant teen, imprisoned as a robbery accomplice, into a steely eyed, con prostituting herself for parole, is compelling cinema that holds up magnificently after six decades. Caged remains a groundbreaking picture that seamlessly melded social commentary with high drama. Caged also initiated important censorship battles that would prove a harbinger of future changes in the Production Code Authority (PCA)... Caged was mostly forgotten until it resurfaced on television, where anew generation could enjoy its heartrending performances and memorably pithy dialogue." - Alan K. Rode (Film Noir of the Week)
1947, USA, 83m, BW, Action-Crime-Mystery
Screenplay Seton I. Miller Producer Seton I. Miller Photography John F. Seitz Editor Archie Marshek Music Victor Young Cast Alan Ladd, Gail Russell, William Bendix, June Duprez, Lowell Gilmore, Edith King, Paul Singh, Gavin Muir, John Whitney, Benson Fong.
"In the end Calcutta is little more than a routine potboiler. John Farrow’s direction and John Seitz’s cinematography are competent yet uninspired — disappointing considering that each made numerous quality film noirs, including two pretty good ones together: The Big Clock and Night Has a Thousand Eyes. Farrow’s pacing is a too deliberate and the middle of the picture drags. Seitz does a fine job of masking the back lot locations, though he isn’t able to reproduce any of the exhilaratingly noirish shots of The Big Clock. There are some good lines in Seton Miller’s script, though there aren’t nearly enough of them. The best one comes in Ladd and Russell’s first scene, when she tells him he’s “cold, sadistic, and egotistical.” His response, “Maybe, but I’m still alive." - Mark Fertig (Where Danger Lives)
Call Northside 777
Call Northside 777 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1948, USA, 111m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Jay Dratler, Jerry Cady (adapted by Leonard Hoffman and Quentin Reynolds based on Chicago Times articles by James P. McGuire) Producer Otto Lang Photography Joseph MacDonald Editor J. Watson Webb Music Alfred Newman Cast James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, Helen Walker, Betty Garde, Moroni Olsen, E.G. Marshall, Kasia Orzazewski, Joanna De Bergh, Howard Smith.
"In Call Northside 777, Jimmy Stewart plays a jaded reporter who doesn't expect to find much when he investigates a decade-old cop-killing, and certainly isn't prepared for the utter sincerity of the man in jail for the crime, or the stonewall job he gets from the authorities. The story unfolds in step-by-step procedural detail, pausing to note how a reporter requests an expense voucher from his editor, and how photographs get transmitted by wire. Outstanding location shooting and Stewart's driven performance turn a sober film into a vibrant, exciting one, even though the hero and the jailbird he champions are really too noble for noir." - Noel Murray (A.V. Club)
Canon City
Canon City
1948, USA, 82m, BW, Prison-Crime-Escape Film
Screenplay Crane Wilbur Producers Bryan Foy, Robert T. Kane Photography John Alton Editor Louis Sackin Cast Scott Brady, Jeff Corey, Whit Bissell, Stanley Clements, Charles Russell, DeForest Kelley, Ralph Byrd, Roy Best, Henry Brandon, Alfred Linder.
"Canon City, directed by Crane Wilbur, is based on an actual jailbreak that occurred at this maximum security compound in Colorado in 1947. Although the narrative focuses on an inmate named Sherbondy (Scott Brady) who is blackmailed by some fellow prisoners into escaping from the facility, the film seems closer to a documentary than a Hollywood prison flick. Part of this is due to the director's decision to cast non-professionals with real actors in the film (The "actor" identified as Roy Best is the same warden who was at the prison during the actual jailbreak in 1947!). Another reason the film has such an immediacy to it is due to the exceptional cinematography." - Rod Holliman (Turner Classic Movies)
Cape Fear
Cape Fear Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
LATE NOIR (1960s)
1962, USA, 105m, BW, Thriller-Crime
Screenplay James R. Webb (based on the novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald) Producer Sy Bartlett Photography Sam Leavitt Editor George Tomasini Music Bernard Herrmann Cast Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Lori Martin, Martin Balsam, Jack Kruschen, Telly Savalas, Barrie Chase, Paul Comi, Edward Platt.
"An irredeemable criminal exacts his revenge on the family of a lawyer who put him away. This supremely nasty thriller - originally severely cut by the British censor - boasts great credentials: a source in John D MacDonald's novel The Executioners, Mitchum as the sadistic villain (a bare-chested variant on his Night of the Hunter role), Peck as the epitome of threatened righteousness, seedy locations in the Southern bayous, and whooping music by Bernard Herrmann. If director Thompson isn't quite skilful enough to give the film its final touch of class (many of the shocks are just too planned), the relentlessness of the story and Mitchum's tangibly sordid presence guarantee the viewer's quivering attention." - David Thompson (Time Out)
Cape Fear (1991)
Cape Fear Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1991, USA, 128m, Col, Thriller-Crime
Screenplay Wesley Strick (based on the novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald) Producer Barbara De Fina Photography Freddie Francis Editor Thelma Schoonmaker Music Bernard Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein Cast Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Joe Don Baker, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Martin Balsam, Illeana Douglas, Fred Dalton Thompson.
"It's hard to understand why Martin Scorsese wanted to remake a nasty, formulaic 1962 thriller whose only "classic" credentials are a terrifying performance by Robert Mitchum and a Bernard Herrmann score. The score has been reorchestrated by Elmer Bernstein, and Mitchum is back briefly, in a cameo that carries enough reality and conviction to blow the other actors off the screen. But most of the rest of this 1991 tale—about a psychotic ex-con (Robert De Niro) who turns up in a North Carolina town to take revenge on the lawyer (Nick Nolte) partly responsible for his long sentence, focusing on his wife (Jessica Lange) and daughter (Juliette Lewis)—has been inadequately scripted by Wesley Strick, and even as a simple genre picture it works only in fits and starts." - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader)
The Captive City
The Captive City Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1952, USA, 90m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Alvin Josephy Jr., Karl Kamb (based on a story by Alvin Josephy Jr.) Producer Theron Warth Photography Lee Garmes Editor Robert Swink Music Jerome Moross Cast John Forsythe, Joan Camden, Harold J. Kennedy, Marjorie Crossland, Victor Sutherland, Ray Teal, Martin Milner, Geraldine Hall, Hal K. Dawson, Ian Wolfe.
"Robert Wise is another director who used the B-movie unit as a training ground and graduated to bigger things. His 1952 film The Captive City, made after his big-budget success The Day the Earth Stood Still, is... a tough yet austere little crime story carved out of a small budget. Inspired by the Kefauver hearings into organized crime and anticipating the “Confidential” exposé films of the fifties, it’s a low-key thriller of a small town newspaperman (John Forsythe) who discovers that organized crime has infiltrated and corrupted his picture-perfect little town. After turning down a blatant bribe to keep quiet, a campaign of intimidation from folks he once considered his friends in the community turns deadly and Wise matches the shift by casting darkness over what we’ve seen as a sunny little slice of American values." - Sean Axmaker (Parallax View)
The Capture
The Capture
1950, USA, 91m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Niven Busch Producer Niven Busch Photography Edward Cronjager Editor George Amy Music Daniele Amfitheatrof Cast Lew Ayres, Teresa Wright, Victor Jory, Jacqueline White, Jimmy Hunt, Barry Kelley, Duncan Renaldo, William Bakewell, Milton Parsons, Frank Matts.
"The Capture is a lean, crisply directed thriller that plays with interesting questions of morality, innocence and guilt. Playing at times like a Western, at other times like a mystery, and at others like a romance, The Capture perhaps tries a little too hard to be all three types and thus becomes slightly unfocused; but most viewers will be adequately rewarded by its assets and forgive it for being perhaps a little overly ambitious in trying to bridge these genres… Niven Busch's screenplay is well constructed, setting up its situations with a sure hand, utilizing the flashback structure most effectively… John Sturges' direction is spot-on, and there's fine cinematography from Edward Cronjager that adds to the atmosphere and tension. Thos seeking something a little off the beaten path should keep an eye out for The Capture." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
Casque d
Casque d'or Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Golden Marie (English title)
1952, France, 96m, BW, Romance-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Jacques Becker, Jacques Companeez Producers Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim Photography Robert Lefebvre Editor Marguerite Renoir Music Georges Van Parys Cast Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani, Claude Dauphin, Raymond Bussières, Gaston Modot, Paul Barge, Paul Azaïs, Loleh Bellon, Claude Castaing, Jean Clarieux.
"There is a deceptive simplicity to Becker's work which may explain why, alone among the major film-makers, he has never quite achieved due recognition. This elegant masterwork is a glowingly nostalgic evocation of the Paris of the Impressionists, focusing on the apache underworld and an ill-starred romance that ends on the scaffold, with an elusive density, a probing awareness of emotional complexities, which reminds one that Becker was once Renoir's assistant… Signoret, as voluptuously sensual as a Rubens painting, has never been more stunning than as the Golden Marie of the English title; and she is perfectly partnered by Reggiani… Along with Letter from an Unknown Woman, one of the great movie romances." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
Cast a Dark Shadow
Cast a Dark Shadow
1955, UK, 84m, BW, Psychological Thriller
Screenplay John Cresswell (based on the play Murder Mistaken by Janet Green) Producer Herbert Mason Photography Jack Asher Editor Gordon Pilkington Music Antony Hopkins Cast Dirk Bogarde, Margaret Lockwood, Kay Walsh, Kathleen Harrison, Robert Flemyng, Mona Washbourne, Philip Stainton, Walter Hudd, Lita Roza, Myrtle Reed.
"A dark and stormy Brit-noir from the late-classic period, Cast a Dark Shadow stars Dirk Bogarde, once referred to as the screen’s ‘quintessential gentleman’s pervert’… Bogarde plays the aptly-named Edward or 'Teddy' Bare, a handsome but louche charmer married to a wealthy widow, played by Mona Washbourne… Cast a Dark Shadow is a movie layered with sharply-observed characters, filmed by a director who, if nothing else, frequently brought insight in to the lives of ordinary people as lived under extraordinary circumstances… Cast a Dark Shadow remains a woefully underestimated film, receiving less attention and credit than it ought - despite a compelling story, a taut construction broken loose of all theatrical origins, and a mitt-full of memorable performances." - Gary Deane (Film Noir of the Week)
Cat People
Cat People Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1942, USA, 73m, BW, Supernatural Thriller-Horror-Mystery
Screenplay DeWitt Bodeen Producer Val Lewton Photography Nicholas Musuraca Editor Mark Robson Music Roy Webb Cast Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph, Jack Holt, Elizabeth Russell, Alan Napier, Elizabeth Dunne, Henrietta Burnside, Alec Craig.
"Like most people with a cat phobia, Val Lewton, the legendary producer of RKO's horror cycle, was fascinated by them. His first film, eerily directed by Jacques Tourneur, is dedicated to his fetish. Based on a wholly fabricated Serbian legend about medieval devil worship, Cat People describes the effects of this legend on the mind of a New York fashion designer (Simone Simon) who believes herself descended from a race of predatory cat women. More a film about unreasoning fear than the supernatural, this work demonstrates what a filmmaker can accomplish when he substitutes taste and intelligence for special effects." - Don Druker (Chicago Reader)
Caught Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1949, USA, 88m, BW, Psychological Drama
Screenplay Arthur Laurents (based on the novel Wild Calendar by Libbie Block) Producer Wolfgang Reinhardt Photography Lee Garmes Editor Robert Parrish Music Frederick Hollander Cast Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Ryan, James Mason, Curt Bois, Frank Ferguson, Natalie Schafer, Ruth Brady, Art Smith, Sonia Darrin, Bernadene Hayes.
"A key American melodrama: draw a line between Citizen Kane and Written on the Wind, and you'll find Ophuls' noir classic at the heady mid-point. A car-hop Cinderella (Bel Geddes) chases a fashion-plate, charm-school dream; a childishly megalomaniac millionaire (Ryan) marries her to spite his analyst. Ophuls holds back his camera to frame the sour domestic nightmare, but gloriously equates motion with emotion when Bel Geddes takes solace with James Mason's virtuous doctor. The alluring web of hearts and dollars has rarely looked so deadly, and only the studio spared us the sight of the kill." - Paul Taylor (Time Out)
Cause for Alarm!
Cause for Alarm!
1951, USA, 74m, BW, Thriller-Drama
Screenplay Mel Dinelli, Tom Lewis (based on a story by Larry Marcus) Producer Tom Lewis Photography Joseph Ruttenberg Editor James E. Newcom Music Andre Previn Cast Loretta Young, Barry Sullivan, Bruce Cowling, Margalo Gillmore, Brad Morrow, Irving Bacon, Georgia Backus, Don Haggerty, Art Baker, Richard Anderson.
"An effective but unexceptional little thriller, Cause for Alarm is notable for the star power of Loretta Young in this quickly-made (14 days) B-level film... Certainly, Alarm's plot is frequently contrived, but it also all fits together well; we may not really swallow some of it, but it makes a certain structural sense, and we're willing to let it slide... Tay Garnett's slick, smooth direction helps a great deal, as does Barry Sullivan's mentally ill husband. Bruce Cowling is unfortunately bland as the third point of the triangle, but Margalo Gillmore and Irving Bacon help to make up for this. And Joseph Ruttenberg's cinematography and Andre Previn's score are also huge pluses." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
Champion Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1949, USA, 99m, BW, Sports-Drama
Screenplay Carl Foreman (based on a short story by Ring Lardner) Producer Robert Stillman Photography Franz Planer Editor Harry Gerstad Music Dimitri Tiomkin Cast Kirk Douglas, Marilyn Maxwell, Arthur Kennedy, Ruth Roman, Lola Albright, Paul Stewart, Luis Van Rooten, John Day, Harry Shannon, Ralph Sanford.
"Mark Robson's Champion was one of three boxing movies that caught the public's interest in the late '40s. Nastier in tone than Body and Soul (1947) or The Set-Up (1949), Champion is perhaps the harshest example of the genre, a descent into a moral abyss in which its hero -- Kirk Douglas at his brashest and most intense -- leads the charge and never looks back at what he's given up... The movie raised some unpleasant truths about human nature, and Douglas was so compelling in a vile and irredeemable role that he almost single-handedly changed the rules for the roles that could be played by Hollywood leading men and in which the public would accept them." - Bruce Eder (Allmovie)
1971, USA, 85m, Col, Crime-Drama-Mystery
Screenplay John Sacret Young (from a story by Paul Magwood) Producer Michael Laughlin Photography Alan Stensvold Editors Richard A. Harris, William B. Gulick Music George Romanis Cast Warren Oates, Leslie Caron, Alex Dreier, Mitchell Ryan, Gordon Pinsent, Charles McGraw, Richard Loo, Gloria Grahame, Royal Dano, Walter Burke.
"Oates stars as Chandler (“as in Raymond,” his character later explains unnecessarily), a private eye reluctantly drawn back into gumshoeing after making a go of working as a security guard. Mysterious men hire him to tail Leslie Caron so they can… Well, it’s hard to say… It’s a confounding film that consists mostly of Oates traveling up and down the L.A.-to-Monterey circuit, protecting Caron from a series of armed men whose motives never become clear. The movie almost works as a plotless abstraction on film-noir themes, with Chandler looking like an old-school private dick in a 1970s world that’s passed him by. Oates is magnetic in his down-on-his-luck fashion, and Magwood reveals a neat eye for framing in a couple of scenes, particularly a sequence aboard a glass-roofed train. But near-incomprehensibility and the lack of energy do the film in." - Keith Phipps (A.V. Club)
Charley Varrick
Charley Varrick Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1973, USA, 111m, Col, Crime-Action Thriller
Screenplay Dean Riesner, Howard Rodman (based on the novel The Looters by John Reese) Producer Don Siegel Photography Michael Butler Editor Frank Morriss Music Lalo Schifrin Cast Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Felicia Farr, Andrew Robinson, John Vernon, Sheree North, Benson Fong, Norman Fell, Woodrow Parfrey, William Schallert.
"Charley Varrick stars Walter Matthau as a former trick pilot reduced to robbing banks with his wife and a hot-headed young punk played by Andrew Robinson, who two years earlier made an indelible impression as the psychotic heavy in Siegel's Dirty Harry… Matthau delivers his usual sterling performance as a savvy operator working doggedly to finagle his way out of a seemingly impossible situation, but the film's real revelation comes from Joe Don Baker, whose racist, sexist, ass-kicking brute of a henchman oozes malevolent magnetism. A low-key, tough little thriller punctuated by casual bursts of brutality and deadpan humor, Charley Varrick is informed by a quiet professionalism that suits a movie about feds and criminals doing their jobs, whether that means laundering money, making fake passports, or robbing banks." - Nathan Rabin (A.V. Club)
The Chase
The Chase
1946, USA, 86m, BW, Mystery-Thriller
Screenplay Philip Yordan (based on the novel The Black Path of Fear by Cornell Woolrich) Producer Seymour Nebenzal Photography Franz Planer Editor Edward Mann Music Michel Michelet Cast Robert Cummings, Michele Morgan, Steve Cochran, Peter Lorre, Lloyd Corrigan, Jack Holt, Don Wilson, Alexis Minotis, Nina Koshetz, James Westerfield.
"Oppressively nocturnal, arthouse slow, with ebullient players like Cochran and Lorre acting as if underwater - this movie, out of the noir cycle, is the one that most approximates the condition of a dream. At one point, it's revealed that the previous 20 minutes have been a dream, or nightmare, in the mind of the pill popping, shell shocked hero, if 'hero' is a proper description of Cummings' passive chauffeur, limply involved with a mobster's wife. The curious Ripley, a former gag-writer for Harry Langdon, only directed a handful of films, but this adaptation of Cornell Woolrich's The Black Path of Fear, with its Wellesian grotesqueries and its morbid, slightly absurd atmosphere, certainly confirms his oddball status." - Bob Baker (Time Out)
Chicago Confidential
Chicago Confidential
1957, USA, 75m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Bernard Gordon (from a story by Hugh King, based on the novel by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer) Producer Robert E. Kent Photography Kenneth Peach Editor Grant Whytock Music Emil Newman Cast Brian Keith, Beverly Garland, Dick Foran, Douglas Kennedy, Paul Langton, Elisha Cook Jr., Gavin Gordon, Beverly Tyler, Buddy Lewis, Anthony George.
"Framed by a docu-drama introduction with introductory comments on “organized crime in Chicago unions,” this “true story” (well, perhaps loosely inspired by one) stars Brian Keith as a (very young) State’s Attorney fighting to shut down the syndicate while it goes around murdering its way into the union leadership and framing the anti-mob leader for the crime. Director Sidney Salkow takes the script through its paces dutifully but unmemorably. It’s only significant claim to fame is Elisha Cook Jr. at his most pathetic and toadying as a down-and-out rummy used and discarded by the mob." - Sean Axmaker (Parallax View)
Chicago Deadline
Chicago Deadline
1949, USA, 86m, BW, Crime-Drama-Mystery
Screenplay Warren Duff (based on the novel One Woman by Tiffany Thayer) Producer Robert Fellows Photography John F. Seitz Editor LeRoy Stone Music Victor Young Cast Alan Ladd, Donna Reed, June Havoc, Irene Hervey, Arthur Kennedy, Berry Kroeger, Harold Vermilyea, Shepperd Strudwick, Dave Willock, Gavin Muir.
"Chicago Deadline is an enjoyable, if not classic, film noir, a nuts-and-bolts mystery thriller that is immensely entertaining for getting its job done in an efficient and engaging manner. Some will find this efficiency a bit mechanical, and they have a point. It's well constructed, but for some the pieces will just fit into place a bit too easily, and it's hard to argue with the fact that Deadline is rife with clichés. Still, the reconstruction method, the extensive use of flashbacks and the piecing together of the story do work, and that will be more than enough for some. It also helps that Alan Ladd is on hand to add a typically hard-boiled lead performance, and that Donna Reed adds her special presence to her victim role... Lewis Allen directs tightly." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
La Chienne
La Chienne Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
The Bitch (English title)
1931, France, 95m, BW, Psychological Drama
Screenplay Jean Renoir (based on the novel by Georges de la Fouchardière) Producers Pierre Braunberger, Roger Richebé Photography Theodor Sparkuhl Editor Denise Batcheff, Pál Fejös, Marguerite Renoir [uncredited] Cast Michel Simon, Janie Marese, Georges Flamant, Roger Gaillard, Romain Bouquet, Pierre Desty, Mlle Doryans, Lucien Mancini, Magdeleine Berubet, Jean Gehret.
"Maurice Legrand (Simon), a mild-mannered, middle-aged cashier, uses painting as a means of expression, of escape from his shrewish wife and the tedium of his job. After an accidental encounter with femme fatale Lulu (Marèze), he falls madly in love, setting her up in a flat which he fills with his paintings. Lulu, who loves only her pimp Dédé (Flamant), uses Legrand as a milch-cow, and when his money runs short, starts selling his paintings as her own… Renoir's first great talkie has been described as 'an insignificant little melodrama, given unexpected vigour and depth by a sense of momentary occasion in the filming'. That is, a glorious experiment in, and exploration of, the nature of cinema. Wonderfully moving, with great performances. Remade by Fritz Lang as Scarlet Street. " - Wally Hammond (Time Out)
China Moon
China Moon
1994, USA, 99m, Col, Thriller-Crime-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Roy Carlson Producer Barrie M. Osborne Photography Willy Kurant Editor Carol Littleton, Jill Savitt Music George Fenton Cast Ed Harris, Madeleine Stowe, Charles Dance, Benicio Del Toro, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Roger Aaron Brown, Patricia Healy, Tim Powell, Larry Shuler, Rob Edward Morris.
"Directed by cinematographer John Bailey, and produced by Kevin Costner's TIG company, this neo-noir thriller set in Florida is classier than most UK video premieres, but hardly anything to write home about. The set-up's familiar from Double Indemnity and a thousand-and-one other movies: the wife of an abusive millionaire seduces a cop (Harris), and the next thing he knows he's dumping Mr Money's bullet-ridden body in a remote, moonlit lake and watching his whole life go under. The denouement at least produces a novel twist, which it would be churlish to discuss, though that lake would probably be easier to swallow. It's diverting enough, however, with strong performances all round." - Tom Charity (Time Out)
Chinatown 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1974, USA, 131m, Col, Mystery-Crime-Detective Film
Screenplay Robert Towne Producer Robert Evans Photography John A. Alonzo Editor Sam O'Steen Music Jerry Goldsmith Cast Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman, Darrell Zwerling, Diane Ladd, Roman Polanski, Roy Jenson, Dick Bakalyan.
"Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough," says John Huston's crooked construction magnate Noah Cross in this remarkable neo-noir by Roman Polanski... What the passage of time has done for this superlative 1974 film is progressively lessen our sense of its being simply a modern pastiche of the classic 30s gumshoe thrillers. The time-gap has narrowed, and it now looks like a classic in a direct line of succession to those earlier pictures. Jack Nicholson has the Bogartian role of Jake Gittes, the LA private investigator who sticks his nose into a corrupt conspiracy in the state's Department of Water and Power... Unmissable." - Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)
Christmas Holiday
Christmas Holiday
1944, USA, 92m, BW, Mystery-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Herman J. Mankiewicz (based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham) Producer Felix Jackson Photography Elwood Bredell Editor Ted J. Kent Music Hans J. Salter Cast Deanna Durbin, Gene Kelly, Gale Sondergaard, Richard Whorf, Dean Harens, Gladys George, David Bruce, Richard Davies, John Hamilton, Louise Currie.
"A demented melodrama from 1944, starring the most unlikely film noir couple of all time, Gene Kelly and Deanna Durbin. Kelly is a murderous Creole; Durbin is a sweet young thing from Vermont who supports him through thick but mostly thin. This bizarre film was the product of a collaboration between Germanic stylist Robert Siodmak (Phantom Lady) and scenarist Herman J. Mankiewicz (Citizen Kane). Somewhere in the background lurks a Somerset Maugham story. Highly peculiar, and a must for anyone who has suffered through One Hundred Men and a Girl." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
Circumstantial Evidence
Circumstantial Evidence
1945, USA, 68m, BW, Crime-Drama-Mystery
Screenplay Robert F. Metzler, Samuel Ornitz (based on a story by Nat Ferber and Sam Duncan) Producer William Girard Photography Harry Jackson Editor Norman Colbert Music David Buttolph Cast Michael O'Shea, Lloyd Nolan, Trudy Marshall, Billy Cummings, Ruth Ford, Reed Hadley, Roy Roberts, Scotty Beckett, Byron Foulger, Dorothy Adams.
"Circumstantial Evidence is so expertly acted and directed that the audience is willing to forget its gaping logic holes. Pugnacious family man Joe Reynolds (Milo O'Shea), blowing his top as usual, threatens violence to an unlikeable storekeeper (Ben Welden). When the latter is killed, Joe is arrested for murder. Thanks to circumstantial evidence and faulty eyewitness accounts, Joe is sentenced to death in what seems to be a matter of days-and never mind that the defense attorney hasn't the presence of mind to enter medical testimony into the record." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1941, USA, 119m, BW, Drama-Mystery-Period Film
Screenplay Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles Producer Orson Welles Photography Gregg Toland Editor Robert Wise Music Bernard Herrmann Cast Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Everett Sloane, Dorothy Comingore, Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead, Paul Stewart, George Coulouris, Ruth Warrick, Erskine Sanford.
"Orson Welles's innovative Citizen Kane (1941) was a major influence on film noir. Its expressionist set design, Gregg Toland's deep focus photography, atmospheric lighting, and its creative use of wide-angle lenses and low-angle compositions, its use of mirrors, superimpositions, and distorted perspectives as well as its subjective narration and multiple flashbacks all prefigured noir techniques. Bernard Herrmann's unconventional score, which used unorthodox combinations of instruments, was the first of many he would contribute to film noir. As the most celebrated example of American expressionism, Citizen Kane acted as another bridge between European modernism and film noir." - Andrew Spicer (Historical Dictionary of Film Noir)
City Across the River
1949, USA, 91m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Dennis Cooper, Maxwell Shane (adapted by Irving Schulman from his novel The Amboy Dukes) Producer Maxwell Shane Photography Maury Gertsman Editor Ted J. Kent Music Walter Scharf Cast Peter Fernandez, Al Ramsen, Stephen McNally, Thelma Ritter, Luis Van Rooten, Jeff Corey, Robert Osterloh, Tony Curtis, Sharon McManus, Sue England.
"This slightly bowdlerized version of Irving Shulman's The Amboy Dukes was used by Universal-International to showcase several of its new male contractees. Set in the slums of Brooklyn, the film follows the exploits of the Amboy Dukes, a teenaged street gang. Foremost among the Dukes is Frank Cusack (Peter Fernandez), who loses all opportunity to escape his grim existence when he accidentally kills his high-school teacher. The film tries to demonstrate that the so-called "code of the streets"--never rat on a pal--is possibly more destructive than any brass knuckle or switchblade. Maxwell Shane and Dennis Cooper's screenplay resists any temptation to sentimentalize the kids or trivialize their plight." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
City of Fear
City of Fear
1959, USA, 81m, BW, Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Robert Dillon, Steven Ritch Producer Leon Chooluck Photography Lucien Ballard Editor Robert Lawrence Music Jerry Goldsmith Cast Vince Edwards, John Archer, Patricia Blair, Lyle Talbot, Steven Ritch, Kelly Thordsen, Joseph Mell, Sherwood Price, Kathie Browne, Larry J. Blake.
"Like the glowing atomic whatzit in Kiss Me Deadly four years earlier, the Thermos fulla trouble in director Irving Lerner's sweaty LA story can cause serious damage. At one point in City of Fear, a grim pollution control expert (Steven Ritch) calmly runs through the symptoms experienced by those who come into contact with Cobalt 60. "Hoarse coughing, heavy sweat ... horrible retching ... finally you hemorrhage internally ..." The list goes on. The air quality in postwar Los Angeles wasn't much better, of course, but director Lerner's pungent little wonder sets the Geiger counters ticking like mad, even on the comparatively clear days we see in Lerner's picture." - Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)
City Streets
City Streets
1931, USA, 82m, BW, Crime-Drama-Gangster Film
Screenplay Max Marcin, Oliver H.P. Garrett (based on a story by Dashiell Hammett) Producer E. Lloyd Sheldon Photography Lee Garmes Editor William Shea Music Sidney Cutner Cast Gary Cooper, Sylvia Sidney, Paul Lukas, William 'Stage' Boyd, Wynne Gibson, Guy Kibbee, Stanley Fields, Betty Sinclair, Robert Homans, Barbara Leonard.
"Strikingly stylised bootlegging yarn, more romance than gangster movie, said to have been an Al Capone favourite because the gang boss (Lukas), far from rampaging Cagney-style with machine-gun in the streets, is always careful to be seen to have clean hands: all deaths take place discreetly off-screen… Mamoulian sometimes over-stresses the visual and aural symbolism he experiments with in support of these ellipses, but creates a wonderfully evocative, low-key atmosphere not dissimilar to Sternberg's Underworld with terrific camerawork from Lee Garmes, and fine performances from Cooper and Sidney as the young lovers enmeshed in the rackets." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
City That Never Sleeps
City That Never Sleeps Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1953, USA, 90m, BW, Crime-Police Drama
Screenplay Steve Fisher Producer Herbert J. Yates Photography John L. Russell Editor Fred Allen Music R. Dale Butts Cast Gig Young, Mala Powers, Edward Arnold, William Talman, Chill Wills, Marie Windsor, Paula Raymond, James Andelin, Philip L. Boddy, Wally Cassell.
"City that Never Sleeps is a gimmicky but very entertaining thriller, a realistic semi-docu noir with amusing fantasy ambitions... Steve Fisher and John H. Auer present an interesting tangle of dangerous people on a night that will see all of them threatened and several shot dead. The nightclub with its cheap floorshow is nicely sketched, as is John Russell's night-for-night filming of downtown Chicago... Filmed just as classic noir was beginning to disappear, City that Never Sleeps has some awkward ideas and feels the need to reinforce the status quo, but it remains an audience pleaser." - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
Clash by Night
Clash by Night 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1952, USA, 105m, BW, Melodrama
Screenplay Alfred Hayes (with contributions by David Dortort based on the play by Clifford Odets) Producer Harriet Parsons Photography Nicholas Musuraca Editor George Amy Music Roy Webb Cast Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan, Marilyn Monroe, J. Carrol Naish, Keith Andes, Silvio Minciotti, Diane Stewart, Deborah Stewart, Julius Tannen.
"Clifford Odets' original play was a hoary item of Broadway neo-realism in the Arthur Miller vein: a 'mature' study of a cynical woman's adultery with an equally cynical man. Lang and his producer Jerry Wald transposed the setting from Staten Island to a small fishing village, and had the brilliant idea of grounding the characters in a documentary on the community industry, giving them a substance never intrinsic in the script. What follows is a very Langian picture of the dangerous undercurrents in emotional relationships, excellently acted by the three principals, interestingly counterpointed by Marilyn Monroe (in her first major role) and Keith Andes as uninhibited young lovers." - Tony Rayns (Time Out)
The Clay Pigeon
The Clay Pigeon
1949, USA, 63m, BW, Thriller-Drama
Screenplay Carl Foreman Producer Herman Schlom Photography Robert De Grasse Editor Samuel E. Beetley Music Paul Sawtell Cast Bill Williams, Barbara Hale, Richard Loo, Richard Quine, Frank Fenton, Frank Wilcox, Marya Marco, Robert Bray, Martha Hyer, Harold Landon.
"Richard Fleischer directed The Clay Pigeon for newly minted RKO chief Howard Hughes. Fleischer knew his business (three words: The Narrow Margin), so the direction is up to scratch. This moves quickly and with purpose, the pacing and staging are fine, the acting is competent, it has several stylish scenes (including a nice on location cat and mouse sequence through L.A.’s Chinatown) and more than enough tension in the final reel (especially impressive when the denouement is a no-brainer). The problems here have to do with the script, with the limitations of the running time, and most importantly, with the film’s failure to live up to the responsibility of its premise." - Mark Fertig (Where Danger Lives)
The Clouded Yellow
The Clouded Yellow
1950, UK, 85m, BW, Mystery-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Janet Green Producer Betty E. Box Photography Geoffrey Unsworth Editor Gordon Hales Music Benjamin Frankel Cast Trevor Howard, Jean Simmons, Kenneth More, Barry Jones, Sonia Dresdel, Andre Morell, Michael Brennan, Maxwell Reed, Gerard Heinz, Lily Kann.
"The film’s title refers to a particular type of butterfly, and as the plot develops, the title hints that not only butterflies are trapped and pinned by forces beyond their control… The film’s plot has its problems, but it’s the film’s psychological undercurrents that create a better-than-average viewing experience… The Clouded Yellow is based on a story by Janet Green who later wrote the screenplay for Victim (1961), a landmark film in the history of British cinema. Although The Clouded Yellow is not a prominent British film, the fact that it’s the first of thirty two films (including the immensely popular Doctor series) to result from the teaming of producer Betty Box and director Ralph Thomas makes it a signpost in British film history." - Guy Savage (Film Noir of the Week)
1949, USA, 75m, BW, Crime-Drama-Detective Film
Screenplay Berne Giler Producer Joseph Lerner Photography Gerard Hirschfeld Editor Geraldine Lerner Music Gail Kubik Cast Dean Jagger, John Carradine, Harry Landers, Lottie Elwen, Rene Paul, Walter Vaughn, Adelaide Klein, Edith Atwater, Walter Brooke, Jean Ellyn.
"In the tradition of such big-budget "docudramas" as House on 92nd Street and Call Northside 777, the modestly budgeted C-Man adopts a quasi-documentary approach to its subject matter. The "C" stands for Customs, and indeed the leading character, Cliff Holden (Dean Jagger), is a detective for the U.S. Customs Department. Against a backdrop of genuine New York locations (with a few rather obvious back-projected shots thrown in), Holden puts the heat on a homicidal jewelry smuggler. John Carradine steals the show as an alcoholic doctor, reduced to fronting for the smugglers. The rest of the cast is populated with such Broadway regulars as Edith Atwater and Walter Brooke. Though it obviously cost next to nothing to produce, C-Man is far more atmospheric and suspenseful than many a major-studio effort." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
2004, USA, 120m, Col, Thriller-Crime-Action
Screenplay Stuart Beattie Producers Julie Richardson, Michael Mann Photography Dion Beebe, Paul Cameron Editors Jim Miller, Paul Rubell Music James Newton Howard Cast Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill, Irma P. Hall, Barry Shabaka Henley, Richard T. Jones, Javier Bardem.
"No crime film in years boasts a cooler vibe than Michael Mann's dazzling Collateral, a head-spinning ride with the devil through a Los Angeles night that gleams with danger. Mann hits a new peak, orchestrating action, atmosphere and bruising humor with a poet's eye for urban darkness. Reporting for duty as a stone-cold contract killer is Tom Cruise, who gives a dynamite performance by undercutting his heroic image even more than he did in Interview With the Vampire and Magnolia. As Vincent, hired by a narco trafficking cartel to off five trial witnesses in the ten hours between dusk and dawn, Cruise freezes all warmth out of his killer smile." - Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
The Come On
The Come On
1956, USA, 83m, BW, Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Warren Douglas, Whitman Chambers Producer Lindsley Parsons Photography Ernest Haller Editor Maurice Wright Music Paul Dunlap Cast Anne Baxter, Sterling Hayden, John Hoyt, Jesse White, Paul Picerni, Wally Cassell, Alex Gerry, Tyler McVey, Theodore Newton, Lee Turnbull.
"The Come On is obviously a B movie, warts and all, but the performers and the filmmakers put forth an undeniably sincere effort. Its shoddy production values and pedestrian photography are made up for by its story — complicated but coherent — and even more by its cast. Career TV man John Hoyt practically steals the show as Baxter’s lowlife partner; while Jesse White — known to generations of Americans as the Maytag repairman — is a spectacularly oily private eye. Admittedly, no one could possibly argue that Hayden is at his best, but Baxter gives it everything she’s got." - Mark Fertig (Where Danger Lives)
1945, USA, 86m, BW, Mystery-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Arthur T. Horman, Dwight Taylor (based on an original story by Robert Siodmak and Alfred Neumann) Producer William Jacobs Photography Merritt Gerstad Editor David Weisbart Music Frederick Hollander Cast Humphrey Bogart, Alexis Smith, Sydney Greenstreet, Rose Hobart, Charles Drake, Grant Mitchell, Patrick O'Moore, Ann Shoemaker, Frank Wilcox, James Flavin.
"A 1945 programmer starring Humphrey Bogart as a wealthy executive in love with his passionless wife's younger sister. With no chance of divorce, he hatches a slick little murder plot, but noir conventions and Production Code strictures against unpunished crime work against him. The script is studded with charming bits of period pop psychology, but the story never takes Bogart to the depths of torment and guilt he reached in Nicholas Ray's In a Lonely Place. Director Curtis Bernhardt, a journeyman who churned out noirs and musicals with equal ease, leavens the efficient formula storytelling with a few inventive visuals." - Hank Sartin (Chicago Reader)
The Conversation
The Conversation Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1974, USA, 113m, Col, Drama-Crime-Paranoid Thriller
Screenplay Francis Ford Coppola Producer Francis Ford Coppola Photography Bill Butler Editor Walter Murch Music David Shire Cast Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Cindy Williams, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Teri Garr, Robert Duvall, Michael Higgins, Elizabeth MacRae, Harrison Ford.
"In an amazing creative outburst between 1970 and 1979, Francis Ford Coppola scripted Patton and The Great Gatsby, produced George Lucas's THX-1138 and American Graffiti, and directed the first two Godfather pictures and this masterly chamber film, which brought him his first Palme d'Or (then called the Grand Prix du Festival) at Cannes. The Conversation is an immaculate thriller, a study in paranoia and loneliness, long in gestation, partly inspired by Antonioni's Blow-Up, and released as the Watergate scandal was unfolding. It features one of Gene Hackman's greatest performances as Harry Caul, a San Francisco surveillance expert, a guilt-ridden, intensely private man devoted to anonymity and ethical neutrality. Harry's drawn into the devious lives of those he eavesdrops on and faces moral decisions about his work. " - Philip French (The Guardian)
1950, USA, 91m, BW, Drama-Crime-Prison Film
Screenplay Fred Niblo Jr., Seton I. Miller, William Bowers (based on the play Criminal Code by Martin Flavin) Producer Jerry Bresler Photography Burnett Guffey Editor Al Clark Music George Duning Cast Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford, Millard Mitchell, Dorothy Malone, Carl Benton Reid, Frank Faylen, Will Geer, Martha Stewart, Henry O'Neill, Douglas Kennedy.
"Henry Levin confidently directs this dated routine miscarriage of justice crime drama, a remake of Howard Hawks' 1931 The Criminal Code…. This rare prison picture to be interpreted as film noir, offers a dark and cynical mood piece about how the wheels of justice sometimes become unglued. Though its theme is far from original, its power lies in its conviction that there are innocent people who wind up in jail for various reasons. The protagonist's tale of woe punches holes in the infallibility of the American judicial system. Despite being over-plotted and contrived, it ably gets across its point that prison life is hardly human and a prison sentence is sometimes not the best answer for a felony conviction." - Dennis Schwartz (Movie Reviews)
The Cooler
The Cooler
2003, USA, 101m, Col, Crime-Romantic Drama
Screenplay Frank Hannah, Wayne Kramer Producers Michael Pierce, Sean Furst Photography James Whitaker Editor Arthur Coburn Music Mark Isham Cast William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, Maria Bello, Shawn Hatosy, Ron Livingston, Paul Sorvino, Estella Warren, Arthur J. Nascarella, M.C. Gainey, Ellen Greene.
"William H. Macy gives one of his best performances as Bernie Lootz, a Vegas gambler with a knack for losing. His casino-manager pal Shelly (Alec Baldwin) hires him as a cooler, a "piece of walking Kryptonite" who can jinx a high roller just by sitting next to him… Wayne Kramer, who co-wrote the scrappy script with Frank Hannah, makes a potent directing debut and strikes gold with the cast, including Paul Sorvino as a junkie lounge singer and Ron Livingston as the corporate voice of the new Las Vegas, a theme-park nightmare. Top of the line is Baldwin, whose revelatory portrayal of an old Vegas hard-liner in thrall to the town's faded allure is the stuff Oscars are made of. From James Whitaker's seductive camerawork to Mark Isham's lush score, The Cooler places all the smart bets and hits the jackpot." - Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
1988, USA, 110m, Col, Thriller-Crime-Police Detective Film
Screenplay James B. Harris (based on the novel Blood on the Moon by James Ellroy) Producer James B. Harris, James Woods Photography Steve Dubin Editor Anthony Spano Music Michel Colombier Cast James Woods, Lesley Ann Warren, Charles Durning, Charles Haid, Raymond J. Barry, Randi Brooks, Steven Lambert, Christopher Wynne, Jan McGill, Vicki Wauchope.
"If anyone was born to play a character from a James Ellroy novel, it’s James Woods. The author and actor both display, in their respective mediums, an insatiable taste for filthy, intelligent misanthropes who frequently confuse fascist neuroses for honor… Cop covers all of Ellroy’s usual fixations, as it’s another L.A.-set crime mystery about a philandering abuser who’s ironically sensitive to the plights of female victims, even though he frequently exploits them in his own way… James B. Harris, who produced Stanley Kubrick’s early films, complements Woods’s performance with a smooth, humming command of storytelling. The plot, as streamlined here, is ludicrous and typical of serial-killer fiction, but the imagery, the pace, and the unusual attention paid to less glamorous specificities of crime detection distinguish Cop as assuredly unnerving pulp." - Chuck Bowen (Slant Magazine)
Le Corbeau
Le Corbeau Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
The Raven (English title)
1943, France, 92m, BW, Mystery-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Henri-Georges Clouzot, Louis Chavance Producers Raoul Ploquin, Rene Montis Photography Nicholas Hayer Editor Marguerite Beaugé Music Tony Aubain Cast Pierre Fresnay, Pierre Larquey, Micheline Francey, Noel Roquevert, Ginette Leclerc, Louis Seigner, Sylvie, Roger Blin, Antoine Balpetre, Jean Brochard.
"In Nazi-occupied Paris, opening the door to the Gestapo offices reportedly became impossible because of the mountain of letters from Frenchmen denouncing each other. This clever, dyspeptic whodunnit from 1943 by Henri-Georges Clouzot brilliantly captures a spirit of paranoid pettiness and self-loathing. A French provincial town is plagued by poison-pen letters from Le Corbeau, or "The Raven". Who is the villain? And is there more than one, as the virus of evil replicates itself with copycat letters? A shrewd glimpse into the heart and mind of Vichy France, disclosing a kind of 20-century Salem." - Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)
Cornered Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1945, USA, 102m, BW, Thriller-Mystery
Screenplay John Paxton (based on a story by John Wexley) Producer Adrian Scott Photography Harry Wild Editor Joseph Noriega Music Roy Webb Cast Dick Powell, Walter Slezak, Micheline Cheirel, Nina Vale, Morris Carnovsky, Luther Adler, Edgar Barrier, Steven Geray, Jack LaRue, Gregory Gaye.
"Powell's second and definitive attempt to shed his crooner image, as an ex-PoW tracking down the collaborationist responsible for his young French wife's death, is even better than Murder, My Sweet. Dispensing with the expressionistic flurries, it concentrates on bleak ambiguity (abetted by a fine cast) as the hunt goes up in Buenos Aires for a villain whom no one - not even his own wife - has ever seen (a telling metaphor for the hidden face of Fascism). As one might expect of a film whose credits carry at least four blacklist victims (Dmytryk, producer Adrian Scott, actors Adler and Carnovsky), the hard-boiled dialogue is studded with political warnings and forebodings in a manner that now looms as pleasantly period, but is in any case effortlessly carried by Harry Wild's superb noir camerawork." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
Corridor of Mirrors
Corridor of Mirrors
1948, UK, 105m, BW, Romantic Drama-Mystery-Melodrama
Screenplay Edana Romney, Rudolph Cartier (based on the novel by Christopher Massie) Producer Rudolph Cartier Photography André Thomas Editor Douglas Myers Music Georges Auric Cast Eric Portman, Edana Romney, Barbara Mullen, Hugh Sinclair, Bruce Belfrage, Alan Wheatley, Joan Maude, Leslie Weston, Lois Maxwell, Christopher Lee.
"Corridor of Mirrors, Terence Young’s first feature, is a strange beast… Overheated, of course, with rickety plot turns, fashionable-for-1948 reams of psychoanalytic twaddle and a performance from Romney which see-saws (aptly) between simpering and smouldering, Corridor of Mirrors is a difficult film to evaluate. It embraces its ridiculousness completely and draws power from owning up to just how insane it is. It has smart talk, good supporting turns, a Xanadu-like bad taste antiques sanctum and the trappings of the Chamber of Horrors to recommend it." - Kim Newman (Sight & Sound)
Coup de torchon
Coup de torchon Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Clean Slate (English title)
1981, France, 128m, Col, Crime-Black Comedy-Drama
Screenplay Bertrand Tavernier, Jean Aurenche (based on the novel Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson) Producer Adolphe Viezzi Photography Pierre-William Glenn Editor Armand Psenny Music Bertrand Tavernier, Philippe Sarde Cast Philippe Noiret, Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Stephane Audran, Eddy Mitchell, Guy Marchand, Irene Skobline, Michel Beaune, Jean Champion, Victor Garrivier.
"Bertrand Tavernier's rowdy, broad, unsettling moral tale of a corrupt minor law-enforcement official in French colonial Africa who, tired of being pushed around by his wife, colleagues, friends, and the local pimps, decides to enforce more law than anybody wants. Like Jacques Becker in Goupi Mains Rouges, Tavernier follows screwball comedy out to its other side as madness: you're n ever sure whether what you're watching is high spirits or insanity, and the characters keep reversing themselves. Working with two veterans of the French “tradition of quality,” set designer Alexandre Trauner and coscenarist Jean Aurenche, Tavernier created one of the freshest French films in years—it has wit, dash, and fiber." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
Crack-Up Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1946, USA, 93m, BW, Mystery-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Ben Bengal, John Paxton, Ray Spencer (based on the short story Madman's Holiday by Fredric Brown) Producer Jack J. Gross Photography Robert De Grasse Editor Frederic Knudtson Music Leigh Harline Cast Pat O'Brien, Claire Trevor, Herbert Marshall, Ray Collins, Wallace Ford, Dean Harens, Erskine Sanford, Damian O'Flynn, Mary Ware, Harry Harvey.
"Alienation, amnesia, and corruption are all common ingredients of film noir, and Crack-Up is a trim, neglected example of the style... The plot finds an art expert (Pat O'Brien), who specializes in detecting forgeries, losing his job at an art museum after he mysteriously has a mental breakdown. He claims he was in a train wreck but the police can find no record of such an accident. So he teams up with his reporter girlfriend (Claire Trevor) to get at the bottom of the mystery and starts to unravel a deep trail of corruption and forgery in the art world.... Crack-Up was the only noir that Irving Reis directed, but it's perhaps his best film, if not his best known." - Jeremy Arnold (Turner Classic Movies)
1955, USA, 90m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Escape Film
Screenplay Hal E. Chester, Lewis R. Foster Producer Hal E. Chester Photography Russell Metty Editor Robert Swink Music Leith Stevens Cast William Bendix, Arthur Kennedy, Luther Adler, William Talman, Gene Evans, Marshall Thompson, Beverly Michaels, Gloria Talbott, Adam Williams, Percy Helton.
"Prison break movies during the classic film noir cycle tended to pessimism and summary justice, futile battles with rough terrain and bloodhounds, gunshot wounds, and road-blocks, with few if any of the escapees left standing… Crashout fits the bill with interesting twists. Directed with muscle by stringer Lewis R. Foster, who had a hand in the screenplay, and lensed by noir veteran Russell Metty, the scenario plays out in brutally violent chapters, as a man falls never to get up again, with only one left alive when the story ends during a blizzard atop a mountain. Featuring an ensemble cast of players who give strong performances, the picture has a resonance beyond what you would expect from a programmer. The script has a lot to offer with deep characterisations from solid actors including William Bendix, Arthur Kennedy, and William Talman." - Tony D'Ambra (FilmsNoir.net)
Crime Against Joe
Crime Against Joe
1956, USA, 70m, BW, Drama-Crime-Mystery
Screenplay Robert C. Dennis (based on a story by Decla Dunning) Producer Howard W. Koch Photography William Margulies Editor Mike Pozen Music Paul Dunlap Cast John Bromfield, Julie London, Henry Calvin, Patricia Blair, Joel Ashley, Robert Keys, Alika Louis, John Pickard, Frances Morris, Rhodes Reason.
"Crime Against Joe is a flick with some nice moments; those who classify it as film noir, however, overstate the case. It should be of interest to many of you mainly because it is a whodunit… Clearly this was a low-budget production; every scene was filmed in an actual location, and I doubt if any money was spent on set construction. The lack of money may or may not explain the muddled script; an attempted murder is shown and never referred to again. And the director does a poor job at times… Crime Against Joe could have been a great film, but the low budget sabotaged it. Still, it is a whodunit; the murderer’s identity is withheld until the last possible moment." - Mike Tooney (Mystery*File)
Crime in the Streets
Crime in the Streets
1956, USA, 91m, BW, Crime-Drama-Juvenile Delinquency Film
Screenplay Reginald Rose (adapted from his teleplay) Producer Vincent M. Fennelly Photography Sam Leavitt Editor Richard C. Meyer Music Franz Waxman Cast James Whitmore, John Cassavetes, Sal Mineo, Mark Rydell, Virginia Gregg, Peter J. Votrian, Will Kuluva, Malcolm Atterbury, Denise Alexander, Dan Terranova.
"Don Siegel followed his classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers with this 1956 problem drama about juvenile delinquency, adapted by Reginald Rose (12 Angry Men) from his teleplay. The leader of a street gang (John Cassavetes) enlists two loyal buddies (Mark Rydell and Sal Mineo, both wonderful) in a murder plot against a neighbor who's slapped him around, while a concerned social worker (James Whitmore) tries to straighten the kids out. Siegel manages to keep the action wound pretty tight, though he doesn't seem to sympathize much with Rose's bleeding-heart liberalism." - J.R. Jones (Chicago Reader)
Crime of Passion
Crime of Passion
1957, USA, 84m, BW, Crime-Melodrama
Screenplay Joe Eisinger Producer Herman Cohen Photography Joseph LaShelle Editor Marjorie Fowler Music Paul Dunlap Cast Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, Raymond Burr, Fay Wray, Royal Dano, Virginia Grey, Dennis Cross, Robert Griffin, Jay Adler, Malcolm Atterbury.
"Crime of Passion is a fascinating film that goes head-on with the classic conception of the femme fatale character. Screenwriter Jo Eisinger wrote the delirious 1946 Gilda, noir's most romantically perverse epic, but here she dissects the murderous female from a 50s perspective. It's hard-edged, direct in its theme and both dated and progressive at the same time. Barbara Stanwyck and Sterling Hayden make an exceptional screen couple... Crime of Passion is a noir domestique like Andre de Toth's superb Pitfall, dealing with the roots of despair in suburbia." - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
Crime Wave
Crime Wave Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1954, USA, 74m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Crane Wilbur (adapted by Bernard Gordon and Richard Wormser from the story Criminals Mark by John Hawkins and Ward Hawkins, published in Saturday Evening Post) Producer Bryan Foy Photography Bert Glennon Editor Thomas Reilly Music David Buttolph Cast Sterling Hayden, Gene Nelson, Phyllis Kirk, Ted De Corsia, Charles Bronson, Jay Novello, Nedrick Young, James Bell, Dub Taylor, Timothy Carey.
"Gritty policier is an unusually convincing peek into Los Angeles' mid-50s underworld. Three tough-nut prison escapees (including an improbably youthful Charles 'Buchinsky' Bronson as a leather-jacketed lout) hit Los Angeles, imperilling the straight-arrow life-style of nice-guy ex-con Gene Nelson – who's got broodingly cynical cop Sterling Hayden on his case. The story is a handy pretext to explore various atmospheric night-town locales, while the dialogue is vivid hard-boil with a few dashes of quirk. Hayden, great value, lands just the right side of ham – with Jay Novello (drink-sodden animal-doctor) and Timothy Carey (scary-weirdo crim) effortlessly attention-grabbing on the sidelines." - Neil Young (Film Lounge)
The Criminal
The Criminal Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Concrete Jungle (USA title)
1960, UK, 86m, BW, Prison-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Alun Owen (from a story by Jimmy Sangster) Producer Jack Greenwood Photography Robert Krasker Editor Reginald Mills Music John Dankworth Cast Stanley Baker, Sam Wanamaker, Margit Saad, Gregoire Aslan, Jill Bennett, Rupert Davies, Laurence Naismith, John Van Eyssen, Noel Willman, Patrick Magee.
"Terrific performance from Baker as the criminal, an existential loner whose violence is essentially self-destructive as, literally trapped within the bars of a prison, he finds himself metaphorically caught between two complementary systems: one represented by the sadistic chief warder (Magee), who feeds his sense of power by fomenting a dog-eat-dog code in the cells, the other by the underworld kingpin (Wanamaker) waiting outside to kill Baker and hijack his stashed loot. Losey's American eye and expertise make it jaggedly explosive and visually brilliant, a million miles beyond other British crime movies." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
The Crimson Kimono
The Crimson Kimono Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1959, USA, 82m, BW, Crime-Mystery-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Samuel Fuller Producer Samuel Fuller Photography Sam Leavitt Editor Jerome Thoms Music Harry Sukman Cast Victoria Shaw, Glenn Corbett, James Shigeta, Anna Lee, Paul Dubov, Jaclynne Greene, Neyle Morrow, Gloria Pall, Barbara Hayden, George Yoshinaga.
"The tenor of the film oscillates between tight-fisted noir and chamber drama, but the theme is always the same: cultural and romantic unrest. Two detectives, Charlie Bancroft (Glenn Corbett) and Joe Kojaku (James Shigeta), travel to the Japanese quarter of the city to break the thorny case but fall in love with Christine Downs (Victoria Shaw). Harry Sukman's score courts condescension whenever the action shifts to Little Tokyo, but it's the film's only slip. Fuller's feat is giving the film's nonstop interrogations, meetings and confrontations profound racial and political meaning." - Ed Gonzalez (Slant Magazine)
Criss Cross
Criss Cross 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1949, USA, 87m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Daniel Fuchs (based on the novel by Don Tracy) Producer Michael Kraike Photography Franz Planer Editor Ted J. Kent Music Miklos Rozsa Cast Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Richard Long, Esy Morales, Tom Pedi, Percy Helton, Alan Napier, Griff Barnett.
"Wonderfully seedy tale of betrayal and obsession from superb noir-thriller stylist Siodmak. Beautifully shot (Franz Planer) and scripted (Daniel Fuchs), it bears more than a slight resemblance to the same director's The Killers. Again Lancaster is the fall guy, an armoured-car payroll guard still brooding over his ex-wife (De Carlo), who has taken up with gangster Slim Dundee (Duryea) but leads Lancaster to believe that they can make a new start with booty gained from a daring heist if he will go through with it. As always with Siodmak, the suspense is maintained throughout by taut pacing, visual precision, and excellent characterisation." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
The Crooked Way
The Crooked Way Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1949, USA, 90m, BW, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Richard H. Landau (based on the radio play No Blade Too Sharp by Robert Monroe) Producer Benedict Bogeaus Photography John Alton Editor Frank Sullivan Music Louis Forbes Cast John Payne, Sonny Tufts, Ellen Drew, Rhys Williams, Percy Helton, John Doucette, Charles Evans, Greta Granstedt, Raymond Largay, Harry Bronson.
"Amnesia has served as a popular plot device in countless genre films but it provides a particularly satisfying narrative hook in the obscure but stylish film noir, The Crooked Way. Eddie Rice (John Payne), a World War II veteran and recipient of a Silver Star, returns home to Los Angeles after his release from a veterans hospital. Eddie's head injuries have impaired his memory but he begins to piece together his former life as a notorious mobster... This independently produced B-movie released by United Artists proves to be a striking minor triumph highlighted by the taut direction of Robert Florey, John Alton's shadow-laden cinematography, baroque art direction by Van Nest Polglase, evocative, on-location glimpses of a postwar Los Angeles and scenes of intense violence which were considered extreme for its era." - Jeff Stafford (Turner Classic Movies)
The Crooked Web
The Crooked Web
1955, USA, 77m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Lou Breslow Producer Sam Katzman Photography Henry Freulich Editor Edwin Bryant Music Mischa Bakaleinikoff Cast Frank Lovejoy, Mari Blanchard, Richard Denning, John Mylong, Harry Lauter, Steven Ritch, Lou Merrill, Vince Barnett, George Cisar, Judy Clark.
"A crackling little B-movie, The Crooked Web is indicative of the modest but lively movies Columbia Picture's second features unit, Clover Productions, was capable of during the 1950s. Despite the occasional turkey, literally in the case of their The Giant Claw (1957), these unpretentious, efficient pictures frequently offer a lot of bang for their buck and are long overdue for reappraisal. The Crooked Web began shooting under the title The Big Shock, an apt moniker. A noir-crime thriller, it has two impressive plot twists within the first twenty minutes. Formula B-movies rarely catch this reviewer off-guard but thanks to the performances, direction, and even the casting, both caught me completely by surprise and their impact is felt for the remainder of the picture." - Stuart Galbraith IV (DVD Talk)
Crossfire 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 86m, BW, Drama-Crime-Social Problem Film
Screenplay John Paxton (based on the novel The Brick Foxhole by Richard Brooks) Producer Adrian Scott Photography J. Roy Hunt Editor Harry Gerstad Music Roy Webb Cast Robert Ryan, Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Gloria Grahame, Paul Kelly, Sam Levene, Jacqueline White, Steve Brodie, George Cooper, Richard Benedict.
"A fascinating and biting film noir, Crossfire is a good example of the message film disguised as entertainment. It is one of a series of films produced in the later 1940s when the American motion picture industry discovered that adult themes and social problems could produce good box office. The first of two films released in 1947 dealing with anti-Semitism, Crossfire was both a commercial smash and a critical success... The film's message and its good intentions deserve respect but, over time, have lost their forcefulness. What remains striking and powerful is the framework in which the message of the film was set. Crossfire is a well-crafted, carefully organized, beautifully presented melodrama which still retains its audience's interest in the story's unfolding." - Daniel Leab (Film Reference)
1942, USA, 82m, BW, Mystery-Drama
Screenplay Guy Trosper (based on a story by John Kafka and Howard Emmett Rogers) Producer Edwin H. Knopf Photography Joseph Ruttenberg Editor George Boemler Music Bronislau Kaper Cast William Powell, Hedy Lamarr, Basil Rathbone, Claire Trevor, Margaret Wycherly, Felix Bressart, Sig Ruman, H.B. Warner, Philip Merivale, John Mylong.
"Hollywood's cannibalisation of the 1939 French psychological thriller Carrefour, here developed along lighter lines to match Powell's Thin Man image. He plays a happily married diplomat who, on the eve of an ambassadorial appointment, finds himself being blackmailed as a supposed former crook (amnesia has conveniently left a hole in his memory), and confronted by proof in the form of a confederate, a mistress and a mother. It emerges as a typical MGM confection, but the cast remains very watchable." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
1998, Ireland-UK-France-Germany, 94m, Col, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Paul Mayersberg Producer Jonathan Cavendish Photography Mike Garfath Editor Les Healey Music Simon Fisher Turner Cast Clive Owen, Kate Hardie, Alex Kingston, Gina McKee, Nicholas Ball, Nick Reding, Alexander Morton, Barnaby Kay, John Radcliffe, Sheila Whitfield.
"Even while wearing the poker face that is an occupational necessity for his juicy title role in Mike Hodges's film Croupier, Clive Owen conveys a sharp, cynical intelligence that rolls off the screen in waves whenever he widens his glittering blue eyes… More than just a smoothly plotted casino-based thriller with a surprise ending, Croupier, which is narrated by Jack (and sometimes by his fictional alter ego, Jake), is a breezy meditation on life as a game of chance… Croupier isn't the most tightly constructed movie (or an especially realistic one), despite its crisp performances and its detailed inside portrait of casino life. In the end, it suggests a lighter, less stylized British answer to David Mamet's House of Games, which like Croupier also played a joke on the central character and on the audience. Here, the mood is more whimsical than vengeful." - Stephen Holden The New York Times)
Cry Danger
Cry Danger Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1951, USA, 79m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Thriller
Screenplay William Bowers (based on a story by Jerome Cady) Producer Sam Wiesenthal, W.R. Frank Photography Joseph Biroc Editor Bernard W. Burton Music Emil Newman, Paul Dunlap Cast Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Erdman, William Conrad, Regis Toomey, Jean Porter, Jay Adler, Joan Banks, Gloria Saunders, Hy Averback.
"In his directorial debut, former editor Robert Parrish skillfully illuminates screenwriter Bill Bowers’ equally acerbic and droll Cry Danger into an underappreciated noir gem... The tersely pitch-perfect Dick Powell portrays protagonist ex-convict Rocky Mulloy who returns to Los Angeles to find the gang that framed him for a crime he did not commit. Aided by a hard-drinking, crippled ex-marine (brilliantly realized by Richard Erdman), Mulloy sets up home-base at a Bunker Hill trailer camp that is home to his ex-girlfriend Nancy, played by the graceful Rhonda Fleming... Film Noir Foundation President Eddie Muller calls it a "crackerjack crime film—short, smart, sassy, and full of surprises." - Todd Wiener (UCLA Film & Television Archive)
A Cry in the Night
A Cry in the Night
1956, USA, 75m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay David Dortort (based on the novel All Through the Night by Whit Masterson) Producer George C. Berthelon Photography John F. Seitz Editor Folmar Blangsted Music David Buttolph Cast Edmond O'Brien, Brian Donlevy, Natalie Wood, Raymond Burr, Richard Anderson, Irene Hervey, Carol Veazie, Mary Lawrence, Anthony Caruso, George J. Lewis.
"A Cry in the Night is a solid Warner Bros. b of 75 minutes from director Frank Tuttle (This Gun for Hire (1942), Suspense (1946), Hell on Frisco Bay (1955)), in which an intelligent script by David Dortort, from a novel by Whit Masterson (aka H. William Miller), manages to survey parenthood and rebellious teens while telling the story of an 18-yo girl’s abduction by a disturbed 32-yo loner still tied to his mother’s apron-strings. The story of the abduction and the police search takes place over a few hours after midnight. Raymond Burr excels as the mama’s boy, and Natalie Wood is really impressive as the abducted girl. Edmund O’Brien plays the girl’s father, a blustery off-duty cop, and Brian Donlevy is the steady police captain heading the search." - Tony D'Ambra (FilmsNoir.net)
Cry of the City
Cry of the City 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1948, USA, 95m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Richard Murphy (based on the novel The Chair for Martin Rome by Henry Edward Helseth) Producer Sol C. Siegel Photography Lloyd Ahern Editor Harmon Jones Music Alfred Newman Cast Victor Mature, Richard Conte, Shelley Winters, Fred Clark, Betty Garde, Debra Paget, Hope Emerson, Berry Kroeger, Tommy Cook, Roland Winters.
"One of the best of Fox's late-'40s film noirs and an under-appreciated achievement by director Robert Siodmak, 1948's Cry of the City is tops in every department. It has what may be Victor Mature's best performance, atop a cast of interesting actors in truly memorable parts. Best of all, the story draws together a number of key crime movie themes -- the immigrant experience, the comparison of cops to crooks, the parasitical, treacherous nature of crime -- without resorting to clichés or a story gimmick. Although only partly filmed on the mean streets of New York, it has the full flavor of the era's prominent docu noirs." - Glenn Erickson (Film Noir of the Week)
Cry of the Hunted
Cry of the Hunted Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1953, USA, 80m, BW, Drama-Crime-Action
Screenplay Jack Leonard (based on a story by Jack Leonard and Marion Wolfe) Producer William Grady Jr. Photography Harold Lipstein Editor Conrad A. Nervig Music Rudolph G. Kopp Cast Vittorio Gassman, Barry Sullivan, Polly Bergen, William Conrad, Robert Burton, Jonathan Cott, Harry Shannon, Mary Zavian, Frank Arnold, Sonia Charsky.
"An intriguing B picture from MGM directed by Joseph H. Lewis, most famous for such tough and vigorous noirs as Gun Crazy and The Big Combo. Not quite a noir, this film is a hybrid of several genres, and its unpredictability is one of its attractions as it moves from hard-edged urban settings to a more dreamlike, symbolic realm of personal psychological struggle in the swamps. It starts as a prison story establishing Tunner (Barry Sullivan) as a progressive official in charge of the joint’s maximum security section… Best of all is Lewis’ direction, not only of actors but in how he stages the action for photographer Harold Lipstein to shoot as many scenes as possible in single smooth takes that dolly forward and back as characters enter and exit the frame." - Michael Barrett (PopMatters)
Cry Terror!
Cry Terror!
1958, USA, 96m, BW, Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Andrew L. Stone Producer Andrew L. Stone, Virginia L. Stone Photography Walter Strenge Editor Virginia L. Stone Music Howard Jackson Cast James Mason, Rod Steiger, Inger Stevens, Neville Brand, Angie Dickinson, Kenneth Tobey, Jack Klugman, Jack Kruschen, Carleton Young, Barney Phillips.
"The husband and wife team of Andrew and Virginia Stone wrote, produced and directed a number of successful thrillers in the 1950s, hiring name stars to be threatened by cruel thieves or cunning blackmailers… 1958's Cry Terror! delivers fairly well on its promise of realistic thrills and unbearable suspense, but its appeal today lies mostly in its powerhouse cast. It's easy to say that none of the actors are used to their full potential, and that typecasting lessens the film's impact somewhat. But like most of the Stones' movies, Cry Terror! is highly watchable, the matinee equivalent of a drugstore page-turner… Cry Terror! gains a lot of realism by being shot on location; the production is very impressive for 1958." - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
Cry Vengeance
Cry Vengeance Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1954, USA, 82m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay George Bricker, Warren Douglas Producer John H. Burrows, Lindsley Parsons Photography William A. Sickner Editor Elmo Veron Music Paul Dunlap Cast Mark Stevens, Martha Hyer, Skip Homeier, Joan Vohs, Douglas Kennedy, Cheryl Callaway, Mort Mills, Warren Douglas, Lewis Martin, Don Haggerty.
"Technically speaking Cry Vengeance is a crime story with a noir premise, that soon resolves itself away from the noir ethos. It's a therapeutic story in which the scarred, hate-filled Vic Barron (Stevens) slowly drops his heartless vendetta and regains his humanity… This impressively mounted show took a filming unit and a number of actors to Ketchikan, Alaskas. The local flavor is very nicely sketched, even if many of the interiors revert to the two rooms-no windows norm of Allied Artists work. All of the parts are carefully cast and thoughtfully played, which reflects well on Stevens' qualifications as a director… Cry Vengeance is one of the better pictures about blind, hate-driven heroes. It's very satisfying to see Vic Barron overcome what seems a fatal obsession. - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
Cutter's Way
Cutter and Bone (alternative title)
1981, USA, 105m, Col, Mystery-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Jeffrey Alan Fiskin (based on the novel Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg) Producer Paul R. Gurian Photography Jordan Cronenweth Editor Caroline Ferriol Music Jack Nitzche Cast Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichhorn, Ann Dusenberry, Stephen Elliott, Nina Van Pallandt, Arthur Rosenberg, Patricia Donahue, Geraldine Baron, Katherine Pass.
"Ivan Passer's note-perfect, sun-splashed neo-noir thriller Cutter's Way has slowly fought its way up from cult obscurity… Released in 1981, it's like the last Hollywood movie of the 1960s, in which the aspirations and ideals of that long-gone decade finally soured irrevocably on its dazed, burnt-out survivors. It belongs alongside Karel Reisz's Who'll Stop The Rain (its perfect double-bill doppelganger), and Arthur Penn and Alan Sharpe's Night Moves – both visions of a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate American malaise… Cutter's Way is a movie that starts yielding up its real treasures around the third viewing, so stick with it (you'll hate the ending first time out). I've seen it perhaps 30 times – it may be my favourite American movie – and, unlike its three broken leads, I have still yet to hit bottom. For once, the word is appropriate: masterpiece." - John Patterson (The Guardian)
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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