1,000 Noir Films (I)

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The Films: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - Y
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Title / Director / Year / Country
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
NOIR-PRECURSOR
1932, USA, 93m, BW, Drama-Crime-Prison Film
Screenplay Brown Holmes, Howard Green (based on the memoir I am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang by Robert E. Burns) Producer Hal B. Wallis Photography Sol Polito Editor William Holmes Music Leo F. Forbstein Cast Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson, Preston Foster, Allen Jenkins, Edward Ellis, John Wray, Hale Hamilton, Harry Woods, David Landau.
"Warner Brothers developed a reputation in the '30s for "social problem" films like 1932's I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, which has Paul Muni as a World War I veteran enduring, then speaking out against, the inhuman tortures of Southern prisons. The film is based on a real-life case, but Warner and director Mervyn LeRoy massaged the details, turning a restless vet into a war hero beaten down by the Depression. Still, Chain Gang doesn't flinch from the situation's gaminess. Muni consorts with prostitutes, tries to pawn his war medals, and sinks into the sweat and gruel of prison life. The film features one of the most nerve-wracking escape sequences in movie history, but it's just as impressive how the filmmakers connect a pressing social issue with more universal problems." - Noel Murray (A.V. Club)
I Confess
I Confess Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1953, USA, 95m, BW, Drama-Psychological Thriller-Crime
Screenplay George Tabori, William Archibald (from a play by Paul Anthelme) Producer Alfred Hitchcock Photography Robert Burks Editor Rudi Fehr Music Dimitri Tiomkin Cast Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter, Karl Malden, Brian Aherne, O.E. Hasse, Dolly Haas, Roger Dann, Charles Andre, Judson Pratt, Ovila Legare.
"Alfred Hitchcock's earliest serious critics, the Catholic-minded Cahiers group, revered this 1953 film above all his 50s work; today it's very seldom revived. Montgomery Clift plays a stone-faced priest (Hitchcock's only direction to him seems to have been "don't twitch") who hears a confession of murder and assumes the killer's guilt. The movie is more interesting than achieved: it's the most forthright statement of the transference theme in Hitchcock's work, but it's also the least nuanced. Still, there are shots of extraordinary beauty, emerging from the grayish Quebec background like flashes into color. " - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
I Died a Thousand Times
I Died a Thousand Times
COLOUR NOIR
1955, USA, 109m, Col, Crime-Drama
Screenplay W.R. Burnett (from his novel High Sierra) Producer Willis Goldbeck Photography Ted McCord Editor Clarence Kolster Music David Buttolph Cast Jack Palance, Shelley Winters, Lori Nelson, Lee Marvin, Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez, Lon Chaney Jr., Earl Holliman, Perry Lopez, Richard Davalos, Howard St. John.
"Warners must have needed to get a film into production quickly, because 1955's I Died a Thousand Times is an almost shot-by-shot remake of Walsh's High Sierra from only fourteen years earlier. All that's changed is the cast, a few updatings of details and a high-speed chase at the finish with the cars actually speeding. Oh, and WarnerColor and CinemaScope… At first glance the remake I Died a Thousand Times is a nice package. Although he doesn't carry the same charge of world-weary fatalism, young Jack Palance is sympathetic as the new Roy, and definitely more menacing in physical terms… Viewers unfamiliar with High Sierra will surely be very impressed with I Died a Thousand Times -- the story has classic contours and the ending has a brutal finality. The rest of us are more likely to play a comparison game.“ - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
I Love Trouble
I Love Trouble
1948, USA, 93m, BW, Mystery-Romance-Detective Film
Screenplay Roy Huggins (from his novel The Double Take) Producer S. Sylvan Simon Photography Charles Lawton Jr. Editor Al Clark Music George Duning Cast Franchot Tone, Janet Blair, Janis Carter, Adele Jergens, Glenda Farrell, Steven Geray, Tom Powers, Lynn Merrick, John Ireland, Donald Curtis.
"This is one-helluva-movie. A gem that sparkles like the eyes of the hot dames that swagger, pout, smolder, and snap their high heels across the screen. A joyous LA romp in Marlowe territory which has it all. An enthralling thriller plot enlivened by a hot-jive script from Roy Huggins (Too Late for Tears, Pushover). Incredibly taught and fluid direction from Columbia b-director S. Sylvan Simon. Superb noir photography from Charles Lawton Jr. A dynamic score from George Duning that sways effortlessly from dark melodrama to lecherous winks. A great turn by Franchot Tone as LA private eye Stuart ‘George’ Bailey, who out-Bogart’s and out-Powell’s Philip Marlowe in a deliciously convoluted story of deception, greed, frame-ups, murder, and sexy high jinks." - Tony D'Ambra (FilmsNoir.net)
I, the Jury
I, the Jury
1953, USA, 87m, BW, Crime-Mystery-Detective Film
Screenplay Harry Essex (from the novel by Mickey Spillane) Producer Victor Saville Photography John Alton Editor Fredrick Y. Smith Music Franz Waxman Cast Biff Elliot, Preston Foster, Peggie Castle, Margaret Sheridan, Alan Reed, Mary Anderson, Tom Powers, Joe Besser, Paul Dubov, Elisha Cook Jr.
"Make no mistake, this isn’t Kiss Me Deadly. Though in defense of I, The Jury it’s a solidly watchable low-budget film noir with good direction, A-1 cinematography, a decent cast, and a lackluster yet still likable star. But warts and all, it’s also the first screen appearance of a crime fiction archetype as important as Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe, and consequently worth seeking out. There is something primitively attractive about the way Spillane’s Mike Hammer approaches the world, and that’s what makes the character so appealing: He acts out all of those tough guy fantasies so common in American men, and in the end he gets the girl. What’s not to like?" - Mark Fertig (Where Danger Lives)
I Wake Up Screaming
I Wake Up Screaming 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1941, USA, 82m, BW, Mystery-Thriller
Screenplay Dwight Taylor (from the novel by Steve Fisher) Producer Milton Sperling Photography Edward Cronjager Editor Robert Simpson Music Cyril J. Mockridge Cast Victor Mature, Betty Grable, Laird Cregar, Carole Landis, William Gargan, Elisha Cook Jr., Alan Mowbray, Allyn Joslyn, Chick Chandler, Morris Ankrum.
"I Wake Up Screaming is one of the most beautiful black-and-white movies ever made. Nearly every detail, other than a few amateurish process shots, suggests the glossy perfection that exemplifies what Andre Bazin famously called "the genius of the system." How else to explain the transformation of prosaic melodrama into a highly influential exercise in sculpted lighting?... The chiaroscuro police grilling in the first scene may indicate a typical postwar crime thriller, but I Wake Up Screaming was made in 1941, the year Orson Welles and John Huston directed their first films. If it lacks the substance of Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon, it rivals them in shoring up plot with procedural panache, a gleaming surface that came to characterize Fox's "B" product." - Gary Giddins (The New York Sun)
I Walk Alone
I Walk Alone Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1948, USA, 98m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Charles Schnee (adapted by Robert Smith and John Bright from the play Beggars Are Coming to Town by Theodore Reeves) Producer Hal B. Wallis Photography Leo Tover Editor Arthur Schmidt Music Victor Young Cast Burt Lancaster, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas, Wendell Corey, Kristine Miller, Georges Rigaud, Marc Lawrence, Bobby Barber, John Bishop, Charles D. Brown.
"Haskin's work with the camera is more assured than his work with the actors and is the main reason why I Walk Alone is watchable. Though the script, betraying its stage origins, is declamatory, the film is a small marvel of visual construction, Haskin bringing static scenes to life by reconfiguring his characters in a variety of camera setups... In a 1978 article listing his "Guilty Pleasures" for Film Comment, Martin Scorsese praised the film and drew parallels between its portrayal of the modernization of American crime and the realities of American filmmaking... I Walk Alone may wobble at times, but it can hold its head up among the many lesser crime thrillers of its day." - Chris Fujiwara (Turner Classic Movies)
I Want to Live!
I Want to Live! Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1958, USA, 120m, BW, Crime-Biography-Drama
Screenplay Don Mankiewicz, Nelson Gidding (based on newspaper articles by Ed Montgomery, and letters by Barbara Graham) Producer Walter Wanger Photography Lionel Lindon Editor William Hornbeck Music Johnny Mandel Cast Susan Hayward, Simon Oakland, Virginia Vincent, Theodore Bikel, Wesley Lau, John Marley, Dabbs Greer, Gavin MacLeod, Philip Coolidge, Lou Krugman.
“One of the great anti-capital punishment movies, this is based on the life and death of Barbara Graham. At one time or another, Graham was convicted of prostitution, perjury, forgery, and finally murder. Basing their screenplay on contemporary newspaper files and her own letters, Nelson Gidding and Don Mankiewicz make no bones about Graham's anti-social tendencies, but conclude that she was probably innocent of the last charge. Wise paces the film so that the last half-hour, taking us into the gas chamber, is incredibly powerful, and Hayward won an Oscar for her unforgettable performance.” - Tom Charity (Time Out)
I Was a Communist for the F.B.I.
I Was a Communist for the F.B.I.
1951, USA, 83m, BW, Drama-Spy-Propaganda Film
Screenplay Crane Wilbur (from the Saturday Evening Post article I Posed as a Communist for the FBI by Matt Cvetic, as told to Pete Martin) Producer Bryan Foy Photography Edwin B. DuPar Editor Folmar Blangsted Music William Lava Cast Frank Lovejoy, Dorothy Hart, Philip Carey, James Millican, Richard Webb, Konstantin Shayne, Paul Picerni, Edward Norris, Ron Hagerthy, Hugh Sanders.
"Stylishly directed by Gordon Douglas, and with more than a few Film Noir-inspired action set pieces to commend it, Warner Bros' I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. is still a thudding, simplistic piece of anti-Communist propaganda which gleefully engages in the sort of reckless finger-pointing that the McCarthy era is known for… Produced by Bryan Foy for the Warner Bros. B-unit, I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. appears to have existed mainly to glorify efforts to root out the Communist Threat wherever it may (or may not have) existed… Square-jawed Frank Lovejoy brings his usual no-nonsense approach to the lead role as undercover man; he would go on to portray a variety of cops, detectives and military men during his career." - John M. Miller (Turner Classic Movies)
I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes
I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes
1948, USA, 70m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Detective Film
Screenplay Steve Fisher (from the novel by Cornell Woolrich) Producer Walter Mirisch Photography Mack Stengler Editor Roy V. Livingston Music Edward Kay Cast Don Castle, Elyse Knox, Regis Toomey, Charles D. Brown, Rory Mallinson, Robert Lowell, Steve Darrell, Bill Kennedy, Esther Michelson, Ray Dolciame.
"A lesser film noir and quite obviously made on a budget, I Wouldn't Be In Your Shoes should nevertheless provide entertainment for noir fans looking for something that's not very well known. Shoes is based on a Cornell Woolrich book, which means that it's quite intricately plotted and is drenched in paranoia. When a typical Woolrich story is paired with a director that has a keen understanding of the underpinnings of the story and knows how to bring out the cinematic life in it, as in Alfred Hitchcock and Rear Window, the results can be outstanding. Director William Nigh, however, is no Hitchcock; his work is professional and relatively effective (if a bit sluggish), but the material requires more." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
Illegal
Illegal
1955, USA, 88m, BW, Crime-Courtroom Drama
Screenplay James R. Webb, W.R. Burnett (based on the play The Mouthpiece by Frank J. Collins) Producer Frank P. Rosenberg Photography Peverell Marley Editor Thomas Reilly Music Max Steiner Cast Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe, Robert Ellenstein, DeForest Kelley, Jay Adler, Albert Dekker, Jayne Mansfield, Ellen Corby, Howard St. John.
"The moral compass points swing to and fro in Lewis Allen’s Illegal, which stars Edward G. Robinson as a crackerjack D.A. who suffers way more than he should for winning a case that sends an innocent man to the electric chair. Tormented by guilt, Victor Scott (Robinson) rises phoenix-like from a gutter of booze and self-flagellation and to the defense of criminal lowlifes everywhere… Every character is intriguingly trapped between a rock and a hard place, and the talents of Robinson, Foch, and Ellen Corby, as Victor’s legal aide, have an elasticizing effect on Allen’s stiff but workmanlike direction. Robinson’s cocksure conviction never wavers, and as such Victor’s obscene courtroom antics feel more probable than Jayne Mansfield’s real-world physique." - Ed Gonzalez (Slant Magazine)
Impact
Impact
1949, USA, 111m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Dorothy Davenport, Jay Dratler (from a story by Jay Dratler) Producer Leo C. Popkin Photography Ernest Laszlo Editor Arthur H. Nadel Music Michel Michelet Cast Brian Donlevy, Ella Raines, Helen Walker, Charles Coburn, Anna May Wong, Robert Warwick, Clarence Kolb, Art Baker, William Wright, Mae Marsh.
"Brian Donlevy stars as an industrialist whose perfidious wife (Helen Walker) conspires with her lover (Tony Barrett) to murder the "softy" for his insurance policy. When the other man winds up dead in his place, the body burned beyond recognition, an injured Donlevy recovers with no memory of past events or even his own identity... Director of photography Ernest Lazlo went on to lens such latter day noir classics as D.O.A. (1950) and Joseph Losey's remake of M (1951) but Impact alternates between evocative shadowplay and the antiseptic brilliance of a "woman's picture," while Michel Michelet's use of the Theremin telegraphs the divided mind of its decent but damaged protagonist." - Richard Harland Smith (Turner Classic Movies)
In a Lonely Place
In a Lonely Place 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 91m, BW, Drama-Mystery-Romance
Screenplay Andrew Solt (adapted by Edmund H. North from the novel by Dorothy B. Hughes) Producer Robert Lord Photography Burnett Guffey Editing Viola Lawrence Music George Antheil Cast Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Carl Benton Reid, Robert Warwick, Jeff Donnell, Martha Stewart, Art Smith, Morris Ankrum, William Ching.
"In a Lonely Place has been described by the critic Kim Morgan as "one of the most heartbreaking love stories ever committed to film," and love is indeed what it's really about. It has the look, feel and trappings of a film noir, and a murder takes place in it, but it is really about the dark places in a man's soul and a woman who thinks she can heal them. As carefully constructed by Bogart, who produced it, and directed by Nicholas Ray, from a great noir novel by Dorothy Hughes, it's at pains to make its man and women adults who know their way around. Neither is a victim, except of their own natures." - Roger Ebert (Roger Ebert.com)
Inner Sanctum
Inner Sanctum
1948, USA, 62m, BW, Mystery-Thriller
Screenplay Jerome T. Gollard Producers Samuel Rheiner, Walter Shenson Photography Allen G. Siegler Editor Fred R. Feitshans Jr. Music Leo Klatzkin Cast Charles Russell, Mary Beth Hughes, Dale Belding, Billy House, Fritz Leiber, Nana Bryant, Lee Patrick, Roscoe Ates, Eddie Parks, Eve Miller.
"While it is certainly not one of the best-known films noir, Inner Sanctum has many of the genre’s elements: black & white cinematography with ample shadows, a murder, jealousy and betrayal, a woman (or two) scorned, a man at his breaking point, and a suspenseful plot with a clever, twist ending… Inner Sanctum is in no way a big budget film or a must see. It’s sort of like a parlor trick. It’s fun and you kind of want to know how the director pulls it off. But the acting isn’t particularly memorable and, apart from the train, the settings are generally forgettable." - Jonathan Lewis (Mystery*File)
Inside Job
Inside Job
1946, USA, 65m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay George Bricker, Jerry Warner (based on a story by Tod Browning and Garrett Fort) Producers Ben Pivar, Jean Yarbrough Photography Maury Gertsman Editor Otto Ludwig Music Frank Skinner Cast Preston Foster, Ann Rutherford, Alan Curtis, Milburn Stone, Samuel S. Hinds, Joseph Sawyer, Marc Lawrence, John Berkes, Jimmy Moss, Howard Freeman.
"Jean Yarbrough (Shed No Tears/The Mutineers/Law of the Jungle) directs a weak B film crime drama about an ex-convict and the difficulty he has of going straight. Eddie Norton (Alan Curtis) gets a temp job during Christmas in a department store. The gangster Bart Madden (Preston Foster) blackmails the ex-con Eddie into robbing the store with his former partner, his wife Claire (Ann Rutherford), a model in the store, or get fired when he tells the store about his past record… The story was lame and unbelievable. It's noteworthy only because the story was written by the great silent director Tod Browning. The screenplay by George Bricker and Jerry Warner could use a rewrite." - Dennis Schwartz (Movie Reviews)
It Always Rains on Sunday
It Always Rains on Sunday Available on Blu-ray
BRIT-NOIR
1947, UK, 92m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Angus MacPhail, Henry Cornelius, Robert Hamer (from the novel by Arthur La Bern) Producer Michael Balcon Photography Douglas Slocombe Editor Michael Truman Music Georges Auric Cast Googie Withers, John McCallum, Jack Warner, Edward Chapman, Susan Shaw, Patricia Plunkett, Sydney Tafler, John Slater, Alfie Bass, Jimmy Hanley.
"Postwar east London is a place of doomed dreams, cheeky chancers and youthful attitude in 1947’s punchy and poignant It Always Rains on Sunday… Robert Hamer’s film operates as both a lively portrait of cockney life and a noir-tinged crime thriller as one quiet, rainy Sunday in Bethnal Green becomes the focus of a search for a runaway convict… What makes It Always Rains on Sunday special is its humour and energy. The thriller element is taut and clear, and the comedy is served sparingly but pointedly: ‘Nice weather for ducks and aspidistras,’ quips a neighbour as Rose (Withers) tries to hide her fugitive (McCallum). There are no lessons learned, no easy answers. You feel next Sunday could be just the same for someone across the street. A real gem." - Dave Calhoun (Time Out)
Ivy
Ivy Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 99m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Charles Bennett (based on the novel The Story of Ivy by Marie Belloc Lowndes) Producer William Cameron Menzies Photography Russell Metty Editor Ralph Dawson Music Daniele Amfitheatrof Cast Joan Fontaine, Patric Knowles, Herbert Marshall, Richard Ney, Cedric Hardwicke, Lucile Watson, Sara Allgood, Henry Stephenson, Rosalind Ivan, Lilian Fontaine.
"Russell Metty's gorgeous low-key camerawork sets the tone for this Edwardian chiller with a wonderfully moody opening sequence at a fortune-teller's where Fontaine learns that her destiny is to become a murderess. Demurely grasping ambition aiding, she is soon on her way to black widowhood by poisoning her husband, framing her lover, and setting her sights on the next victim. Based on a novel by Mrs Belloc Lowndes (of The Lodger) and given an exquisite period gloss by William Cameron Menzies' designs, it's a little bland but a real pleasure on the eye." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) The 100 Most Cited Noir Films Available on Blu-ray Available on Blu-ray Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Introduction / Updates / Links
The Films: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - Y
View by:
Title / Director / Year / Country