1,000 Noir Films (L)

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
L.A. Confidential
L.A. Confidential Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1997, USA, 137m, Col, Thriller-Crime-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Brian Helgeland, Curtis Hanson (from the novel by James Ellroy) Producers Arnon Milchan, Curtis Hanson, Michael Nathanson Photography Dante Spinotti Editor Peter Honess Music Jerry Goldsmith Cast Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny De Vito, David Strathairn, Ron Rifkin, Matt McCoy, Paul Guilfoyle.
"L.A. Confidential is described as film noir, and so it is, but it is more: Unusually for a crime film, it deals with the psychology of the characters, for example in the interplay between the two men who are both in love with Basinger's hooker. It contains all the elements of police action, but in a sharply clipped, more economical style; the action exists not for itself but to provide an arena for the personalities. The dialogue is lovely; not the semiparody of a lot of film noir, but the words of serious people trying to reveal or conceal themselves. And when all of the threads are pulled together at the end, you really have to marvel at the way there was a plot after all, and it all makes sense, and it was all right there waiting for someone to discover it." - Roger Ebert (Roger Ebert.com)
Ladies in Retirement
Ladies in Retirement
1941, USA, 92m, BW, Thriller-Mystery-Melodrama
Screenplay Garrett Fort, Reginald Denham (based on the play by Reginald Denham and Edward Percy) Producers Gilbert Miller, Lester Cowan Photography George Barnes Editor Al Clark Music Ernest Toch Cast Ida Lupino, Louis Hayward, Evelyn Keyes, Elsa Lanchester, Edith Barrett, Isobel Elsom, Emma Dunn, Queenie Leonard, Clyde Cook.
"Ladies in Retirement isn't the most exciting title a movie ever had, but don't let that fool you. There are plenty of dark doings in Charles Vidor's spooky 1941 melodrama, even if its payoffs seem too understated by the rollercoaster standards of today's thrillers. The story takes place in a country house belonging to a retired music-hall actress named Leonora Fiske (Elsom), who lives there with Ellen (Lupino), her housekeeper, and Lucy (Keyes), her maid… Ladies in Retirement belongs to the mini-genre of stories about seemingly dignified folks who cause undignified things like violence and death." - Mikita Brottman & David Sterritt (Turner Classic Movies)
The Lady Confesses
The Lady Confesses
1945, USA, 64m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Helen Martin (based on a story by Irwin Franklyn) Producer Alfred Stern Photography Jack Greenhalgh Editor Holbrook N. Todd Cast Mary Beth Hughes, Hugh Beaumont, Edmund MacDonald, Claudia Drake, Emmett Vogan, Barbara Slater, Edward Howard, Dewey Robinson, Carol Andrews, Jack George.
"The Lady Confesses is another sixty-minute-plus programmer from Producers Releasing Corporation, one of the poverty row studios (e.g., Republic, Allied Artists, etc.) which were approaching noir from the low end in both budget and star power… The Lady Confesses references Cornell Woolrich's Phantom Lady in its story of a devoted Vicki (Hughes) who goes undercover to clear the name of her love Larry Craig (Beaumont)… The lighting in the film, like much of PRC's noir product, is extremely low key, with lights often directed up from below, giving the film an eerie quality as well as hiding the cheapness of the sets (always a consideration in 'Z-budget' filmmaking)." - James Ursini (Film Noir: The Encyclopedia)
The Lady from Shanghai
The Lady from Shanghai
100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1948, USA, 87m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Orson Welles (from the novel If I Die Before I Wake by Sherwood King) Producer Orson Welles Photography Charles Lawton Jr. Editor Viola Lawrence Music Heinz Roemheld Cast Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted De Corsia, Erskine Sanford, Gus Schilling, Carl Frank, Lou Merrill, Evelyn Ellis.
"In this hectic 1948 film noir by Orson Welles, a tough but broke young man has only one chance to get close to the ritzy woman he loves: taking a job aboard the yacht on which she and her husband are cruising from New York to San Francisco... The lurid plot involves lust and murder, which Welles renders in a frenzied array of distorting and disorienting images. Cocked angles and high-contrast lighting are matched by an ear-catching relay of highly inflected voices of character actors, including Sloane; Glenn Anders, as Bannister’s partner; Ted de Corsia, as his snoop; and Gus Schilling and Louis Merrill, as fellow-laborers. Welles and Hayworth were married at the time; he gives her closeups of unmatched rapture even while allegorizing his own fate as a free spirit caught in the trap of Hollywood’s delusional pleasure dome." - Richard Brody (The New Yorker)
Lady in the Lake
Lady in the Lake 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir)
1947, USA, 105m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Steve Fisher, Raymond Chandler [uncredited] (from the novel by Raymond Chandler) Producer George Haight Photography Paul Vogel Editor Gene Ruggiero Music David Snell Cast Robert Montgomery, Lloyd Nolan, Audrey Totter, Tom Tully, Leon Ames, Jayne Meadows, Morris Ankrum, Lila Leeds, Dick Simmons, Ellen Ross.
"A completely original, knockout noir from director/star Robert Montgomery, Lady in the Lake features the quick, witty dialogue of the Raymond Chandler book, plenty of interesting camera angles (all from the point of view of the Phillip Marlowe character played by Montgomery), and many excellent supporting roles... Montgomery's use of the camera's point of view is clever and never a bothersome gimmick. It's quite experimental for a 1946 film as Montgomery films a car chase, a kiss, a knuckle sandwich, waking up in jail and crawling to a phone booth all from Marlowe's perspective." - Adam Bregman (Allmovie)
Lady on a Train
Lady on a Train
1945, USA, 93m, BW, Mystery-Crime-Comedy
Screenplay Edmund Beloin, Robert O'Brien (based on an original story by Leslie Charteris) Producer Felix Jackson Photography Elwood Bredell Editor Ted J. Kent Music Miklos Rozsa Cast Deanna Durbin, Ralph Bellamy, Edward Everett Horton, David Bruce, George Coulouris, Allen Jenkins, Dan Duryea, Jacqueline de Wit, Patricia Morison, Elizabeth Patterson.
"Durbin plays a girl who witnesses a murder from the window of a train pulling into New York, is believed by no one, and so turns to detection herself, becoming entangled with the victim's sinisterly bizarre family (which includes the killer). With a strong supporting cast, it's surprisingly entertaining. The plot, derived from a story by Leslie Charteris previously filmed in Britain as A Window in London, doesn't delve into the dark chaos beloved of noir thrillers in the '40s so much as play it slightly tongue-in-cheek. Light, cheery and shading into darker areas for the climax, it's fun." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
A Lady Without Passport
A Lady Without Passport
1950, USA, 72m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Howard Dimsdale (adapted by Cyril Hume from a story by Lawrence Taylor) Producer Samuel Marx Photography Paul Vogel Editor Frederick Y. Smith Music David Raksin Cast Hedy Lamarr, John Hodiak, James Craig, George Macready, Steven Geray, Bruce Cowling, Nedrick Young, Steven Hill, Robert Osterloh, Trevor Bardette.
"Stylishly directed by the low-budget wizard who brought you Gun Crazy and The Big Combo, this is a Casablanca-type tale of European immigrants trying to get into America, and being forced to stop off in corrupt, seedy Havana en route. Lamarr is the gorgeous woman with a past who will do anything to reach the land of promise, Hodiak the immigration official who bends the rules when he falls for her. A tight little script and economically etched characters provide a strong foundation, but it is Lewis' evocative visuals that really turn this into a poverty row gem." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
1948, USA, 89m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Herbert Margolis, Lou Morheim, William Bowers (based on the novel The Velvet Fleece by Lois Eby and John C. Fleming) Producer Leonard Goldstein Photography Irving Glassberg Editor Frank Gross Music Leith Stevens Cast John Payne, Joan Caulfield, Dan Duryea, Shelley Winters, Dorothy Hart, Richard Rober, Dan O'Herlihy, Nicholas Joy, Percy Helton, Walter Greaza.
"John Payne is the no-good lowdown rat who tries to capitalize on postwar patriotism and grief. He finagles a war widow (Joan Caulfied) into giving up her savings for a nonexistent memorial. When Payne falls in love with the widow he has pangs of conscience, but he reckons without his con-artist boss (Dan Duryea), who tends to bolster his arguments with muscle and bullets. Larceny is a second-echelon 'film noir' based on The Velvet Fleece, a novel by Lois Eby and John Fleming. When costar Shelley Winters (who plays Duryea's moll) was asked years later what she did in Larceny, she snapped "lousy acting." - Hal Erickson (Allmovie)
The Las Vegas Story
The Las Vegas Story
1952, USA, 88m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Earl Felton, Harry Essex, Paul Jarrico [uncredited] (based on a story by Jay Dratler) Producer Robert Sparks Photography Harry Wild Editor Frederic Knudston, George Shrader Music Leigh Harline Cast Jane Russell, Victor Mature, Vincent Price, Hoagy Carmichael, Brad Dexter, Gordon Oliver, Jay C. Flippen, Will Wright, Bill Welsh, Ray Montgomery.
"A minor RKO gem showing all the preferences of its then owner Howard Hughes (aeroplanes, brunettes, breasts and disenchanted heroes). Jane Russell, with amused detachment, plays a singer returning to Las Vegas with wealthy but despicable husband Price in tow, and picking up with her erstwhile lover, hunky Mature. Initially the script relies on innuendo-laden repartee and a couple of wonderful numbers from Hoagy Carmichael. But then a man is murdered, the pace changes, and the film charges into a superb action climax with a helicopter swooping through deserted hangars and Mature making a fifty-foot leap (to save Jane, of course)." - Helen MacKintosh (Time Out)
The Last Seduction
The Last Seduction Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1994, USA, 110m, Col, Drama-Crime-Erotic Thriller
Screenplay Steve Barancik Producer Steve Barancik Photography Jeffrey Jur Editor Eric L. Beason Music Joseph Vitarelli Cast Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg, Bill Pullman, J.T. Walsh, Bill Nunn, Herb Mitchell, Jack Shearer, Michael Raysses, Zach Phifer, Brien Varady.
"John Dahl is reviving film noir by taking its moral undercurrents seriously, not its conventions. He knows that however you want to describe film noir, it's certainly about two things: how bad people can be. And how good they can look. In The Last Seduction, Dahl gives us Linda Fiorentino as the baddest of the bad women, the most full-blown yet utterly believable femme fatale to come along in years. There is nothing kittenish about Fiorentino -- her charm is pure brazenness… The Last Seduction is directed with playful wit and energy, with steamy sex scenes played as much for laughs as anything else. Dahl doesn't try to seduce the audience so much as invite it to observe the mechanics of seduction as both enticing and absurd." - Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle)
The Late Show
The Late Show
1977, USA, 93m, Col, Comedy-Mystery-Detective Film
Screenplay Robert Benton Producer Robert Altman Photography Charles Rosher Jr. Editors Lou Lombardo, Peter Appleton Music Kenneth Wannberg Cast Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy, Eugene Roche, Joanna Cassidy, John Considine, Ruth Nelson, John Davey, Howard Duff, Ethel Reschke.
"Not just another genre rehash (cf Farewell, My Lovely; The Long Goodbye; Gumshoe), but a genuinely ingratiating 1977 private-eye update with Art Carney as a middle-aged Marlowe trying to find out who killed his partner. The tone shifts (as tones were wont to do in the late 70s) from comedy to drama to romance, but director Robert Benton deserves a lot of credit for preserving the integrity of his characters, even when faced with a veteran self-parodist like Lily Tomlin. A small film of small but real virtues, easily overrated and eminently enjoyable." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
Laura 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1944, USA, 85m, BW, Mystery-Romance-Thriller
Screenplay Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, Ring Lardner Jr., Elizabeth Reinhardt (from the novel by Vera Caspary) Producer Otto Preminger Photography Joseph LaShelle Editor Louis Loeffler Music David Raksin Cast Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson, Dorothy Adams, James Flavin, Clyde Fillmore, Ralph Dunn, Grant Mitchell.
"The nuts and bolts of the murder plot—in which morose detective Dana Andrews essentially falls in love with an idealized Gene Tierney after she's had her head blown off—soon enough give way to underground currents, after she walks through the door an ordinary woman and the question of ID'ing the corpse becomes a decidedly secondary concern. Quietly Godardian before the fact—does a story's architecture matter as much as our ardor for imagery?—Laura is a hypnotic and deathlessly interpretable experience, what with Clifton Webb's sexually contradictory presence, Vincent Price (!) as a smug paramour, and Andrews gilding the tough-dick paradigm with his own distinct brand of grieving lostness. " - Michael Atkinson (The Village Voice)
The Lawless
The Lawless Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 83m, BW, Drama-Crime-Social Problem Film
Screenplay Geoffrey Homes Producers William C. Thomas, William H. Pine Photography J. Roy Hunt Editor Howard Smith Music Mahlon Merrick Cast Macdonald Carey, Gail Russell, Lalo Rios, Lee Patrick, John Sands, John Hoyt, Argentina Brunetti, Martha Hyer, Herbert Anderson, James Bush.
"Losey's second feature, a lynching drama set in a small Southern Californian town beset by racial tensions: local newspaper reporter (Carey), after conquering self-interest under pressure from the girl he loves (Russell), crusades on behalf of a Mexican youth (Rios) falsely accused of having raped a 'white' girl. So far, so conventional, but what gives it an edge of brilliance is Losey's eye for the smalltown locations: the shabby dance hall in the Mexican quarter, the sleepy high street, the one-horse newspaper office, the cosy front porches and the churchgoers, all swept away in sudden primitive starkness as the fugitive is relentlessly hunted over a fantastic wasteland of rocks and rubble. The film also fairly reeks of fear, doubtless a testament to the HUAC witch-hunts.” - Tom Milne (Time Out)
Leave Her to Heaven
Leave Her to Heaven 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1945, USA, 110m, Col, Romance-Crime-Melodrama
Screenplay Jo Swerling (from the novel by Ben Ames Williams) Producer William A. Bacher Photography Leon Shamroy Editor James B. Clark Music Alfred Newman Cast Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Mary Philips, Ray Collins, Gene Lockhart, Darryl Hickman, Reed Hadley, Chill Wills.
"A noir without shadows? A women’s picture that posits its female protagonist as a ravenous, sociopathic schemer? A high body-count thriller in which not one drop of blood is spilled? Leave Her to Heaven doesn’t ultimately defy categorization so much as confound easy readings of classical Hollywood approach. Even in setting, Stahl’s film retreats from convention; its exquisite location shooting, spanning from New Mexico to Maine, provides glorious, sunlit counterpoint to the femme-fatale trickery: by unleashing its monster onto these open vistas as opposed to the shadowy urban backrooms and backlot alleyways usually trod by her ilk, the film provides an air of false reassurance; when the nefarious deeds kick into high gear, you can only suck in your breath in astonishment." - Michael Koresky (Reverse Shot)
Léon Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
The Professional (English title)
1994, France, 119m, Col, Action Thriller-Crime-Coming-of-Age
Screenplay Luc Besson Producer Luc Besson Photography Thierry Arbogast Editor Sylvie Landra Music Eric Serra Cast Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Peter Appel, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Elizabeth Regen, Carl J. Matusovich, Randolph Scott.
"The Professional, titled Léon in most countries, is full of shooting, shouting, sadism, and explosions. But, thanks to the sensitive shifts of Besson's untraditional script, the film ultimately comes off as distinctly European in nature. While a wisp of a plot involving a crooked cop (Gary Oldman, in one of his last indelibly psycho roles) drives Léon from setpiece to setpiece, it's the central relationship between hitman Jean Reno and young charge Natalie Portman that makes the movie so memorable. Criminals teamed with kids is nothing new: John Cassavetes' Gloria tackled the subject 20 years ago for laughs. What makes Léon so intriguing is the ironic contrast of its main characters: the milk-drinking automaton killer Reno is essentially a manchild, while Portman is wise beyond her years." - Joshua Klein (A.V. Club)
The Leopard Man
The Leopard Man
1943, USA, 66m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Horror
Screenplay Ardel Wray, Edward Dein (based on the novel The Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich) Producer Val Lewton Photography Robert De Grasse Editor Mark Robson Music Roy Webb Cast Dennis O'Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell, James Bell, Margaret Landry, Abner Biberman, Ben Bard, Richard Martin, Tula Parma.
"This economically constructed and haunting chiller from the inspired team of producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur doesn't have the reputation of the two other films they worked on together in the early 40s, Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie. In part that's because its ending is a bit abrupt and unsatisfactory—but it's still one of the most remarkable B films ever to have come out of Hollywood. Adapted from Cornell Woolrich's novel Black Alibi by Ardel Wray and Edward Dein, the film employs an audacious narrative of shifting centers, thematically related by a string of grisly murders in a small town in New Mexico. Depending for much of its effect on a subtle and poetic nudging of the spectator's imagination, the film has a couple of sequences that are truly terrifying." - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader)
The Letter
The Letter Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1940, USA, 95m, BW, Crime-Melodrama
Screenplay Howard Koch (based on the play by W. Somerset Maugham) Producer Robert Lord Photography Tony Gaudio Editor George Amy Music Max Steiner Cast Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson, Gale Sondergaard, Bruce Lester, Frieda Inescort, Victor Sen Yung, Cecil Kellaway, Elizabeth Inglis, Doris Lloyd.
"A superbly crafted melodrama, even if it never manages to top the moody montage with which it opens - moon scudding behind clouds, rubber dripping from a tree, coolies dozing in the compound, a startled cockatoo - as a shot rings out, a man staggers out onto the verandah, and Davis follows to empty her gun grimly into his body. The contrivance evident in Maugham's play during the investigation and trial that follow is kept firmly at bay by Wyler's technical expertise and terrific performances (not just Davis, but Stephenson as her conscience-ridden lawyer), although Maugham's cynical thesis about the hypocrisies of colonial justice is rather undercut by the addition of a pusillanimous finale in which Davis gets her comeuppance at private hands." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
Lightning Strikes Twice
Lightning Strikes Twice Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1951, USA, 91m, BW, Mystery-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Lenore Coffee (based on the novel A Man Without Friends by Margaret Echard) Producer Henry Blanke Photography Sidney Hickox Editor Thomas Reilly Music Max Steiner Cast Richard Todd, Ruth Roman, Mercedes McCambridge, Zachary Scott, Darryl Hickman, Frank Conroy, Kathryn Givney, Rhys Williams, Marjorie Bennett, Ralph Byrd.
"As the 1950s rolled in director King Vidor's brilliant but eccentric pictures became much more eccentric than brilliant. The Fountainhead and Ruby Gentry break down into interesting patterns of dynamic visuals, even as their overheated dramatics are impossible to take seriously. 1951's Lightning Strikes Twice forms a link between King Vidor and Douglas Sirk's delirious women's pictures. Faced with a gimmicky, far-fetched storyline and inconsistent characters, Vidor still manages to make the movie highly watchable, even enjoyable. The script by Lenore Coffee twists the basic idea of Rebecca into a filmic pretzel… Lightning Strikes Twice moves well and has a strange surprise or arresting image every few minutes or so. Vidor was a very dynamic director and we can see it in his choice of angles and his blocking." - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
The Limey
The Limey Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1999, USA, 88m, Col, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Lem Dobbs Producers John Hardy, Scott Kramer Photography Ed Lachman Editor Sarah Flack Music Cliff Martinez Cast Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Luis Guzman, Lesley Ann Warren, Barry Newman, Joe Dallesandro, Nicky Katt, Melissa George, Amelia Heinle, William Lucking.
"Shorn to bare-bones description, The Limey reads like an arrow-straight revenge story, no less banal in its mechanics than Death Wish or an old western. Of course, no one is more aware of this than director Steven Soderbergh, a sure-handed and increasingly eclectic stylist with a knack for taking basic genre elements and scrambling them into something fresh and formally exciting. Just as Soderbergh's Out Of Sight playfully retools the gritty funk of '70s B-pictures, The Limey is a clever and meaningful homage to fractured late-'60s classics, particularly John Boorman's Point Blank and Richard Lester's PetuliaThe Limey is a throwback to a great period in American cinema, one in which Soderbergh himself would have fit quite nicely." - Scott Tobias (A.V. Club)
The Limping Man
The Limping Man
1953, UK, 76m, BW, Crime-Drama-Mystery
Screenplay Ian Stuart Black, Reginald Long Producer Donald Ginsberg Photography Jonah Jones Editor Stanley Willis Music Arthur Wilkinson Cast Lloyd Bridges, Moira Lister, Alan Wheatley, Leslie Phillips, Helene Cordet, Andre Van Gyseghem, Tom Gill, Bruce Beeby, Rachel Roberts, Lionel Blair.
"Though this watchable and moody English thriller—about an American (Lloyd Bridges) visiting a former lover (Moira Lister) in London and becoming involved in a murder case—is signed by one “Charles De Lautour,” it's actually the first English feature of the black-listed American director Cy Endfield, who had to work anonymously or pseudonymously even in England during this period. (De Lautour was in fact a real director whom Endfield paid to “front” for him.) Despite an unsatisfying denouement that suggests hasty script work (the credited writers are Ian Stuart and Reginald Long), this manages to pack a lot into its tidy 74 minutes" - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader)
The Lineup
The Lineup Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1958, USA, 86m, BW, Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Stirling Silliphant (based on characters created by Lawrence L. Klee in the CBS television series The Lineup) Producer Frank Cooper Photography Hal Mohr Editor Al Clark Music Mischa Bakaleinikoff Cast Eli Wallach, Robert Keith, Warner Anderson, Richard Jaeckel, Mary LaRoche, William Leslie, Emile Meyer, Marshall Reed, Raymond Bailey, Vaughn Taylor.
"As cold-blooded and efficient as its two central hitmen - Dancer (Eli Wallach) and his mentor, Julian (Robert Keith) - The Lineup, directed by Don Siegel, is a departure from the film noirs of the forties with most of the action taking place in exotic locales in the glaring sunlight instead of atmospherically lit studio sets. The film is also a warm-up for Siegel's later remake of The Killers in 1964... The Lineup is a prime example of Siegel's creative approach to the B-movie genre film which is what he specialized in until the early sixties when he graduated to A pictures such as Hell is for Heroes (1962) and Madigan (1968). His skill at expertly staged action sequences was well known and the white knuckle finale to The Lineup is especially memorable." - Jeff Stafford (Turner Classic Movies)
Little Caesar
Little Caesar Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1931, USA, 79m, BW, Drama-Crime-Gangster Film
Screenplay Francis Edward Faragoh, Robert N. Lee (based on the novel by W.R. Burnett) Producer Hal B. Wallis Photography Tony Gaudio Editor Ray Curtiss Music Erno Rapee, Leo F. Forbstein Cast Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Glenda Farrell, William Collier Jr., Ralph Ince, Stanley Fields, Sidney Blackmer, George E. Stone, Thomas Jackson, Armand Kaliz.
"Though it looks somewhat dated now, there's no denying the seminal importance of this classic adaptation of WR Burnett's novel. Robinson - vain, cruel, jealous and vicious - is superb as the ruthlessly ambitious mobster Rico Bandello, determined to gain sole control of the city's criminal empire, anxious that his dancing-gigolo sidekick Massara (Fairbanks) should not leave him for a woman, and ending in bland astonishment that death should have overtaken him ('Mother of God, is this the end of Rico?'), despite the cautionary opening title assuring one and all that those who live by the sword, etc. Like many early talkies, the film often in fact errs on the slow side, at least in terms of dialogue; but the parallels with Capone, Tony Gaudio's photography, and LeRoy's totally unrepentant tone ensure that it remains fascinating." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
Loan Shark
Loan Shark
1952, USA, 74m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Eugene Ling, Martin Rackin (from an unpublished story by Martin Rackin) Producer Bernard Luber Photography Joseph Biroc Editor Al Joseph Music Heinz Roemheld Cast George Raft, Dorothy Hart, Paul Stewart, John Hoyt, Helen Westcott, Henry Slate, Russell Johnson, Margia Dean, Benny Baker, Lawrence Dobkin.
"Loan Shark is an average little B-level gangster picture, but it's quite enjoyable. Mind you, there's nothing especially inventive in its screenplay, which presents a situation and then goes through some very well-worn numbers as it follows the inevitable progression from that situation. The writers also are clearly unafraid of letting logic fall by the wayside when it suits them or of failing to explain things that seem more than a shade unbelievable. These are definite failings, but director Seymour Friedman takes these lemons and makes the proverbial lemonade: rather than fix these problems, he tries to barrel through the proceedings so no one will notice, with the result that Shark moves at a fast and steady clip." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
The Locket
The Locket Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1946, USA, 86m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Sheridan Gibney Producer Bert Granet Photography Nicholas Musuraca Editor J.R. Whittredge Music Roy Webb Cast Laraine Day, Brian Aherne, Robert Mitchum, Gene Raymond, Sharyn Moffett, Ricardo Cortez, Henry Stephenson, Katherine Emery, Mari Aldon, Polly Bailey.
"There are certainly any number of labyrinthianly complicated noirs, but nothing can quite prepare the viewer for the experience of watching John Brahm’s The Locket, famous for its “flashback within a flashback within a flashback” structure, perhaps the most convoluted narrative in the history of noir... Director John Brahm keeps a firm hand on the proceedings, and effectively stages The Locket so that most of it happens at night, on claustrophobic studio sets. Mitchum, a rising star at the time, is oddly convincing as Norman Clyde, a Bohemian artist with attitude to spare, and Nicholas Musuraca’s moody lighting leaves the characters, and the viewer, in a state of continual confusion and suspense." - Wheeler Winston Dixon (Film Noir of the Week)
The Lodger
The Lodger Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1944, USA, 84m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Mystery
Screenplay Barré Lyndon (based on the novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes) Producer Robert Bassler Photography Lucien Ballard Editor J. Watson Webb Music Hugo Friedhofer Cast Merle Oberon, George Sanders, Laird Cregar, Cedric Hardwicke, Sara Allgood, Doris Lloyd, Aubrey Mather, Queenie Leonard, David Clyde, Helena Pickard.
"One of the great evocations of that strange lost city of Hollywood imagination, the fogbound London of Jack the Ripper. It might almost be a continuation of Pandora's Box as a blind man haltingly taps his way through Whitechapel past posters announcing a reward for the Ripper's capture, a hulking figure prowls in the obscurity, a woman's screams are accompanied by animal panting while the camera stares blindly into a dark hole in the wall. Huge, feline, softly obscene as he builds his sonorous facade of biblical quotations and secretly rinses his bloody hands in the waters of the Thames, Laird Cregar gives a remarkable portrayal of perverted sexuality, at once horrific and oddly moving. Stunningly shot by Lucien Ballard, this is one of those rare films - like Casablanca - in which everything pulls together to create a weirdly compulsive atmosphere." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
The Long Good Friday
The Long Good Friday Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1980, UK, 114m, Col, Drama-Crime-Gangster Film
Screenplay Barrie Keefe Producer Barry Hanson Photography Phil Meheux Editor Mike Taylor Music Francis Monkman Cast Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Dave King, Eddie Constantine, Bryan Marshall, Derek Thompson, Brian Hall, Stephen Davies, George Coulouris, Pierce Brosnan.
"Directed by John Mackenzie and written by Barrie Keeffe, The Long Good Friday is a rabidly engaging, complex melodrama, brimming over with moxie. Unlike classic gangster heroes like Little Caesar, who fought their way out of the faceless mob and were punished for brutality and ambition, Harold Shand (Hoskins) struggles to control his animal urges and to act like a civic-minded businessman. He detests anarchy and tries to use violence only as a tool. If he’s doomed, it’s because his left-handed brand of capitalism can’t defend itself against the terrorism of the IRA… The movie is viciously funny and exciting, but the filmmakers never let us exult in Shand’s (or the IRA’s) bloodletting." - Michael Sragow (The Criterion Collection)
The Long Goodbye
The Long Goodbye Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1973, USA, 112m, Col, Drama-Crime-Mystery
Screenplay Leigh Brackett (from the novel by Raymond Chandler) Producer Jerry Bick Photography Vilmos Zsigmond Editor Lou Lombardo Music John Williams Cast Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson, David Arkin, Jim Bouton, Warren Berlinger, Jo Ann Brody, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"As played by Elliott Gould, Philip Marlowe is a quizzical, self-mocking figure, constantly commenting on the world and his anachronistic presence in it. Indeed, everyone seems trapped in a vacuum of nostalgia and allusions to the past, especially Hollywood's. Superbly photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond in a desaturated colour that echoes a bygone age, The Long Goodbye is an elegant, chilly, deliberately heartless movie. A masterpiece of sorts, it digs beneath the surface of the supposedly liberated spirit of the times to expose the ethos that took America into the Vietnam war and produced Watergate. In pushing the cynical idealist Marlowe over the edge it ends up true to the spirit of Chandler." - Philip French (The Observer)
The Long Night
The Long Night Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 101m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay John Wexley (from an earlier script for Le Jour se lève by Jacques Viot) Producers Anatole Litvak, Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim Photography Sol Polito Editor Robert Swink Music Dimitri Tiomkin Cast Henry Fonda, Barbara Bel Geddes, Vincent Price, Queenie Smith, June Duprez, Elisha Cook Jr., Howard Freeman, Ann Dvorak, Murray Alper, David Clarke.
"A gripping, if at times convoluted, thriller in the film noir vein, The Long Night let Henry Fonda show his considerable dramatic skill, which had recently been neglected in favor of lighter, more comedic fare. Fonda doesn't disappoint, creating a returning War vet whose loneliness is accentuated by the alienation he feels when he cannot really fit in as he wants to upon his return from the war... Night's multiple-flashback storyline does prove a bit confusing at times, and the melodrama occasionally gets slightly heavyhanded, but all in all director Anatole Litvak does an excellent job at creating tension, casting doubt, and keeping the film barreling along. He is aided enormously by the sensational lensing of Sol Polito, whose camera is essential in capturing the soul of the story." - Craig Butler (Allmovie)
The Long Wait
The Long Wait
1954, USA, 94m, BW, Crime-Drama-Mystery
Screenplay Alan Green, Lesser Samuels (from the novel by Mickey Spillane) Producer Lesser Samuels Photography Franz Planer Editor Ronald Sinclair Music Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Cast Anthony Quinn, Charles Coburn, Gene Evans, Peggie Castle, Mary Ellen Kay, Shirley Patterson, Dolores Donlon, Barry Kelley, James Millican, Bruno VeSota.
"Anthony Quinn as an amnesiac who is wanted for murder? You got him in The Long Wait, and not one but four femmes noir. Three blondes and a brunette. All leggy and not backward in coming forward. This violent and brutal flick has Mickey Spillane all over it. The second Spillane novel to be filmed in Hollywood – after I, The Jury (1953) – The Long Wait takes pulp fiction down to a new level. A preposterous plot with more holes than a pair of fishnet nylons itches a perversely compelling pastiche of noir tropes: amnesia, corruption in high places, crooked cops, frame-ups, violence, duplicitous dames, and sex… Despite a strange incoherence and lackadaisical direction from Brit Victor Saville, the talented lensing of Franz Planer sustains visual interest, with suitably dark lighting and expressionist flourishes." - Tony D’Ambra (Films Noir.net)
1954, USA, 80m, BW, Crime-Drama-Mystery
Screenplay Warren Douglas (from an unpublished story by George Bricker and Dwight V. Babcock) Producer Lindsley Parsons Photography William A. Sickner Editor Ace Herman Music Paul Dunlap Cast Barry Sullivan, Dorothy Malone, Charles McGraw, Don Haggerty, Mary Beth Hughes, Don Beddoe, Dayton Lummis, Joanne Jordan, John Eldredge, Richard Reeves.
"In addition to one of Charles McGraw’s most visceral performances, Loophole benefits from a surplus of L.A. location photography and an enjoyable pair of thieves, the reliable Don Beddoe and a wonderfully trampy Mary Beth Hughes. The underrated Barry Sullivan remains a credible protagonist and Dorothy Malone imbues realism into what could have been a thankless role. The movie’s thematic parallel with the Blacklist and Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose historical reckoning during the televised Army investigative hearings was underway when Loophole was released on March 28, 1954, is unmistakable. Six decades afterwards, the film holds up as an able example of late term noir that topically reflects the mores and mood of mid 20th century America." - Alan K. Rode (Film Noir of the Week)
Lost Highway
Lost Highway
1997, USA-France, 134m, Col, Mystery-Drama-Surrealist Film
Screenplay Barry Gifford, David Lynch Producers Deepak Nayar, Mary Sweeney, Tom Sternberg Photography Peter Deming Editor Mary Sweeney Music Angelo Badalamenti Cast Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Robert Loggia, Robert Blake, Gary Busey, Richard Pryor, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Michael Massee, Lucy Butler.
"Lost Highway, an elaborate hallucination that could never be mistaken for the work of anyone else, finds Lynch echoing the perversity of Blue Velvet, the earlier film of his that this most closely resembles. Both films share an eerie, mocking tone and some of the same aural and visual vocabulary. (Foreboding sounds like a dull roar. Certain walls have a womblike reddish hue. Women excite a furious mix of lust and loathing. Drivers hurtle down the middle of dark roadways, racing along the yellow line)… Much less shrill than Wild at Heart or Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the only other Lynch features since the 1986 Blue Velvet, this one constructs an intricate puzzle out of dream logic, lurid eroticism, violence, shifting identities and fierce intimations of doom." - Janet Maslin (The New York Times)
The Lost Weekend
The Lost Weekend Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1945, USA, 101m, BW, Addiction Drama, Social Problem Film
Screenplay Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett (from the novel by Charles R. Jackson) Producer Charles Brackett Photography John F. Seitz Editor Doane Harrison Music Miklos Rozsa Cast Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard da Silva, Doris Dowling, Frank Faylen, Mary Young, Anita Sharp Bolster, Lilian Fontaine, Lewis L. Russell.
"In Double Indemnity (1944) Billy Wilder had cast a much-liked light comedian, Fred MacMurray, as a weak murderer. A year later Wilder put handsome romantic lead Ray Milland into his noir masterpiece The Lost Weekend as Don Birnam, an alcoholic writer hitting rock bottom on a four-day bender in New York and ending up in an alcoholic ward... Although ultimately less bleak than Charles Jackson's autobiographical novel (it ends on an affirmative note and leaves out the book's hints of troubled homosexuality), the film is uncompromising in its depiction of the lies, self-deception and degradation that alcoholism leads to, and its confrontation of the fact that the only solution is abstinence. Jane Wyman (long-suffering girlfriend) and Howard Da Silva (sympathetic bartender) provide exceptional support to Milland, who rightly won an Oscar." - Philip French (The Observer)
1947, USA, 102m, BW, Crime-Mystery-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Leo Rosten (from a story by Jacques Companéez, Ernst Neubach and Simon Gantillon) Producer James Nasser Photography William Daniels Editors James E. Newcom, John M. Foley Music Michel Michelet Cast George Sanders, Lucille Ball, Charles Coburn, Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Joseph Calleia, Alan Mowbray, George Zucco, Robert Coote, Alan Napier.
"Set in London, Lured stars Lucille Ball as a no-nonsense American who gets swept up in the investigation of a string of murders… With a game cast and a clever script, Sirk keeps things moving along nicely, providing a colorful look at some seamy pockets of London life. Lured works as a compelling alternative to American noir: Horrible things may be happening, but Ball's plucky resolve and the granite upper lips of her new police friends—not to mention Sanders' unshakably dandyish appreciation of the finer things in life—keep everything in perspective, helping to render Lured as fun as it is suspenseful." - Keith Phipps (A.V. Club)
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)
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