1,000 Noir Films (W)

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Title / Director / Year / Country
The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Le Salaire de la peur (original title)
1953, France-Italy, 105m, BW, Thriller-Adventure-Action
Screenplay Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi (based on the novel Le Salaire de la Peur by Georges Arnaud) Producer Henri-Georges Clouzot, Raymond Borderie Photography Armand Thirard Editors Henri Rust, Madeleine Gug Music Georges Auric Cast Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter Van Eyck, Véra Clouzot, Folco Lulli, Darío Moreno, William Tubbs, Jo Dest, Antonio Centa, Luis De Lima.
"When Henri-Georges Clouzot took on a genre, it generally led to a classic: so Les Diaboliques is one of the most frightening pictures ever put on screen; The Mystery of Picasso is among the most outstanding films exploring the work of an artist; and The Wages of Fear has no superior in the field of action-suspense. Set in an unnamed south American country, the action starts in a small town with an airfield where we are introduced to four shady characters anxious to get out, but minus the money for a plane ticket. A very venal oil company offers them $2,000 each to drive trucks loaded with nitroglycerine over rough mountain roads to an oilfield that is on fire. The roads are awful. The hazards are unlimited… The way Clouzot films this process (in a movie of over two and a half hours) is a model of grinding, unrelieved suspense." - David Thomson (The Guardian)
Walk a Crooked Mile
Walk a Crooked Mile
1948, USA, 91m, BW, Crime-Drama-Spy Film
Screenplay George Bruce (based on a story by Bertram Millhauser) Producers Edward Small, Grant Whytock Photography George Robinson Editor James E. Newcom Music Paul Sawtell Cast Louis Hayward, Dennis O'Keefe, Louise Allbritton, Carl Esmond, Onslow Stevens, Raymond Burr, Art Baker, Lowell Gilmore, Philip Van Zandt, Charles Evans.
"Gordon Douglas directs in a semi-documentary style this Cold War espionage tale that eschews the reality of how the lawmen work in spy cases in favor of keeping it hopping along as an action thriller. Writer George Bruce adds a lot of plot twists from a story by Bertram Millhauser. It's a tolerable and unpretentious routine thriller that not only cautions against evil Russian Commie agents but possible American traitors in the scientific community… The film was shot on location to give it the right atmosphere. Though the acting was vanilla, the melodramatics contrived and the story predictable, there was suspense finding out who was the leaker and the situation was kept plausible. It's not a particularly good film, but it was entertaining." - Dennis Schwartz (Movie Reviews)
Walk East on Beacon!
Walk East on Beacon!
1952, USA, 98m, BW, Spy-Mystery-Drama
Screenplay Leo Rosten, Laurence Heath, Emmett Murphy, Virginia Shaler (based on the Reader's Digest article The Crime of the Century by J. Edgar Hoover) Producer Louis de Rochemont Photography Joseph Brun Editor Angelo Ross Music Louis Applebaum Cast George Murphy, Finlay Currie, Virginia Gilmore, Karel Stepanek, Louisa Horton, Peter Capell, Bruno Wick, Jack Manning, Karl Weber, Robert A. Dunn.
"Documentary-style Cold War spy picture, shot on location in Boston and produced by Louis de Rochemont, best known for the March of Time newsreel. A celebration of the FBI, it makes frightening and/or funny viewing today. Says one apologetic Commie, finding you have a Party card is like 'finding yourself married to a woman you hate'. Made of sterner stuff is Red George Roy Hill: resisting arrest with the original 'You can't pin anything on me!', he went on to direct subversive classics like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting. More surprisingly, journalist Nora Sayre learned that the CIA was leasing some ten prints a year from Columbia, including a number dubbed into foreign languages, as late as 1977." - Tom Charity (Time Out)
Walk Softly, Stranger
Walk Softly, Stranger
1950, USA, 81m, BW, Drama-Crime-Romance
Screenplay Frank Fenton (based on a story by Manuel Seff and Paul Yawitz) Producer Robert Sparks Photography Harry Wild Editor Frederic Knudtson Music Frederick Hollander Cast Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Spring Byington, Paul Stewart, Jack Paar, Jeff Donnell, John McIntire, Howard Petrie, Frank Puglia, Esther Dale.
"An intriguing set of variables: the 'sins of the past' crime movie meets doomy romance in Middle America. Career thief Cotten lodges with small town widow Byington while targeting wheelchair-bound heiress Valli as a marriage prospect, surmising her handicap might make her potentially receptive to his sweet talking advances. With the casting chemistry from The Third Man at work again, however, his emotions are soon playing it for real, though his professional vanity can't resist the lure of one last casino heist. A lacklustre third act puts the damper on an otherwise modestly individual saga of redemption, and if Cotten's performance is perhaps too low key for its own good, Valli brings smouldering complexity to her sketchily written role. Flaws notwithstanding, it insinuates into the memory." - Trevor Johnston (Time Out)
Wanted for Murder
Wanted for Murder
A Voice in the Night (alternative title)
1946, UK, 103m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Emeric Pressburger, Rodney Ackland, Maurice Cowan (based on the play by Terence de Marney and Percy Robinson) Producer Marcel Hellman Photography Mutz Greenbaum Editor E.B. Jarvis Music Mischa Spoliansky Cast Eric Portman, Dulcie Gray, Derek Farr, Roland Culver, Stanley Holloway, Barbara Everest, Bonar Colleano, Jenny Laird, Kathleen Harrison, Bill Shine.
"In this 1946 British thriller, a young clerk in a gramophone shop (Dulcie Gray) must choose between a modest bus conductor (Derek Farr), who truly loves her, and a silver-tongued toff (Eric Portman), who has murdered several women and would like to wring her neck. The killer is grandson of a notorious royal hangman, and in the movie's most delirious scene, set at Madame Tussauds, he locates the wax statue of his ancestor and shatters its head with his walking stick. Most of this is pretty stiff, though, puttering along in various drawing rooms before director Lawrence Huntington wraps it all up with a foot chase through Hyde Park. Emeric Pressburger (The Red Shoes) collaborated on the screenplay, and Stanley Holloway (Alfred Doolittle in My Fair Lady) turns up as a wisecracking police sergeant." - J.R. Jones (Chicago Reader)
Warning Shot
Warning Shot
1967, USA, 100m, Col, Mystery-Crime-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Mann Rubin (based on the novel 711 - Officer Needs Help by Whit Masterson) Producer Bob Banner, Buzz Kulik Photography Joseph Biroc Editor Archie Marshek Music Jerry Goldsmith Cast David Janssen, Ed Begley, Keenan Wynn, Sam Wanamaker, Lillian Gish, Stefanie Powers, Eleanor Parker, George Grizzard, George Sanders, Steve Allen.
"Staking out an apartment block on the watch for a psycho killer, Detective Sergeant Valens of the LA police (Janssen) is forced to shoot a man who keeps on coming with a gun when challenged. The dead man turns out to be a highly respected doctor, and there is no trace of the gun. Suspended with the threat of a manslaughter charge hanging over him, Valens goes rogue to clear his name. Neatly scripted from Whit Masterson's novel 711 - Officer Needs Help, the film is very enjoyable in the time-honoured private eye manner, even though the parade of vivid 'guest cameos' uncovered during Janssen's dogged trek through the spiralling mystery smacks less of noir tradition than of TV practice (Kulik had only recently graduated to movies)." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
The Web
The Web Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1947, USA, 87m, BW, Crime-Thriller-Drama
Screenplay Bertram Millhauser, William Bowers (based on a story by Harry Kurnitz) Producer Jerry Bresler Photography Irving Glassberg Editor Russell Schoengarth Music Hans J. Salter Cast Ella Raines, Edmond O'Brien, William Bendix, Vincent Price, Maria Palmer, John Abbott, Fritz Leiber, Howland Chamberlain, Tito Vuolo, Wilton Graff.
"The Web is a seminal film noir title, and one of the more unjustly underrated films in the genre. Indeed, it's a marvelous juggling act on the part of writers Harry Kurnitz and Bertram Millhauser (whose credits also include some of the better Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies at Universal) and director Michael Gordon, who manages to keep several interlocking and intertwined relationships and story components in the air at once, and pulls them all together so neatly in the finale that the viewer scarcely realizes what's happened until it's over... The ending may seem a little predictable 50-plus years on, because the particular plot device has been used so many times in movies and on television since, but if one can put aside memories of Peter Falk's Lt. Columbo et al., it still works and shows surprising sophistication for its period." - Bruce Eder (Allmovie)
The Well
The Well Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1951, USA, 85m, BW, Drama
Screenplay Clarence Greene, Russell Rouse Producer Clarence Greene, Leo Popkin Photography Ernest Laszlo Editor Chester W. Schaeffer Music Dimitri Tiomkin Cast Richard Rober, Harry Morgan, Barry Kelley, Gwendolyn Laster, Maidie Norman, George Hamilton, Ernest Anderson, Dick Simmons, Lane Chandler, Christine Larson.
"Rouse's first film as director (co-written with Clarence Greene, with whom he had scripted DOA the previous year). The first half is a vividly etched portrait of small-town unease as a black child is reported missing, the suspicions deepening a racial divide that threatens to escalate into racial violence on both sides as circumstances suggest that a white transient (Morgan) had something to do with her disappearance. The discovery that the little girl, scarcely more than a baby, has in fact fallen down an abandoned well, opens a safety valve; and the rest of the film is devoted to the rescue operation. It still grips, but in a more overtly crowd-pleasing way… An impressive piece, all the same, brilliantly shot by Ernest Laszlo." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
When Strangers Marry
When Strangers Marry Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
Betrayed (alternative title)
1944, USA, 67m, BW, Mystery-Thriller-Police Detective Film
Screenplay Dennis Cooper, Philip Yordan (from a story by George V. Moscov and W.K. Howard) Producers Frank King, Maurice King Photography Ira Morgan Editor Martin G. Cohn Music Dimitri Tiomkin Cast Robert Mitchum, Kim Hunter, Dean Jagger, Neil Hamilton, Dick Elliott, Edward Keane, Milton Kibbee, Lou Lubin, Dewey Robinson, Virginia Sale.
"In terms of plot, When Strangers Marry (later retitled Betrayed) plays as though someone took the best elements of Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, and The 39 Steps, plus The Seventh Victim (Kim Hunter's first film) and Val Lewton's overall approach to low-budget production, put them all into a box, shook them up, and spliced them together into this very satisfying whole. Unlike most B-pictures of the period, When Strangers Marry doesn't feel rushed or threadbare, and the acting is spot-on, although Robert Mitchum wasn't yet quite a good enough actor to do what the script demanded of him in the denouement. But Castle sustains the mood of suspense all the way through, and even manages to lighten it in odd ways, including an interlude in Harlem featuring an exceptional dance sequence in a club featuring Marie Bryant." - Bruce Eder (Allmovie)
Where Danger Lives
Where Danger Lives 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 84m, BW, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Charles Bennett (from an unpublished story by Leo Rosten) Producer Irving Cummings Jr. Photography Nicholas Musuraca Editor Eda Warren Music Roy Webb Cast Robert Mitchum, Faith Domergue, Claude Rains, Maureen O'Sullivan, Charles Kemper, Ralph Dumke, Billy House, Harry Shannon, Philip Van Zandt, Jack Kelly.
"Robert Mitchum as a young doctor who catches a heavy shot of l'amour fou for suicidal housewife Faith Domergue; before he knows it, her husband, Claude Rains, is wearing a cast-iron poker and they're making a run for the Mexican border. Director John Farrow nicely hits the nightmarish, hallucinatory qualities in this standard film noir plot: Mitchum spends the last half of the film barreling down the dirt roads of southern California with a brain concussion, passing out periodically and waking up surrounded by some of the bleakest scenery America has to offer. Nothing special for the genre, but a solid, terse piece of work from a filmmaker elsewhere given to preachiness." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Where the Sidewalk Ends 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 95m, BW, Drama-Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Ben Hecht (adapted by Victor Trivas, Frank P. Rosenberg and Robert E. Kent from the novel Night Cry by William L. Stuart) Producer Otto Preminger Photography Joseph LaShelle Editor Louis Loeffler Music Cyril J. Mockridge Cast Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill, Karl Malden, Bert Freed, Tom Tully, Ruth Donnelly, Craig Stevens, Neville Brand, Don Appell.
"For his last picture at 20th Century Fox, Otto Preminger reteamed his Laura and Whirlpool stars Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney for Where the Sidewalk Ends, an efficient, bleak noir with an Oedipal twist... Preminger visualizes his story's interpersonal dynamics with fluid camera movements and friction-fraught compositions that stress characters' antagonistic relationships with one another (as well as their surroundings), just as he employs a prevalent bifurcating shadow on Andrews's face to emphasize the police officer's conflicted nature. By alternating between physical confrontations staged in silence and expressionistic close-ups of the stone-faced Andrews set to Cyril Mockridge's crashing melodramatic score, the director accentuates not only the brutality but also the desperate emotional impact of his story's bursts of sudden violence." - Nick Schager (Slant Magazine)
While the City Sleeps
While the City Sleeps 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1956, USA, 100m, BW, Drama-Crime-Thriller
Screenplay Casey Robinson (from the novel The Bloody Spur by Charles Einstein) Producer Bert E. Friedlob Photography Ernest Laszlo Editor Gene Fowler Jr. Music Herschel Burke Gilbert Cast Dana Andrews, Ida Lupino, Rhonda Fleming, Sally Forrest, Thomas Mitchell, Vincent Price, George Sanders, Howard Duff, John Barrymore Jr., James Craig.
"From its title to the screaming strings that accompany the opening credits, While The City Sleeps benefits from lusty vulgarity. The film’s serial killer clearly majored in Eye-Bugging Studies at the Peter Lorre Academy Of Conspicuous Villains, and he’s strangely at home in the shadowy nighttime world Lang and screenwriter Casey Robinson populate with schemers, creeps, and women of easy virtue. Everyone has a price and an angle. Nothing is sacred, especially the newspaper business. In Lang’s brutally unsentimental, quick-witted, wildly entertaining valentine to the old-school newspaperman and the lost world he inhabited, the hunt for a deranged killer isn’t a mere matter of life and death. It’s more important than that: It’s newspaper business." - Nathan Rabin (A.V. Club)
Whirlpool Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1949, USA, 98m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Andrew Solt, Ben Hecht (from the novel Methinks the Lady by Guy Endore) Producer Otto Preminger Photography Arthur C. Miller Editor Louis Loeffler Music David Raksin Cast Gene Tierney, Richard Conte, Jose Ferrer, Charles Bickford, Barbara O'Neil, Eduard Franz, Fortunio Bonanova, Constance Collier, Ruth Lee, Ian MacDonald.
"The same themes and the same cool style as in Laura and Angel Face are at work in this portrait of the wealthy and sophisticated cracking apart at the seams, under pressure from psychological hang-ups, repressed passion, and innocent gullibility... Preminger translates the rather daft story (scripted by a pseudonymous Ben Hecht, loosely adapting Guy Endore's novel Methinks the Lady) into a typically unhysterical and lucid examination of people under stress: as the crime is investigated, currents of distrust, fear, and falsehood disturb the smooth waters of an apparently happy marriage... With its noir themes played out in cold, bright interiors, it's a fine example of the way Preminger, on occasion, managed to deflect routine melodrama into something more personal and profound." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
Whispering City
Whispering City
1947, Canada, 98m, BW, Mystery-Drama-Crime
Screenplay Leonard Lee, Rian James (from a story by Michael Lennox and George Zuckerman, with additional dialogue by Hugh Kemp, Sydney Banks and Gina Kaus) Producer George Marton Photography Guy Roe, William Steiner Editor Richard J. Jarvis, W.L. Bagier Music Morris C. Davis Cast Helmut Dantine, Mary Anderson, Paul Lukas, John Pratt, Joy Lafleur, George Alexander, Arthur Lefebvre, Mimi D'Estée, Henri Poitras, R.J. Jarvis.
"Watchable minor film noir, that is competently directed by Fyodor Otsep from a story by George Zuckerman and Michael Lennox. The acting by Paul Lukas and Helmut Dantine is far beyond what you would expect in such a cheapie film. But the narrative has too many coincidental plot points to be believable, though the crisply told story is for the most part entertaining. The film is told in flashback by a tourist guide sleigh driver to two riders in Quebec City. American reporter Mary Roberts (Mary Anderson) for the Quebec City newspaper is sent by her editor Edward Durant (Pratt) to get a story on the once famous actress Renée Brancourt (D'Estée), who is a victim of a car accident and is dying in a hospital. Renée manages to tell Mary that her wealthy fiancé, whom she was to marry in a week, was murdered and his death was not an accident as reported." - Dennis Schwartz (World Movie Reviews)
Whispering Footsteps
Whispering Footsteps
1943, USA, 54m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Dane Lussier, Gertrude Walker (based on the story by Gertrude Walker) Producer George Blair Photography Jack Marta Editor Ralph Dixon Music Mort Glickman Cast John Hubbard, Rita Quigley, Joan Blair, Charles Halton, Cy Kendall, Juanita Quigley, Mary Gordon, William 'Billy' Benedict, Matt McHugh, Marie Blake.
"Small-town bank clerk Marc Borne (Hubbard) resembles the composite sketch produced of The Studious Strangler and is accordingly investigated by Det. Brad Dolan (Kendall). Although Dolan concludes fairly soon that Marc's innocent, this doesn't stop the tongues chattering in sleepy Medallion, Ohio, least of all in the boardinghouse where Marc lives, run by Ma Murphy (Gordon). Luckily, he's befriended by Helene LaSalle (Blair), who's having an affair with Marc's boss (Halton)… For all its brevity, this taut little item packs a powerful message about the evils of ignorant gossip." - John Grant (A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir)
Whistle Stop
Whistle Stop
1946, USA, 85m, BW, Crime-Drama
Screenplay Philip Yordan (based on the novel by Maritta M. Wolff) Producer Seymour Nebenzal Photography Russell Metty Editor Gregg Tallas Music Dimitri Tiomkin Cast George Raft, Ava Gardner, Victor McLaglen, Tom Conway, Jorja Curtright, Jane Nigh, Florence Bates, Charles Drake, Charles Judels, Carmel Myers.
"Mary (Gardner) returns from Chicago to her backwater hometown and dithers over taking up once more with deadbeat old flame Kenny Veech (Raft); however during her two-year absence he's become a resentful man, so she canoodles instead with wealthy club owner Lew Lentz (Conway). Lento's barman, Gitlo (McLaglen), and Veech plot to rob and murder Lentz, but that falls through when Mary intuits what's going on… McLaglen's splendid and Gardner as always lights up the screen, but the script's ramshackle and Raft somnambulant" - John Grant (A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir)
The Whistler
The Whistler
1944, USA, 59m, BW, Thriller-Mystery-Crime
Screenplay Eric Taylor (based on the radio serial by J. Donald Wilson) Producer Rudolph C. Flothow Photography James S. Brown Jr. Editor Jerome Thoms Music Lucien Moraweck, René Garriguenc Cast Richard Dix, Gloria Stuart, J. Carrol Naish, Alan Dinehart, Trevor Bardette, William 'Billy' Benedict, Charles Coleman, Clancy Cooper, Don Costello, Ralph Dunn.
"Based on one of the most popular radio mystery serials in American history, The Whistler offers a surprisingly effective cinematic translation of the show’s formulaic intrigue and suspense. Director William Castle — who went on to greater glory as the “schlockmeister” behind films such as The Tingler (1959) and Strait-Jacket (1964) — reportedly used “creative tactics” to elicit a suitably haggard and tense performance from wooden leading man Richard Dix, who wanders through the one-hour film desperate to reverse a chain of events he himself has put into motion; we can’t help vicariously experiencing his anxiety. Despite a few minor plot holes, The Whistler is worth a look both for its cultural significance and for the simple yet honest enjoyment it brings." - Film Fanatic.org
White Heat
White Heat 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1949, USA, 114m, BW, Crime-Gangster Film-Thriller
Screenplay Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts (based on a story by Virginia Kellogg) Producer Louis F. Edelman Photography Sidney Hickox Editor Owen Marks Music Max Steiner Cast James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Margaret Wycherly, Steve Cochran, John Archer, Paul Guilfoyle, Fred Clark, Wally Cassell, Ford Rainey.
"Raoul Walsh's heroes had a knack for going too far, but none went further than James Cagney in this roaring 1949 gangster piece. Cagney is a psychotic punk who sleeps in his mother's lap between jobs; otherwise, he's continually in motion, blasting away at cops and bystanders. Pure id, he could be the most unbalanced hero in film noir, yet Walsh's swift, pounding direction keeps you cheering for him up to the famous ending, which finds Cagney shouting “Top of the world, ma!” as the world he ignited goes up in flames. His own energy does him in: he can't contain it, and he finally explodes—the film leaves you drained and weirdly exhilarated." - Dave Kehr (Chicago Reader)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1988, USA, 103m, Col, Mystery-Comedy-Animated
Screenplay Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman (based on the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf) Producer Frank Marshall, Robert Watts Photography Dean Cundey Editor Arthur Schmidt Music Alan Silvestri Cast Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Stubby Kaye, Alan Tilvern, Richard Le Parmentier, Joel Silver, Paul Springer, Richard Ridings, Edwin Craig.
"The darker themes beneath the bright surfaces of Zemeckis’s films broke through with this multiplex masterpiece, set in an alternate Hollywood of the late 1940s where cartoon characters are the designated Other, confined to a ghetto and subjected to attempted genocides—when they aren’t being paraded around for the amusement of the oppressive human majority. Bob Hoskins is the private detective who crosses the line when he befriends the title character (memorably animated by Richard Williams and voiced by Charles Fleischer), an insecure animated star concerned that his cantilevered wife (with the voice of Kathleen Turner) is having an affair." - The Museum of Modern Art
Who'll Stop the Rain?
Dog Soldiers (alternative title)
1978, USA, 126m, Col, Drama-Crime-Action
Screenplay Judith Rascoe, Robert Stone (from the novel Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone) Producers Gabriel Katzka, Herb Jaffe Photography Richard H. Kline Editor John Bloom Music Laurence Rosenthal Cast Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld, Michael Moriarty, Anthony Zerbe, Richard Masur, Ray Sharkey, Gail Strickland, Charles Haid, David Opatoshu, Joaquin Martinez.
"A traumatised Vietnam war correspondent can draw 'no more cheap morals' from the bloody absurdity around him. 'In a world where elephants are pursued by flying men, everyone's gonna want to get high' he reasons, as he blindly steps into the heroin business and joins the 'Dog Soldiers' of Robert Stone's novel and Reisz's excellent adaptation. Involving old buddy Nolte and his own wife Weld in his doomed dope deal, he precipitates a compelling chase through the corrupt moral wasteland of counter-culture/CIA-culture America… Reisz nimbly avoids the Big Theme style, finds the pace of his material early, and sustains it brilliantly, emerging with a contemporary classic of hard-edged adventure and three superb character studies." - Paul Taylor (Time Out)
Wicked Woman
Wicked Woman
1953, USA, 77m, BW, Drama
Screenplay Clarence Greene, Russell Rouse Producer Clarence Greene Photography Eddie Fitzgerald Editor Chester W. Schaeffer Music Buddy Baker Cast Beverly Michaels, Richard Egan, Percy Helton, Evelyn Scott, Robert Osterloh, William 'Bill' Phillips, Frank Ferguson, Bernadene Hayes, Helen Brown, Sidney Clute.
"With the affect of a sleazy 1950s paperback novel’s cover, and all its lurid come-ons and empty promises, Russell Rouse’s Wicked Woman appears to be just another campy, trashy wallow in the lower depths of American life. Behind that crude exterior is an admittedly tawdry but sobering slice of femme fatale film noir… Wicked Woman is not a standard bad-girl B noir. Its characters are too busy being miserable to get what they want, and too resigned to their dreary fates to fight them. Billie (Michaels) seems more down in the dumps than seductive throughout the movie. Her detachment from life seems profound… The documentary-like attention to detail in the film’s surroundings enhances this glum air. Billie’s room, with its hotplate, battered fridge and time worn furniture, is a temple for the blues of a lifetime." - Frank M. Young (Film Noir of the Week)
The Window
The Window Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1949, USA, 73m, BW, Thriller-Drama
Screenplay Mel Dinelli (from the novella The Boy Cried Murder by Cornell Woolrich) Producer Frederick Ullman Photography William Steiner Editor Frederic Knudtson Music Roy Webb Cast Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart, Ruth Roman, Tom Ahearne, Richard Benedict, Lloyd Dawson, Carl Faulkner, Budd Fine.
"Adapted by Mel Dinelli from a Cornell Woolrich story, this taut 1949 thriller is one of the most underrated B pictures of the 40s, perhaps because neither its director (Ted Tetzlaff) nor its stars (Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Ruth Roman, and Paul Stewart) are strong calling cards today. Driscoll won a special Oscar for his performance as a little boy known for telling fibs who witnesses a murder from a fire escape one night but can't get anyone to believe him. This is almost as close to neorealism as to noir—the details of working-class city life are especially fine." - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader)
Without Warning
Without Warning
1952, USA, 75m, BW, Thriller-Drama-Crime
Screenplay William Raynor Producers Arthur Gardner, Jules V. Levy Photography Joseph Biroc Editor Arthur H. Nadel Music Herschel Burke Gilbert Cast Adam Williams, Meg Randall, Edward Binns, Harlan Warde, John Maxwell, Angela Stevens, Byron Kane, Charles Tannen, Marilee Phelps, Robert Foulk.
"Plenty of early 1950s independents were turning out low-budget B&W crime thrillers but few are really memorable. Thanks to a tight script and good direction, this story of a serial killer is far better than most. It compares favorably to Edward Dmytryk and Stanley Kramer's somewhat similar The Sniper of the same year. If Without Warning! derives from an earlier model, it's the superior manhunt drama He Walked by Night from 1948. Both films feature loner anti-heroes that give L.A. cops a run for their money before being cornered in a violent finale. Without Warning! doesn't have the previous film's John Alton to give it a fine noir visual edge, but it compensates by creating one of the first credible psycho-killer stories in which the criminal is the leading character." - Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant)
Witness to Murder
Witness to Murder
1954, USA, 83m, BW, Thriller-Crime
Screenplay Chester Erskine, Nunnally Johnson [uncredited] Producer Chester Erskine Photography John Alton Editor Robert Swink Music Herschel Burke Gilbert Cast Barbara Stanwyck, George Sanders, Gary Merrill, Jesse White, Harry Shannon, Claire Carleton, Lewis Martin, Dick Elliott, Harry Tyler, Juanita Moore.
"Written by producer Chester Erskine, with a pungent assist from uncredited Nunnally Johnson, Witness to Murder is a marvelous little thriller topped by a finale that moves the viewer in the direction of cardiac arrest. Barbara Stanwyck gives an exceptionally fine, delicately nuanced performance as Cheryl Draper, a forthright interior decorator and painter in Los Angeles who makes the mistake of phoning the police after witnessing the murder of a young woman late at night in an apartment across from hers... Roy Rowland (The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, 1953) directed; the brilliant score is by Herschel Burke Gilbert; the shadowy black-and-white—mostly eerily gray—cinematography, by John Alton." - Dennis Grunes
Woman in Hiding
Woman in Hiding
1950, USA, 92m, BW, Thriller-Drama
Screenplay Oscar Saul, Roy Huggins (based on the novel Fugitive from Terror by James Webb) Producer Michael Kraike Photography William Daniels Editor Milton Carruth Music Frank Skinner Cast Ida Lupino, Howard Duff, Stephen McNally, Peggy Dow, John Litel, Taylor Holmes, Irving Bacon, Don Beddoe, Joe Besser, Fred Aldrich.
"Ida Lupino (who became a pioneering female director in Hollywood and certainly knew her way around a noir or two) stars in Woman in Hiding as Deborah, a newlywed who begins to suspect that her seemingly perfect husband (McNally) may have been more than slightly involved in the death of her father… A crackerjack little thriller… The premise will seem more than a little familiar to many viewers since the same plot was recycled almost verbatim in Sleeping with the Enemy with Julia Roberts (with far more unintentionally hilarious results), and as usual, Lupino really gives it her all with a magnetic performance." - Nathaniel Thompson (Mondo Digital)
The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1944, USA, 107m, BW, Thriller-Crime-Drama
Screenplay Nunnally Johnson (from the novel Once Off Guard by J.H. Wallis) Producer Nunnally Johnson Photography Milton Krasner Editor Marjorie Johnson Music Arthur Lange Cast Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Raymond Massey, Edmund Breon, Thomas Jackson, Arthur Loft, Dorothy Peterson, Frank Dawson, Carol Cameron.
"A classic noir thriller with Robinson in top form as the likeable professor of criminal psychology who finds his most vivid fantasies and fears fulfilled when his wife and kids take a vacation and leave him alone to cope with the evils of the big city. Meeting up (innocently, it seems) with the woman of his dreams - the subject of a painting in a gallery window he passes regularly - he becomes involved first in the violent killing of a man, then in blackmail... With Bennett and Duryea superb as the eponymous heroine and the blackmailer, and atmospheric camerawork by Milton Krasner, it's not merely a dazzling piece of suspense, but also a characteristically stark demonstration of Lang's belief in the inevitability of fate: Robinson, basically a good man, makes one small slip in a moment of relaxation, and he's doomed." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
The Woman on Pier 13
The Woman on Pier 13
I Married a Communist (alternative title)
1949, USA, 73m, BW, Drama-Crime-Propaganda Film
Screenplay Charles Grayson, Robert Hardy Andrews Producer Jack J. Gross Photography Nicholas Musuraca Editor Roland Gross Music Leigh Harline Cast Laraine Day, Robert Ryan, John Agar, Thomas Gomez, Janis Carter, Richard Rober, William Talman, Paul E. Burns, Paul Guilfoyle, G. Pat Collins.
"This was the notorious project with which eager beaver Howard Hughes did his bit for Uncle Sam during the witch hunt days, assigning it to a string of RKO directors (turn it down, and you labelled yourself pinko or worse). Day is the lady who marries Ryan after a whirlwind courtship, knowing only that he is a top executive with a San Francisco shipping company who used to be a stevedore. The Commies, though, know that he was briefly a Party member during the Depression, and begin blackmailing him... The sterling cast can make no headway against cartoon characters, a fatuous script that defies belief, and an enveloping sense of hysteria. Nick Musuraca's noir-ish camerawork, mercifully, is stunning." - Tom Milne (Time Out)
The Woman on the Beach
The Woman on the Beach
1947, USA, 71m, BW, Melodrama
Screenplay Frank Davis, Jean Renoir, Michael Hogan (from the novel None So Blind by Mitchell Wilson) Producer Jack J. Gross Photography Harry Wild, Leo Tover Editors Lyle Boyer, Roland Gross Music Hanns Eisler Cast Joan Bennett, Robert Ryan, Charles Bickford, Nan Leslie, Walter Sande, Irene Ryan, Glenn Vernon, Frank Darien, Jay Norris, Hugh Chapman.
"Summing up his Hollywood period, Renoir commented that "Although I don’t regret my American films, I know for a fact they don’t even come close to any ideal I have for my work... they represent seven years of unrealized works and unrealized hopes. And seven years of deceptions too..." Even if this is so, Woman on the Beach is still a remarkable film, the only true noir that Renoir ever made, and one of the most economical and relentless examinations of a marriage in collapse ever filmed, along with Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 masterpiece Le Mépris (Contempt)... At 71 minutes, the film has little time to waste, and is harrowingly compact. Woman on the Beach is Renoir’s one true American masterpiece, unto which he distilled all his disdain for the Hollywood studio system and American culture." - Wheeler Winston Dixon (Film Noir of the Week)
Woman on the Run
Woman on the Run Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1950, USA, 77m, BW, Crime-Drama-Thriller
Screenplay Alan Campbell, Norman Foster (from a magazine story by Sylvia Tate) Producer Howard Welsch Photography Hal Mohr Editor Otto Ludwig Music Arthur Lange, Emil Newman Cast Ann Sheridan, Dennis O'Keefe, Robert Keith, Ross Elliott, Frank Jenks, John Qualen, J. Farrell MacDonald, Joan Shawlee, Steven Geray, Reiko Sato.
"In 1950, Norman Foster delivered one of the odder noirs on record, Woman on the Run. It stars Ann Sheridan as a woman trying to track down her husband when he disappears after witnessing a murder. The exact details of the murder plot are sketched on the fly — always a good indication that the plot is of trifling importance. Instead, the main thing that Woman on the Run has going for it is that it's weird. The combination of slanted angles and Arthur Lange's pounding score produces some of this effect, but most of the strangeness here derives from a contrast between realism and artifice. While the film was shot on location in San Francisco, much of it was also clearly shot in the confines of a studio. This creates a disjointed effect for the viewer, but in a sense disjointed effects are what film noir is all about." - Jake Hinkson (Bright Lights Film Journal)
A Woman's Secret
A Woman's Secret
1949, USA, 84m, BW, Drama-Mystery-Detective Film
Screenplay Herman J. Mankiewicz (from the novel Mortgage on Life by Vicki Baum) Producer Herman J. Mankiewicz Photography George E. Diskant Editor Sherman Todd Music Frederick Hollander Cast Maureen O'Hara, Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Grahame, Bill Williams, Victor Jory, Mary Philips, Jay C. Flippen, Robert Warwick, Curt Conway, Ann Shoemaker.
"Something of an RKO chore for Ray, to be sure. But a nicely structured script by Herman J Mankiewicz (from a novel by Vicki Baum) - repeating the investigative flashback structure of Citizen Kane as it examines the events leading up to the death of ex-singer O'Hara's devious and ungrateful protégée (beautifully incarnated by Grahame) - is well served by the civilised direction, which not only turns the Vicki Baum melodrama into a noir-ish mystery, but also stresses, as so often in Ray, the importance of interior space and the way it reflects/influences action. Entertaining, and less routine than it sounds." - Geoff Andrew (Time Out)
Women's Prison
1955, USA, 79m, BW, Prison-Drama
Screenplay Crane Wilbur, Jack DeWitt (from a story by Jack DeWitt) Producer Jack DeWitt Photography Lester White Editor Henry Batista Music Mischa Bakaleinikoff Cast Ida Lupino, Jan Sterling, Cleo Moore, Audrey Totter, Phyllis Thaxter, Howard Duff, Warren Stevens, Barry Kelley, Gertrude Michael, Vivian Marshall.
"A perfectly and enjoyably tawdry little prison drama, a minor classic of the disreputable (and yet irresistible) “women in prison” subgenre thanks to the smart-alecky camaraderie of the inmates and the classy slumming of Ida Lupino as the ruthless warden of the women’s wing, a real piece of work who wields power with a sadistic satisfaction. There’s a hysterical middle-class woman utterly at sea inside, an injured hand in a laundry press, a riot, and a pregnant woman beaten to death by Lupino, plus all the curvy bleached-blonde cons you could hope for (is peroxide part of the program?)" - Sean Axmaker (seanax.com)
World for Ransom
World for Ransom
1954, USA, 80m, BW, Crime-Action-Spy Film
Screenplay Lindsay Hardy, Hugo Butler [uncredited] Producers Bernard Tabakin, Robert Aldrich Photography Joseph Biroc Editor Michael Luciano Music Frank De Vol Cast Dan Duryea, Gene Lockhart, Patric Knowles, Reginald Denny, Nigel Bruce, Marian Carr, Arthur Shields, Douglas Dumbrille, Keye Luke, Clarence Lung.
"A Monogram cheapie derived from the NBC TV series China Smith, this is a seminal Aldrich movie with Duryea, as private eye Mike Callahan, the first in a long line of compromised idealists who recur throughout the director's work. The plot concerns a kidnapped nuclear scientist - we're in Cold War country here - and the story's set in a Poverty Row Singapore. 'It was a parody on the usual exotic espionage adventure films' Aldrich remarked in an interview... Boy's Own material on the surface, maybe, but on the level of characterisation a compelling exploration of partnerships, brotherly bonds, and the fallibility of trust." - Martyn Auty (Time Out)
The Wrong Man
The Wrong Man 100 Essential Noirs (or the 100 films most often referred to as noir) Recommended Viewing (by TSPDT)
1956, USA, 105m, BW, Drama-Crime
Screenplay Angus MacPhail, Maxwell Anderson (from The True Story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero by Maxwell Anderson) Producer Alfred Hitchcock Photography Robert Burks Editor George Tomasini Music Bernard Herrmann Cast Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle, Richard Robbins, Harold J. Stone, Nehemiah Persoff, Charles Cooper, Esther Minciotti, Laurinda Barrett, Norma Connolly.
"Claims that The Wrong Man is the first film Hitchcock made based on real events are a tad spurious (Leopold and Loeb, anyone?), but it does find the master far enough removed from his P.T. Barnum impulses that one could be forgiven for thinking its somber gravity represented his first stab at docudrama. In any case, it's a woefully underrated and truly harrowing study of the psychological cost of misguided suspicion and mistaken identity. Though it came off his mid-'50s string of flossy big-budget romps, its closest antecedent in Hitchcock's work is, of course, the courtroom drama of wrongful guilt I Confess, and the final scene's insistently downbeat pessimism clearly sees Hitchcock steeling himself for the auto-analytical come clean of the immediately forthcoming Vertigo." - Eric Henderson (Slant Magazine)
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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