Monday, June 24, 2013
Matt’s Ten Favorite Film Noir (at this moment)
A friend requested a list of good Film Noir to watch, so I put this together. Like most genre there is no 100% sure rule for what does or does not count as Noir. So I’m listing my ten favorite films that I think of when I think of Noir. These are all must sees. While I don’t think the order is arbitrary, the exact placement largely depends on how fresh in my mind each film is. I think these should serve as a solid jumping-off point for any new Noir viewer.
10. Double Indemnity (1944) Two horribly unlikable people fall into a sick kind of love that can only lead to one place. Grim and weirdly kinky, it’s a must.
9. Detour (1945) Don’t pick up a hitch-hiker. Just don’t do it. Things go from bad to much, much worse for a poor schmuck too dumb to get out of his own way when he gets mixed up with one seriously crazy dame.
8. Tension (1949) A meek pharmacist with a horrid wife gets the rage and plans a murder. Things don’t quite go as planned. The twists and turns in this film are a bit hard to swallow, but the cast is so good, it manages to be a lot of fun to watch.
7. Touch of Evil (1958) Orson Welles directs and plays the disgusting ogre good ‘ol boy cop at the heart of the movie’s darkest depths. Charlton Heston is the honorable Mexican cop who has to brave bigotry and corruption. Janet Leigh is his pretty young wife who goes on a whirlwind journey into terror. Beautiful and disgusting. And Welles saves the harshest and ugliest stuff for himself, looking like a bloated toad, ranting with vile hate. It’s great.
6. Pickup on South Street (1953) Perpetually shifty Richard Widmark is delightfully sleazy in this gritty tale of life on the streets and those danged dirty Reds.
5. Out of the Past (1947) Robert Mitchum plays a guy who just wants to be left alone. But his dark and dirty past won’t stay behind him. A very cool film with a really good cast.
4. The Big Heat (1953) Filled with all the nasty this genre has to offer. Glenn Ford is a bastard. Lee Marvin is a beast. And Gloria Grahame proves that Hell hath no fury like a woman scalded.
3. The Hitch-Hiker (1953) This down and dirty, low budget flick is full of uncomfortable tensions and sinister behavior. Director Ida Lupino may have been better known for her work in front of the camera, but it’s clear she had plenty of talent behind it as well.
2. Kiss Me Deadly (1955) From Ralph Meeker’s casual evil (and he’s the protagonist) and the crackling dialog to the absolutely terrifying conclusion, this is one of the more brutal and nasty films of its time. I’m often surprised people don’t talk about it more.
1. The Maltese Falcon (1941) While this is not even close to my favorite Humphrey Bogart film (that‘s In a Lonely Place), nor my favorite Noir (possibly Kiss Me Deadly), it does seem to be the film all others in the genre are judged by/compared to. And with good reason. The cast is awesome and it plays out in a lot of cool and crazy ways. And when you think Bogart, you’re probably thinking about this or Casablanca. It's an absolute must see and worthy of its classic status.