Michael Shepler, cultural coordinator for PoliticalAffairs.net, has written an interesting article on noir westerns, Sagebrush Noir: The Western as ‘Social Problem’ Film. Schleper traces the origins of film noir from German expression through to the 50’s, and cites some Hollywood films of the 30s that are not usually referred to in discussions of film noir:
There were some pioneer American noirs such as Rowland Brown’s Beast of the City and Mamoulian’s City Streets and even a few embryonic westerns such as Wyler’s exceedingly grim version of the much filmed ‘Three Godfathers’ story, ‘Hell’s Heroes’ , shot in 1930.
He then goes on to review four western movies which he labels ‘Sagebrush Noirs’: Raoul Walsh’s Pursued (1947), Robert Wise’s Blood on the Moon (1948), and two early westerns by Anthony Mann, The Furies (1950) and Devil’s Doorway (1950). Other films noted by Shepler include Ramrod, Springfield Rifle, and Day of the Outlaw by Andre de Toth; Jubal, 3:10 to Yuma, Cowboy and The Hanging Tree by Delmer Daves; Budd Boetticher’s Randolph Scott westerns 7 Men From Now (1957) and Comanche Station (1960); Little Big Horn (1950) by Charles Marquis Warren; Sam Fuller’s I Shot Jesse James and Forty Guns; and two low budget Anthony Quinn films, The Man From Del Rio and The Ride Back which, were associated with Robert Aldrich’s ‘Associates and Robert Aldrich’ studio and produced during the same period as Kiss Me Deadly.
The full article is highly recommended.