300 capsule reviews of films noir. The listing is up-dated continuously. Longer film noir reviews here.
- 13 East Street (1952 – UK)
Does not have any ambitions beyond similar police procedurals of the period. It does manage to have us rooting for the crooks.
- 711 Ocean Drive (1950 – US)
You have to wait till the end to get an adrenalin fix, with a slam-bam chase and shoot-out at Boulder Dam.
- 99 River Street (1953 – US)
Essential Phil Karlson b. Pulp poetry from DP Franz Planer. Matches the best of Mann and Fuller. Evelyn Keys is hot!
- A Woman’s Secret (1949 – US)
Nick Ray feature starts off noir but plays out as sophisticated melodrama with an acid wit. Shades of All About Eve.
- Ace in the Hole (1952 – US)
A savage critique of a corrupted and corrupting modern mass media. Billy Wilder’s best movie. Kirk Douglas owns it.
- Act of Violence (1948 – US)
Long-shot and deep focus climax filmed night-for-night on a railway platform: the stuff noirs are made of.
- Alias Nick Beal (1949 – US)
The Devil wears Armani. “I don’t do much business with preachers”. Ray Milland is Beelzebub in a sharp suit and fedora.
- Allotment Wives (1945 – US)
Climax is brutal with Kay Francis plugging a dame without qualm or remorse, but justice triumphs in the end. Camp!
- The Amazing Mr. X (1948 – US)
Brilliant gothic satire. John Alton expressionist lens, Bernard Vorhaus fluid direction, and ace Alex Laszlo score.
- Angel Face (1952 – US)
Gothic noir. Preminger’s sardonic detachment makes it one-dimensional. Final denouement is still a shocker.
- Apology for Murder (1945 – US)
Entertaining PRC rip-off of Double Indemnity. Hugh Beaumont plays the sap to Anne Savage’s femme-fatale.
- Armored Car Robbery (1950 – US)
Cops chase hoods on the streets of LA with dark noir atmospherics. A tight 67 minutes of b-movie mayhem.
- The Asphalt Jungle (1950 – US)
Quintessential heist movie transcends melodrama and noir. A police siren wails: “Sounds like a soul in hell.”.
- Behind Locked Doors (1948 – US)
Bud Bottiecher b. PI enters a sanatorium undercover to flush out a crook. A feast of metaphors for Bottiecher aficionados
- Betrayed (aka When Strangers Marry) (1944 – US)
Monogram b by William Castle. The noir city in all its desperate foreboding: a dancing sign flashes in the angel’s face.
- The Bigamist (1953 – US)
A weak man digs himself into a bind that cannot be broken without tragic consequences, with an ambivalence that refuses to judge evoking strong realistic performances and audience sympathy without overt melodrama.
- The Big Bluff (1955 – US)
Played out in a fetid LA in a conniving race to the bottom that sucks you down into a putrid swamp. The homme-fatale is tripped-up in a quintessential noir dénouement, twisted and out of left field.
- The Big Clock (1948 – US)
Ray Milland framed for murder by Charles Laughton. The whole scenario is played too lightly and with no atmosphere.
- The Big Combo (1955 – US)
“I live in a maze… a strange blind backward maze’. Obsessed cop hunts down a psychotic crime boss in best noir of 50s.
- The Big Heat (1953 – US)
Gloria Grahame as existential hero in Fritz Lang’s brooding socio-realist noir critique.
- The Big Knife (1955 – US)
A melodrama about Hollywood filmed with a flatness and harsh lighting that washes out any nuance or ambivalence, the players are left to strut their stuff with exaggerated gestures and contrived rhetoric.
- The Big Night (1951 – US)
Joseph Losey’s last American movie is a powerful and affecting drama of a boy crossing into manhood one big noir night.
- The Big Sleep (1946 – US)
Love’s Vengeance Lost. Darker than Dmytryk’s Murder, My Sweet. Bogart is tougher, more driven, and morally suspect.
- The Big Steal (1949 – US)
“Oh Mexico” A fun ride with real magic between Mitchum and Greer -any guy with blood in his veins will fall for her.
- La Bionda (1992 – Italy)
Patience with an early slow pace more concerned with characterisation than narrative drive is amply rewarded in a dénouement of almost unbearable hysteria.
- Bitter Rice (1949 – Italy)
Aka ‘Riso Amaro’. Classic neo-realist socialist melodrama. Homme-fatale destroys a passionate innocent and meets a gruesome noir end in an abattoir.
- Black Angel (1946 – US)
Visually elegant psycho-noir from Cornell Woolrich story. Dan Duryea and June Vincent impress. Hypnotic dream climax.
- The Black Cat (1934 – US)
Edgar G. Elmar’s elegant camp thriller. A1 art deco set & costume design. Ravishingly erotic expressionist masterpiece!
- Blind Alley (1939 – US)
Breaks the new ground otherwise credited to Stranger on the Third Floor: criminal behavior presented as psychosis and the use of expressionist dreams and flashback to find meaning in the past.
- Blood on the Moon (1948 – US)
Moody noir western. Mysterious drifter with divided loyalties courts virginal rancher’s daughter in britches.
- The Blue Dahlia (1946 – US)
Ladd to Veronica Lake: ‘Every guy’s seen you before – somewhere’. Camp turn by Doris Dowling as the “murdered dame”.
- The Blue Gardenia (1953 – US)
Minor Fritz Lang effort. Not really noir but some moody scenes from cameraman Nick Musuraca. Anne Baxter shines.
- Blues in the Night (1941 – US)
Unusual melodrama cum musical with a leftist heart and a killer performance by Betty Field as cheap femme-fatale.
- Bob le Flambuer (1956 – France)
Cynical resolution and less-than-human dynamics offset brilliant sylistics.
- Body and Soul (1947 – US)
A masterwork. Melodramatic expose of the fight game and a savage indictment of money capitalism. Garfield’s picture.
- Bodyguard (1948 – US)
“I keep meat warm” Breezy b. No angst or femme-fatales, just a a good old yarn about the corrupt rich and their criminal machinations.
- Boomerang (1947 – US)
Kazan’s early verite-story of integrity in the face of political corruption & police expediency while dated remains strong.
- Border Incident (1949 – US)
Subversive expressionist noir from Dir Anthony Mann DP John Alton and writer John C Higgin an indictment of US agribusiness.
- Born to Kill (1947 – US)
Ripe melodrama that retained an aura of the souce novel’s strangeness and succeeds on the powerhouse performance of Claire Trevor as a conniving divorcee.
- Breaking Point (1950 – US)
Great John Garfield vehicle with strong social subtext. Much stronger than from the same source To Have and Have Not.
- The Bribe (1949 – US)
How not to film a noir. Ava Gardner looks great in peasant garb & Charles Laughton hams it up as a low-life.
- Brick (2005 – US)
Though technically competent with clever noir allusions, confusing plot with unintelligible mumbled dialog of tribal argot.
- Brighton Rock (1947 – UK)
Greatest British noir is dark and chilling. A cinematic tour-de-force: from the direction and cinematography to top cast and editing.
- The Brothers Rico (1957 – US)
A late noir from Phil Karlson saddled with a lumbering script and a leavening of melodrama that not even fluid camera-work from Karlson and his DP Burnett Guffey can redeem.
- The Burglar (1957 – US)
Truly accomplished cinematography from DP Don Malkames and taut editing and elegant direction from first-time director Paul Wendkos deliver a stunning wide-screen realist austerity from a deep focus on-the-streets ambience.
- Caged (1950 – US)
Eleanor Parker leads a great female cast in a dark women’s prison picture with a savage climax and a gutsy downbeat ending.
- Call Northside 777 (1948 – US)
Chicago paper investigates a murder conviction. Solid script and exceptional cinematography from Joe MacDonald.
- Cat People (1942 – US)
The cat woman a captive of her accursed fate and imprisoned by her very sexuality unleashes her demonic self. Brilliant.
- Caught (1949 – US)
Max Ophuls renders the most elegant and romantic noir you will ever see. Robert Ryan, Barbara Bel Geddes and James Mason are superb!
- The Chase (1946 – US)
Insane hoods pursue shell-shocked vet. Totally surreal obscure noir melodrama (?) like no other movie you have ever seen.
- Christmas Holiday (1944 – US)
Director Robert Siodmak smashes genre conventions by unleashing a wild expressionist ambience in a bizarre story of obsession and guilt that has you appalled yet enthralled. Full of bizarre surprises.
- Clash By Night (1952 – US)
Cheating wife Stanwyck faces the music. Fritz Lang puts sexual license and existential entitlement on trial and wins.
- The Clay Pigeon (1949 – US)
Amnesic ex-POW accused of treason. Tight b set in LA’s Chinatown: nail-biting chase and A1 climax on a night train.
- A Colt is My Passport (1967 – Japan)
Hip acid nikkatsu noir with surreal spaghetti-western score.
- Conflict (1945 – US)
Good script and an enticing mystery twisted into psychological entrapment should have been gripping, but sadly director Curtis Bernhardt directs a rather somnambulant cast.
- Cornered (1945 – US)
Dmytryk’s atmospheric latin noir thriller. Harry Wild’s expressionist camera-work and a solid turn by Dick Powell add value.
- Crack-Up (1946 – US)
Entertaining b-thriller. Pat O’Brien & Claire Trevor hunt down art forgery racket. Some noir overtones and moody photography.
- Crashout (1955 – US)
The script has a lot to offer with deep characterisations from a solid cast and script, which has a resonance beyond what you would expect from a prison-break programmer.
- Crime Wave (1954 – US)
Andre de Toth noir masterwork set on the streets of LA is so authentic it plays for real with each character deeply drawn.
- The Crimson Kimono (1959 – US)
Little Tokyo Rift. Fuller’s deft study of race, love, jealousy, and friendship. Jumpy takes and cool jazz score.
- Criss-Cross (1949 – US)
Accomplished noir showcased by Siodmak’s masterful aerial opening shot into parking lot onto a passing car exposing the doomed lovers to the spotlight.
- The Crooked Way (1949 – US)
Amnesic WW2 seeks his past in LA. No-nonsense screenplay avoids melodrama and sustains interest to a violently baroque shootout at the end. DP John Alton who delivers expressive noir visuals.
- Crossfire (1947 – US)
Predictable and preachy. Paul Kelly steals the movie as weird spurned lover of young taxi-dancer Gloria Grahame.
- Cry Danger (1951 – US)
About as noir as white coffee. Over-rated and dull. How not to make a noir.
- A Cry in the Night (1956 – US)
A solid b from Frank Tuttle surveys parenthood & rebel teens in story of girl’s abduction by disturbed mama’s boy.
- Cry Terror (1956 – US)
James Mason, Rod Steiger, and Inger Stevens got the star credits, but Neville Brand, Angie Dickinson, and Jack Klugman also deserve acting kudos in this tautly directed b-noir thriller which boasts not one but three climaxes.
- Dark City (1998 – US)
A visually stunning and enigmatic sci-fi noir exploring the nature of consciousness and memory in a stylized noir city.
- The Dark Corner (1946 – US)
Solid B-noir. Lucille Ball looks good smoothing her size-9 nylons over those long legs while making snappy innuendo.
- The Dark Mirror (1946 – US)
Wraith in the cracked mirror. Siodmak noir with a hot Olivia de Havilland in dual role as twin sisters – one insane.
- Dark Passage (1947 – US)
Escaped con Bogart beats murder rap with Bacall’s help. Flat, but Houseley Stevenson as bootleg plastic surgeon a hoot.
- Dark Waters (1944 – US)
Little known bayou gothic from Andre de Toth challenges Siodmak’s Spiral Staircase for atmosphere. Merle Oberon is a hit!
- Dead Reckoning (1947 – US)
Bogart & Lizabeth Scott in the first noir parody: not that anyone called it. Fun mash-up of ersatz-pi & femme-fatale.
- Deadline at Dawn (1946 – US)
Subversive must-see ‘screwball’ noir as dark as any noir and as left as a Hollywood movie could go at the time.
- Deception (1946 – US)
Avant-garde Hollywood melodrama with inventive low angles and expressionist lighting deftly overcoming set-bound constraints.
- Decoy (1946 – US)
Overblown plot, average acting, and pedestrian direction add up to a camp oddity. Jean Gillie is the maniacal femme-criminale.
- Des gens sans importance ( aka ‘People of No Importance’ 1956 – France)
French fatalism meets neo-realism in tragic working-class tale. Trucker falls for aimless young waitress. Jean Gabin & the earthy Françoise Arnoul great.
- Desert Fury (1947 – US)
Color-b with Lizabeth Scott as precocious daughter of casino operator Mary Astor, and Wendell Corey a queer homme-fatale.
- Desperate (1947 – US)
Uber cool Anthony Mann noir. Raymond Burr dominates as avenging hood. Brilliant chiaroscuro lensing & crazy angles satisfy.
- Destination Murder (1950 – US)
The alter-ego and the pianola. A scheming blonde, suave villain, a hint of sexual ambiguity, and a novel twist.
- Detective Story (1951 – US)
Intense account of few hours in a NY police-station. Kirk Douglas as an inflexible embittered detective dominates.
- Detour (1945 – US)
Edgar Ulmer’s cult b-noir. Story of a guy so dumb he blames fate for his own foolishness.
- The Devil Thumbs A Ride (1947 – US)
Dark little gem with Lawrence Tierney. High-jinks, crackling dialog, and absurd twists keep you mesmerised.
- DOA (1950 – US)
Gritty on-the-street in-your-face melodrama of innocent act a decent man’s un-doing. Edmund O’Brien is intense. The goons rock!
- Double Indemnity (1944 – US)
All the elements of the archetypal film noir are distilled into a gothic LA tale of greed, sex, and betrayal.
- Double Jeopardy (1955 – US)
Republic-b. High sleaze with boring good guys. A boozy blackmailer and his cheap wife carry the picture. Pulp heaven.
- Drunken Angel (aka Yoidore tenshi) (1948 – Japan)
Great Kurosawa noir. A loser doctor with soul takes on the fetid moral swamp of Yakuza degradation.
- Elevator to the Gallows (1958 – France)
Chic nihilism packaged as a noir take on romantic obsession and teenage angst.
- Endless Desire (1958 – Japan)
Dark comedy of greed punished by relentless fate. Bravura direction and cinematography, with hip 50s jazz score.
- The Enforcer (1951 – US)
Bogart as activist DA pursues Murder Inc in noirish police procedural. First time ‘contract’ was used on the screens. Ok only.
- Escape (1948 – UK)
Gem of a thriller directed by Joe Mankiewicz. Moody noir photography on fog-laden moors at night and chance add noir feel.
- The Face Behind the Mask (1941 – US)
Iconic proto-noir has bleakest downbeat ending of any noir. Presages the motifs of a score of later noirs.
- Fallen Angel (1945 – US)
Tight and elegant noir. Otto Preminger steers a solid cast through an ethical labyrinth. Linda Darnell sends the male ibidos haywire.
- The Fallen Sparrow (1943 – US)
Anti-fascist thriller with a frenetic John Garfield as war-vet battling post-traumatic stress and a Nazi spy ring.
- Fear in the Night (1947 – US)
Guy wakes from a murderous dream to find it’s true. A nightmare Cornell Woolrich world of existential dread.
- The File On Thelma Jordan (1950 – US)
Deterministic melodrama but psychological element provides depth. Siodmak disappoints though Stanwyk is great.
- Five-Star Final (1931 – US)
Uneven Warner’s social protest picture about newspapers, but packs a heavy pre-Code punch and Edward G. chews it up!
- Flaxy Martin (1949 – US)
Virginia Mayo as a sleazy femme-fatale: “You can always trust her to double-cross you.” Dorothy Malone plays Ms Goodie Two-Shoes.
- Force of Evil (1948 – US)
Polonsky transcends noir in a tragic allegory on greed & family. Garfield adds signature honesty & gritty complexity.
- Follow Me Quietly (1949 – US)
Text-book 59-min b-noir written by Anthony Mann and directed by Dick Fleischer (The Narrow Margin). Not iconic but has its moments.
- The Fountainhead (1949 – US)
King Vidor’s expressionist bizarro noir of Ayn Rand’s unreadable novel of black-shirted super-man in phallic city.
- Full Confession (1939 – US)
Essential early noir with the themes of fate dealing losing cards, physical entrapment and mental anguish, and redemption as a two-edged sword.
- Fury (1936 – US)
Powerful critique telegraphs recurring theme in Fritz Lang’s later noirs: fate of the individual when social institutions fail.
- Gambling House (1950 – US)
Gritty b-thriller with a social angle and deep-focus NY location shooting. Victor Mature charms as a reforming hood.
- The Gangster (1947 – US)
Hell of a b-movie. Very dark noir ‘opera’ brutally critiques the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’. Bravado Dalton Trumbo script.
- The Garment Jungle (1957 – US)
Flat expose of bosses & racketeers vs. unions. Gia Scala shines: by turns sensual, fiery, gentle, and despairing.
- The Ghost Ship (1943 – US)
Mad see captain terrorises rookie officer in entrapment psychodrama. Insinuates itself into your memory. Must see.
- Gilda (1946 – US)
Hayworth is one hot dame: ‘if I had been a ranch, they would have named me ‘Bar Nothing’. Homo-erotic misogyny goes noir.
- The Glass Key (1942 – US)
Flat Hammett adaptation. Hero uses surrogates for dirty deeds. William Bendix a knockout as queer(?) sadistic hood.
- The Glass Wall (1953 – US)
Great socio-realist sleeper buried by Columbia on release. Dir Max Shane & DP Joe Biroc showcase teeming streets of New York.
- The Glass Web (1953 – US)
50s TV-style noir. Not even Edward G. Robinson can redeem this old chestnut. Two thumbs down.
- The Good Die Young (1954 – UK)
WW2 vets in need of cash are easy targets for wastrel toff – a man so venal he is loathed by his own father.
- The Great Flamarion (1945 – US)
No tension. What is interesting though is the overtly sexual mise-en-scene. Guns as deadly erotic toys and the female body displayed as deeply fecund and corrupting.
- The Green Cockatoo (1937 – UK)
An entertaining curio. While there are elements of noir, more a moody melodramatic expressionist thriller.
- Guele d’Amour (1937 – France)
Aka ‘Ladykiller’.Fatalistic tale of amour-fou fuelled by callous femme-fatale. Jean Gabin and the luminous Mireille Balin star. Looks decades ahead its time.
- Guest In The House (1944 – US)
John Brahm directs. Psychopath sets out to destroy a marriage. Anne Baxter is suitably creepy as a nut-job with a pathological and eventually fatal fear of birds.
- Gun Crazy (1950 – US)
A potent mix of sex and violence, layered with psycho-sexual motifs and fetishes. Peggy Cummins is hot urban gun-slinger.
- The Harder They Fall (1956 – US)
Mediocre boxing movie. Bogart in his last role as a front-man and Rod Steiger as mobster keep the interest up.
- High and Low (aka Tengoku to jigok) (1963 – Japan)
Kurosawa’s Heaven and Hell: the highs of a master film-maker and the lows that come from technique over drama.
- High Wall (1946 – US)
Interesting psycho-noir: cars screeching to nowhere on dark rain-swept streets; roadblocks; entrapment and ‘crashing out’.
- He Ran All the Way (1951 – US)
John Garfield’s last picture was made under the oppressive shadow of HUAC. Has a tendency to melodrama and plot contrivances but it delivers a strong noir punch.
- He Walked by Night (1948 – US)
Killer stalked by cops. Amazing climax in underground drains. Alton’s visual poetry offsets zero characterisation.
- Highway 301 (1950 – US)
Taut crime-doesn’t pay b. Steve Cochran dominates as savage hood. Drawn-out tour-de-force climax on dark city streets.
- The Hitch-Hiker (1953 – US)
Ida Lupino’s desert noir. Two Joes on a fishing trip waylaid by psycho-killer William Talman, who steals picture.
- Hollow Triumph (1948 – US)
Baroque journey to perdition traversing a noir topography redolent with noir archetypes. Audacious and enthralling.
- Hotel du Nord (1938 – France)
Poetic realist melodrama of lives at provincial French hotel. As moody as noir with a darkly absurd resolution.
- The House Across the Lake (1954 – UK)
Toff rip-off of JM Cain. Hack writer falls for ice-cold blonde wife of country gent. Competent only.
- House on 92nd Street (1944 – US)
The first of the documentary-noirs that presaged the gritty realism of Jules Dassin’s The Naked City in 1948. Balances real drama with a solemn purpose that has you engrossed.
- Human Desire (1954 – US)
Lang’s unrelenting gaze into the dark underside of modern America is stark and without visible shadows.
- I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1951 – US)
Abe Polonksy’s last script before HUAC. Acid drama about NY garment business marred by soft ending.
- I Love Trouble (1948 – US)
Hot-jive noir. Laughs and smooth-as-nylons repartee, while guys get slapped hard, drugged, and slugged from behind.
- Impact (1949 – US)
Cheating wife conspires with her lover to kill her wealthy husband. Starts off noir but veers into bucolic redemption hokum.
- I Married a Communist (1949 – US)
Commies as hoods. Never flags. Erotic fission and violent noir pyrotechnics make for enthralling & wild ride.
- In A Lonely Place (1950 – US)
Nick Ray deftly explores effect of isolation, frustration, and anxiety on the creative psyche as noir entrapment.
- The Iron Curtain (1948 – US)
Intelligent anti-Soviet thriller with noir aesthetics presages the cold war. Dana Andrews great as ‘simple Russian’.
- I Wake Up Screaming (1941 – US)
Early crooked cop psycho-noir. Redolent noir motifs, dark shadows, off-kilter framing and expressionist imagery.
- I Walk Alone (1948 – US)
Great Haskin noir sleeper. Kirk Douglas frames Burt Lancaster, who falls for Lizabeth Scott. Wendell Corey the fall guy.
- I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951 – US)
Slick reds-under-the-bed homage to HUAC. FBI plant saves pinko dame in great noir rail-yard shoot-out.
- Jigsaw (1946 – US)
From the opening panoramic shots of an isolated city street to the seamless and exciting climax in a darkened art gallery at night, impenetrable shadows haunt the streetscape of a city almost subterranean in its ambience.
- Johnny Eager (1941 – US)
Confoundingly entertaining pastiche has Robert Taylor and Lana Turner as star-crossed lovers, with Van Heflin as a drunkard and consigliore to Taylor’s titular mob boss. Heflin received a richly-deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role.
- Journey Into Fear (1943 – US)
Moody Welles’ noir. Exotic locales, sexy dames, weird villains, politics, wisdom, philosophy, and a wry humor.
- Key Largo (1948 – US)
WW2 vet Bogart fights has-been gangster Ed G in claustrophobic guest-house boarded-up against a hurricane. Bacall helps.
- The Killer That Stalked New York (1950 – US)
B re-enacting 1946 smallpox scare in NY. Evelyn Keys is great as the ‘killer’. Some Ok vignettes.
- The Killers (1946 – US)
Siodmak’s classic noir. Burt Lancaster’s masterful debut performance in a tragedy of a decent man destroyed by fate.
- The Killers (‘Ubiytsy’) (1956 – Russia)
Andrei Tarkovsky’s first film: the screenplay is rightly stringent, the camera-work and editing fluid, the acting of a high order, and the direction accomplished. Essential.
- The Killing (1956 – US)
Kubrick’s heist movie has a bloody savage climax. ‘Individuality is a monster, and it must be strangled in its cradle… ‘
- Kiss Me Deadly (1955 – US)
Anti-fascist Hollywood Dada. Aldrich’s surreal noir a totally weird yet compelling exploration of urban paranoia.
- Kiss of Death (1947 – US)
Reformed hood squeals to save family from giggling psychotic hit-man. Sordid streets of noir city a dark counterpoint.
- Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948 – US)
Atmospheric Norman Foster noir lensed by Metty with Rózsa score. Burt Lancaster and Joan Fontaine shine.
- Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950 – US)
A labored late gangster flick not even Jimmy Cagney can torch into action. The philosopher hood says it sucks.
- Klute (1971 – US)
Masterly reworking of classic noir motifs in a study of urban paranoia & alienation. Jane Fonda brilliant as b-girl target of mystery psychopath.
- Knock on Any Door (1949 – US)
Nick Ray directs Bogart as lawyer with a social conscience, but closing sermon to jurors is hammered and too late.
- LA Confidential (1997 – US)
Visually stunning thriller but no soul and lacks a true noir sensibility. Mickey Spillane on steroids
- The Lady From Shanghai (1947 – US)
Welles’ brilliant jigsaw noir with a femme-fatale to die for and a script so sharp you relish every scene.
- A Lady Without Passport (1950 – US)
Romance, humour, intrigue, and sensuality. A minor Casablanca filmed with a casual elegance that enthralls.
- Laura (1944 – US)
Gene Tierney is an exquisite iridescent angel and Dana Andrews a stolid cop who nails the killer after falling for a dead dame.
- The Locket (1946 – US)
Bizarre Freudian melodrama. Compulsive story of entrapment layered in audacious flashback in a flashback in a flashback.
- The Long Night (1947 – US)
RKO Henry Fonda vehicle from Anatole Litvak. WW2 vet melodrama with strong supporting cast. I’m stuck on Ann Dvorak.
- The Long Wait (1954 – US)
This violent and brutal flick has Mickey Spillane all over it. There is a strange incoherence, but the talented lensing of Franz Planer sustains visual interest, with suitably dark lighting and expressionist flourishes.
- The Lost Weekend (1945 – US)
‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I can’t take quiet desperation.’ Ray Milland against type on a bender.
- Lucky Nick Cain (1950 – US)
Joe Newman films a small Italian town as a locale of exquisite mystery, peril, and sinister shadows. Camp interludes.
- Lured (1947 – US)
Camp thriller is loads of fun. Douglas Sirk directs a cavalcade of stars including George Sanders and a luscious Lucille Ball.
- Macao (1952 – US)
Boring stupid pastiche. A tawdry tantrum scene from Von Sternberg with Jane Russell exposing a full leg is as good as it gets.
- Macao, L’enfer Du Jeu (aka Gambling Hell) (1939 – France)
A sexy, funny, and uber dark adventure-melodrama. The spin of the roulette wheel offers no escape nor redemption: only the innocent survive.
- The Maltese Falcon (1941 – US)
Spade the quintessential noir loner on the edge of polite society, sorely tempted to transgress but declines and is neither saved nor redeemed.
- Manèges (1950 – France)
A cynical, dark and savage history of a femme-fatale and the sucker she destroys. But fate has the final say.
- The Man Who Cheated Himself (1949 – US)
Frisco cop Lee J Cobb covers-up murder by his rich girlfriend. Superbly crafted action-packed film noir.
- The Mask of Dimitrios (1944 – US) Director Jean Negulesco & DP Arthur Edeson create an ambience of dark oriental intrigue aided by evocative score from Adolf Deutsch, with impressive art direction from Ted Smith & voluptuous set decoration courtesy of Walter Tilford.
- Memento (2000 – US)
A man without memory finds life for sanity’s sake cannot be borne without a narrative. Life without a purpose or end is not living. Nirvana is hell not liberation.
- Mildred Pierce (1945 – US)
Joan Crawford in classy melodrama by Michael Curtiz lensed by Ernest Haller. Self-made woman escapes morass of greed.
- Mister Buddwing (1966 – US)
Must-see portrait of New York on the cusp of the Swinging Sixties in the tradition of The Naked City, Odds Against Tomorrow, and Sweet Smell of Success.
- Moontide (1944 – US)
Resplendent pairing of Jean Gabin and Ida Lupino in a moody melodrama by the sea aching with love, humor, fog, and angst.
- Murder My Sweet (1944 – US)
Most noir fun you will ever have. Raymond Chandler’s prose crackles with moody noir direction from Edward Dmytryk.
- My Name Is Julia Ross (1945 – US)
Gothic noir Joseph H. Lewis’ first notable film. Richly atmospheric but marred by hurried ending after 60 mins.
- Mysterious Intruder (1946 – US)
Richard Dix in Whistler series. Off-beat noir ending has sleazy PI Don Gale go straight in vain. Totally weird!
- Mystery Street (1950 – US)
Ok only noir cop procedural. But inimitable Elsa Lanchester as conniving landlady and Jan Sterling as a b-girl are camp!
- Naked Alibi (1954 – US)
Not so much a banal pastiche of noir motifs and set pieces, but an oneiric hallucination where characters from other films noir assemble onto a movie lot by some perverse twist of fate.
- The Naked City (1948 – US)
“There are 8 million stories…A police procedural of little irony or depth but with a then gutsy magazine expose feel.
- The Naked Kiss (1964 – US)
Pulp Noir from Sam Fuller. Story of b-girl remaking her life in the face of social prejudice is perversely involving.
- The Narrow Margin (1952 – US)
Opening scene of a train screeching through the night has you hooked. Incendiary vixen Marie Windsor dominates.
- Night And the City (1950 – US/UK)
Dassin’s stark existential journey played out in the dark dives of post-war London as a quintessential noir city.
- Night Editor (1946 – US)
Sexually charged cult noir starring the queen of b Janis Carter as a rotten rich dame who double-crosses her cop lover.
- Nightfall (1957 – US)
Story of innocent man on the run from cops & hoods lacks tension. Even at 78 mins takes too long to reach pat resolution.
- Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948 – US)
Edward G Robinson magnificent as a man trapped by an accursed gift. Redemption a zero sum game. Moody and unsettling.
- Nightmare Alley (1947 – US)
Predatory femme-fatale uses greed not sex to trap her prey in a hell of hangmen at the bottom of an empty gin bottle.
- Nobody Lives Forever (1946 – US)
Very much more than the sum of its parts. A great cast, accomplished direction of Jean Negulesco and rich photography of veteran DP Arthur Edeson deliver for the discerning viewer a rich and satisfying complexity.
- No Man of Her Own (1950 – US)
Director Mitchell Leisen employs voice-over to portray inner conflict and an extended flashback to drive the narrative. His use of mise-en-scene for the dark climax brilliantly signifies the heroine’s entrapment after a futile attempt to break out.
- Nora Prentiss (1947 – US)
Doctor is plunged into a dark pool of noir angst in a turbo-charged melodrama of tortured loyalty and thwarted passion.
- No Way Out (1950 – US)
”Is it a question or an answer?” A young black intern’s struggle against prejudice confronts racism head-on – a great noir.
- La Nuit du Carrefour (1931 – France)
Early Jean Renoir poetics. Magically delicious femme-noir and a brilliant car chase at night. Moody & bizarrre!
- Obsession (1948 – UK)
Macabre and sardonic. Psychopath shrink plans perfect murder. Taut direction from Edward Dmytryk with a Nino Rota score!
- Odd Man Out (1947 – UK)
Betrayal, avarice, and spirituality are all given a place in this tale of an IRA heist gone wrong. The poetry is in the dark yet glistening visuals as we follow fugitive James Mason on his path through Ulster at night and in the rain.
- Odds Against Tomorrow (1959 – US)
A work of art from Robert Wise. New York City and its industrial fringe are quasi-protagonists that harbor the angst and desperation of life outside the mainstream – sordid dreams of the last big heist that will fix everything.
- Of Missing Persons (1956 – Argentina)
Lurid adaptation of 1950 pulp novel by David Goodis. Appalling yet mesmerizing latin melodrama.
- On Dangerous Ground (1951 – US)
City cop battling inner demons is sent to ‘Siberia’. A film of dark beauty and haunting characterisations.
- Ossessione (1942 – Italy) Demands and rewards multiple viewings. Visconti has taken a hard-boiled story and imbued it with intelligence, polemic, a humanist outrage, and above all, a deep compassion for the human predicament.
- Out of the Fog (1941 – US)
Studio hacks impose contrived ending which is played for laughs and has the heroes looking as amoral as their victim.
- Out of the Past (1947 – US)
Quintessential film noir. Inspired direction, exquisite expressionist cinematography, and legendary Mitchum & Greer.
- Panic In the Streets (1950 – US)
Tautly directed by Elia Kazan with real street cred. Climax on a ship’s mooring rope is elegantly metaphoric.
- Party Girl (1958 – US)
30s Chicago mob lawyer falls for Cyd Charisse gorgeous in Nick Ray’s Technicolored Cinemascope, but Robert Taylor wooden.
- Patterns (1956 – US)
Corporate noir. Ruthless entrapment in the executive suite. Dynamic portrayals by Van Heflin and Ed Begley. Superb drama.
- The Pawnbroker (1964 – US)
The screenplay weaves the past and the present by juxtaposition and is economic when words are needed. Rod Steiger’s portrayal of Nazi death-camp survivor is a tour-de-force and his nominations for an Oscar and other accolades richly deserved.
- Pépé le Moko (1937 – France)
Jean Gabin is cool and Mireille Balin is an angel. A tragedy of romantic pathos: the Casbah an exotic soulful labyrinth.
- Phantom Lady (1944 – US)
Woody Bredell’s noir photography and an orgasmic jazz jam session add jive to Siodmak’s otherwise lackluster direction.
- The Phenix City Story (1955 – US)
Expose confidential based on true story. Unrelenting and chilling portrayal of decent people fighting crime.
- Pickup (1951 – US)
The trash equivalent of The Postman Always Rings Twice has the story end with the dame blowing a raspberry and the hero cuddling a puppy.
- Pickup On South Street (1953 – US)
Weak story anchored by Fuller’s spirited direction & strong performances from Richard Widmark & female leads.
- Pitfall (1948 – US)
Deceit leads to murder and innocent lives destroyed. What happens when ordinary people at home can pull a gun from a drawer.
- Please Murder Me (1956 – US)
Raymond Burr auditions for Perry Mason with a dark twist. Another twist is Angela Lansbury as a triple-timer.
- Port of New York (1949 – US)
Cut-out Cops. Hoods with depth that belies the earnestness of the script. Yul Brenner kills with psychotic empathy.
- Port of Shadows (1938 – France)
Fate a dank existential fog ensnares doomed lovers Jean Gabin and Michèle Morgan after one night of happiness.
- Possessed (1947 – US)
Joan Crawford soapie. Repressed woman is pushed into schizophrenia by unrequited love. More melodrama on steroids than noir.
- The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946 – US)
Fate ensures adulterous lovers who murder the woman’s husband, suffer definite and final retribution.
- Private Hell 36 (1954 – US)
Flat crooked cop flic from Don Siegel. Ida Lupino, who co-wrote the screenplay, and Steve Cochran make it interesting.
- The Prowler (1951 – US)
Van Heflin is homme-fatale in Tumbo thriller. Director Losey is unforgiving – each squalid act is suffocatingly framed.
- Pursued (1947 – US)
Noir Western from Raoul Walsh. Robert Mitchum is trapped by his past. Solid but inferior to the moody Blood on The Moon (1948) .
- Pushover (1954 – US)
Wide-screen noir. Hip as an LA martini. Bravura direction by Richard Quine. Fred MacMurray & Kim Novak in 1st role: awesome!
- The Raging Tide (1951 – US)
As we are in noir territory, redemption costs in this b-melodrama, and despite the melodrama the sincerity of the venture elevates the movie to something greater than the sum of its parts.
- Railroaded (1947 – US)
Anthony Mann’s poverty-row pulp-b is very noir, cut with acid, and photographed in the deafening blaze of gun-fire.
- Raw Deal (1948 – US)
Sublime noir from Anthony Mann and John Alton. Knockout cast in a strong story stunningly rendered as expressionist art.
- Red Hollywood (1996 – US)
Interesting documentary on films made by Hollywood leftists in the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
- The Red House (1947 – US)
Mediocre rural gothic melodrama masquerading as noir horror. A deranged man’s terrible secret is hidden in a red house nestled in a dark forest. Edward G. Robinson as the nutter does his best, but the direction by Delmer Daves is uninspired
- The Reckless Moment (1949 – US)
Max Ophuls takes a blackmail story and infuses it with a complexity and subtlety rarely matched in film noir.
- Requiem For A Heavyweight (1962 – US)
Rod Serling’s screenplay is lucid and economical. A washed-up boxer scenario in just under 82 minutes builds a closely realised character study, supported by a cast that delivers soulfully and with a leanness that is rarely matched.
- Ride the Pink Horse (1946 – US)
Disillusioned WW2 vet arrives in a New Mexico town to blackmail a war racketeer. Imbued with a rare humanity.
- Rififi (1955 – France)
Dassin’s classic heist thriller culminating in the terrific final scenes of a car desperately careening through Paris streets.
- Road House (1948 – US)
Widmark as schizoid road-house owner who covets sultry cabaret singer Ida Lupino in memorable love triangle melodrama.
- Roadblock (1951 – US)
B-noir is dated but Joan Dixon is an elegant femme-fatale to Charles McGraw. Nick Musuraca’s climactic car chase thrills.
- Rogue Cop (1954 – US)
Flat affair with Robert Taylor at his wooden worst, and while Janet Leigh and George Raft try harder, they cannot enliven proceedings against the mud tide of Roy Rowland’s leaden direction.
- Ruthless (1948 – US)
Edgar G. Ulmer’s Citizen Kane. A tycoon ruthlessly pursues wealth as some sort of revenge against a deprived childhood.
- Salón México (1949 – Mexico)
Beguiling Latin melodrama infused with a strong religiosity & patriotism, but noir motifs drives the narrative.
- San Quentin (1946 – US)
Lawrence Tierney in shoot-em-up with message. Mean on-the-streets car chase and gripping fisticuffs finale hit the spot.
- Scarlet Street (1946 – US)
Classic noir from Fritz Lang. Unremitting in its pessimism. A dark mood and pervading doom of devastating intensity.
- Scandal Sheet (1952 – US)
Lacklustre realisation of Sam Fuller’s expose novel on yellow journalism. Broderick Crawford is strong as the bad guy.
- The Second Woman (1950 – US)
From producer Harry M. Popkin (DOA and Impact) A neat b-noir lensed by Hal Mohr has you guessing with a nice twist.
- Secret Beyond the Door (1947 – US)
Gothic Fritz Lang noir. Intelligent use of Freudian tropes explicates the motivations of a disturbed mind.
- Senza pietà (1948 – Italy)
Aka ‘Wthout Pity’. Doomed love of Black GI & ragazza on the skids in cannot escape tragic entrapment. Compelling neo-realist melodrama with noir denouement.
- The Set-Up (1949 – US)
Robert Ryan is great as washed-up boxer in Robert Wise’ sharp expose of the fight game. Brooding and intense 5-star noir.
- The Seventh Victim (1943 – US)
“Despair behind, and death before doth cast”. The terror of empty existence. Brilliant Lewton gothic melodrama.
- Shock (1946 – US)
Perverse b-noir. Murder witness goes catatonic. Her shrink is the killer. A dark Lynn Bari smolders. Enticingly preposterous!
- Shoot To Kill (1947 – US)
Aka Police Reporter. A taught script about a corrupt and ambitious assistant DA is fashioned by a bunch stringers into a movie of pulp poetry. A must-see b-noir.
- Side Street (1950 – US)
Tight noir exploring the claustrophobic canyons of New York ending with an ironically appropriate ‘crash’ on Wall Street.
- Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957 – US)
Assistant DA fights corruption and union racketeering on the NY. Stunning opening sequence is a false dawn, with the rest of the picture playing out at a plodding pace.
- The Sleeping City (1950 – US)
Sleep inducer about drug racket in NY hospital. Could have been interesting if made by talented film-makers.
- Slightly Scarlet (1956 – US)
A dull 100 minutes. Only Rhonda Fleming in short shorts, tight skirts, and pointy brassiere is (very) distracting. John Payne is ok only as the ambitious hood, and Arlene Dahl as Fleming’s slutty kleptomaniac sister completes the triangle.
- The Sniper (1952 – US)
Dmytryk off-target in Frisco. Angle shots and off-kilter staging sustain visual interest, but lacks a noir sensibility.
- So Dark the Night
(1946 – US) Psycho-melodrama of interest not so much for the premise but as a showcase for Joseph H Lewis’ inventive direction.
- Somewhere in the Night (1946 – US)
While the supporting players to serve up really engaging portrayals and the byzantine plot is not without its moments and to a degree intriguing, the presentation is sometimes flat and takes a bit too long to pan out.
- The Sound of Fury (1950 – US)
Great noir! Outdoes Lang’s Fury & brilliantly prefigures Wilder’s Ace in the Hole. Climactic mob scenes mesmerise.
- Split Second (1953 – US)
Nuclear paranoia and cruel destiny deal the protagonists a raw deal in an explosive finale. No heroes here just fate…
- Strange Illusion (1945 – US)
Bizarre Hamlet remake. Edgar Ulmer turns PRC b into camp expressionist noir of foul villains with a knockout finale.
- Strange Impersonation (1946 – US)
An early Anthony Mann effort, the picture uses its 68 minutes with economy to tell a lurid story of blackmail, deceit, and attempted murder, where the dames hold all the cards.
- The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946 – US)
Complicity in the death of an innocent man tethered by moral weakness are the essential story elements interpreted with real wit by Barbara Stanwyck, Kirk Douglas (in his first role), Van Heflin, and Lizabeth Scott.
- The Stranger (1946 – US)
Nazi war criminal stalked in a sleepy Connecticut town. Welles directs and Russell Metty lenses moody intelligent noir.
- Stranger on the 3rd Floor (1940 – US)
Claustrophobic thriller in a city where paranoia runs deep. Expressionist nightmare sequence is best ever!
- Strangers in the Night (1944 – US)
Early Anthony Mann b-thriller. Off-beat gothic story of sexual frustration morphing into delusions & murder.
- Stray Dog (1949 – Japan)
Kurosawa’s ying and yang take on reality informs this 5-star noir: the pursuer could as easily have been the pursued.
- Suspense (1946 – US)
Monogram’s costliest feature a melodrama on ice only fires at the end when the absurd plot is put on ice;) Belita is hot!
- Sunset Boulevard (1950 – US)
Wilder’s sympathetic story of four decent people each sadly complicit in the inevitable doom that will engulf them.
- Sweet Smell of Success (1957 – US)
James Wong Howe’s sharpest picture. As bracing as vinegar and cold as ice. Ambition stripped of all pretense.
- The Story of Temple Drake (1933 – US)
Notorious pre-coder with a heroine who cannily prefigures those hard dames that were let loose less than a decade later.
- The Tattooed Stranger (1950 – US)
Bizarre b-movie with a compelling narrative, verite-style NYC locales, great one-liners, and uber rococo score.
- Tension (1950 – US)
A neat little noir with AudreyTotter as the devil in no disguise – the femme-noir as ball-breaker.
- They Drive by Night (1938 – UK)
On-the-run ex-con tries to beat a murder rap on dark London streets and long-haul lorries. Abrupt ending though.
- They Live by Night (1948 – US)
Nicholas Ray’s first feature. A tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions which transcends film noir.
- They Made Me a Criminal (1939 – US)
Early Garfield boxing hokum. First 20 mins delicious noir. A very young & nubile Ann Sheridan adds interest.
- They Made Me a Killer (1946 – US)
‘Go away will ya. Gotta get this barrel straight. Too bad that gun can’t cook! Well that makes you both even.’
- They Won’t Believe Me (1947 – US)
Intriguing noir melodrama with Robert Young against type. Jesuitical resolution – fate punishes bad intentions.
- The Thief (1952 – US)
Cold-war thriller covers familiar terrain in a novel way aided by a dramatic and insistent score.
- Thieves’ Highway (1949 – US)
Moody Richard Conte hauling fruit to Frisco. Rich socio-realist melodrama from Jules Dassin and A.I. Bezzerides. AAA.
- The Thin Man (1934 – US)
Innocuous screwball comedy playing on a private dick being married to a wealthy dame, both of them being lushes, and having an eccentric mutt. DP James Wong Howe’s fluid camera work and darkly expressionist counterpoint sustains the narrative.
- The Third Man (1949 – UK)
Sublime. An engaging cavalcade of characters in a human comedy of love, friendship, and the imperatives of conscience.
- This Gun For Hire (1942 – US)
Weaves a spy story into a taught and moody thriller, with breakthrough performances from Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake.
- T-Men (1947 – US)
Mann & Alton offer a visionary descent into a noir realm of dark tenements, nightclubs, mobsters, and hellish steam baths.
- Time Without Pity (1957 – US)
A lesser noir from Joseph Losey. Father’s futile attempts to save his son from the gallows is overwrought and histrionic.
- Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951 – US)
Rare Warner-b. Felix Feist helms redemption noir with true pathos. Shades of Grapes of Wrath. Engaging leads.
- Too Late For Tears (1949 – US)
Preposterous chance event launches wild descent into dark avarice and eroticised violence as relentless as fate.
- Touch of Evil (1958 – US)
Welles’ masterwork is a disconnected emotionally remote study of moral dissipation. Crisp b&w lensing by Russell Metty.
- Tread Softly Stranger (1958 – UK)
Brilliant British noir set in hellish steel town. Gritty and taut Diana Dors vehicle. Moody poetic photography.
- Underworld USA (1961 – US)
Fast & furious pulp from Sam Fuller. Revenge finds redemption in death up a back alley the genesis of dark vengeance.
- Une Si Jolie Petite Plage (aka Riptide) (1949 – France)
Iron in the soul: savage irony, withering subversion, and desolation mark the rain-sodden angst of a young man’s end.
- Union Station (1950 – US)
Noir action in Chicago. Hood faces decapitation by train & shoot-out in labyrinthine underground tunnels is a classic.
- The Unsuspected (1947 – US)
Camp noir! Curtiz directs, Woody Bredell lenses, Waxman scores, Claude Rains over-acts, and Audrey Totter is a hoot!
- Vertigo (1958 – US)
Far-fetched and heavy-handed. Hitchcock’s usual contempt for his protagonists makes the affair rather bleak and alienating.
- Voici le temps des assassin (1956 – France)
Young twisted femme-fatale & her off-the-wall mere try & destroy aged Paris restauranter. Climax a bitch.
- Walk Softly, Stranger (1950 – US)
Slow romantic noir rewards with an honest story and sensitive performances from Joseph Cotten & Alida Valli.
- The Way You Wanted Me (1944 – Finland)
“Sellaisena kuin sinä minut halusit” (original title). A dark frenzied tale of a fallen woman, The Way You Wanted Me careens across roads of melodrama at the speed of light. Hyper-expressionism and a tragedy played out in dark nights of the soul.
- The Web (1947 – US)
Entertaining thriller with dumb lawyer framed for murder. Snappy patter from solid leads, but about as noir as an albino cat.
- The Well (1951 – US)
Deals explosively with race and mob hysteria. Up there with Lang’s Fury & Cy Endfield’s The Sound of Fury. AAN for editing.
- Where Danger Lives (1950 – US)
It’s a long road. Uneven melodrama made memorable by Faith Domergue & a stunning climax lensed by Nick Musuraca.
- Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950 – US)
Preminger’s elegant direction & La Shelles’ crisp noir lensing are aloof & Dan Andrews in the lead is wooden.
- Whirlpool (1949 – US)
Otto Preminger turns preposterous frame-up by hypnosis premise into a polished melodrama. Jose Ferrer a suave homme-fatale.
- White Heat (1949 – US)
Fission Noir. Taut electric thriller straps you in an emotional strait-jacket released only in the final explosive frames.
- The Window (1949 – US)
Director Ted Tatzlaff and DPs Robert De & William Steiner fashion a cityscape and built spaces that express a deeply oppressive ambience.
- Witness to Murder (1954 – US)
Involving thriller with noir angle. Barbara Stanwyck and George Sanders hold it all together. Lensed by John Alton.
- The Woman On the Beach (1947 – US)
Intriguing cerebral noir melodrama from Jean Renoir… what’s left of it after hacking by RKO suits.
- Woman on the Run (1950 – US)
Intelligent b-thriller set on the streets, tenements, dives, and wharves of Frisco, with a roller-coaster climax.
- World For Ransom (1954 – US)
Dan Duryea a good guy! Robert Aldrich takes a boys own script and fashions a noir take on love, loyalty & illusion.
- Young Man with a Horn (1950 – US)
A fine melodrama with true pathos, great jazz, and an intelligent screenplay by HUAC blacklistee Carl Foreman.
- You Only Live Once (1937 – US)
Fritz Lang & Hollywood kick-start poetic realism! Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney are the doomed lovers on the run.