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The MoFo Top Film Noir Countdown - Preliminary Thread

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I'm surprised no lists are in yet
*DING* Mine is officially in.
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Raul is right Vertigo isn't eligible as it's not tagged noir per Citizen's rules And of course Vertigo isn't noir.

From the 1st post were the rules/procedures are:
On the Wiki page for Vertigo a third party is quoted way down the page and mentions color noir, so that doesn't count. The noir tag has to be at the top of the page, almost always in the very first sentence. The first sentence on Wiki says this:
When we get around to doing a Thriller Countdown then, it might get might vote.
Ah, just fyi for semantics, when someone says something is tagged as 'x' on a website, tags don't refer to the free-form content in the page. With wiki, it looks like the Categories at the bottom would be what one would interpret as being tagged.

https://prnt.sc/XGauTlfkgiTS

e.g. If a movie is described as a film-noir in the opening line (tags aren't in sentences), but doesn't have film-noir as one of the categories (which would probably mean someone screwed up on tagging their entry), it wouldn't actually be considered tagged as film-noir. I guess one would say, "described as film noir in the intro section."

As far as Vertigo goes, there's an entire subsection under reception of, "Classification as film noir," though. IDK, that seems to be indicating that wiki recognizes that a reasonable number of people consider it noir and a reasonable number of people do not.
Personally, I don't have a strong opinion on Vertigo, but just going off of what was written as the rules, I'd have assumed Vertigo would qualify if someone wanted to put it on.



Ah, just fyi for semantics, when someone says something is tagged as 'x' on a website, tags don't refer to the free-form content in the page. With wiki, it looks like the Categories at the bottom would be what one would interpret as being tagged.

https://prnt.sc/XGauTlfkgiTS

e.g. If a movie is described as a film-noir in the opening line (tags aren't in sentences), but doesn't have film-noir as one of the categories (which would probably mean someone screwed up on tagging their entry), it wouldn't actually be considered tagged as film-noir. I guess one would say, "described as film noir in the intro section."

As far as Vertigo goes, there's an entire subsection under reception of, "Classification as film noir," though. IDK, that seems to be indicating that wiki recognizes that a reasonable number of people consider it noir and a reasonable number of people do not.
Personally, I don't have a strong opinion on Vertigo, but just going off of what was written as the rules, I'd have assumed Vertigo would qualify if someone wanted to put it on.
Thanks, I'll use the term you described above that I bolded.



I just checked and I did say 'At Wiki it needs to say 'noir or film noir' in the movie page's first section before the Plot section.' but I'll reword that paragraph to hopefully make it clearer.



Criss Cross

In Criss Cross Siodmak has delivered a "restless" Film Noir. He manages this by making a seemingly straight forward story more complicated than it needs to be, which creates more dramatic tension. He seeks to achieves this through some familiar Film Noir tropes, moves, and signals.
The first is the idea of returning. Returning with more wisdom, experience, and world weariness than when he left. Film noir makes use of this idea to a very large extent.
The next stylistic marker is the voice over of the "lost male", which is a favorite of Film Noir directors. This introduces the audience to a psychological attachment. The voice overs are usually characterized by a character who is weary with life, with experience, and usually quite restless in their search.
Burt Lancaster's character is a classic Film Noir "Sap". The fall guy who can't help himself - the restless male, unsure of why he has turned to a life of crime. He is inexplicably drawn to the one woman who will let him down.(Femme Fatale?)



For those interested, the thread for the Neo-noir countdown is already up!

The MoFo Top Neo-noir Countdown - Preliminary Thread

Let's try to keep both threads alive and kicking!
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There are several male actors who are immediately and lastingly associated with Classic Noir: Bogart. Mitchum. Lancaster. All legends. But for me the king of the genre is really...



Robert Ryan was in fifteen Films Noir in the initial, classic 1940-1959 period. Chronologically they are The Woman on the Beach (1947), Crossfire (1947), Berlin Express (1948), Act of Violence (1948), Caught (1949), The Set-Up (1949), The Woman on Pier 13 - I Married a Communist (1949), Born to Be Bad (1950), The Secret Fury (1950), The Racket (1951), On Dangerous Ground (1951), Clash by Night (1952), Beware, My Lovely (1952), House of Bamboo (1955), and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). All of them are worth seeing, five or six of them are bonafide, undisputed top notch Noir classics, the very definition of what the movement was all about.



Despite that huge and impressive stamp in the Noir genre, Ryan doesn't have the same marquee icon value of a Bogart or Lancaster. But he should. Anyone who delves into the genre learns about him very quickly. He played both heroes and villains, but it is the villains he is best known for. Starting with Crossfire where he played a hateful racist who murders a Jewish man he had served with in the Army. Robert Mitchum and Robert Young were the good guys and it also features one of the female stars of the genre, Gloria Grahame, but Robert Ryan is who steals the picture. Directed by Edward Dmytryk (The Caine Mutiny), it was the first B-Picture to earn a Best Picture nomination. Dmytryk, Grahame, and Ryan all also got nominations. None of them won. A straight drama, also centered on anti-Semitism, won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress instead: Gentleman's Agreement. Ryan lost Best Supporting Actor to Edmund Gwenn's Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street. Somehow it would be Robert Ryan's only Oscar nomination.



The next classic Ryan co-starred in is Act of Violence. This time even though he is a menacing figure, he is actually justified in that vengeance. Van Heflin stars as a man who returns from WWII branded a hero. He led an escape attempt of a Nazi POW Camp where his fellow soldiers were killed but he managed to live. He is now a civic-minded, well-liked citizen with a beautiful wife (Janet Leigh), but he is harboring a secret about that escape, and a brooding, limping man from his past has come to make him pay for it. That man is, of course, Robert Ryan. Probably the first great film from High Noon director Fred Zinnemann who would go on to win Oscars for From Here to Eternity and A Man For All Seasons.



A Noir where Ryan got to play the good guy, if a doomed one, is The Set-Up. Directed by the legendary Robert Wise who seemingly never met a genre he didn't like, Ryan is a boxer and the picture unfolds in real time on the night of a bout. He is older, at the tail end of his career, with a wife (Audrey Totter) and a dream of retiring to open a cigar stand and maybe manage the occasional fighter. He is facing a young up and comer who is heavily favored. What he doesn't know is his manager (George Tobias) has made a deal with a mobster to throw the fight. He hasn't told him because he figures he's going to lose anyway, so why hurt his pride. But as the fight continues it is the old man who seems to have the upper hand. What will he do once he learns about the fix? One of the pillars of the genre and widely influential on everything from Raging Bull to Pulp Fiction. Ryan should have at least been nominated, the year that Broderick Crawford won for All the King's Men and Kirk Douglas was nominated for playing a boxer in Champion.



Ryan plays another flawed good guy in On Dangerous Ground, one of several collaborations with Nicholas Ray (including another very good Noir from that same year, The Racket, with Robert Mitchum and Lizabeth Scott). He plays a big city cop who is pretty well burned out, now known for a short fuse and beating up suspects. He is banished upstate to the quieter countryside and becomes embroiled in a manhunt. A young woman has been murdered and the suspect is being tracked through the snowy woods. He is accompanied by the victim's father (Ward Bond), who intends to kill the man before he can be brought in. During the chase they happen upon a remote cabin inhabited by a beautiful blind woman (Ida Lupino). You can watch it yourself to see how it turns out from there. There's also a fantastic Bernard Hermann score.



Two years later Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino reunited for the tense Beware, My Lovely. Lupino plays a widow who impulsively hires a stranger (Ryan) as a handyman. She learns very quickly but too late that he is odd. Dangerously odd. He exhibits symptoms of schizophrenia or some other mental disorder. She is essentially trapped in the house, trying desperately to manage his psychotic mood swings while looking for an opportunity to escape or call for help before he hurts her.



Sam Fuller's House of Bamboo is one of the few color Noirs, also shot in full widescreen CinemaScope. Robert Stack stars as an Army Sergeant who goes undercover in Tokyo to infiltrate a mob of murderous American thieves led by our man Robert Ryan. He has one of the all-time great villain scenes in the genre when he bursts in on a man he thinks double crossed him, bathing in a wooden barrel, and without warning or a word empties his gun into the barrel. He then calmly berates the dead man for his transgressions.



At the very end of the 1950s Ryan agreed to do one more Noir, one that harkens back a bit to his breakthrough in Crossfire, Odds Against Tomorrow, again directed by the great Robert Wise. Ed Begley (Senior, of course, not Jr.) plays a disgruntled ex-cop who has a plan to rob a bank. He enlists a career criminal and ex-con, played by Robert Ryan, as well as a nightclub performer played by Harry Belafonte, who is reluctant to get involved but has big gambling debts he needs to wipe out. The problem is Ryan's character is an unabashed racist. All are desperate for money so they agree to work together, but it is the hatred that may undo them as much as the crime itself. Co-starring Shelley Winters and Gloria Grahame.

If you only know the older Robert Ryan from The Wild Bunch or The Dirty Dozen, have a blast diving into these Noirs. He has appeared on two of the MoFo Lists in the past, in addition to The Wild Bunch on the Westerns List and Dirty Dozen for War Films, he was in three more Westerns that charted in The Naked Spur and two very much influenced by Noir in Bad Day at Black Rock and Day of the Outlaw. He is also one of the many stars in The Longest Day.

Ryan died fairly young at the age of 63 in 1973. One of his last films is a Neo-Noir, playing the lead mobster in The Outfit with Robert Duvall and Joe Don Baker looking for revenge on the organization.




Thanks for sharing, Holden. The only Ryan film I've seen is The Dirty Dozen so I better catch up with his stuff.



Thanks for sharing, Holden. The only Ryan film I've seen is The Dirty Dozen so I better catch up with his stuff.
I'll seconded Holden and say Robert Ryan is well worth watching, especial in his noirs. Maybe Holden has a recommendation or two, or three or more of Ryan's noirs?

Myself I haven't seen them all, but of the one's I seen I can say: Crossfire (1947), Act of Violence (1948), The Set-Up (1949), House of Bamboo (1955), and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) are good ones to start with. Act of Violence is one of the noms in the Noir HoF IV and Crossfire should make the Noir countdown. The Set-Up is a solid noir and if memory serves me it was Holden's nom in the first Noir HoF I ran. I also like House of Bamboo for it's setting in post war Japan and it's a color noir!



Alright Noir Fans! What are your favorite Noirs???

One thing a Preliminary Countdown thread is good for is Recommendations. And yes you can post them here, in fact you're encouraged to. So post em, hype em and try to get other people to watch em!

Because the more people who see and vote for noirs the better chance of your favorites making the countdown. The Noir Countdown ultimately becomes a MoFo Top Noir list and is viewable by everyone on the planet! So let's here about what noirs are great.



Ok, a couple that don't get mentioned as often as others...

D.O.A. - A man walks into a police station to report a murder. When they ask him who was the victim, he replies "Me". Can an intro get better than that? He then proceeds to tell what actually happened and how he got there.

Kansas City Confidential - Heist film extraordinaire that's cool as ice. No fat whatsoever.

The Narrow Margin - A detective has to escort the widow of a notorious mob boss on a train, but things go awry. Enclosed spaces, twisty story. I'm a sucker for train films also, so there's that.

Quicksand - Mickey Rooney stars as a mechanic down on his luck that finds himself sinking in the titular "quicksand" after he gets involved in a snowball of criminal acts. Peter Lorre has a brief but great supporting role.



Ok, a couple that don't get mentioned as often as others...

D.O.A. - A man walks into a police station to report a murder. When they ask him who was the victim, he replies "Me". Can an intro get better than that? He then proceeds to tell what actually happened and how he got there.

Kansas City Confidential - Heist film extraordinaire that's cool as ice. No fat whatsoever.

The Narrow Margin - A detective has to escort the widow of a notorious mob boss on a train, but things go awry. Enclosed spaces, twisty story. I'm a sucker for train films also, so there's that.

Quicksand - Mickey Rooney stars as a mechanic down on his luck that finds himself sinking in the titular "quicksand" after he gets involved in a snowball of criminal acts. Peter Lorre has a brief but great supporting role.
All top choices!....and in consideration for my ballot. I hope people will watch them. Think I'll go check and make sure those are on my 'considering list of noirs for my countdown ballot'. Good films!



The Reckless Moment (1949) is a great noir often overlooked. It stars Joan Bennett and James Mason. Directed by Max Ophuls and photographed by the great Burnett Guffey. In this one it is the lady who puts herself in classic noir trouble...