The MoFo Top 100 Film Noir Countdown

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Amazing job on running the countdown, Citizen. 5 Stars for you! Thank you for your efforts. Thanks to those of you that provided stats and to everyone that sent in lists and joined in on the conversation. These two countdowns were a lot of fun. I also have a long list of movies to add to my watchlist from each.
"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Two of my favourite film noirs! Great way to end the countdown. Double Indemnity was my number four and Sunset Boulevard was my number six. Super job Citizen Rules doing this countdown. Great list!


My ballot:

1. Strangers on a Train (1951)
2. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
3. The Big Sleep (1946)
4. Double Indemnity (1944)
5. Laura (1944)
6. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
7. Night and the City (1950)
8. Born to Kill (1947)
9. They Live by Night (1948)
10. The Killing (1956)
11. The Lost Weekend (1945)
12. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
13. Notorious (1946)
14. Ace in the Hole (1951)
15. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
16. Nightmare Alley (1947)
17. Detour (1945)
18. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
19. To Have and Have Not (1944)
20. Mildred Pierce (1945)
21. White Heat (1949)
22. The Big Heat (1953)
23. No Way Out (1950)
24. Suddenly (1954)
25. The Killers (1946)

1. Touch of Evil (1958) #5
2. The Desperate Hours (1955) #71
3. The Lost Weekend (1945) #34
4. Mildred Pierce (1945) #15
5. Sunset Blvd. (1950) #2
6. The Stranger (1946) #35
7. The Third Man (1946) #4
8. Double Indemnity (1944) #1
9. The Letter (1940) #72
10. Shadow of a Doubt (1943) #12
11. Nightmare Alley (1947) #33
12. Laura (1944) #10
13. The Killing (1956) #11
14. Suspicion (1941) #49
15. Spellbound (1945) #68
16. Notorious (1946) #20
17. Rebecca (1940) #35
18. The Big Sleep (1946) #8
19. Key Largo (1948) #26
20. Niagara (1953) #56
21. To Have and Have Not (1944) #64
22. Gilda (1946) #27
23. All the King's Men (1949) #83
24. The Maltese Falcon (1941) #3
25. Crossfire (1947) #51

Outstanding Job Citizen!

Those are my top 2 with Sunset Blvd. being my number 1 and Double Indemnity my number 2. While I enjoy Sunset more (Gloria Swanson's performance is mesmerizing), Indemnity is THE noir film of all noir films. That's the movie I immediately think off when somebody mentions noir.

I also had The Maltese Falcon, Touch of Evil and The Third Man at 10,11, and 12 on my ballot. I mentioned early on in the countdown that I only watch good noir. 24 out of 25 in my list showed up proving me quite right. Had I known Rififi was eligible it would have been right at number five. Gaslight is the only film I feel like I missed on. I just forgot about it.

I have only seen 33/100. Oof!

  1. Sunset Blvd #2
  2. Double Indemnity # 1
  3. The Killing #11
  4. Strangers on a Train #18
  5. The Killers #22
  6. Out of the Past #7
  7. Nightmare Alley #33
  8. Brute Force #73
  9. The Big Sleep #8
  10. The Maltese Falcon #3
  11. Touch of Evil #5
  12. The Third Man #4
  13. Ace in the Hole #19
  14. The Postman Always Rings Twice #23
  15. Sweet Smell of Success #9
  16. T-Men DNP
  17. In a Lonely Place #6
  18. Crossfire #51
  19. Detour #24
  20. The Night of the Hunter #14
  21. The Woman in the Window #65
  22. The Lady From Shanghai #31
  23. Notorious #20
  24. Pickup on South Street #21
  25. Key Largo #26

Double Indemnity was my no. 5 but I feel like that speaks most to the quality of the competition here on this list. Very deserving of the top spot.

Near Misses:

#23 The Scar (Hollow Triumph)

Sunset Blvd. was #3 on the MoFo Top 100 of the 1950s and #53 on the MoFo Top 100 Refresh in 2020. Double Indemnity was #6 on the MoFo Top 100 of the 1940s and #96 on the original MoFo Top 100 in 2010.
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

Great job hosting Citizen! Those custom banners for every film were a great touch, and no doubt a lot of work as well, so thank you for putting in the time and effort! Holden, Thief, and everyone else who added facts to the Countdown deserve some recognition as well, so thank you all!

I actually haven't seen Sunset Boulevard, but I probably should since it's apparently very well regarded.

There's only one film that hadn't already been revealed on my list, and that was Double Indemnity, which I had at #2. When it was nominated in the 2nd 40s HoF, I wrote this:

Double Indemnity

Dir. Billy Wilder
Starring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

The film noir visual style, with its roots in German expressionism, is incredibly appealing to me. So being the film other noirs aspired to be like, Double Indemnity certainly delivers in the cinematography department. The dark corners and strong shadows on screen are a constant dramatic presence, with the main characters frequently concealed in darkness, or framed in a prison-like light effect created by window blinds. The stark contrast between the bright exterior shots, and the carefully crafted dusty sound stage interiors complement the characters' sinister undertones beautifully. It has a rather cynical feel to it, which I thoroughly enjoy.

The film is very cleverly written as well, with a lot of great wordplay in the script, particularly between Walter and Phyllis in their earlier scenes. While I didn't think MacMurray and Stanwyck's chemistry was a strong as that between MacMurray and Robinson, it was still very plausible, and I never questioned the allure they felt for each other. I never liked Stanwyck's hair in the film, but I recently learned that it was actually a wig, and that Wilder always intended for it to look fake and slightly sleazy. Knowing that this time around, I thought it worked really well, and did a great job reflecting what kind of person Phyllis really was.

The occasionally discordant score accompanying many scenes really enhanced the film's atmosphere, though most of the time it actually went unnoticed by me, since I was too engrossed by everything else. I've been wanting to rewatch this film for a long time, but didn't nominate it because I was sure someone else would have already beaten me to the punch, and I'm glad I was right about that.
I'm just now realizing that I forgot to post yesterday, so technically there were 2 films on my list I hadn't yet confirmed since I had The Maltese Falcon at #21. With House of Bamboo and The Hidden Room/Obsession being on the near miss lists, I actually came quite close to having all 25 films on my list make the Countdown. It's a very pleasant surprise.

Seen: 45/100

My List: 23
01. Laura (1944) - #10
02. Double Indemnity (1944) - #1
03. Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) - #92
04. Murder My Sweet (1944) - #28
05. Shadow of a Doubt (1943) - #12
06. Detour (1945) - #24
07. Rebecca (1940) - #35
08. Ministry of Fear (1944) - #75
09. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) - #40
10. House of Bamboo (1945) - DNP
11. This Gun for Hire (1942) - #78
12. Mildred Pierce (1945) - #15
13. Odd Man Out (1947) - #47
14. The Big Sleep (1946) - #8
15. Strangers on a Train (1951) - #18
16. The Third Man (1949) - #4
17. The Asphalt Jungle (1950) - #16
18. Night and the City (1950) - #25
19. Phantom Lady (1944) - #69
20. The Hidden Room/Obsession (1949) - DNP
21. The Maltese Falcon (1941) - #3
22. The Killing (1956) - #11
23. Touch of Evil (1958) - #5
24. Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - #14
25. The Stranger (1946) - #38

1. Double Indemnity
2. Out of the Past
3. Touch of Evil
4. In a Lonely Place
5. Night and the City
6. The Killing
7. The Night of the Hunter
8. White Heat
9. Detour
10. Sunset Boulevard
11. The Maltese Falcon
12. Shadow of a Doubt
13. Ace in the Hole
14. Gun Crazy
15. The Third Man
16. The Postman Always Rings Twice
17. The Big Heat
18. The Stranger
19. Odd Man Out
20. The Fallen Idol
21. Mildred Pierce
22. The Long Weekend
23. Sweet Smell of Success
24. Crossfire
25. The Big Sleep

One thing worth noting, I'm not sure how much power the Hays Code still had by 1958 for Touch of Evil (people noted it had lost power with Some Like it Hot in 59 and Psycho and 60), but one aspect of it that people often aren't aware of is, it explicitly forbade interracial couples (there was a weird loophole, where the characters could be, but the actors could not). This has some long term, morally ugly consequences. However, as evidenced by the practice of having white stars play people of color into the 21st century, that isn't necessarily the only reason such a casting decision might have been made and I'm less certain if that rule extended to Hispanics as it did to African Americans (presumably, yes?). However I'm guessing it's likely the Production Code would have prevented a Mexican from playing a Mexican married to a white, American woman.
Thanks for that, I was unaware of that rule.

Was it Apache (1954) with Burt Lancaster and Jean Peters as Apaches? If so yeah it was very distracting, But...good movie and the story line was respectful of Apaches and Native Americans. Jeffrey Hunter played and American Indian in a couple westerns and he was even harder to believe.
Talking of harder to believe, he played Jesus too.

Here's something you don't see every countdown, my top 2 are the same as the Mofo top 2. I guess that's more likely to happen when it's a countdown of a genre I'm not really into, but quality is quality and these two are the best films on the list IMO. As someone who doens't care for it, I wouldn't even say I know if they are the best representation? But I'm very pleased to see that they're the top 2 and that I had 7 of the top 10. So, I guess, it could be said that if you actually make a good film, I don't care if it's noir or not?

All my choices showed up, which has never happened before but, again, from a pool so small and in incomplete list, if it was going to happen, this would be the list to do it.

Thanks to CR for running a fine countdown and keeping the ball rolling even for someone who wasn't as invested in it as many were. Good job.

As I said, all mine appeared, but here's the list in case you'd like to see it.

1. Double Indemnity (1944)
2. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
3. The Third Man (1949)
4. Mildred Pierce (1945)
5. Niagara (1953)
6. Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)
7. Laura (1944)
8. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
9. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
10. Leave her to heaven (1945)
11. Brighton Rock (1948)
12. Touch Of Evil (1958)
13. D.O.A. (1949)
14. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
15. Gun Crazy (1950)
16. Key Largo
17. Kiss Of Death
5-time MoFo Award winner.

Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
My list:

1. Sweet Smell of Success 1957
2. Drunken Angel 1948
3. All the Kings Men 1949
4. The Third Man 1949
5. Rebecca 1940
6. Laura 1944
7. Brighton Rock 1948
8. Night and the City 1950
9. Nightmare Alley 1947
10. The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946
11. Scarlet Street 1945
12. Ossessione 1943
13. The Hitch Hiker 1953
14. They Live by Night 1948
15. Elevator to the Gallows 1958
16. Hell Drivers 1957
17. Cast a Dark Shadow 1955
18. The Strange love of Martha Ivers 1946
19. Stray Dog 1949
20. Night of the Hunter 1955
21. Pickup on South Street 1953
22.The Big Combo 1955
23. Angel Face 1952
24. Mildred Pierce 1945
25. Anna Lucasta 1958

Good job hosting, CR, it's been fun and I have definitely expanded my knowledge of noir.

2 for 2 on this final day to finish up the countdown with 66 films out of the 100 watched.

Thank you Citizen Rules for all your hard work. Both yours and Thief's countdowns ended up looking very professional and I'm just happy to have hitched a ride. Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions, trivia and insights. It's been a blast! Now to put together a list of all the noirs I want to watch.

I don't know if it's crazier that I didn't care for Double Indemnity the 1st time I watched it, or that it took me about 4 tries to love Sunset Blvd. At least I got there.

1. Double Indemnity (#1)
2. Scarlet Street (#29)
3. Rififi (#42)
4. Mildred Pierce (#15)
5. The Third Man (#4)
6. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (#40)
7. Body and Soul (#94)
8. Touch of Evil (#5)
9. Sunset Blvd (#2)
10. Key Largo (#26)
11. The Asphalt Jungle (#16)
12. Kiss Me Deadly (#13)
13. Detective Story (#57)
14. The Killers (#22)
15. Force of Evil (#85)
16 Ride the Pink Horse (#45)
17. The Maltese Falcon (#3)
18. The Big Sleep (#8)
19. Nightmare Alley (#33)
20. The Blue Dahlia (#74)
21. The Lady from Shanghai (#31)
22. Gilda (#27)
23. The Stranger (#38)
24. Drunken Angel (#70)
25. The Letter (#72)

I'll have to figure out for sure when it's time to fill out my list, but I've seen about 80-85/100

Thank you very much for your work CR, you ended up doing an ok job I guess.

Both of those were on my list, and in fact I didn't have anything that missed out. Here's my final list:

1. The Maltese Falcon
2. The Third Man
3.Sunset Boulevard
4.Double Indemnity
5.Out of the Past
6. Pickup on South Street
7. Stray Dog
8. The Killing
9. Laura
10. Shadow of a Doubt
11. Where the Sidewalk Ends
12. In a Lonely Place
13. The Big Heat
14. Sweet Smell of Success
15. Elevator to the Gallows
16. The Big Sleep
17. Ace in the Hole
18. Gilda
19. Mildred Pierce
20. This Gun for Hire
21. The Postman Always Rings Twice
22. The Wrong Man
23. The Set-Up
24. Scarlet Street
25. Gun Crazy
I may go back to hating you. It was more fun.

I think the only eligible movie in my top 10 that didn't make the countdown was Kobayashi's 1957 noir, Black River.

my ballot  

Society ennobler, last seen in Medici's Florence

#1. Double Indemnity (1944) was my #3.
#2. Sunset Blvd. (1950) was my #1.

Two movies that are part of my cinema hall of fame as a whole, outside whatever genre-based or decade-based lists.
Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond is grandiose and when it comes to Erich von Stroheim, I'm always caught.
As for Fred MacMurray, he's the guy!
"Population don't imitate art, population imitate bad television." W.A.
"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." M.T.