The MoFo Top 100 Film Noir Countdown

→ in

List facts!
  • At 8.0, The Night of the Hunter has the second highest IMDb rating, just below Ace in the Hole, White Heat, Rebecca, and Rififi (all of which are tied with 8.1)
  • This is the first time in both countdowns that both reveals are from the same year.
  • This are both Robert Aldrich and Charles Laughton's first entries in the countdown. Do you think they'll get any more?
Not Laughton! Too bad...that he only directed one film. The Night of the Hunter was visually stunning. The man had talent as a director.

Am I still the least total viewed, with 24 out of 88 seen? Just curious.
I think I'm at 28, so I'm right behind you.
Check out my podcast: The Movie Loot!

Not Laughton! Too bad...that he only directed one film. The Night of the Hunter was visually stunning. The man had talent as a director.

  • This are both Robert Aldrich and Charles Laughton's first entries in the countdown. Do you think they'll get any more?
As already was pointed out, since Chuck Laughton didn't direct another movie it would be difficult for one to show. Aldrich won't have anything higher than Kiss Me Deadly. I have no doubt The Big Knife got a couple of votes, but not enough to be in the Top (Dirty) Dozen. No frippin' way.
"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

As already was pointed out, since Chuck Laughton didn't direct another movie it would be difficult for one to show. Aldrich won't have anything higher than Kiss Me Deadly. I have no doubt The Big Knife got a couple of votes, but not enough to be in the Top (Dirty) Dozen. No frippin' way.
I know someone who voted for The Big Knife

Stop..Hammer time..Kiss Me Deadly is awesome! Don't know which version I watched but that's the one on my ballot at 12th place. Got The Night of the Hunter at #43 and The Asphalt Jungle at #46.

SEEN 56/88
BALLOT 15/25

John-Connor's Film-Noir Top 50:  

The Night of the Hunter was #7 on my ballot. It probably would've been in the top 3 had I assembled it a few years ago.

Kiss Me Deadly is pretty good, but it didn't make my ballot. Great ending though.

5) Night and the City
7) The Night of the Hunter
8) White Heat
9) Detour
13) Ace in the Hole
14) Gun Crazy
16) The Postman Always Rings Twice
18) The Stranger
19) Odd Man Out
21) Mildred Pierce
22) The Lost Weekend
24) Crossfire

The Night of the Hunter is a masterpiece and one of the greatest films of all time. I'm surprised that some of you are posting that you haven't seen it yet. I feel it's a must watch so maybe get on that. I had it at #3 and Kiss Me Deadly #9 - which is pure noir with an ending to be remembered. What a great film that in my opinion gets better and better with time.

3. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
7. Notorious (1946)
9. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
10. Stray Dog (1949)
11. Mildred Pierce (1945)
13. Detour (1945)
15. Bob le flambeur (1956)
16. The Killers (1946)
17. Rififi (1955)
19. Strangers on a Train (1951)
20. Gilda (1946)
21. Pickup on South Street (1953)
23. White Heat (1949)
25. Nightmare Alley (1947)
"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."

2 for 2 today and I'm hoping the rest of the reveals are as kind to me. Both The Night of the Hunter and Kiss Me Deadly were on my list.

TNotH was my #8 pick and KMD my #12. I honestly didn't know what to think when I finished watching TNotH for the first time. The potpourri and sheer spectacle that Charles Laughton throws at the viewer blew me away. And by that I don't mean it's a "big" movie, just spicy as ****. KMD also impressed me but it was more of a forward thinking noir that presaged so many other like minded movies to come.

54 of 88 seen so far.

Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

Is there anything more iconic that Robert Mitchum's LOVE HATE finger tattoos? Those ink marks have been imitated everywhere, from rock musicians, to the Simpson's TV show. Just Google Love Hate finger tattoos and you'll see, they're everywhere! Even on toes!

I'd seen this movie before when I was first getting into film noir and I remember how it impressed me. This time around I'm even more impressed by the unique cinematography and set designs. Especially the river voyage scene where the children drift downstream in a small boat. I loved the way the river set looked almost poetic, with the small animals along the shore and in the background silhouettes of old farm houses. I loved the lighting and the star filled sky too. And that was all done on the set. No it doesn't look real, and it doesn't look gritty noir either, it wasn't suppose to...It does look like a storybook, as the children take the same journey Moses did down the Nile.

I thought this film balanced it's religious themes quite nicely. One of the highlights was when the stalking Reverend (Robert Mitchum) was singing
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms cappella with Rachel (Lillian Gish). I liked the juxtaposition of how the evil Mitchum sings lean on me while the good Lillian Gish sings lean on Jesus. A nice touch to define the difference betwixt them.


Kiss Me Deadly was my #23. Here's my edited and shortened review from the Last Chance...Film Noir HoF V

Kiss Me Deadly(1955)
Robert Aldrich

If someone says that they don't like classic noir, show them this film! It's not like other noirs. Call it one of a kind. Or call it a trend setter for other movies. Whatever you call Kiss Me Deadly, don't call it dull!

Mike Hammer, he's no hero. He's not even a Philip Marlowe type appearing to be shady when in the end he does the right thing. Ralph Meeker's Mike Hammer is just a flat out heel...and I liked that about him! He doesn't care about doing the right thing, he doesn't seem to have any kind of moral compass and ends up getting his friends killed just so that he can make a buck. His character was unexpected and so fun to watch.

Gaby Rodgers who plays the blonde who's in fear of her life and is really interested in that 'box'...was like no actress I've seen in a 1950's Hollywood film. I won't say she was amazing, but damn if she wasn't so real, like a person off the street. I never got tired of listening to her when ever she was on the screen. The other actress in the film Maxine Cooper wasn't what I'd call sexy looking, but she had this look in her eyes like she was ready for sex at any moment. Great casting.

Geez this scene was hard to watch. By not showing the actress face the torture seemed all the realer as the images are being produced in the viewer's mind. What a movie!

I'd decided to include Kiss Me Deadly, but forgot when I submitted my list. It didn't exactly need my help anyway. Night of the Hunter is great and all, but it had no chance.
I may go back to hating you. It was more fun.

I didn't care for Night of the Hunter the 1st time I saw it so I watched it again for this countdown. There's some brilliant stuff but overall I still didn't quite love it. My memory sucks even though I saw it recently but I believe I was a tad put off in the latter stages.

Apparently I liked Kiss Me Deadly quite a bit but I can't remember a single thing about it. Thank god for my records or I wouldn't have been able to submit a ballot.

2. Scarlet Street (#29)
3. Rififi (#42)
4. Mildred Pierce (#15)
6. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (#40)
7. Body and Soul (#94)
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)
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)

A system of cells interlinked
Another thing about Kiss Me Deadly: It even has some implied sci-fi elements. Mike Hammer has a giant reel to reel on the wall of his office, which turns out to be an answering machine! Not only that, but the guy is screening his calls. I challenge anyone to find an earlier reference to someone doing this in any film. Add in the case which is basically an apocalypse-in-the-box, and the light sci-fi elements are clear. This film oozes cold war dread.
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ― Thomas Sowell

I must have had Kiss Me Deadly pretty high. Yes, a lot of this has to do with the end, but it knows how to build to that kind of nihilism perfectly.

On a forgiving day, it would be a top 5 for me. Not sure how forgiving I was when I made my list though.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Night of the Hunter is really a fantasy horror film. It’s noir element is chiefly due to the studied chiaroscuro photography of Stanely Cortez (The Magnificent Ambersons). Considered to be more of an art film when released, it had a poor reception but has steadily grown in stature in the years since.

Robert Mitchum plays Harry Powell, a murderer and self-proclaimed preacher who becomes the cell mate of a man named Ben Harper (Peter Graves) who had killed two bank guards and had stolen a large sum of money which he subsequently hid in a place that only his two children knew about. Powell cannot wheedle the hiding place before Harper is executed. Upon his release Powell seeks out Harper’s widow (Shelley Winters), hoping he can find the stolen loot. He deceives the townspeople with his flase piety, and subsequently marries the widow. When he finds out that the widow does not know the location of the loot, but that the children do, he promptly kills the widow, and threatens the children who escape and hide down river under the protection of Rachel Cooper (Lilian Gish), an elderly widow who looks after stray children. Powell tracks them down but is foiled by Cooper.

The film was directed by
Charles Laughton in his singular instance as a director in film, although he was an experienced stage director. The novel of the same name was by Davis Grub, and Laughton and Grub worked closely together to develop the style of the story, although a lengthy screenplay by James Agee was eventually used in portion. The art direction by Hilyard Brown focused on providing abstract and sparse sets, giving the picture an almost dream-like fantasy look which fomented an other-worldly feel in many of the scenes.

Most studios as well as most actors would not have backed a film of this type in the mid 1950s, but United Artists had come to be known as a studio that would give their producers and directors free reign. And in fact the picture has attained classic status, and appears on many best picture lists.

It's not on my noir list.

Doc's rating: 7/10

Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

This is a lollapalooza of a noir based on Mickey Spillane’s 1952 novel of the same name featuring a two-fisted Mike Hammer. Directed by Robert Aldrich, and photographed by the noir veteran Ernest Laszlo, screen writer A.I. Bezzerides changed the basis of the novel from an organized crime story to an espionage thriller featuring a mysterious valuable box. Spillane was not happy about the screenplay.

The picture opens with a thrilling scene. As Hammer drives along a highway a woman named Christina, clad only in a trench coat, runs into the car’s path, causing Hammer to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting her. He invites her into his car. She is escaping from a mental hospital having been held against her will, and implores to him that whatever happens, to “remember me”. Presently some gangsters overtake Hammer’s car, drag the woman out, and trying to force information out of her, she is killed. The scene sets up the whole story, and is played beautifully by Cloris Leachman in her first screen role. They subsequently knock out Hammer, and along with the woman’s body, and push the two of them over a cliff in Hammer’s car.

Days later Hammer wakes up in the hospital with his assistant/lover Velda standing over him. Hammer is intrigued about the incident and decides to find out what mystery Christina held, that it’s “something big”. He first seeks out Christina’s roommate Gabrielle, and finds out that she is somehow in league with a group of people who are all involved in seeking out the valuable box. As Mike proceeds to investigate he comes into contact with a dizzying array of con men, gangsters and thieves. It all comes to head at a lavish beach house where the content of the box is revealed, and provides one of the most memorable of noir endings.

The movie is filled with indelible participants played by great character actors such as Jack Elam, Jack Lambert, Paul Stewart, Strother Martin, and Albert Dekker. Ralph Meeker’s Mike Hammer is written as more of a sleaze than Spillane characterizes him in the novels, although he still has a violent streak. The picture was a landmark film which influenced everyone from Francois Truffaut to Quentin Tarantino.

It is #25 on my noir list.