The MoFo Top 100 Neo-noir Countdown

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Trouble with a capital "T"
Finally one neo noir I love! Samuel Fuller's The Naked Kiss (1964) was #4 on my ballot.

The Naked Kiss (1964)
This is one gutsy flick, especially for the time. Sam Fuller directed, wrote and produced The Naked Kiss and his potent tabloid style of realism is stamped all over this hidden gem.

Kelly, played to steely perfection by Constance Towers, is a prostitute come to the small town of Grantville. She's told in no uncertain terms by Police Capt. Griff (Anthony Eisley), that her kind doesn't belong in the town. Instead he sends her to a gentleman's club across the state line. It seems the Police Capt. likes working girls, just not in his tidy town.

Sickened with her life, Kelly decides to stay put in Grantville and finds she has a real talent helping disabled children in the local hospital. That's the set up, the movie starts from there.

Cinematography: Sam Fuller uses a mixed bag of cinema styles to great effect. In a long shot, he uses a classic Film Noir technique with low key lighting and the characters silhouetted in shadow. In a dream sequences, the filming style is reminiscent of Italian films of the time, very artsy and different than the rest of the film. For the opening sequences, he was one of the first to use a hand held camera for an 'in your face look'.



Have seen so far: 9 - Silence of the Lambs - Decent crime/thriller movie, not much of a fan of the Hannibal stuff.

Killer Joe - This movie was alright, found nothing special about it, imo.

The Dark Knight - A great batman movie and #3 on my ballot list.

True Romance - A decent crime movie from the 90's

The French Connection - An okay movie from the 70's

The Departed - One of the best crime movies out there, it never crossed my mind that this would count as a neo noir movie, this would have been #1 on my ballot list for sure.

Have not seen so far: 41

My Ballot List
#3 - The Dark Knight
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WHAT DID YOU THINK OF... OLDBOY


RT – 83%, IMDb – 8.3

Roger Ebert said:

"Oldboy ventures to emotional extremes, but not without reason. We are so accustomed to 'thrillers' that exist only as machines for creating diversion that it's a shock to find a movie in which the action, however violent, makes a statement and has a purpose." (read full document here)
Patrick Brzeski, from The Hollywood Reporter, said:

"A lurid, wretched neo-noir that draws equally from the storytelling aesthetics of Japanese manga and Greek tragedy, Oldboy is anything but a soothing viewing experience." (read full review here)
@seanc said:

"Oldboy at its most basic is a revenge story, this film is however much more complex than that. It is a barrage on the viewers senses. Visually stunning as well as emotionally visceral. On the surface the narrative is very straightforward, but little is as it seems throughout the entire film up till the last few minutes." (read full review here)
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WHAT DID YOU THINK OF... THE NAKED KISS


RT – 93%, IMDb – 7.2

Mick LaSalle, from Datebook, said:

"It comes as a pleasant surprise to discover this late noir from director Samuel Fuller — a twisted, lurid, bizarre film that seems, at first, like a deliberate provocation." (read full document here)
Bryan Cyr, from Everything Noir, said:

"This film is unique and a bit campy in places, but well worth viewing for fans of classic film noir. This is not my favorite film from Fuller, but he has made it interesting enough that I’m glad I did see it." (read full review here)
@Citizen Rules said:

"I was totally impressed with The Naked Kiss. It's not like anything I've seen. For one it's rare to see a movie from the early 1960's that's so frank in it's exploration of the seedy side of humanity. It's equally rare to see an actresses play a powerhouse lead in the film. And make no mistake about it, Constance Towers is a powerhouse." (read full review here)



AWARDS?



The Naked Kiss didn't receive any awards, but Oldboy did get a bunch. These are some of the most notable:
  • Two (2) Asia-Pacific Film Festival Awards, including Best Actor (Choi Min-sik) and Best Director (Park Chan-wook)
  • Two (2) Cannes Film Festival Award nominations, including a win for the Grand Prize of the Jury
  • Eleven (11) Grand Bell Award nominations, including a win for Best Actor (Choi) and Best Director (Park)
  • Three (3) Baek Sang Art Awards, including Best New Actress (Jin-Seo Yoon)



The Naked Kiss just missed my ballot. Here's my writeup anyway:

Samuel Fuller is at the top of his game in this neo-noir that's all about dirty little secrets. In a jarring opening scene, we learn Kelly's: she's a now ex-prostitute whose shabby treatment by her johns did major damage to her temper and humanity. She hopes to start all over again in Grantville, a quaint, peaceful, all-American town not far removed from ones in The Twilight Zone, first as a purveyor of fine champagne and later as a nurse at a ward for handicapped children. It's hardly a smooth transition, though: not only does she discover that her final john, Griff, is a police officer there, Grantville is also like The Twilight Zone towns in that it has its own dirty little secrets.

Does Kelly qualify as a femme fatale? Probably, but it's a moot point because Constance Towers makes her so much more than that. With traits like a refusal to let others push her or her friends around, remorse about what her career did to her, etc., she makes Kelly into one of the more fully realized protagonists I've seen in this genre. The same descriptor applies to Grantville, with another one being prescient because when it comes down to it, life in American places like it has not changed that much. Despite its smiling, generous and clean-living populace, vice like booze and what Kelly used to do is tolerated. As for the moments that make the movie a neo-noir, the typical one is not the kind with blood, guts and bullets found in Le Samourai or Blood Simple. While I love such violent fare as much as the next noir lover, credit goes to Fuller, Towers, et al for not needing them to make their tension unbearably thick, whether it's if Kelly will revert to her old ways, her romance with the richest and most eligible bachelor in town will fail or if her comely co-worker is another Kelly in the making. The movie is rough around the edges: nearly every scene transition made me assume I missed something even though I did not. Also, the last act puts quite a few coincidences and conveniences into a small space. That does not take away from it being a classic of its genre, especially for how well it makes you wonder if prosperity in America is impossible without dirty little secrets being involved.



I got nothing.
Every night I decide to see one of the movies from the noir countdowns. And every night, it's unavailable. And by unavailable, I mean costs money.



Samuel Fuller is still mostly blindspots that I'm filling in at roughly one a year, which is to say, I guess I'll now watch The Naked Kiss at some point this year? (It's on the criterion channel for those who have it. *Looks at beelzebubble*)

Old Boy is an okay movie. I like Park Chan-wook's most recent films more than his earlier, popular genre films (i.e. The Vengeance trilogy). I don't know why, I just never got into them. Mr. Vengeance was probably the one I liked best, fwiw.



My entries so far.....

04. Dirty Harry (#80)
07. Following (#84)
10. Madeo (Mother) (#67)
12. The Manchurian Candidate (#97)
14. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (#62)
18. Klute (#63)



I got nothing.
Every night I decide to see one of the movies from the noir countdowns. And every night, it's unavailable. And by unavailable, I mean costs money.

What streaming services you have?


According to JustWatch, Oldboy is available on Netflix, while The Naked Kiss is available on Prime, Max, Tubi, and several others.



I felt like Lost Highway was far from Lynch's best when I first saw it, but I have found that I think about it way more than any of his others. While I have yet to watch Inland Empire, I might hesitantly say it's my favorite film he has done.
OK, I have now gone and watched Inland Empire---I can now solidly say that Lost Highway is my favorite Lynch.

But, then again, I have not seen Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me...



I got nothing.
Every night I decide to see one of the movies from the noir countdowns. And every night, it's unavailable. And by unavailable, I mean costs money.
Try google also along with some of the others mentioned here.



Stats: Pit Stop #5





After hitting our fifth pit stop (50), here's were we are now:

Decade Breakdown
  • 1960s = 10
  • 1970s = 7
  • 1980s = 3
  • 1990s = 16
  • 2000s = 8
  • 2010s = 6
  • 2020s = 0

Will the 1990s run away with this? They have a strong showing in this last batch, but the so did the 1960s and the 2000s.


Recurring Directors
  • Martin Scorsese = 2
  • William Friedkin = 2
  • Christopher Nolan = 2

Martin Scorsese and William Friedkin joined Christopher Nolan as the only directors with more than one entry. There are a lot more to come on the second half. Who are you calling? Will these three get something else?



We're at the halfway mark and, somewhat in line to what I said yesterday and in the opening post about "what's neo-noir?" and "what's not?", I wanted to ask... after 50 films, what are some common threads you can see tying all, or most, of these films together? Common themes, archetypes, plot devices?


Also, what has been your biggest positive surprise yet? That film you really didn't expect to show up and yet TA-DAAA! There it was.



I got nothing.
Every night I decide to see one of the movies from the noir countdowns. And every night, it's unavailable. And by unavailable, I mean costs money.
You can always ask me for help
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