The MoFo Top 100 Film Noir Countdown

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Tom Neal (Detour) had to be one of the most noir like actors in real life....
I did not know this thanks.
"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."

Detour is my #15! We had feel-good noir with Key Largo, and now we're firmly back on track with the grimy feel-bad noir I love in equal measure. 😃

The Postman Always Rings Twice didn't make my list, being a bit preachy for my tastes, but still a good movie.

Wow, this is my third two-fer in this countdown! That's never happened to me. I'm just hooked on Noir, so I guess that accounts for it.

I love Detour and the first time I saw it, it played almost like a horror film to me, with Ann Savage's character like the unstoppable monster stalking Tom Neal. The moment after he picks her up and she's "sleeping" then suddenly opens her eyes and is glaring at him without him knowing---that still freaks me out! She was off the chain in this, but towards the end, I did feel sorry for her in the moments where she was reaching out to Neal for some sort of comfort---but she'd burned her bridges by the time and he was, ahem, wasn't haven' any. The cinematography was great, with the shadow play being aces, like the horn players on the wall behind Claudia Drake, the lights growing dim on Neal's face in the diner as he tells his story, with only the minimal light around his face---just excellent stuff. And the ending is perfect Noir. My #18 And totally killing the idea of Noir, here's the cast all happy:

The Postman Always Rings Twice is one I've known about for decades, as I've mentioned before that John Garfield was liked by most of my family---I maybe wasn't as huge of a fan but I certainly liked the guy's movies. This one is tops for me in his resume. And once you see Lana Turner, you can't blame him for wanting to help her kill her husband. Wow---I doubt that she's ever looked this fine. And I agree with @Citizen Rules that Hume Cronyn played one of his best roles here. I tried to get into the remake with Nicholson and Lange but for me they took out the doom that this one laid out and replaced it with sad tragedy. Meh. I had this one at #12

#4 The Big Combo List Proper #52
#6 Kansas City Confidential List Proper #53
#12 The Postman Always Rings Twice List Proper #23
#13 Murder, My Sweet List Proper #28
#14 Kiss of Death List Proper #59
#15 He Walked By Night List Proper #88
#16 The Naked City List Proper #60
#18 Detour List Proper #24
#20 Gun Crazy List Proper #36
#22 This Gun For Hire List Proper #78
#23 The Narrow Margin List Proper #43
#25 Crossfire List Proper #51
"Miss Jean Louise, Mr. Arthur Radley."

Yessss! The Postman Always Rings Twice is such a great noir. I love Lana Turner in this role. John Garfield is great. The script, the dialogue, the suspense it is all perfect.Of course it is on my list.

A system of cells interlinked
Key Largo was my #18. A bit of odd duck, as it is also sort of natural disaster flick, but the metaphor of the storm is clear, if a bit on the nose. But man, Bogie, Bacall, Edward G, Lionel Barrymore... what a cast! Not as dark as some noirs, hence its placement in the middle tier of my list, but it's still a total classic, and a must own for any noir fan, as far as I am concerned.

Night and the City was on my list at #20. This should probably be higher, but I hadn't seen it for several years, and I couldn't get around to another viewing in time. Stylistically, it's top shelf stuff; I just didn't recall enough about it to place it up higher. That's all on me. Most certainly deserves to be on the list. When thinking out allegory for Theseus and the labyrinth in film, this one always springs to mind for me, with the city as labyrinth.

The most recent reveals I have seen, but neither made my list. I couldn't find room for Postman, and I bounced off Detour the first time I saw it; I need to revisit that one.
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ― Thomas Sowell

Detour was my #25 and Postman was my #15.

Despite knowing the title of the latter since I was probably a kid, I only watched it a few years ago. Was it good? Yes, but it was something of lesser film compared to something like Double Indemnity, which I had also finally caught up with a few years prior.

Detour, I saw a couple years ago as part of Noirvember and I recall generally being positive on it. I probably should have rewatched it before putting it on my ballot, but hey, #25. I was expecting to find some new watches that would have edged it out over the past few months, but didn't.

Detour (1945)

When I first saw the picture I wasn't such a fan of this one. It looks shoddily made and the plot is fairly preposterous. The main character is either an idiot... or he really is lying. That's a more interesting angle to the whole thing that's never quite explored but then again it's barely more than an hour long.

Detour was actually meant to be a much longer film, but much of the script was not used. That's maybe why it felt so collapsed. OTOH it enhances the claustrophobia.

I think Al Roberts could have been better cast than by using Tom Neal, but he kinda grows on the viewer. A small thing that bugged me was Tom Neal's hat, especially at the beginning. It made him look like a caricature.

Ann Savage's Vera is definitely one of the nastiest, shrill, low down femme fatales in all of noir. Between Roberts' defeatist and very noir decisions and Vera's rottenness, the story keeps up on the paranoia and depression.

One thing that I think is interesting is that in the end Roberts doesn't actually get caught for his crimes, he just imagines that scenario in his mind! Another obvious hard to believe thing about Vera's murder is that Roberts could have simply ripped the phone cord out from the wall rather than tugging on it through the closed door in order to keep Vera from calling the police. But that of course would have prolonged the story.

Still, it's a heralded great "B" noir, and I put it up at #22 on my list.

I've never written much commentary about The Postman Always Rings Twice, but in my view it approaches Double Indemnity quality, even as its story is somewhat similar.

The chemistry between Garfield and Turner sizzles. It's hard to believe that her husband (played by the veteran Cecil Kellaway) could have been so stupid, but there you have it. The picture's ending is perfect noir.

One of the great noirs. I had it up at #5 on my list.

Tomorrow's reveal has one of the hottest looking femme fatales...and the other reveal makes me wish I had some cold beer.

Which are they?

I forgot the opening line.
#24 Detour - This one was a whole heap of fun - one of those film noir classics that just doesn't mess around and speeds a protagonist through a personal nightmare at a breakneck speed. First off Al (Tom Neal) accidentally kills a guy while on a road trip by letting him fall to the ground and hit his head on a rock, and then he picks up the dead guy's cohort hitchhiking along the road - giving himself away by driving the dead guy's car. The girl, Vera (Ann Savage), turns out to be a femme fatale of the worst kind. The narrative is a lot more complex than that, from start to finish - but it's smooth, fast-paced, easy to understand and full of tension and suspense. So many "who would believe me?" moments, despite the fact that the story is being told in flashback style at a diner. Film noir is so full of bad luck, accidents, opportunities for blackmail, losses, getting cheated and above all sexual tension - and I think Detour has all of those elements in spades. I had it at #20 on my ballot.

#23 The Postman Always Rings Twice - A very big movie which I unfortunately haven't seen yet. I grew up on the remake.

Seen : 21/78
I'd never even heard of : 47/78
Movies that had been on my radar, but I haven't seen yet : 10/78
Films from my list : 11

#24 - My #20 - Detour (1945)
#27 - My #14 - Gilda (1946)
#28 - My #11 - Murder, My Sweet (1944)
#31 - My #25 - The Lady From Shanghai (1947)
#33 - My #22 - Nightmare Alley (1947)
#36 - My #16 - Gun Crazy (1950)
#44 - My #19 - Criss Cross (1949)
#54 - My #12 - D.O.A. (1950)
#58 - My #23 - The Breaking Point (1950)
#61 - My #21 - Act of Violence (1949)
#67 - My #18 - The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.
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Tomorrow's reveal has one of the hottest looking femme fatales...and the other reveal makes me wish I had some cold beer.

Which are they?
The Killers or The Asphalt Jungle and The Big Heat...

Originally Posted by Citizen Rules
Tomorrow's reveal has one of the hottest looking femme fatales
The Killers or The Asphalt Jungle and The Big Heat...
One of those is correct. One of those has an often underrated actress in a smaller role and one of them has one of my favorite noir actresses.

#22 The Killers (1946)

Director: Robert Siodmak
Production: Mark Hellinger Productions
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien
231 Points, 20 Lists

'Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.'


#21 Pickup on South Street (1953)

Director: Samuel Fuller
Production: Twentieth Century Fox
Cast: Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter
258 Points, 21 Lists

'A pickpocket unwittingly lifts a message destined for enemy agents and becomes a target for a Communist spy ring.'


Welcome to the human race...
four votes.

stray dog was my #13, using a great noir plot in having a policeman search for his missing gun to examine postwar japan, being led masterfully by mifune and shimura.

detour was my #25, which meant it probably wasn't on my initial ballot. that seems baffling now since it's quintessential noir.

the killers was my #24. love the idea of using the flashback structure of citizen kane to tell the story of a deceased noir protagonist.

pickup on south street was my #19. fuller cuts to the bone.

have also seen white heat, gilda, key largo, and the postman always rings twice. they're all good, but white heat is the best of them.
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.
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Pickup on South Street was my #23. I didn't love everything about it but there were some undeniably memorable moments.

I watched Pickup On South Street for a Personal Rec HOF and had really mixed feelings about it, with the negative ones overshadowing the positive. I would not have voted for it.

Tomorrow's reveal has one of the hottest looking femme fatales..

Which are they?
So was I right or was I right? Is not Ava Gardner in The Killers one of the most stunningly sexy beautiful femme fatales in a noir...That black dress sure helps her shine too!

My first twofer from both noir countdowns! Here is the Siodmak noir that I voted for at #16 and it's a good one. Well shot and executed expansion on the Hemingway short. Perfect example of the genre paired with excellent early performances by Lancaster and Gardner. And I had Pickup at #21. We get Richard Widmark in a Sam Fuller picture about a pickpocket and Communists in fifties New York - that's a nice set up.

10. Stray Dog (1949)
13. Detour (1945)
15. Bob le flambeur (1956)
16. The Killers (1946)
17. Rififi (1955)
20. Gilda (1946)
21. Pickup on South Street (1953)
23. White Heat (1949)
25. Nightmare Alley (1947)