The MoFo Top 100 Film Noir Countdown

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"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."

I see, that makes sense. Did you read my version of the ending? If so what did you think?
I think that's a good suggestion, but I think the ending that Wilder chose worked pretty well, too. I don't think it was necessary to change it per se.

List facts!
  • Notorious is Alfred Hitchcock's fifth entry in the countdown. He already placed Rebecca (#35), The Wrong Man (#39), Suspicion (#49), and Spellbound (#68). What noir is missing?
  • Ace in the Hole is Billy Wilder's second entry in the countdown, after The Lost Weekend (#34).
  • Both Notorious (7.9) and Ace in the Hole (8.1) have two of the highest IMDb ratings in the countdown, tied with White Heat, Rebecca, Rififi, Night and the City, The Lost Weekend, and Elevator to the Gallows.
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List facts!
  • Notorious is Alfred Hitchcock's fifth entry in the countdown. He already placed Rebecca (#35), The Wrong Man (#39), Suspicion (#49), and Spellbound (#68). What noir is missing?
Shadow of a Doubt, without a doubt. Also Strangers on a Train. Don't believe Vertigo, Rear Window, or Rope were eligible?
"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

Shadow of a Doubt, without a doubt.
So you don't have a... shadow of a doubt about that one? Ok, I'll see myself out

I forgot the opening line.
#20 Notorious - A Hitchcock classic that I haven't seen. I look forward to getting to it, soon hopefully.

#19 Ace in the Hole - Ace in the Hole is to it's era what Nightcrawler is to us today. What a savage indictment of newshounds and profiteers - I've rarely seen such a charismatic character turn out to be as filthy a dirtbag as the reporter Kirk Douglas plays in this happens to be. He turns one man's misery into a circus, and realises far too late how contemptable his actions are - there's no way to salvage anything. I don't think Kirk Douglas played those kind of roles very often. Anyway, pretty good movie - I liked it, but it ended up getting squeezed off my ballot by other films.

Seen : 23/82
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.
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#20 Notorious - A Hitchcock classic that I haven't seen. I look forward to getting to it, soon hopefully.
For what it's worth, Notorious easily makes my Hitchcock Top 10. I have it at #6 or #7 right now.

Welcome to the human race...
two votes. ace in the hole was my #10, just a fine piece of muckraking that more than holds up over 70 years later. notorious was my #20, one of the more undeniably solid hitchcock works.
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.
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Catching up on my own list. I know they just barley missed, but I had this pair tapped as Top Twenty, and much higher than that for the Siodmak!

Again, Siodmak is THE Noir director for me and I had The Killers up very high on my list. Number two, actually, so twenty-four of its 231 points.

A star was truly born when Burt Lancaster hit the screen here, his debut. Structurally the story begins with Lancasterís character, Ole "Swede" Anderson, being murdered by two hitmen (William Conrad and Charles McGraw). From there an insurance investigator (Edmond OíBrien) tries to track down the manís beneficiary. His investigation leads to flashbacks of how The Swede ended up with his grim fate. He was a promising boxer, but after a hand injury ended his career he fell in with a gangster (Albert Dekker) and of course and impossibly beautiful but dangerous torch singer named Kitty Collins, one of the archetypal Femme Fatales, with Ava Gardner aptly cast as the impossibly beautiful brunette. A robbery gone wrong, lies, and double crosses abound, and we already know our pal The Swede ainít gonna outrun his fate for long.

Undeniably one of the best and truly classic Films NoirÖso of course we have it at twenty-two? Oh-kee-doh-kee.

Sam Fuller's Pickup on South Street was definitely on my list, too. Another terrific Widmark performance, this time playing a cynical balanced mix of the hero and the villain, with that defiant charm. Skip McCoy is a thief, specifically a pickpocket. The story opens on a crowded NYC subway car where he sidles up to a pretty female passenger (Jean Peters), surreptitiously opens her pocketbook, takes something out (hoping it is cash), then quickly exits at the next stop. But he is seen by Federal agents who were trailing the girl, Candy, who they were using as bait to try and bring down a ring of Communist spies. McCoy has inadvertently stolen microfilm. Now the U.S. Government, the Commies, and the girl all want to find him and it.

Thelma Ritter is marvelous, as always, and this performance was her fourth consecutive year nominated as Oscarís Best Supporting Actress (she won for the first of them, All About Eve). She plays Moe, a genial professional snitch who is liked by the police and even the criminals she gives up. Gives up for money, no malice. This time it gets her killed in what has to be one of the all-time best death scenes, Noir or otherwise. And Peters is right up there with Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat as perhaps the most abused woman in Noir, getting punched out by our hero later beaten and shot by the rotten Commie. But she is a tough dame.

I had Pickup as my fifteenth choice, eleven points.

That makes fourteen of mine, with another seven coming and three no-shows.

2. The Killers (#22)
3. Too Late for Tears (#81)
4. The Set-Up (#46)
8. Odd Man Out (#47)
9. Criss Cross (#44)
10. Stray Dog (#32)
12. The Big Combo (#52)
13. Phantom Lady (#69)
14. Born to Kill (#84)
15. Pickup on South Street (#21)
18. He Walked By Night (#88)
19. Fallen Angel (#80)
22. Panic in the Streets (#98)
24. Crossfire (#51)
25. The Crimson Kimono

#18 Strangers on a Train (1951)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Production: Warner Bros
Cast: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman
284 Points, 23 Lists

'A psychopathic man tries to forcibly persuade a tennis star to agree to his theory that two strangers can get away with murder by submitting to his plan to kill the other's most-hated person.'


#17 The Big Heat (1953)

Director: Fritz Lang
Production: Columbia Pictures
Cast: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin, Jocelyn Brando
289 Points, 25 Lists

'Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.'


Strangers on a Train is fantastic, one of Hitchcock's best with excellent performances. It was no stranger to my ballot and boarded the number 1 spot. The Big Heat is a great noir, masterfully directed and very entertaining. It burned its way on to my ballot at number 22.

Seen: 83/84

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I love Strangers on a Train. It's one of the first classic films that I ever saw when I joined mofo in 2010. I've come a long way.

I had it at 12.

I had the truest (?) Hitch film noir on my list at #19. It's a great picture with an interesting proposition that I often thinking of when I meet random people on the train. Just for fun. To pass the time. The Big Heat is a quality Fritz Lang flick but it's been a while and as I mentioned before: no Fritz Lang on my list. I am ashamed.

7. Notorious (1946)
10. Stray Dog (1949)
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)

The Big Heat was #10 on my ballot.

Five years ago I watched every one of Gloria Grahame's films that she had made. That was quite an experience and further fueled my love of noir as Gloria had been in a number of noirs. Some of those noirs are not well known outside of noir-fandom, others like The Big Heat are on must-see noir list. The Big Heat was my nomination in the Film Noir III Hall of Fame it tied for 1st place...and now is honored in the Hall of Fame Archives - Specialty HoFs section.

I've seen Strangers on a Train several times and, although I like it quite a bit, I always have issues with Farley Granger's performance. I understand he's playing the straight man against Robert Walker's grandiose performance, but I still feel like that performance needed a bit more. Anyway, I've warmed up to it with time and my feelings towards it are way better than the first time(s) I saw it; especially because of how meticulously crafted it is. For those reasons, and because I already had two Hitchcock films on my ballot, I left it off.

I haven't seen The Big Heat.

SEEN: 25/84
MY BALLOT: 11/25

My ballot