The MoFo Top 100 Film Noir Countdown

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I've not seen Ace In The Hole, but the rest from the last few days are excellent examples of noir and that's why they don't work for me.
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Notorious was my #15. Hitchcock showing off his supreme silhouette and shadow game with Bergman and Grant who are just the perfect pair for it. A beautiful thing to watch. Nice to see this classic get a respectable spot on the list.

Ace in the Hole was close to making my list, ended up at #27. I chose another noir with Kirk Douglas which I thought was sure to make it, but now I'm not so sure.

SEEN 50/82
BALLOT 13/25





John-Connor's Film-Noir Top 50:  



Society ennobler, last seen in Medici's Florence
Both of today's reveals are on my ballot.

#19. Ace in the Hole (1951) is my # 9.

After many years of planning this watch, I finally saw it for the countdown. The starting scenes in the provincial newspaper office were very amusing. Loved them a lot. Some issue for me, as a whole, was the second half of the movie when the things went a bit tedious while the main idea of the film was already very clear. Some unnecessary scenes there, kind of filler.
Anyway, good enough to make my top 10 in the scope.


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#20. Notorious (1946) landed at my # 14.

Quite oposite of the above, this film started banally with half an hour fully filled with Cary Grant's tedious chatter and when I was about to stop watching, the characters of Claude Rains and Leopoldine Konstantin turned the movie into a classic. And the final scene with the front door was grandiose!

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Ace in the Hole is my number #18. Gotta love those greedy, ambitious bastards of noir. Dying pathetically, mere inches from their dreams, is worth bonus points. 😃

I really liked Notorious, but it's another one that I didn't get around to watching until after my list was submitted. It would've been in there somewhere. I love the tense ending walk to the car.



Seen 20 of 82

My list, as we get into the home stretch:

1. ?
2. ?
3. ?
4. ?
5. The Lost Weekend (1945)
6. Murder My Sweet (1944)
7. ?
8. ?
9. ?
10. White Heat (1949)
11. Rebecca (1940)
12. ?
13. ?
14. ?
15. Detour (1945)
16. ?
17. ?
18. Ace in the Hole (1951)
19. Leave Her to Heaven (1945
20. Nightmare Alley (1947
21. Key Largo (1948)
22. ?
23. Suspicion (1941)
24. Big Combo (1955)
25. DOA (1950)



Notorious is top-tier Hitchcock and a favorite of mine, but like a couple of fellow MoFos, I have a hard time thinking of Hitch's films as Noir. They are all suspense movies from, well, The Master of Suspense. But if the Countdown votes them in, I can get with that. Anywhere that Hitchcock is mentioned is a win.

I just watched Ace in the Hole a day or two back and loved it. Dark, dark stuff, using a suffering person for personal gain, with the whole countryside practically joining in. I had said in a review I did that I thought Leo (the man trapped in the cave-in) was the only good person in the movie, but I forgot to mention his father and his mother. But as they were kind of shunted to being side characters, Leo stood out more. But the shot of the forlorn father staggering around as Douglas leaves the site was devastating. This one was 5 popcorn buckets worth of Noir for me.

Neither made my list, so that Noir bad luck is setting in as I feared!



#4 The Big Combo List Proper #52
#5 Pickup on South Street List Proper #23
#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
#17 The Killers List Proper #22
#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
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...Ace in the Hole was #13 on my ballot. I was initially dissatisfied by its ending, but I warmed up to it over time. Heck...
I was down on the ending too, though I still think highly of the film...I wonder if we're talking about the same aspects of the ending? You can answer in spoilers if your answer will give the ending away.

Ace in the Hole... "I guess this is an example of satire that doesn't actually register as comedy for me. Am I viewing it wrong?"...
You are right that it's not comedy, there's nothing funny about it. Especially if one knows that there was a real cave explorer who became hopelessly trapped by a huge rock deep in a cave...and a media circus ensued as he lingered for many days before finally dying. It's not satire in the comedy sense, more of a social commentary film.

8 of mine remain but I've only officially ruled out one of them. I love me some Hitch but I didn't consider most if any of his films for this countdown.
I don't really consider most of Hitch's films to be solid noir. They're more like British mystery thrillers with noir elements. The exception IMO is Strangers on the Train. But cool that people do love them.

Both of today's reveals are on my ballot.

#19. Ace in the Hole (1951) is my # 9....Some issue for me, as a whole, was the second half of the movie when the things went a bit tedious while the main idea of the film was already very clear. Some unnecessary scenes there, kind of filler.
Curious as to what scenes you think are unnecessary filler? Not trying to change anyone's mind, just wondering.



I really like Notorious, which is sort of a landmark film for Hitchcock, being a full on romance. In fact the picture is really a spy/suspense/love story more than a noir. Good story, good acting. Didn't make my noir list.



Ace in the Hole (1951)

Ace in the Hole is not a prime example of film noir, being mostly a straight drama about squalid journalism and a glory seeking reporter, however it does display one of noirís common themes: a crushing sense of cynicism. Almost from the start weíre presented with an unrelenting portrait of some of the worst traits in human nature: greed, sensationalism, gullibility, and lying.

A newspaperman (Kirk Douglas) has been hired for a meager salary by a small Albuquerque daily after having been fired by most major publications for his underhandedness and temper. Soon a story arises with possible national interest when a local gas station owner gets trapped in a collapsed cave, which causes the newspaperman to scheme a way to build the story and his own involvement and reportage. He even convinces the authorities to alter the rescue method, which promotes a slower pace, allowing the story to be milked to a much wider audience as the carnival atmosphere with the snoopers and looky-loos builds at the site.


Along the way the trapped manís wife, Lorraine (Jan Sterling), who had already wanted to divorce him before this incident, becomes partly complicit in the newspapermanís plot due to her new found income provided by hundreds of tourists flocking to the site and spending money at the gas station. But soon their relationship sours as the newspaperman starts to drink, and an altercation occurs which injures the newspaperman and causes him to renounce the whole mess that he has started. The story grinds to an ending in which everyone except the poor sole in the cave seems to get their just desserts.

This is reportedly Billy Wilderís first film in which he both wrote, produced and directed. His story is his most disdainful and misanthropic of all of his films. He exposes the underbelly of human nature in such a way that one feels the urge to wash oneís hands at the filmís end. The single redeeming let up in the tale is when the newspaperman realizes that heís gone too far, and seeks redemption. Sadly the portrayal of a gullible public blindly reacting to a sensational news story has not changed much in the intervening 77 years.

Billy Wilder had earlier directed two bona fide noirs:
Double Indemnity (1944) and Sunset Boulevard (1950), so his association with the movement likely influences people to consider Ace in the Hole as a noir also. One interesting bit of trivia that caught my attention is that the name of the insurance company involved in this tale, the Pacific All-Risk Insurance Co., is the same fictitious company featured in Double Indemnity.

It did not make my noir list.



Not sure if I've seen Notorious since the 90's when I liked all Hitchcock. Don't know if I'd like it now.

I was looking at Ace in the Hole when submitting my ballot but I ultimately left it off.



From my write up in the Last Chance...Film Noir HoF V


Ace in the Hole
(Billy Wilder 1951)

Now that's a shot! Lots of scope in that composition. My favorite scene is of the set constructed, aka 'Indian' cliff dwellings. They look so real, though they were constructed for the movie. Those dwellings add a lot of character to the story. Not that the movie needed any more character with Kirk Douglas aboard. Douglas is one powerhouse actor, just watch him in this, then watch Douglas do a 180 degree turn in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers....and the thing is he's utterly believable in both types of roles, that's impressive

I've seen Ace in the Hole a number of times and last time I reviewed it I gave it a perfect score of 5/5. I'm going to take that down a bit to 4.5/5 as I felt the ending went a little to bombastic. I know that's Wilder's forte but I think instead of ending the film with Douglas full of guilt, choking Jan Sterling, who then stabs him with scissors...and having him stubble off trying to confess his 'crime' to the newspaper...A better ending would've been if the little mild mannered editor of the Albuquerque Newspaper brings down Kirk Douglas from his throne by telling the world just what foul doings Douglas and the Sheriff concocted in the name of greed. That would've been a more potent ending, than the way the film did end.



I was down on the ending too, though I still think highly of the film...I wonder if we're talking about the same aspects of the ending? You can answer in spoilers if your answer will give the ending away.
WARNING: spoilers below
I initially found the ending to be a contrived way to follow the Hays Code, but in retrospect, I eventually realized that doing nothing about the stab wound fit his character really well since he was an obsessed madman who ignored clear dangers for personal gain. Inverting it so that he's the one being punished at the end isn't a big stretch at all.
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WARNING: spoilers below
I initially found the ending to be a contrived way to follow the Hays Code, but in retrospect, I eventually realized that doing nothing about the stab wound fit his character really well since he was an obsessed madman who ignored clear dangers for personal gain. Inverting it so that he's the one being punished at the end isn't a big stretch at all.
I see, that makes sense. Did you read my version of the ending? If so what did you think?



2 for 2 SEEN and 2 for 2 from my ballot!

Like Holden said, Notorious is top tier Hitchcock. I have a review written on Letterboxd that I might transfer here, but it's thrilling, wonderfully acted and directed. I had it at #12, but frankly, it could've been several steps higher.

Ace in the Hole is one that I saw for the first time a couple of years ago. I'm a big fan of Billy Wilder, but also a big fan of Kirk Douglas and he really delivers here. Here is my full review, but also a bit of what I wrote:

Aside from the performances, the film perfectly presents themes of media manipulation, exploitation, the ethics of journalism, and the overall seediness of the press, as well as how gullible the public can be. All circumstances that seem to be burying Tatum more and more. I think the very last act, as he tries to redeem himself, is stretched a bit too much, but I appreciate that the story didn't deviate from the tragedy of what preceded it; that of three people buried and unable to crawl out.
A really great film. I had it at #9.


SEEN: 24/82
MY BALLOT: 11/25

My ballot  
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NOTORIOUS
(1946, Hitchcock)



"People will laugh at you, the invincible Devlin, in love with someone who isn't worth even wasting the words on."

This is the latest entry on my #SummerWithHitchcock project. The film follows Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), the daughter of a convicted Nazi spy, who is reluctantly recruited for a job by T.R. Devlin (Cary Grant). The job is to get closer to a Nazi organization established in Brazil and led by Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains).

The truth is that in terms of the film viewing experience, the "job" doesn't matter. What matters is that we care about the safety of both Devlin and Alicia as they get closer and closer to the organization. And Hitchcock being Hitchcock, well, he was a master in creating tension and suspense. The film is full of edge-of-your-seat moments that have you wondering "will they or won't they catch them?", and Hitchcock uses his best tricks and camera movements to achieve this.

Aside from that, the casting is great. Grant is perfect as the suave, no-nonsense agent, and Bergman is great as the tough-but-vulnerable lady. The cast is rounded out by Rains and Leopoldine Konstantin, who plays his overbearing mother and also a member of the organization. Both are menacing, but without falling into cartoonish territory. Those are just some of the things Notorious has in its favor, but the bottom line is that it's a pretty darn good thriller.

Grade:



Hint...Tomorrow is the return of something, what is it?
Orson Welles, with a double shot of Touch of Evil and The Third Man?
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