Gunny's 50 Greatest Film Noirs

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Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
I think you'll fall in love once you really get through your first dozen films. They're very addicting (at least for me).

Laura is indeed phenominal as well as Sunset Boulevard. And yes, the latter is certainly considered a film noir.
Yeah at the moment I'm still trying to find my feet in the genre; just like with Westerns. I've not completely settled, switching from loving one film to hating the next. For example there are some I'll really enjoy (Laura/ 3:10 to Yuma and Little Big Man) and then the next one I watch I won't really get into (Maltese Falcon/ The Searchers). And yes I realise it's probably quite sacrilegious to say that about the Maltese Falcon in this of all threads!

So can we expect to see Laura at some point? Could see it perhaps sneaking into my top 100 in the future with repeated viewings. And well Sunset Blvd. is my favourite then considering I have it as my #16 favourite film ever on list I'm currently posting

Oh and inspired by this list I went off and watched Double Indemnity. Cracking film! Great story and performances, with some fantastic hardboiled dialogue (especially in the early scenes between Neff and Phyllis)

Enjoying the list. So far my favorites are The Lady From Shanghai and Detective Story, and my least favorites are Scarlet Street and The Dark Corner. Quite a few I still need to see.


Touch of Evil (1958)

Director - Orson Welles

Cast - Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Marlene Dietrich

Charlton Heston is Mike Vargas, a Mexican law enforcement officer with his new bride Susie (Janet Leigh). After a car bomb kills 2 people near the US/Mexico border Mike is thrust into a world of murder, police corruption, kidnapping and betrayal with Orson Welles playing Hank Quinlan, a corrupted cop.

Welles directs a brilliant masterpiece in this twisted tale, marking the end of the classical period of film noir. This is one of Welles' very best films as he creates a powerful and realistic atmosphere. Heston, Welles and Leigh are all magnificent with a solid supporting cast. I could have easily ranked this one higher but finally settled it in here.

"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it, never really care for anything else thereafter." - Ernest Hemingway

will.15's Avatar
Semper Fooey
32 is pretty low for Touch of Evil.

It is looking like you are going to have Stanley Kubrick's The Killing much higher than The Asphalt Jungle and it is not as good, and Plunder Road, which doesn't look like it is going to make your list is a great caper film also.
It reminds me of a toilet paper on the trees
- Paula


The Killers (1946)

Director - Robert Siodmak

Cast - Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien and Sam Levene

2 hit men kill Swede (Burt Lancaster). An investigator, Jim Reardon (Edmond O'Brien), looks into the case and discovers a complex web that leads to the mysterious Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner).

Siodmak once again is a master at delivering the perfect atmosphere for an extremely well-written script from a great novel. He keeps you fixated on the screen as he slowly builds the suspense. Lancaster and Gardner are incredible with O'Brien looking very impressive as the investigator looking to put all the pieces together. A highly enjoyable film that captures the essence of noir.


Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)

Director - Otto Preminger

Cast - Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney

Dana Andrews plays Detective Dixon as a cop in New York. Dixon accidentally kills a suspect and decides to cover it up since he's already in trouble for his past actions. The suspect of the murder is Jiggs Taylor, a local cab driver. Dixon is in love with his daughter, Morgan (Gene Tierney). Not wanting to see her father go to prison for a crime he didn't commit while not implicating himself, he attempts to put the blame on gangster Tommy Scalise (Gary Merrill).

This is a dark, gritty and corrupt noir that comes alive on screen. Preminger moves the story along nicely throwing in twists at just the right moments. Andrews and Tierney are excellent and display great chemistry as the supporting cast holds their own and supports them nicely. This is a classic of the noir genre and a must-see.

Lots of highly regarded noirs are ranked quite low by you, Gunny. Blogs I frequent that have compiled such lists all had Criss Cross, Touch of Evil and The Asphalt Jungle in the high end of the top 20. The Killers always cracked the top 10. Then again, the fact that so many usual suspects have come up already will make your list all the more surprising and suspenseful.


Gun Crazy (1950)

Director - Joseph H Lewis

Cast - Peggy Cummins and John Dall

John Dall is Bart Tare, a gun enthusiast who ends up at a carnival where he meets Annie Star (Peggy Cummins), who like himself is also a gun lover. The two fall in love and get married. Unhappy with their financial situation they decide to go on a cross-country crime spree committing robberies as the police are hot on their trail in a manhunt.

Lewis outdid himself with this tragic, dark and stylish film. The Bonnie and Clyde of noir, Lewis is masterful in his direction of this classic, low-budget film. He makes a work of art out of very little and relatively unknowns in the cast whom he gets great performances out of. Cummins and Dall are almost magical together as they head into the unknown in this timeless gem.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
I really love Rusty Tamblyn as the young Bart in the courtroom scene at the beginning. I also really, really love that subjective camera shot from inside the car during the getaway.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
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The Naked City (1948)

Director - Jules Dassin

Cast - Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart and Don Taylor

Detective Dan Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald) is a veteran New York cop teamed up with his younger and much-less experienced partner Jimmy Halloran (Don Taylor). They are put in charge of the case of a young model who was murdered. Together they follow a dark and twisted investigation to uncover the truth.

Jules Dassin directs an incredible police thriller with some of the absolute best cinematography you will see in a noir. You are sucked into this visually stunning film and at times think you are right there in the movie as the gritty streets in New York come alive. Fitzgerald is perfect in his role as a career detective as the rest of the cast are a solid compliment in this extremely dark and well-written classic.


Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Director - Alexander Mackendrick

Cast - Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison and Martin Milner

Burt Lancaster stars as infamous JJ Hunsecker, a powerful and influential writer who hires shady agent Sydney Falco (Tony Curtis) to break up the romance between his sister Susan (Susan Harrison) and her lover, Steve Dallas (Martin Milner).

Mackendrick is at the top of his game in this masterpiece crime thriller. The cinematography is at times mesmerizing, the dialog is gripping and addicting and the jazz score sucks you in. Lancaster delivers an evil and sinister performance in some of his most brilliant acting. Curtis was phenomenal as well playing a much different role than he had in the past as the rest of the cast were near-perfect. A true timeless classic of the noir genre that never seems to lose its fascination.


The Big Combo (1955)

Director - Joseph H Lewis

Cast - Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy and Jean Wallace

Lieutenant Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde) is obsessed with bringing down gangster Mr. Brown (Richard Conte) amongst a world of violence, betrayal, mystery and deception. Will Diamond find a piece of the puzzle to finally put the mob boss away?

When you think of film noirs this is the kind of movie that comes to mind. A classic example of the genre. The cinematography is second-to-none, delivering some of the most famous shots with camera angles, lighting and shadows. Cinematographer John Alton is perhaps the absolute master of creating the shadows, scenes, images and mood of noirs and doesn't disappoint in this film. Lewis makes this movie flow like a stream and brilliantly sets the atmosphere with excellent pacing and intensity. Most will credit Gun Crazy as Lewis' best film but I was more impressed with The Big Combo. Like many others on this list I could have easily moved this film several slots higher. A definite must-see of noirs. It's easy to lose yourself in this cinematic masterpiece.

will.15's Avatar
Semper Fooey
No Anthony Mann yet, Phil Karlson, Don Siegel, Cy Endfield, Richard Fleischer, Andre de Toth, Robert Wise, Max Ophuls, Rudolph Mate or Jacques Tourneur.

Billy Wilder I assume is still coming.


Crossfire (1947)

Director - Edward Dmytryk

Cast - Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame

Detective Finlay (Robert Young) and Sergeant Keeley (Robert Mitchum) investigate a murder of a man whom they suspect was killed by one or possibly more of a group of soldiers.

This is a highly enjoyable film. Through witnesses the story is told through flashbacks which makes this extremely entertaining and keeps you guessing. Edward Dmytryk directs this in-your-face suspense film perfectly that has fantastic cinematography and sets the mood and atmosphere for this excellent whodunit mystery. The acting all around is first-class and many give realistic and dramatic performances with Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame standing out.. This is a terrific noir that never gets old that you will find yourself watching again and again.

This film is significant in that it was the first B movie to ever be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. It had several other nominations as well.

will.15's Avatar
Semper Fooey
Crossfire is not a B movie, very few of the best known film noirs are true B movies, which are by strict definition movies made strictly to be on the second half of the bill. At 85 minutes, it is an A minus movie. The real Bs usually run little more than an hour. Among the best known pure B film noirs are When Strangers Marry (William Castle), My Name is Julia Ross (Joseph H. Lewis), and Detour (Edgar Ulmer).

I really have to see more noirs. Have you seen Rififi by Jules Dassin? Just curious as i see you have The Naked City on your list.

Anyway, great list! And very, very suspenseful

will.15's Avatar
Semper Fooey
Thieves' Highway (1949) also directed by Jules Dassin is another fine film noir. Richard Conte is one of my favorite actors. I'm curious to see if the spectacular House of Strangers directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz starring Conte and Edward G. Robinson will make the list.

i'm SUPER GOOD at Jewel karaoke
cool list so far, Gunny. i haven't seen most of them, but i just added a bunch to my Netflix. you've got my attention!