The MoFo Top 100 Film Noir Countdown

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Trouble with a capital "T"
Rock Hudson also played a Native in Winchester '73.

But anyway, all those instances of white people playing other races go beyond just having a "color-less" Hollywood, something I'm pretty sure wasn't in the minds of the casting agents of yesteryear.

First, there's the implication that either there wasn't a Latino/Native American actor capable enough to play a Latino/Native American character, or that you're not willing to give the opportunity to one thus continuing that cycle of limiting the possibilities of minority actors to get quality roles other than "gang member #1", "token Native guy", or "thug #2".

Second, when a studio or filmmaker decides to cast a white character as a Native or Latino, chances are that they also didn't care enough to research the particular intricacies and sensibilities that go with the race/ethnicity, which usually results in one-dimensional and thin characters and stereotypes. Granted, this also happens with minority actors that are properly cast, but mostly because back in the day they didn't have enough "power" in the industry to talk back, demand, or request more layers to their stereotypical characters, which goes back to my first point.

All of this and I'm not even getting into the other struggles that minorities were facing back in the day (or even still!) in pretty much every other facet of their lives, and also not getting into the specifics of Touch of Evil, which included Welles changing the lead character of the book from a white man to a Mexican, and still have a white man play him, or the fact that his character is pretty much the only Latino character with morals.

That's not to take much away from the film. You can read my review, see my rating, and where I placed it in my ballot. But I won't deny the fact that, as a Latino myself, I find the film's execution problematic, to say the least.
I don't want to start a debate on this thread and of course we're all entitled to our own opinion So I'll leave the it there.

But I do have a related question for you and anyone who voted for Touch of Evil or any noir that they felt offended by or objected too...Why vote for it? If I strongly objected to a film I would never vote for it.



Was it Apache (1954) with Burt Lancaster and Jean Peters as Apaches? If so yeah it was very distracting, But...good movie and the story line was respectful of Apaches and Native Americans. Jeffrey Hunter played and American Indian in a couple westerns and he was even harder to believe.
Yes, it was Apache. I absolutely loved this film as a kid when it came out. B. Lancaster was absolutely believable as Massai, the warrior who wouldn't give up. His love story with Nalinle (Jean Peters) really wowed me as a kid. The scene where he finally stops trying to get rid of her as she won't stop following him, and he grabs ahold of her lovingly really got my heart going.

I watched again a month or two ago, and of course after all these years it didn't have the same impact. But it was a strong picture when it came out. And Charles Bronson was still being billed as Charles Buchinsky...



Well, that tops me off with The Maltese Falcon placing in the same slot as I had it, #3. I love this movie greatly, it being one of my all-time favorites. The entire cast is perfect and John Huston did a fabulous job in his directing debut. I find new things to love everytime I see it. The dialogue just pops:

"When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it."

"The chances are you'll get off with life. That means if you're a good girl, you'll be out in 20 years. I'll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I'll always remember you."

" I'll have some rotten nights after I've sent you over, but that'll pass."

"By gad, sir, you are a character. There's never any telling what you'll say or do next, except that it's bound to be something astonishing."

"People lose teeth talking like that. If you want to hang around, you'll be polite."

All but one of those lines are from Spade, the other from Kasper Gutman, but it all sizzles. Since this is a Noir countdown, I had two films ahead of The Maltese Falcon on my list, but I love Falcon more than those, as I will always put it in my all-time film favorites list ahead of the top two I listed, if that makes sense. I'd forgotten that Huston had directed The Asphalt Jungle when I chose it for the ballot, so that makes two of his I have in the Top Three.

#1 The Killing List Proper #11
#2 The Asphalt Jungle List Proper #16
#3 The Maltese Falcon List Proper #3
#4 The Big Combo List Proper #52
#5 Pickup on South Street List Proper #23
#6 Kansas City Confidential List Proper #53
#7 The Big Sleep List Proper #8
#8 While the City Sleeps NM
#9 Lady in the Lake NM
#10 The Big Heat List Proper #17
#11 Kiss Me Deadly List Proper #13
#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
#19 The Glass Key NM
#20 Gun Crazy List Proper #36
#21 Impact NM
#22 This Gun For Hire List Proper #78
#23 The Narrow Margin List Proper #43
#24 Pitfall NM
#25 Crossfire List Proper #51
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That is cool! I didn't even know it was a real place, I thought it was probably a studio set. Do you remember what it was called? Was it a bar only or a restaurant & bar?
It's called Musso & Frank Grille. It's been a fine restaurant/bar on Hollywood Blvd. since 1919. Here's the website. The waiter pictured is my old friend Sergio.
https://mussoandfrank.com/



But I do have a related question for you and anyone who voted for Touch of Evil or any noir that they felt offended by or objected too...Why vote for it? If I strongly objected to a film I would never vote for it.
I would refer you to my previously linked review, but the bottom line is that I can look past those problematic issues and still recognize the craft and skill involved in the film.
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Trouble with a capital "T"
I would refer you to my previously linked review, but the bottom line is that I can look past those problematic issues and still recognize the craft and skill involved in the film.
That's cool I don't have a problem with that, just a question I was wondering every since the reveal of Touch of Evil. I do have another question for you (or anyone), how come Marlene Dietrich isn't called out in the same way for brown face? She's clearly in brown face as well as Heston. Neither bother me because a Mexican is a nationality not a race.



That's cool I don't have a problem with that, just a question I was wondering every since the reveal of Touch of Evil. I do have another question for you (or anyone), how come Marlene Dietrich isn't called out in the same way for brown face? She's clearly in brown face as well as Heston. Neither bother me because a Mexican is a nationality not a race.
Personally, I have issues with both. I don't think I've referenced Heston specifically, but I suppose that him being the lead vs. Dietrich being a very supporting role, he's bound to be in the forefront.

As for your final sentence, it does bring up another layer of stereotype that goes with these issues because whoever made the call to put Heston and Dietrich in brownface reasoned "They're Latinos, they must have brown skin", which is a very narrow-minded and stereotypical view of nationalities and ethnicities (not all Mexicans are brown/dark skinned). A similar, and maybe better example would be Rita Moreno in West Side Story; a Puerto Rican playing a Puerto Rican, and still, someone decided to put her in brownface because, of course, Latinos are all "brown skinned". So nationality/ethnicity does get mixed up with race very often.

As an addendum, I think Moreno and George Chakiris (a Greek playing a brown-skinned Puerto Rican) are easily the best performances in that film, and I can appreciate that and still see how those decisions around their roles are problematic.



Trouble with a capital "T"
It's called Musso & Frank Grille. It's been a fine restaurant/bar on Hollywood Blvd. since 1919. Here's the website. The waiter pictured is my old friend Sergio.
https://mussoandfrank.com/
Good to here it's still standing. I looked up some images of it and found a noir sweetheart actually two of them:




Here are the films I voted for which won't make the list:

17. The Big Heat
20. The Fallen Idol
22. The Lost Weekend

So, not much.



Here are the films I voted for which won't make the list:

17. The Big Heat
20. The Fallen Idol
22. The Long Weekend

So, not much.



Big Heat and Long Weekend are both on the list.



My full list:


1. Laura (1944)
2. The Third Man (1949)
3. In a Lonely Place (1950)
4. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
5. The Lost Weekend (1945)
6. Murder My Sweet (1944)
7. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
8. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
9. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
10. White Heat (1949)
11. Rebecca (1940)
12. Touch of Evil (1958)
13. Double Indemnity (1944)
14. The Big Sleep (1946)
15. Detour (1945)
16. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
17. Strangers on a Train (1951)
18. Ace in the Hole (1951)
19. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
20. Nightmare Alley (1947)
21. Key Largo (1948)
22. The Killing (1956)
23. Suspicion (1941)
24. Big Combo (1955)
25. DOA (1950)


Everything made it into the top 100. No deep cuts in my list.



@Holden Pike, I liked The Racket quite a bit. I loved Robert Ryan as the bad guy in this one. Especially when he walks into a police station by himself and kills a cop! And the movie of course has Lizabeth Scott, which is always a plus! But I don't have to tell you that, do I, Holden?

Speaking of White actors playing Native Americans in the old days, how about Jeff Chandler playing Chochise in Broken Arrow (1950), the James Stewart Western. He repeated his role two years in The Battle at Apache Pass both times co-starring with actual Native American Jay Silverheels of The Lone Ranger TV fame. Chandler did a good job in Broken Arrow (the only one of the two films I've seen), looking very rugged, and already having a somewhat dark skin tone of his own, so I don't know if they even added makeup to make him look more like an Apache. But his clear eyes gave him away as a White Man. In Broken Arrow Debra Paget (sigh) played an Apache woman, and they really slathered on the dark makeup and added contact lenses to turn her blue eyes brown. To be fair, Debra Paget was already beautiful but even with the makeup, she was beyond beautiful.

EDIT: By the way, @Citizen Rules, those are some great pics you posted. I especially love the one of Joe DiMaggio holding onto Marilyn's hand.

But I've gotten way off-topic, so go Top-Two! Noir, Noir, Noir!



Big Heat and Long Weekend are both on the list.
That means The Fallen Idol is the only film I voted for which won't be making the list then. I imagine this countdown will be a great source for recommendations.



I forgot the opening line.
#4 The Third Man (1946) - I forgot it! I forgot, I forgot - damn it. The Third Man would have been at the upper end of my ballot, but I forgot all about it, and as such is the only film that I have to mention as a rectification. It's one of the all-time greats of course, and a rewatch recently confirmed that it's one I truly love a great deal. Thank goodness the points difference means my extra ones would have made no difference as to it's placing, and hey - this just means one other great film got the chance to earn a few points that probably did make a difference. Still - I was really mad with myself when I realised the error. What a huge film noir classic to completely slip my mind (it was the only one that did.) A while ago on Facebook I said "Every single aspect of filmmaking is operating here at it's utmost perfection and in complete unison with every other aspect. Music, cinematography, story, acting, sound and setting. From set-piece to set-piece, this is an endlessly enjoyable film." Wonderful movie from Carol Reed - and I also quite enjoy Joseph Cotten in general. Welles is great and his shadow looms over the film despite his limited screen time.

#3 The Maltese Falcon (1941) - This one I didn't forget - it would be nearly impossible to do so. Reviewing it recently I said "This is the big one. The essence, as far as I can tell. How we were finally able to define "cool" in the 20th Century. This is the movie that really does get better each time you see it - one with a sensational array of uncommon characters twisted into it's mysterious story. The one that introduces us to Private Detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) - the ultimate for his keen eye, quick mind, sharp tongue and indomitable spirit. Much like Marlon Brando did with Vito Corleone, Bogart became an insoluble part of popular culture and cinematic mythology by embodying this character. Spade is instantly recognizable to someone who has never even seen the film before, because he became the very definition of the iconic gumshoe - and in portraying him, Bogart doesn't even seem to be acting. He's only too happy to be Spade, and I imagine it felt glorious to play the role." I summed up by simply saying, "The Maltese Falcon has it all, and this is my first love letter directed at it. A truly great film - historically great. The stuff that dreams are made of." That probably says enough. I had it at #5 on my ballot.

In the interim, I watched Leave Her to Heaven, adding to my 'seen' count.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seen : 37/98
I'd never even heard of : 47/98
Movies that had been on my radar, but I haven't seen yet : 15/98
Films from my list : 23

#3 - My #5 - The Maltese Falcon (1941)
#5 - My #8 - Touch of Evil
#6 - My #3 - In a Lonely Place (1950)
#7 - My #7 - Out of the Past (1947)
#8 - My #6 - The Big Sleep (1946)
#9 - My #9 - Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
#10 - My #24 - Laura (1944)
#11 - My #13 - The Killing (1956)
#13 - My #4 - Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
#14 - My #10 - The Night of the Hunter (1955)
#16 - My #15 - The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
#21 - My #17 - Pickup on South Street (1953)
#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)
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Trouble with a capital "T"
#2 Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Director: Billy Wilder
Production: Paramount Pictures
Cast: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
816 Points, 42 Lists

'A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return.'

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Trouble with a capital "T"
#1 Double Indemnity (1944)

Director: Billy Wilder
Production: Paramount Pictures
Cast: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
925 Points, 48 Lists

'A Los Angeles insurance representative lets an alluring housewife seduce him into a scheme of insurance fraud and murder that arouses the suspicion of his colleague, an insurance investigator.

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Trouble with a capital "T"
Just the way it should end with two from the great Billy Wilder. Both of those films are very deserving of 2nd and 1st place in our Film Noir countdown.

Hope everyone had fun! I did! Thank you so much for participating and making this countdown a reality. I'm humbled by everyone's help and participation. Thanks MoFo!



Itís A Classic Rope-A-Dope
Nice! I think Double Indemnity is not only the definitive Noir, but itís also a ton of damn fun, which this genre should be. I love Noir because of its dark elements but also because they are entertaining with interesting characters. The great ones have that crackling tounge in cheek dialogue. Double Indemnity fits the bill. Mofo #1 and my #1.

Thanks Citizen. If I had a Noir question or just wanted a rec their are two mofos I would go to, and you are one with a bullet. No one better to lead the countdown.
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Wow I thought Sunset Boulevard had #1 locked. Oh well always up for a surprise. Both of these films are perfect, essential, classic noirs, and both come from a single filmmaker. That's something special. I had Sunset Boulevard at #2, and Double Indemnity at #6.

Here is my full list. Everything made the cut.

1. The Third Man (1949)
2. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
3. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
4. Touch of Evil (1958)
5. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
6. Double Indemnity (1944)
7. Notorious (1946)
8. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
9. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
10. Stray Dog (1949)
11. Mildred Pierce (1945)
12. In a Lonely Place (1950)
13. Detour (1945)
14. The Big Sleep (1946)
15. Bob The Gambler (1956)
16. The Killers (1946)
17. Rififi (1955)
18. The Killing (1956)
19. Strangers on a Train (1951)
20. Gilda (1946)
21. Pickup on South Street (1953)
22. Laura (1944)
23. White Heat (1949)
24. Out of the Past (1947)
25. Nightmare Alley (1947)
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