The MoFo Top 100 Film Noir Countdown

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Out of the Past (1947)

This is a noir’s noir-- one of the best examples in the entire movement. Director Jacques Tourneur guides this dark tale of revenge, double cross, and sexual attraction; along with impressive photography by one of the top 3 noir cinematographers, the great Nicholas Musaraca. It’s perfectly cast with Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, and Rhonda Fleming, expressing a brilliant script by author/screen writer Daniel Mainwaring.

An ex investigator living a new life is dragged back into the past where we learn that he had been hired by a gambling boss to track down the boss’s girlfriend who ran off with $40K of his money. The investigator finds her, at which point the story becomes complicated with murders, double crosses, and twists which is kept on track by Mitchum as narrator. In the end everyone gets what’s coming to them.

The dialogue and staging are perfect. Jane Greer’s Kathie Moffat is one of the most cold blooded femme fatales in all of noir, rivaling anything by Bette Davis or Anne Savage. She’s drop dead gorgeous, with alluring limpid eyes, and has a predilection for the use of a gat.

The film is one of the greatest of all classical noirs. I have it at #4 on my noir list.

The Sweet Smell of Success is not on my list because I never considered it Film Noir. It's a great movie with stellar performances by Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, The script is out of this world. Almost everyone is a shady character but there is no crime per se except for the boyfriend getting roughed up.
The Big Sleep is my #15. An excellent movie, full of wonderful set pieces for the actors to explore especially everyone's favorite the book store scene.
I would say that more important than an actual crime being committed, the most important thing for a film noir is the moral decay of the characters, something that the film has plenty of.
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Some catch-ups:

#14 The Night of the Hunter: My #11. I don't know what to say about this, since I like it, I recall the night time pursuit scenes on the river struck me as the most noir, but this is a movie that other people love, so I suspect I only like where other people gush. But those river scenes, in my mind capture what I was going for when I was going for noir.

#11 The Killing: My #14 - fun crime movie. I tried not to let my Kubrick bias over-rate it here, so only #14. Plus, as I determined when I chose my #1 and #2, I like the dark melodramas more than the crime movies.

#09 The Sweet Smell of Success: My #12. I mean, seedy underbelly, morally dark story about a seedy Tony Curtis, with Burt Lancaster playing a terrifyingly quiet, arch, newspaper owner/editor. I'll concede I only saw it this year, along with The Swimmer, so I'm on a bit of a Burt Lancaster high from those two films at the moment. Maybe I should have included Nightcrawler on my neo-noir list after all.

#12 Shadow of a Doubt: I crossed off this Hitchcock blindspot in preparation for this ballot. A solid thriller. I think I just don't register Hitch's movies as noir.

#10: Laura: Another big title I watched in preparation for this countdown. I don't remember much about it even though I watched it a couple of months ago. I think that's tied to why it's not on my ballot. I really enjoyed Preminger's Bunny Lake is Missing, but that's from the 60s and is unfortunately not eligible.

#8: The Big Sleep: I remember seeing this decades ago in college, when we were supposed to reading the book for an intro English class. I don't remember much about it, but I recall not being a big fan of the film adaptation, so I didn't revisit it for here.

From my ballot, not making it:
My #24: I Am Waiting 1957 (Japan, Kurahara). I caught this in the Japanese noir collection that showed up on the criterion channel, like a year ago. This movie is still up there if people want to watch it. Checking my letterboxd very brief thoughts from the time, I liked Kurahara's Intimidation even more, but it's from 1960 and also ineligible for this countdown. It's now been long enough, I feel like I should probably re-watch these.

  • 01.
    03. M 1931 <- ineligible so just bump up everything below this by 1.
    04. (#19) Ace in the Hole 1951
    09. (#42) Rififi 1955
    10. (#41) Elevator to the Gallows 1958
    11. (#14) The Night of the Hunter 1955
    12. (#09) Sweet Smell of Success 1957
    13. (#07) Out of the Past 1957
    14. (#11) The Killing #1956
    15. (#23) The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946
    16. (#34) The Lost Weekend 1945
    18. (#33) Nightmare Alley 1947
    20. (#60) The Naked City
    21. (#67) The Hitch-Hiker
    22. (#96) Gaslight 1944
    23. (#56) Niagara 1953
    24. (###) I am Waiting 1957
    25. (#24) Detour 1945

I'm ashamed to admit I haven't seen Out of the Past yet. It's still on my watch list.

When I first started seeking out Noir films, ahem, in the past, Out of the Past was constantly listed as top-shelf Film Noir, so I watched it the first time I could catch it on TCM and I thought it was great. One of those Noirs where you shouldn't become too attached to the leads in it. It's everything that everyone that loves it has said about it and I knew it would place high, so I knew it didn't need my help. Glad to see it up where it belongs.

#1 The Killing List Proper #11
#2 The Asphalt Jungle List Proper #16
#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
"Miss Jean Louise, Mr. Arthur Radley."

I forgot the opening line.
#7 Out of the Past (1947) - For a moment there I thought I might have forgotten about Out of the Past, but sure enough it's on my ballot. At it's central core, it has that familiar element to film noir - the protagonist doing something awfully foolish, and deadly, because of an irresistible impulse a femme fatale has given him - born of sexual attraction. Here it's (forgive me for dispensing with character names) Robert Mitchum falling for Jane Greer, who "belongs" to gangster Kirk Douglas (in a very early film role for him.) Mitchum is terrific in this, and the dialogue is fantastic as well. I thought things got a little confusing during the period where Mitchum is being set up (but knows he's being set up), but overall this is what you'd expect from the best of this genre. I've already seen Out of the Past a couple of times, and it's already a firm favourite when it comes to these original film noir classics. I had this #7 at #7 on my ballot. That's twice my ballot number and countdown number have matched.

Seen : 32/94
I'd never even heard of : 47/94
Movies that had been on my radar, but I haven't seen yet : 15/94
Films from my list : 20

#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)
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.

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I am guessing Touch of Evil for today's reveal on the big countdown.
"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

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out of the past wasn't on my list. i've seen it once and remember liking it, but not a huge impression. always mean to revisit it once i get the chance.
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.
Iro's Top 100 Movies v3.0

Trouble with a capital "T"

#6 In a Lonely Place (1950)

Director: Nicholas Ray
Production: Santana Pictures Corporation
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Jeff Donnell
591 Points, 37 Lists

'A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his lovely neighbor clears him. However, she soon starts to have her doubts.'


It would only have had 590 points without my help, not my favorite Bogey but glad it's here.

Trouble with a capital "T"
In a Lonely Place was in the very first HoF that I'd hosted, the Film Noir Hall of Fame. It came in first and was nominated by Sane. I've seen a couple of times since then. Good noir and deserved to be on the countdown.

Watched In a Lonely Place and since I'm a big Bogart fan I really enjoyed it. I'm still surprised it placed so high in the countdown. I didn't know it had so many fans here. I didn't really consider it for the countdown. This isn't the last we'll see of Bogey though. Five reveals left. Three are readily predictable. I think. The other two?

61 of 95 seen so far.

It’s A Classic Rope-A-Dope
Best Bogie!! I said it, and I would say it again Sam. My #2. It was love at first viewing…and second, and third.