The MoFo Top 100 Film Noir Countdown

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2) Out of the Past
3) Touch of Evil
4) In a Lonely Place
5) Night and the City
6. The Killing
7) The Night of the Hunter
8) White Heat
9) Detour
12) Shadow of a Doubt
13) Ace in the Hole
14) Gun Crazy
16) The Postman Always Rings Twice
18) The Stranger
19) Odd Man Out
21) Mildred Pierce
22) The Lost Weekend
23) Sweet Smell of Success
24) Crossfire
25) The Big Sleep

Really enjoyed Touch of Evil the two times I've watched it. And so will you if you can look past Charlton Heston in brownface. That's actually not as big an obstacle as one would assume. The rewards of watching this master class in noir by director and costar Orson Welles outweigh any misgivings you might have. The cast is heavy with talent, any one of whom could star in their own movie. Marlene Dietrich. Janet Leigh. Akim Tamaroff. And Welles as the bloated and dissolute Captain Hank Quinlan definitely merits his own movie. ToE was my #4 pick.

62 of 96 seen so far.

Did you guys hack my computer and take a peak at the noir countdown list
I had 3 (now 2) empty spaces on my list and all 3 titles appeared in everyone's guesses. I know a guy.

1. Probably Top 5
2.Out of the Past (#7)
3. High Sierra (#50)
4. Touch of Evil (#5)
5. Ride the Pink Horse (#45)
6. Mystery Street (#93)
7. Gun Crazy (#36)
8. Night of the Hunter (#14)
9. Shadow of a Doubt (#12)
10. The Asphalt Jungle (#16)
11. Night and the City (#25)
12. Kiss Me Deadly (#13)
13. The Killing (#11)
14. Stray Dog (#32)
15. Strangers on a Train (#18)
16. Key Largo (#26)
17. You would think so but who knows?
18. Detour (#24)
19. The Narrow Margin (#43)
20. Kansas City Confidential (#53)
21. Where the Sidewalk Ends (#66)
22. Too Late for Tears (#81)
23. The Big Sleep (#8)
24. The Set-Up (#46)
25. House of Bamboo (3 votes, 18 points)

I had Touch of Evil at #4. Excellent film with everything you would want in terms of style, mood, acting, and direction by the big guy himself.

3. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
4. Touch of Evil (1958)
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 le flambeur (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)
"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."

Trouble with a capital "T"
So the last time that I watched Touch of Evil was in the Film Noir IV HoF. I had thought it might be top 3 on my ballot but I didn't end up voting for it.

My write up for the HoF:

Touch of Evil (1958)

That's a Welles shot if I've ever seen one. No, I don't mean the booze, I mean the composition, framing and camera angle. Subject in the foreground corner, the second subject diagonal in the opposite back corner...a low camera angle and a small f-stop on the camera lens for maximum depth of field yielding frame sharpness front to back. That screenshot I found is blurry, but the movie itself is magnificently filmed.

Film fans love the long, long, long tracking shot that opens the movie without an edit. The camera goes from ground level to high above the buildings as we follow a car loaded with dynamite and then switch to our hero Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) and his lovely wife (Janet Leigh) as the couple walk down the streets of a border town on the U.S. side...Then boom.....and the car blows up so hard that the body of the car gets air born. Does Orson know how to impress our what!

I could leave the review here and I would give the impression that my third watch of Touch of Evil was a 5/5. But as impressed as I was with the on-location shooting and the mastery of Welles' camera, I was taken out of the story by Orson himself. I found his Police Captain Hank Quinlan's character to be jarring. I could not take him seriously as it was like watching a caricature performed on stage. Probably not surprising as Orson was first and foremost a theater stage actor well versed in doing Shakespearean type heavy roles, he played those type of roles in a lot of his movies too. I found myself wishing Orson had staid behind the camera and hired Rod Steiger to play the corrupt police captain instead, I think that would've been ideal.

Though even Orson was palatable compared to the foolish choice of using Dennis Weaver in the movie. Either Weaver needed to be directed to tone done his character or replaced with someone who could act, he's way too goofy to the point of being comical.

Janet Leigh while pretty and effective, has to be involved in the most harebrained actions. Unbelievable that the wife of a prosecuting official whose been battling a drug dealing Mexican family/cartel would willingly follow a strange man who claims to have a message for her husband, across the U.S. Mexican border, good grief. Also unbelievable that a police officer who's driving Mrs Vargas to a remote motel and discovers he's being tailed by the head of the Grandi drug family, goes ahead and drops off Mrs Vargas leaving her alone in the middle of nowhere...Come on Orson you can rewrite those two scenes better than that.

Marlene Dietrich was great but underused, I would've loved to have more airtime for her. For me Charlton Heston, brown face and all, was the stand out. Heston owns the role and the movie...He's one of my favorite actors and sadly doesn't get the respect as an actor that he deserves, not hard to guess why.

Touch of Evil pretty much brought to an end the classic era of noir. One could count Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), and that's a good noir, but it's as much a social message film.

I don't know how many times I've watched this great picture. The directing, the acting (especially Welles and Akim Tamiroff (as "Uncle Joe"), and the first rate cinematography by Russell Metty (The Stranger; Ride the Pink Horse) make this an innovative and memorable movie.

The opening long take was in 1958 the first I recall ever seeing, and it was impressive. I've seen the opening take with and without credits superimposed on the action, and I much prefer the version without the credits at that point. They should rightly be added in after the car explosion.

Presumably that version is from the 1998 re-editing done by Walter Murch, who followed Welles' archived lengthy notes on repairing the meddling edits of the original by brass at Universal International.

Touch of Evil is one of the great noirs. I had it at #12 on my list.

Touch of Evil is classic Noir, no doubt, and here it's near the top where it belongs. I've only seen i twice, the first time concentrating on the story, the second time looking more at the technical aspects. And yet I feel like I still haven't totally engulfed the whole picture into my psyche. By that I mean that it's so great that I feel it requires more viewings to feel like you're not missing anything, so packed is it. It's definitely my favorite Orson Welles performance and I'm always down for a good Charlton Heston role. It's a total winner in any case. Not on my list. I knew it would place high so I'm glad it got where it is.

#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.
#5 Touch of Evil - I started my recent review of Touch of Evil by focusing on the character who Orson Welles completely disappears into, and who drives the movie forcefully into classic territory - "Police Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) is like a champion who can probably beat anyone he's up against, but still feels the need to cheat. He's morbidly obese, about to fall off the wagon, a racist and a narcissist. Add murderer to that list." This is simply a great story (the screenplay was written by Welles), and the only obvious flaw is the fact that Charlton Heston is playing a Mexican with the requisite make-up etc - I can understand that there were no Mexican actors who had as much box office draw, or clout, but it still feels really weird. Regardless, Touch of Evil is so exceptional it's flaws can't do much damage to it. Whether it's the original version, or the reconstruction based on Orson Welles' pleading memo to the studio messing around with it, we're looking at pure filmmaking genius having a moment of renewed inspiration. I've seen it a few times over the years, and it's one that always seems to get better and better every time I see it. I had it at #8 on my ballot - which makes 7 in a row reveals I voted for.

Seen : 34/96
I'd never even heard of : 47/96
Movies that had been on my radar, but I haven't seen yet : 15/96
Films from my list : 22

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

Latest Review : Aftersun (2022)

I'm only now realizing that I missed House of Bamboo's inclusion when I first saw the list of near misses. I watched it in preparation for the Countdown, and in doing so realized I had seen a large chunk of it before. It has some great cinematography, and it feels very novel to watch a film noir in full colour. It was #10 on my list.

Touch of Evil was on my ballot as well at #23. I don't really have much to say about it, and I'm about to late for work, so please enjoy this gif of a grumpy looking Welles in lieu of any elaboration.

Seen: 42/96

My List:
01. Laura (1944) - #10
03. Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) - #92
04. Murder My Sweet (1944) - #28
05. Shadow of a Doubt (1943) - #12
06. Detour (1945) - #24
07. Rebecca (1940) - #35
08. Ministry of Fear (1944) - #75
09. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) - #40
10. House of Bamboo (1945) - DNP
11. This Gun for Hire (1942) - #78
12. Mildred Pierce (1945) - #15
13. Odd Man Out (1947) - #47
14. The Big Sleep (1946) - #8
15. Strangers on a Train (1951) - #18
The Asphalt Jungle (1950) - #16
18. Night and the City (1950) - #25
19. Phantom Lady (1944) - #69
20. The Hidden Room/Obsession (1949) - DNP
The Killing (1956) - #11
23. Touch of Evil (1958) - #5
24. Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - #14
25. The Stranger (1946) - #38

Trouble with a capital "T"
#4 The Third Man (1946)

Director: Carol Reed
Production: London Film Productions
Cast: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli
731 Points, 40 Lists

'Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.'


The Third Man was #2 on the MoFo Top 100 of the 1940s, #49 on the original MoFo Top 100, and #48 on the MoFo Top 100 Refresh.
"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

Trouble with a capital "T"
The Third Man is one of my favorite Orson Welles performances along with Citizen Kane and Jane Eyre. Of course Joseph Cotton is the lead and works well with Welles, having been one of Orson's Mercury Players going back to Welles pre film days. Very impressive movie visually, I liked the story too but damn if that zither score doesn't drive me crazy. Deserved to be on the countdown of course, just not a personal favorite.