1. This Gun For Hire: Alan Ladd’s debut, and shares an easy chesmistry with the gorgeous Veronica Lake. Intruguing plot, a fast pace, shadowy, striking visuals make this my all-time favourite noir. It rewards many re-watches.
2. Desperate: Non-stop chase movie from Anthony Mann, susspenseful, lean, and anchored by Raymond Burr’s sublime villain.
3. Murder My Sweet: Unconventional detective caper, complete with tricksy, disorienting imagery by Edward Dimitryk, featuring a striking ‘drug trip’ scene as the hero is doped up bt those he is investigating.
4. The Maltese Falcon: The quntessential noir, a detective set up by a femme fatale and a hunt for a mysterious idol. It was the third filmed version of Raymond Chandler’s novel.
5. Double Indemnity: It had to be here somewhere, not my favourite, but a classic of its genre, compelling guessing if the protagonists will get away with what they have done. Edward G. Robinson as ‘Keys’ is a terrific turn.
6. The Big Heat: Fritz Lang’s dark (even for a noir) American work, Glenn Ford is the cop up against the corrupt force he works for after his wife is murdered. Gloria Graheme is great as the victim of Lee Marvin and a hot pot of coffee. Harrowing but great.
7. Force of Evil: A tough film to get into, as it features little in the way of any love trysts, focusing as it does on two brothers running a corupt bussiness. A clear influence on Goodfellas, the business-like plot is a little dry until the final showdown.
8. Kiss Me Deadly: A later entry, (1955) but influential for it’s what’s in the suitcase?’ plot, step forward Tarantino and Pulp Fiction. A timely treatise on fears of atomic warfare.
9. Where The Sidewalk Ends. Otto Preminger’s tense cop drama, genuis opening credits and a central character who’s moral ambiguity tests the audence’s empathy with with him. We are made to feel as shady as the characters.
10. Call Northside 777: James Stewart in a journalistic drama, as he is asked to clear the name of a man sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. A terrific race-against-time to get the evidence to court using the technology of the time, and James Stewart is great in an unflashy role as a man compelled to do what he feels is right.
Over to you? Any suggestions for noirs that you love?Read less