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The American Noir

MUBI Special

Is “film noir” a genre? A style? There might not be a correct answer to this eternal question, and we want to celebrate that ambiguity. We’re thrilled to present a special series dedicated to essential American movies that explore and embrace the noir tropes in different and exciting ways, both canonical and subversive. Anti-heroes, femme fatales, fierce cynicism, cigarette smoke… From Ida Lupino’s striking renegade thriller The Hitch-Hiker (first woman-directed noir ever!) and Bogie’s existential distress in Nicholas Ray’s masterpiece In a Lonely Place, to Scorsese’s modern, exhilarating revisitation of urban malaise in Taxi Driver, it doesn’t get any darker than this.

Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese United States, 1976

The climax of our series comes with Scorsese’s New Hollywood classic, a 70s brutal neo-noir set in a hellish New York: dirty, hardscrabble, crime-plagued, longing for relief. Travis Bickle—the quintessential modern anti-hero!—wants to wipe the city clean. The definitive portrait of an American era.

The Reckless Moment

Max Ophüls United States, 1949

German exile auteur Max Ophüls never fit into Hollywood, but his brief time there produced some beguiling pictures. This wicked noir is a sumptuous, thrilling blackmail yarn doubling as a dark and illicit romance of temptation and motherhood. Joan Bennett and James Mason have never been better.

In a Lonely Place

Nicholas Ray United States, 1950

If you burned all noirs but one, this might just be the one we would keep. Nicholas Ray’s iconic Hollywood classic brings us Bogart’s best performance and the mysterious Gloria Grahame at her intoxicating ascendance. A nocturnal poem on precarious love, Hollywood art, and the threat of violence.

Nightfall

Jacques Tourneur United States, 1957

Director Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past) was one of Hollywood’s last poets. His subtly lyrical genre films reach into the shadows to grasp uncanny tones and haunting psychology. Dark and ever-suggestive, this is a B-masterpiece adapted from the great David Goodis and starring ex-Navyman Aldo Ray.

The Hitch-Hiker

Ida Lupino United States, 1953

In Hollywood history, too few women have gotten their chance in the director’s chair. But in any hall of fame, there’s actress-turned-director Ida Lupino, whose independently-produced Hitch-Hiker (the first major noir directed by a woman?) is one of the era’s most shocking renegade thrillers.

Gilda

Charles Vidor United States, 1946

“There never was a woman like GILDA!” posters announced—indeed, there wasn’t. We’re thrilled to launch our American noir series with luminous Hayworth in her most iconic role as the good-to-be-bad centre of a tangled love triangle, where the genre’s most perverse undertones slip passed the censors.

Life is too short for bad films

Every day we hand-pick a beautiful new film and you have a whole month to watch it, so there’s always 30 perfectly curated films to discover.