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Top 10 Film Noir DVDs 

compiled by Rich Brower, media librarian at Gold Coast Public Library

 

 

 

 

 

  film noir - a movie that is marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, menace, and cynical characters; "film noir was applied by French critics to describe American thriller or detective films in the 1940s"


1.  Touch of Evil - Orson Welles’ 1958 masterwork is a study of corruption and morally-compromised obsessions. It tells the story of a crooked police chief who frames a Mexican youth as part of an intricate criminal plot. With Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, and Marlene  Dietrich.

2.   Out of the Past - Quintessential film noir. Inspired direction, expressionist cinematography, and legendary performances by Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer.

3.   Nightmare Alley - Few '40s films ventured as deeply into cynicism as Nightmare Alley, or dealt so frankly with sexuality and power-tripping. With Tyrone Power.

4.   Ace in the Hole - A cynical reporter seizes on the plight of a man trapped in a mine shaft to promote his career. A savage critique of a corrupted and corrupting modern mass media. Kirk Douglas' best role.

5.   The Big Sleep - Phillip Marlowe takes on a blackmail case and a trail peopled with murderers, pornographers, nightclub rogues, the spoiled rich and more. Humphrey Bogart plays Raymond Chandlers' legendary detective and director Howard Hawks serves up a brisk pace and atmosphere galore.

6.   Sweet Smell of Success - Burt Lancaster stars as barbaric Broadway gossip columnist J. J. Hunsecker, and Tony Curtis plays Sidney Falco, the unprincipled press agent he ropes into smearing the up-and-coming jazz musician romancing his beloved sister. A cruel dispatch from the kill-or-be-killed wilds of 1950s Manhattan.

7.   The Killing - Stanley Kubrick’s account of an ambitious racetrack robbery is one of Hollywood’s tautest, twistiest noirs. Aided by razor-sharp dialogue from pulp novelist Jim Thompson, and a cast including Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Timothy Carey, and Elisha Cook Jr.

8.   Double Indemnity - The tale of a desperate dame and a greedy man, of murder for sordid profit and sudden, violent betrayal. With Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. Archetypal film noir.

9.   Kiss Me Deadly- Robert Aldrich’s surreal film noir is a weird yet compelling exploration of urban paranoia. From a novel by Mickey Spillane.

10. The Third Man - The fractured Europe of the post-World War II era is perfectly captured in Carol Reed's masterpiece, set in a Vienna still shell-shocked from battle. With Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. From a story by Graham Greene.