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February 5, 2007

TT: Dark delights

A friend writes:

I've been interested in exploring films noir further, and have been meaning to ask if you could suggest the ten (or twelve, or whatever) essential movies that fall under that category. I saw that you included a couple of them on your list last month of the “best sound films made in Hollywood prior to the coming of the New Wave,” but which others would you recommend? Several noir boxed sets have come out recently, and it would be helpful to have some direction here.

Strangely enough, I’ve never drawn up a list, so here goes:

Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang, 1945)
Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945)
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)
Raw Deal (Anthony Mann, 1948)
Pitfall (André de Toth, 1948)
Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1949)
Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak, 1949)
The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950)
In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
Night and the City (Jules Dassin, 1950)
The Narrow Margin (Richard Fleischer, 1952)
On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952)
Pickup on South Street (Samuel Fuller, 1953)
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)

My friend also asked for my thoughts on “why noir flowered when it did, starting during WWII and ending pretty much in the early '50s, save for sporadic hommages later on.” That’s an even better question—good enough, in fact, to be answered in print, for money. I’ll do that one of these days….

Posted February 5, 2007 12:00 PM

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