Ace in the Hole: Funnily enough, another Billy Wilder movie. Just rewatched this for the first time in maybe five years last night. Hence my sig. It's the story of a disgraced, amoral journalist (Kirk Douglas) who takes a job in a New Mexico backwater. When by chance he finds out a man is stuck in a cave he manipulates the circumstances -- including trying to prevent the guy from getting out -- to make the story huge and himself famous so he can land a job in New York again. In it's acid, cynical take on human nature Ace in the Hole belongs in the same company with classics like Paths of Glory and Network. It was so brutally negative about human nature it actually ended up being a spectacular failure at the box office, but has been rediscovered critically in recent years as the truth has moved closer to fiction. Truly, a knockout.
The Roaring Twenties: Needed at least one James Cagney movie on here, and this one's my favorite (over White Heat, a close second). This story of a basically good guy who gets mixed up in bootlegging and racketeering and becomes a bad guy was the chief inspiration for Goodfellas, according to Martin Scorsese. Co-stars Humphrey Bogart.
The Narrow Margin: A lot of noirs -- most of the real ones, anyway -- are short and punchy. Like this 72 minute classic from 1952 starring noir staple Charles McGraw. The story of a cop who's transporting a bitchy gangster's wife on a train full of assassins out to kill her, the Narrow Margin is like a fine watch. Everything just sort of clicks together wonderfully. Not, you know, an in-depth examination of the human condition, but fun and suspenseful. A film nerd's idea of a breezy afternoon movie.
Night and the City: I love Jules Dassin. He made three great noirs, two in English (this one and The Naked City, one of the first movies shot on location in New York) as well as one of the definitive heist movies -- Riffifi -- in France after that callous **** Elia Kazan ratted him out to HUAC. Night and the City was actually shot in London, where Dassin fled initially. Anyway, it's the story of a low level hustler -- Richard Widmark at his weaselly best -- who tries to break into the London wrestling promotion game, which is dominated by a chilling Herbert Lom (miles away from Inspector Dreyfuss ). Widmark tries and tries, **** that he is, but the establishment is the establishment for a reason, and he's in over his head. The movie contains what is -- for me -- the greatest fight scene in the history of the movies. Not the most technically proficient or best shot. But the most tense, most gripping.
The one guy I feel bad for leaving out is Robert Mitchum. He's one of my favorite actors ever and made plenty of film noirs, but there isn't just one definitive movie for me to point to. His best noir is generally thought to be Out of the Past, but I've seen that and didn't love it. Four out of five stars on Netflix, instead of five out of five (which all the above titles got). But if you're looking to cover the most famous titles in the genre it's one to include (I DVRed it a few weeks back and plan to watch it again here soon, though).
Anyway, there are plenty more worth recommending but I don't want to go overboard. If you check any of these out -- or already have -- and dig them or not, let me know.
Last edited by TheWalrus; 06-18-2013 at 01:46 PM.
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