Five Film Favorites: Film Noir

From Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing." Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

We’re told the term “film noir” was first applied to stylish and cynical American crime dramas in 1946. A French critic, Nino Frank, used it in an article about films made in the USA during World War II that he saw as having something in common. These motion pictures hadn’t been seen in France because of the war, so they appeared there in a sudden wave.

However, most Americans didn’t recognize such films as being in a specific genre until a couple of decades later. The titles on my list weren’t promoted in their time as film noir, at least not in this country. When Hollywood began to produce movies that critics called “neo-noir,” Americans then looked back on the gritty, dark movies of the postwar period and saw them as being in a category that deserved a name for itself.

So, for some observers the film noir period began in 1940 and extends into the 1970s. Others would put any movie that seems to be fit the mold in that category, regardless of when it was made. Even if it’s in color!

For my purpose this time I’m sticking to black and white movies that were made between 1946 and 1959.

“The Asphalt Jungle” (1950): Directed by John Huston; Cast: Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen, Louis Calhern, plus a young Marilyn Monroe

“D.O.A.” (1950): Directed by Rudolph Maté; Cast: Edmund O’Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler

“The Killing” (1956): Directed by Stanley Kubrick; Cast: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards

“The Third Man” (1949): Directed by Carol Reed; Cast: Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli, Orson Welles

“Touch of Evil” (1958): Directed by Orson Welles; Cast: Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles

— F.T. Rea

This entry was posted in Film, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Five Film Favorites: Film Noir

  1. Pingback: Adding Color to the Darkness: 70s Noir |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s