Friday, November 27, 2009

Every day is Black Friday with Film Noir

After a busy T-day visiting family and friends, topped off with a late-night martini mix with Rose, I’m ready for some good old fashioned, self-indulgent marathon movie watching. But what movies to see? Our best friends, Rick and Paula, use days like this to re-watch the Godfather Trilogy (well, Paula anyway – Rick uses that time to catch up on his well-earned couch napping). A pal at the ad agency likes to watch the Dumb & Dumber movies back to back twice, a tradition worthy of the movies’ name. Rose and I used to like watching the Bond marathons but there are only a few Sean Connery and Daniel Craig movies out there and only two of the others worth watching. We’ve decided to finally watch season 1 & 2 of the A&E series, Mad Men, but for you I have an even better suggestion. Here’s my (to date) Top 5 film noir* Favorites.

1. Double Indemnity (1944) – Who’s better in the movie – average guy Fred MacMurray turned killer, archetype femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck, or the cop/not cop boss Edward G. Robinson? I can’t decide and when you watch it, you won’t be able to either.
2. Criss Cross (1948) – Burt Lancaster plays a guy even more weak-willed than me, but then he’s playing it across from Yvonne De Carlo so I understand. I prefer the ambiguous ending to the ‘restored’ ending.
3. The Maltese Falcon (1941) – The only question I have for myself is why isn’t this Number 1 on my list?
4. Touch of Evil (1958) – Orson Wells, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Marlene Dietrich in a Wells film I will argue (over drinks, you pay) is better than Citizen Kane. It’s even more fun if you read Head Games by Craig McDonald first.
5. No Country for Old Men (2007) – With Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and a standout performance (hard to do with those other guys in the mix) by Woody Hareelson, this Coen brother’s flick deserved every award it got and a few it wasn’t up for.

I’d better post this quick – I’ve already made two changes (dropping Chinatown for No Country) and I can feel myself getting ready to edit more.

*Note the use of lowercase in film noir, separating it from the firm definitions of Film Noir, which my pal Jared Case enforces with a ruthlessness reminiscent of Max and Al in The Killers, which now that I think of it should be on the list too…


Donis Casey said...

I love that you chose Touch of Evil. I'd nominate The Third Man, too (just for the scene where Lime is illuminated in the doorway, if for nothing else)

Searcher said...

Only 5?

How about Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Gloria Grahame, Robert Ryan and Harry Belafonte - Directed by Robert Wise

Probably really Neo Noir but a good one!

Charles benoit said...

I wanted to make it my top 10 but it took me 2 hours to decide on the first 5. Yup, two hours to write a "quick blog post".

Jared said...

I'll suffer from the same crippling avalanche of words unless I keep this short. Let me just say that CRISS CROSS is one of my absolute favorite noirs, and THE KILLERS (much like THE SEARCHERS) just gets better every time I watch it. Also good? Any of the film noir titles showing on the big screen in the Dryden Theatre in January and February of 2010:
Trust me. I know.