At the moment, Guillermo del Toro‘s nightmare alley is nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, and Matt Reeves‘ extremely moody The Batman soaring at the box office, indicating renewed interest in film noir among modern audiences.
At the height of Hollywood’s studio system, thriller, mystery, and noir rose in popularity and artistic excellence. In the hands of skilled filmmakers, genre paintings could entertain, excite, and sometimes even shock audiences while still adhering to censorship standards that are now suspended. These are movies about fake men and notorious women, classics that will keep you guessing and very entertaining.
strangers on a train (1951)
top group Alfred Hitchcocka timeless psychological thriller. Farley Granger and Robert Walker play strangers who unofficially agree to “exchange murders” in each other’s unhappy lives. Based on the novel by Patricia Hochschmied.
when it was released strangers on a train received a relatively mixed response. It is now considered a masterpiece of suspense and is preserved in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. It’s notable for breathtaking set pieces, including a murder seen through glasses, a tense tennis match, and a chaotic finale on a carousel.
touch of evil (1958)
Orson Welles written and directed by myself Janet Leigh and Charles Heston (plays a Mexican agent – that one element hasn’t aged well) in a mystery noir of murder and corruption in a frontier town. Known for a stunning inaugural drive that inspired John Zimmerman‘s opening shot of Halloween.
Dismissed at first by many critics and audiences, especially in America, touch of evilOver time its reputation has steadily grown and it is now considered an essential Welles masterpiece. The director and studio clashed during production and post-production; a final director’s cut of touch of evil was published in 1998 after Welles’ death.
North for Northwest (1959)
Following Vertigo’s critical and commercial disappointment, Hitch released an exacting crowd pleaser that remains one of his crown jewels. Frequent Hitch collaborator Cary Grant is at the height of his power as Roger O. Thornhill, a Manhattan ad executive mistaken for an elusive CIA agent.
Charming, handsome and hilarious – although completely self-absorbed and twice divorced, Thornhill unknowingly becomes involved in a deadly conspiracy and meets icy blonde Eve Kendall along the way (Eva Marie Saint), who can be a double agent and is certainly more than she seems — maybe not as icy either. Ernest Lehmann‘s perfect screenplay leaves us puzzled until the third act, when Thornhill rushes to the rescue and the excitement ramps up to 11.
The killing (1956)
An early great by Stanley Kubrick, which is now considered by some to be the ultimate heist film. Though he naturally mastered most major genres, Kubrick made noir his Hollywood calling card with this innovative, artistic, eyebrow-raising adaptation of a work of pulp fiction (Lionel Weiss‘s Clean break).
The killingThe plot of is fairly mundane, but the storytelling (nonlinear timeline, high style, unusually rich characterizations) sets it apart. This made it a crucial influence on pulp fiction and Reservoir Dogs. The most notable and explicit allusion in modern cinema is the clown mask in the opening scene of The dark knight.
Choose M for Murder (1954)
Hitchcock led hit after hit in the 1950s. Classics that didn’t quite make this list include Catch a thief, the wrong man and its remake of The man who knew too much. Regular employee Grace Kelly Stars in a thriller about a love triangle that leads to an assassination attempt.
Choose M for Murder was released at the height of the short-lived, often gimmicky 3D craze of the 1950s. The most memorable set piece is an attempted murder that doesn’t go as planned, with stunning 3D effect. Choose M for Murder was remade as A perfect murder With MichaelDouglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Morstenson in the 90s.
The great heat (1953)
M and Metropolis Helmer Fritz Lang directs an adjustment of William P McGivern‘s novel, originally published as a series, about an idealistic, no-nonsense police officer who discovers a deep corruption. Adapted by the screenwriter Sydney Boehm.
The Big Heat is still a brutal watch today. The most notorious violent scene is where a thug (perfectly) acts out Lee Marvin attacks Gloria Graham‘s Debby with a pot of boiling coffee on her face. The touch of The great heat has been all over crime films since its release.
rear window (1954)
One of Hitchcock’s most famous and enduringly popular works is a psychological murder thriller on the surface, an exploration of the voyeurism inherent in filmmaking just below. Jimmy Stewart stars as photographer LB Jefferies, who enjoys watching his neighbors’ windows as he heals from a broken leg. Jefferies believes he is witnessing a murder and becomes an amateur detective with the help of glamorous friend Lisa (Grace Kelly).
rear window is a touching romance because the two main characters change each other. Jefferies is forced to slow down and feel; The noble Lisa becomes a courageous adventuress. It is impossible not to take care of them, which sometimes makes the tension almost unbearable.
kiss me deadly (1955)
Based on the 1952 crime thriller by Mickey Spillane, kiss me deadly follows a private investigator in Los Angeles who becomes embroiled in a complex mystery after he picks up a hitchhiker. The shadowy thriller stars Ralph Meier and Robert Decker.
Controversial in its day for violent and suggestive content, kiss me deadly is cemented in history as an essential film noir and has influenced numerous filmmakers François Truffaut to Quentin Tarantino. It marks the late’s film debut Cloris Leachman.
After winning Best Picture for Rebekah In the 1940s, Alfred Hitchcock’s career in Hollywood was flourishing. Many of his greatest and most popular works were published in the 1950s, including strangers on a train, rear window and North for Northwest.
A critical and commercial disappointment at first, thematically somber and artistically vibrant dizziness Stars Jimmy Stewartversus type as a toxic private investigator in a spiraling, destructive web of obsession with a mysterious blonde (Kim Novak). It is now considered Hitchcock’s best caning Citizen Kane for the honor of the best film of all time image & sound‘s latest critic poll.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
One of the weirdest movies you’re likely to ever see, and absolutely one of the best. A tale of a small-town serial killer accentuated by German Expressionism, The Night of the HunterThe uniqueness and lurid content of repels audiences. Charles LaughtonHis career as a filmmaker ended abruptly.
For decades, The Night of the Hunter was reassessed as a chilling masterpiece. Robert MitchumThe false prophet Harry Powell is one of the most disturbing villains in film history.
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