Top 50 Films Noir (Contd) 10 - 1
10. The Maltese Falcon Dir. John Huston
(Humphrey Bogart, Mary Aster, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre)
Third, and by far the best version of the Dashiell Hammett Novel.
Masterful direction and screenplay by John Huston (his debut as a director).
Bogart is perfectly cast as Sam Spade, with superb support from Aster, Greenstreet and Lorre. The film moves at a cracking pace, and actually improves with each viewing.
9. Les Diaboliques Dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot
(Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel)
A sadistic, tyrannical school master is drowned by his wife and mistress, and his body placed in the school swimming pool. However, when the pool is drained, the body is not there.
Clouzot builds the suspense slowly but surely to the final twenty minutes, which are genuinely frightening. A must.
8. Strangers On A Train Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
(Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Patricia Hitchcock)
Two men meet by chance on a train, and 'exchange' murders.
Robert Walker dominates the film as charming psychopath Bruno Anthony.
One of Hitchcock's finest suspense thrillers.
The merry-go-round climax is unforgettable.
7. Rififi Dir. Jules Dassin
(Jean Servais, Carl Mohner, Magali Noel, Robert Manuel)
One of the finest heist films ever made, centering on a quartet of jewel thieves who are in more danger from one another than from the police.
The 20 minute burglary sequence, in complete silence, is justly famous.
6. The Killers Dir. Robert Siodmak
(Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, Albert Dekker, Sam Levine)
An ex boxer is murdered, and his death is investigated by an insurance investigator.
The structure of the film is reminiscent of Citizen Kane.
Lancaster in his debut role is excellent.
Gardner, as a treacherous, manipulative femme fatale, is marvellous.
5. Touch Of Evil Dir. Orson Welles
(Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia, Marlene Dietrich)
From the breathtaking opening crane shot to the finale, a totally gripping study of police corruption in a small town on the Mexican border.
With one exception, the cast is faultless.
A dazzling achievement. For many (including me) Welles' masterpiece.
4. Laura Dir. Otto Preminger
(Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Judith Anderson, Vincent Price)
One of the all-time great classic murder mysteries, has cop Andrews trying to solve the puzzle of Tierney's death - except she's not dead.
A standout cast, particularly Webb as cynical columnist Waldo Lydecker.
Preminger's finest achievement.
3. The Asphalt Jungle Dir. John Huston
(Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, Sam Jaffe, Marilyn Monroe)
The plotting of a crime, and the gathering together of a gang to pull it off.
Intelligently plotted, realistic thriller with a fine cast all at the top of their game.
Sam Jaffe is outstanding.
Marilyn Monroe is memorable in a small role as Calhern's mistress.
2. Le Samourai Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville
(Alain Delon, Francois Perrier, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier)
Plotwise, reminiscent of This Gun For Hire. Melville acknowledged the influence of that film on this.
Delon, in his most iconic role, plays a contract killer who sets out to exact revenge on the man who hired and then betrayed him.
Told in Melville's customary minimalist style, this is a multi-layered thriller which actually requires more than one viewing to fully come to grips with its complexities of plot and character.
1. Double Indemnity Dir. Billy Wilder
(Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson)
What can I say that hasn't already been said?
From the cracking good screenplay, to Wilder's assured direction, to the uniformly superb cast, a masterpiece that deserves its place as one of the great classics of American cinema.
How can I believe in God, when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?