Friday, August 09, 2019

My Ten Favorite Noir Films -- 2019 Update

Like my new list of favorite western films, the list of my favorite noir films has changed a lot since I first posted one six years ago, all because of one certain actor.

I mean, how was I NOT going to love Alan Ladd when the majority of his films are in my two favorite genres?  It was inevitable.

Anyway.  Here is my current list of ten favorite noir films!  Titles linked to my reviews where applicable.

1. Laura (1944) While solving the murder of beautiful Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) falls in love with her memory. The most haunting murder mystery of all time.

2. This Gun for Hire (1942) A remorseless killer-for-hire (Alan Ladd) teams up with a singing magician (Veronica Lake) to help the government stop bad guys from selling American military secrets to the enemy. This is the movie that turned Ladd into a star, and it's not hard to see why -- he's riveting.

3. Dead Again (1991) A kindhearted PI (Kenneth Branagh) tries to help an amnesiac (Emma Thompson) remember who she is, only to learn that they may have been intimately linked to each other in a past life.  This is a twisty thriller involving reincarnation and it never fails to thrill me, even though I obviously don't believe reincarnation is a real thing.

4. The Great Gatsby (1949) F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic story gets a film noir twist. A successful gangster (Alan Ladd) buys a new house across the water from an old flame (Betty Field) whose cousin (Macdonald Carey) just happens to be Gatsby's next-door neighbor. I've yet to see another portrayal of Gatsby as haunting and heartfelt as Ladd's.

5. To Have and Have Not (1944) Fisherman Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart) gets tangled up with a wandering woman (Lauren Bacall) and a bunch of anti-Nazi French patriots during WWII. Loosely based on characters from the Ernest Hemingway novel by the same title.

6. The Blue Dahlia (1946) A weary veteran (Alan Ladd) returns home and finds his wife (Doris Dowling) is cheating on him with a nightclub owner (Howard da Silva). When she turns up dead, he's the prime suspect. The nightclub owner's wife (Veronica Lake) tries to help him solve the murder. It's the only original screenplay written by my favorite author, Raymond Chandler, and its dialog sizzles delightfully.

7. The Big Sleep (1946) PI Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) takes a case for a wealthy family with a lot of secrets. Pairs Bogart again with the love of his real life, Lauren Bacall, and is based on the novel by my favorite author, Raymond Chandler.

8. LA Confidential (1997) Three Hollywood cops (Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, and Guy Pearce) wrestle with corruption, vice, murder, and conspiracy. One of the most intricately plotted movies ever, with all kinds of disparate strands woven together to form a dazzling whole.

9. Road to Perdition (2002) A hitman (Tom Hanks) takes his son (Tyler Hoechlin) on the run, seeking vengeance for the brutal murder of his wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and other son. Brilliant acting from all involved, including Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig.

10. Brick (2005) High school loner Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) investigates the murder of the girl he may have loved, discovering a teenage underworld in the process. One of the most creative movies I've ever seen.

NOTE:  Dead AgainLA ConfidentialRoad to Perdition, and Brick are all rated R.  With good reason.  Proceed with caution.


  1. I have loved The Blue Dahlia since my teen years, but have never been able to get into To Have and Have Not. I have got to see The Great Gatsby!

    I was impressed by Dead Again but have only seen it one time. So many movies!

    It is interesting how our attitudes may change over time. I'm almost anxious to re-watch some old favourites. I'd like to keep them locked in a safe place.

    1. Caftan Woman, I have loved To Have and Have Not since my teen years, lol! You definitely need to see Ladd's Gatsby.

      I like Dead Again better every time I see it. I keep feeling like it should creep me out, but it doesn't. So good. I love Branagh as a director.

      I feel that sometimes too. Happily, I've discovered that I more often like a movie now that I disliked when I was younger than the reverse. Not always, though. My taste as a kid was better than my taste as a teen, lol.

  2. I love all of these, though I have yet to see Blue Dahlia. LA Confidential, Dead Again, and Laura would all be on my list. Fun! I was thinking of Road to Perdition recently cuz of Jude Law. Need to watch that one again soon, cuz that's a really good one.

    1. DKoren, :-) You know you intro'd me to LA & Dead again, so I'm not surprised they'd be on your list too. And Laura is Just That Good.

      I could do with a rewatch of Road to Perdition myself.

  3. Noticed that on the Turner Classic Movie Schedule - in case anyone reading this subscribes - This coming Tuesday (Aug 13) they will be broadcasting The Glass Key and (if you're in the US) the Ladd-produced A Cry In the Night (sadly it's not playing in Canada. I think I've seen it before but not for a long long time.) - VT Dorch

    1. VT, oh, how lovely! I don't have cable or satellite or anything, but I love that TCM is showing some of the movies Ladd was involved with. Thanks for letting me, and anyone who reads this who does get TCM, know!

  4. You mean there's a good rendition of Gatsby in film?? I just assumed nobody could do anything with it that was worth a watch... May have to see this.

    1. Megan, yup! Well, I mean, I think it's a good rendition. I'm totally biased, lol. Daisy's not awesome, but Ladd's own life mirrored Gatsby's in a lot of ways, and I think he really got the character beautifully. It's out on DVD, and you can find it on Amazon.

  5. I really need to watch the older version of The Great Gatsby.

    1. Skye, I'd love to hear what you think of it if you do get to see it!

      I still haven't finished the Robert Redford version. I got bored 15 minutes in and quit :-o Haven't watched the Toby Stephens one at all. Yet.


Agree or disagree? That is the question...

Comments on old posts are always welcome!

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)