Film Noir

Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole

| March 26, 2004

Down on his-luck NYC reporter (Douglas) takes a job with a small-town paper that provides him with no challenges until he exploits the story of a man trapped in a mine. When I walked into the Egyptian Theatre tonight to watch Ace in the Hole (1951) as part of the Cinematheque’s weekend series of “Movies […]

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Le Cercle Rouge

Le Cercle Rouge

| August 16, 2003

This determinedly non-flashy noir has influenced all over the place–Miller’s Crossing, Quentin Tarantino and John Woo owe much to Melville’s ‘perfect heist movie.’ The master of the monosyllabic crime film presents a complex and layered account of a jewel robbery. The film is consciously leaden, shot in real time for the most part. Melville’s central […]

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The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Fall

| July 22, 2003

This scathing indictment of Professional Boxing, dubbed the “red light district” of pro sports, packs a big factual punch. In his final film, Humphrey Bogart plays an out-of-work sports columnist who compromises his principles to become a PR shill for fight promoter Nick Benko (Rod Steiger). Benko is a diabolically brilliant promoter who is as […]

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Abandoned

Abandoned

| April 15, 2003

During American Cinematheque’s recent Film Noir festival, I decided to join our resident noir expert, A.K. Rode, for a screening of this rarely seen gem which took us into the seamier side of late 1940’s Los Angeles, as a reporter (Dennis O’Keefe) pursues a missing girl into the bowels of a black market baby racket. […]

Rififi

Rififi

| March 3, 2003

Then-popular French actor Jean Servais is middle-aged tough guy Tony le Stéphanois, a grim, hardboiled crook fresh from the state prison where he served time for the noble gesture of taking a rap for his younger buddy Jo le Suedois (Carl Mohner), a young tough who blurs his life of crime with his role as […]

Thief

Thief

| February 28, 2003

Frank pulls diamond heists, and he’s good at it. His teacher was one of the best, a man his friends call “Okla,” but whose real name is David. David’s in prison and has just found out he’s got a heart disease. Scheduled for release in 10 months, he may not live long enough to taste […]

Border Incident

Border Incident

| January 8, 2003

If you’re a cinephile purist who believes that a necessary attribute for a film noir must be the gritty urban environment of rain-swept streets and dark alleyways, check out Border Incident (1949) and your opinion will undoubtedly change. This surprisingly grim movie, directed by Anthony Mann and shot by master cinematographer John Alton, is as […]

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The Man Who Cheated Himself

The Man Who Cheated Himself

| November 14, 2002

Lieutenant Ed Cullen (Lee J. Cobb) is a San Francisco homicide dick who is attracted to women like a moth to a blowtorch. His clandestine love affair with socialite Lois Frazier (Jane Wyatt) undergoes a major paradigm shift when she pumps two slugs in a soon-to-be-ex husband bent on mayhem. Cullen is Johnny-on-the spot and […]

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The Well

The Well

| August 7, 2002

This frequently overlooked but important film was co-directed by Leo Popkin and produced by Harry M Popkin (this cinematic team of brothers also co-produced And Then There Were None, D.O.A., Impact, among others) and written by Russell Rouse. A young black child walks through a meadow and falls down an abandoned well. The last person […]

Bob Le Flambeur [Bob the Gambler]

Bob Le Flambeur [Bob the Gambler]

| July 15, 2002

Fold in varied amounts of The Asphalt Jungle and The Killing, add both obligatory and surprising French seasoning from director Jean-Pierre Melville, stir well and you have his cinematic valentine to post WWII Paris and American Film Noir: Bob Le Flambeur (1955). Bob the Gambler (Roger Duchesne) exudes a professional mien as he glides through […]

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