Film Noir

The Box

The Box

| August 23, 2004

Frank Miles (James Russo–Donnie Brasco, Extremities), a professional thief, has just been released from a 3-year stretch in prison. Determined never to return, he follows the parole guidelines, checks into his fleabag hotel in downtown L.A. and settles into the drudge job as mechanic at a local wrecking yard. He meets Dora (Theresa Russell–Bad Timing, […]

Strange Illusion

Strange Illusion

| July 12, 2004

Paul Cartwright (Jimmy Lydon), a sensitive young man still shaken by his father’s death a couple years previous, has a dream in which he witnesses the violent car crash that took his father’s life, not as an accident, but as a murder. In the dream he also sees his mother (Sally Eilers) and sister Dorothy […]

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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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