THE LAST HURRAH : Ten Greatest Film Noirs of the 20th Century and their best physical releases here in the 21st Century!

I have not put CASABLANCA or THIRD MAN on this list, because although they have noir elements, there is an A picture scope to them in terms of not just budget but aspiration, that transcends the conventions of the noir, they ultimately tell larger tales than the fall or redemption of a single man, which is the heart of the noir aesthetic.

With that caveat aside, onto the list.

  1. MALTESE FALCON (1941)

  2. DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)

I don’t love the cover art for the Eureka release of Billy Wilder’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY (I think they should have gone with the art used for DVD and other releases) , but the film itself is magnificent, one of the greatest film noirs of all time. And a very good Blu-ray release. It is currently the must own version of this film.

3. MURDER MY SWEET (1944)

4. KISS ME DEADLY (1955)

5 DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS (1995)

Walter Mosley’s DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS remains a watershed book, in many ways improving on the pulp noir and film noir roots laid by writers like Hammett And Chandler. As someone who has read the book, listened to the audio book, and seen the film, Director and Screenwriter Carl Franklin’s take on DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS is just as watershed a film. With a stellar cast, the film is Noir distilled, while being one of the most beautiful color films, and is endlessly watchable and compelling. Indicator Films finally releases this film on Blu-ray, with Booklet and one newer special feature… a charming 2018 Interview– Carl Franklin: DANCING WITH THE DEVIL. That said I do wish they had sprung for new interviews and commentaries to go along with the ported features from the original 20 year old DVD; but that aside this is a must own limited-special edition release, that is  25 years in the making.

6. LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1947)

7. THE BIG HEAT (1953)

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8. THE BIG SLEEP (1946)

9. I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941)

While ostensibly 1941’s MALTESE FALCON is recognized as the first FILM NOIR, this film, I WAKE UP SCREAMING, made at the same time as MALTESE FALCON, actually is the first film to put together all the iconic elements we would later associate with film noir.

In addition to the Femme Fatale, and the morally challenged protagonist, this film adds the heavy use of shadows, the Venetian blinds, the stylish dutch and off-center shooting angles, in essence the visual language of film noir shows up first in this least heralded of films. And with a winding script that keeps you shifting your belief of “who done it” from one character to another, and some strange and compelling performances and laudable direction, you end up with a film that deserves to be better known.

 

10. RAW DEAL (1948)

Being the single best of Anthony Mann’s and John Alton’s magnificent collaborations makes RAW DEAL a must for any top ten list. This special edition, complete with booklet  is a must own release.

Well, that’s it my top 10 list.

2020 saw all ten of these films available on quality, feature rich Blu-Ray releases (eff barebone, questionable quality 4K releases — I despise the “no interior artwork, lacking new artwork” 4k releases. I also blame 4k for the further fragmentation and dwindling of a market, that can not survive anymore fragmentation. If you are going to do UHD releases, release them with the Blu-Ray and/or DVD in multi-packs. You eliminate having to have a DVD market and a Bluray Market and a UHD market, and the associated expenses of trying to package for 3 different formats ) for the first time in the relatively short history of physical media. And arguably by the end of 2021 these ten movies will never again all be available in quality, feature rich, physical media versions.

I hope that will not be the case, but hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

If you want these films in physical media, pick all ten up today, while they are still in stock. Click the images to be taken to the movies in question.

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DVD/Bluray Purchases for Week 1 of 2020!! Haul / Deals of the Week!

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.See my previous post where I sing the praises of this film.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.The webpage will not show this image anonymously. Film Noir fan, so this collection of little seen noirs was a must buy. Currently re-watching 1957’s riveting SHADOW ON THE WINDOW by director William Asher (who before he became known for his tv work and teen beach movies, made three notable films, JOHNNY COOL, THE 27TH DAY, and this one). SHADOW ON THE MOON is a thriller, with very ahead of its time sensibilities. One of the earliest films to deal with child trauma, broken homes, latchkey syndrome, and teen violence. It is a surprisingly good film. Unfortunately it is a pretty bare-bones Bluray collection; no commentaries, special features etc. Usually that is reason enough for me not to purchase physical media, however in this case you do get nine well mastered films per collection, for roughly the cost of one film. And the films look great. Purchase Here!

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Bought this one, because it was described as a type of ode to THE WILD BUNCH, and it starred Woody Strode. I went for the DVD over the Blu-ray, because the Bluray offered nothing additional, arguably not even a better picture, and the DVD was half the price. Purchase Here.

THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI – An Orson Welles masterpiece, starring Orson Welles and his stunning wife Rita Hayworth, and made when their marriage was falling apart. And it is a testament to Welles as filmmaker, and both of them as actors, that none of that is in the film. Finally remasterd on Bluray and with special features and commentary, and it is dirt cheap. A no-brainer of a buy! One of Welles top 5 films, and from a filmmaker who made arguably nothing but great films, that is saying a lot. Purchase here.

I had never even heard of this movie before, but all the reviews were very strong for this 1945 film Noir imbued thriller. And being directed by the great Joseph H. Lewis  (of THE BIG COMBO fame), with a feature reach, remastered Arrow Video release made this the last of this installment’s must buy Dvds and Blurays. Purchase Here!