These Three: The Noirs I’ve Seen the Most

Now that I’ve reconciled myself to the relationship between my “favorite” movies and the ones that I watch most often, I decided to turn my sights to the film noir features that so frequently find themselves popped into my VCR. Each of these is the kind of movie that I just HAVE to see every time it comes on TV – it’s like an event (“Double INDEMNITY is coming on!!!).

So for today’s post, I’m taking a look at those totally awesome features that I quote lines from in my head, those wicked cool films that make me smile just to think of them, those completely groovy movies whose characters are like old friends – the three films noirs that I watch the most often.

And cool hats, too!

And cool hats, too!

Mildred Pierce

Of course the noir that I’ve seen the most has Joan Crawford in the title role. Who else? And La Joan is THE BOMB in her Oscar-winning performance of a divorced mom whose very existence is fueled by her devotion to her bratty, self-centered daughter.  Mildred Pierce also has a perfect supporting cast, great lines, beautiful cinematography, and a score by Max Steiner that just won’t quit.

Even the opening is perfect.

Even the opening is perfect.

Double Indemnity

When it comes to Double Indemnity, there’s no confusion about my definition of “favorite.” It’s my favorite noir. It’s absolutely perfect to me the tale of a couple that commits murder for love and for money. Barbara Stanwyck is riveting as the conscienceless Phyllis Diectrichson, and she’s ably backed by Fred MacMurray as her partner in crime, and Edward G. Robinson as the insurance claims adjuster whose inner “little man” helps him sniff out BS like a bloodhound.



The Postman Always Rings Twice

I love this movie so much I could marry it. (Or at least sleep with it.) It’s the simple tale of a man and woman who knock off the dame’s husband, but it’s so much more than that. It’s Lana Turner in that almost all-white wardrobe. It’s the palpable passion between Turner and Garfield, so thick you could sop it up with a biscuit. It’s the very title itself – I still remember the thrill I felt when I first understood what it meant. It’s all that.

(Wow  total lightbulb moment – I just realized that the three films noirs that I’ve seen most often are all based on novels by James M. Cain. Crazy! What does it all mean? I DON’T KNOW.)

Anyway, that’s it – the three films noirs that I’ve seen more than any other. They’re awesome. They’re unforgettable. They’re the the tops! And stay tuned (won’t you?) for the next installment!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 26, 2013.

4 Responses to “These Three: The Noirs I’ve Seen the Most”

  1. I know Mildred Pierce is noirish, but it just doesn’t seem that way to me. But I’ve watched it many times!
    The noir I’ve watched over and over is “DOA”. Edmond O’Brien forever. When I was about 15, before VCRs, “DOA” came on some local channel which we could barely receive on the farm. (We only got three channels clearly.) My mother said “Oooh, it’s the best movie ever, we have to try. The TV in the other building sort of gets that channel after dark” (The good old days. When you clicked a dial to change channels, and TV reception was affected by passing airplanes, and improved after dark…)
    So I cranked the antenna around until we got a fuzzy picture and we squinted at DOA with commercials It was my introduction to NOIR as a genre. I’d seen a few noirish things like The Third Man and The Maltese Falcon, Asphalt Jungle, but I wasn’t aware that there was this whole GENRE. My parents watched lots of noirs at the theater back in the 50’s. I was totally hooked. Thanks Mom!

  2. Excellent post. My choices: Laura, NYC cop Dana Andrews falls in love with a portrait of Gene Tierney, whose murder he is investigating; Out of the Past, p.i. Robert Mitchum, gets the double shuffle from two femme fatales, murderous Jane Greer and “cold around the heart” Rhonda Fleming, while working for smooth gangster Kirk Douglas; and The Big Heat, Glenn Ford rides the vengence trail to his wife’s killer, helped by two outcasts, a physically crippled secretary and an emtionally crippled femme fatale, Gloria Grahame, while hood Lee Marvin gets his. Honorable mentions include Double Indemnity, probably the best film noir ever made, The Big Sleep, The Big Combo, Touch of Evil, Kiss Me Deadly, D.O.A., Follow Me Quietly, Johnny O’Clock, Cry Danger, The Killing, Private Hell 36, The Third Man, anything with Liz Scott or Ella Raines, and many more. So many killers, so little time.

    • You have great taste, David! I’ve had multiple viewings of a number of those you named — especially The Big Heat, Laura, OOTP, The Big Combo, and The Killing, I haven’t seen Cry Danger enough, though — I think it’s time for a re-watch!

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