Noirvember Day 21 – List o’ the Week: Top 10 YouTube Noirs

In what seems like just a matter of a few years, YouTube has gone from a place where I used to watch old episodes of All My Children in 10-minute bites, to a site where a plethora of first-rate films noirs abide. Today’s Noirvember post offers my list of the Top 10 films noirs (in no particular order, mind you) available on YouTube. Hope you’ll get a chance to check some of them out!

— Woman aren’t dependable, sez Claude.

1. Murder By Contract (1958)

Vince Edwards stars as Claude, a killer-for-hire who’s banking his earnings so he can buy a house, and whose unique talents allow him to rapidly rise in the echelons of the organized crime outfit he works for. After a series of successful murders, he’s given a contract to kill a witness before she can testify in a high-profile trial in Los Angeles that starts in two weeks. Unfortunately for Claude (and everyone concerned), killing women is not his strong suit: they’re not dependable.

2. The Great Flamarion (1945)

The film opens with the murder of vaudeville performer Connie Wallace (Mary Beth Hughes), and her mortally wounded killer, The Great Flamarion (Erich von Stroheim), uses his final minutes to explain why he killed her. In a flashback that lasts nearly the entire film, we learn that Flamarion, Connie, and Connie’s alcoholic husband Al (Dan Duryea) were part of a popular entertainment act; Flamarion was a sharpshooter and Connie and Al served as his assistants as he demonstrated his various skills. When Connie softens Flamarion’s hard heart and the two begin an affair, three becomes a crowd, and you know what that means . . .

— Never trust a lawyer played by Wallace Ford.

3. The Breaking Point (1950)

World War II veteran Harry Morgan (John Garfield) operates a boat charter business, but barely makes enough to support his wife and two young daughters. Desperate for cash when he’s stiffed by a client, Harry accepts a proposal from a crooked lawyer (Wallace Ford) but finds himself digging a hole so deep he may not be able to climb out.

4. Shield for Murder (1954)

Veteran police detective Barney Nolan (Edmond O’Brien) kills a bookie in a dark alley and pockets the $25 thousand the dead man had on him, intending to buy a house and settle down with his girlfriend. But his best-laid plans shoulder a massive monkey wrench when he learns that his crime was witnessed by a deaf-mute resident of an apartment overlooking the alley. And his eager-beaver partner (John Agar) is hot on his trail.

5. Too Late for Tears (1949)

— Jane Palmer is no pushover.

California housewife Jane Palmer (Lizabeth Scott) is frustrated by her inability to keep with the proverbial Joneses. Her life takes a turn, however, when a satchel filled with money literally falls into her lap. Unfortunately for Jane, this isn’t the bonanza she thought it would be; her upstanding hubby objects to their keeping the cash, and making things worse, the rightful owner (Dan Duryea) shows up – and he’s not happy.

6. Detour (1945)

New York piano player Al Roberts (Tom Neal) hitch-hikes his way across the country to reunite with his singer-girlfriend, who made the trek to the Golden State to try her hand at the big time. But Al’s trip isn’t exactly smooth sailing; beginning with the driver he hitches a ride with, and continuing with a hitchhiker he picks up along the way, Al encounters shocking situations and makes wrong-minded decisions, one after another.

7. New York Confidential (1955)

— Kathy isn’t happy.

Broderick Crawford stars as Charlie Lupo, the head of a highly organized New York crime syndicate that manages a wide variety of criminal enterprises. Lupo’s circle includes Nick Magellan (Richard Conte), a top-notch killer he hires from Chicago; his faithful right-hand man Ben Dagajanian (J. Carroll Naish); and his daughter, Kathy (Anne Bancroft), who knows all about her father’s “business” and despises him for it.

8. Odd Man Out (1947)

Johnny McQueen, the leader of an Irish underground organization in Ireland. When Johnny is wounded during the commission of a robbery designed to secure funds for the group, he finds himself the subject of a citywide manhunt – as he tries to evade the authorities, he’s also being sought by his friends and the woman who loves him.

9. Wicked Woman (1953)

— This can’t end well.

The “Wicked Woman” of the film’s title is Billie Nash (Beverly Michaels), who seems to drift from one town to another, with no real plan or intention, making her living as best she can. At the film’s start, she’s arrived in one of these towns, where she finds a job and a place to live, and dives into an affair with her very married boss (Richard Egan). As if this situation weren’t complicated enough, Billie has another admirer: her creepy neighbor, Charlie Borg (Percy Helton), who isn’t fond of the word “no.”

10. Born to Kill (1947)

Described by one critic as a “sexy, suggestive yarn of crime with punishment,” Born to Kill is peopled with a variety of uniquely fascinating characters. These include Sam Wild (Lawrence Tierney), who kills his girlfriend, Laury, and her date near the start of the film; recently divorced Helen Trent (Claire Trevor), who finds the bodies (and promptly leaves town); Sam’s best friend (Elisha Cook, Jr.), whose main focus in life is trying to keep Sam out of trouble; and Mrs. Kraft (Esther Howard), who is determined to bring Laury’s killer to justice. Sam and Helen have an instantaneous, magnetic attraction that continues even after Sam ingratiates himself into her family by marrying her wealthy foster sister (Audrey Long) – which doesn’t exactly sit well with Helen, if you know what I mean.

You can create quite am at-home film noir festival with these 10 features – or you can pick and choose as you please: you can’t go wrong with a single one. Trust me.

And join me tomorrow for Day 22 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 21, 2022.

15 Responses to “Noirvember Day 21 – List o’ the Week: Top 10 YouTube Noirs”

  1. Love the Murder By Contract score! Wish there was an album.

    Robin Jones Sent from my iPhone while in motion- please excuse any typos!


    • I love that score, too — perhaps not least because my brother is a guitarist! It reminds me of the use of the zither score in The Third Man. So unusual and effective and memorable!

  2. Thanks for the list. YouTube is a great resource for noir. I’d seen all of these except Wicked Woman, which I just watched with great enjoyment. I’d like to nominate Percy Helton for the Noir Sap Hall of Fame, along with Percy Kilbride and EG Robinson (in milquetoast mode). Who’s your favorite Noir Sap?

  3. YouTube really is a treasure trove these days. Some great films there. Thanks for the intro to Wicked Woman and Shield For Murder which are two I’ve not seen.

  4. If you ever host a YouTube Noir film festival — I’m in!

    In the meantime, I’ll be first-watching ODD MAN OUT, WICKED WOMAN, and THE GREAT FLAMARION.

    Thanks so much for the scoop!

  5. Youtube is really quite good for watching old movies. So is, the Russian “youtube”. They actually have a lot more classic films than youtube. I use a lot, but maybe some day the FBI will knock on my door asking why I’m looking at a Russian website all the time.

    Watched Shakedown too. Fantastic. Howard Duff must be one of the most despicable Noir protagonists ever.

    BTW, do you have a search function on your blog?

    • How do you access Also, I don’t currently have a search function, Margot, but I’m so glad you asked. I’ve gotten directions on how to add one, and will be doing so soon!

      • Took me a while to figure out because it’s in, well, Russian. Here’s a link that should help. Just type in the movie you’re looking for in video search (like Youtube).

        You have to go on full screen for the movie though, otherwise you’d have to register and I’m not doing that.

        Also, sometimes you find only a dubbed version, in Russian or Greek or Arabic! It can be quite funny though.

  6. Woohoo! I’ve only seen two of these films, so I’ve got some fab YouTube binging ahead. Thanks, Karen!

  7. Breaking Point an underrated Film Noir directed by Michael Curtiz with a marvelous ending shot of Juano Hernandez son waiting on the dock for his never returning father. It’s also out on the Criterion DVD Collection,, but youtube will suffice. Enjoy!

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