Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster in Alexander Mackendrick's great Broadway noir

‘Sweet Smell of Success’ – Broadway noir on Criterion Channel

“I love this dirty town.” The first and only time that Burt Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker drops the cynical twist from his clenched smile and allows genuine appreciation cross his face in Sweet Smell of Success (1957) is when he drops that line while strolling down the nighttime streets of Broadway. It’s not a proclamation or […]

Patricia Neal, John Garfield, and Juano Hernandez in a film by Michael Curtiz

John Garfield hits ‘The Breaking Point’ on Criterion Channel

The Breaking Point (1950), the second of three big screen adaptations of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not, stars John Garfield as Harry Morgan, the role that Humphrey Bogart played in the original. The Howard Hawks film took great liberties with Hemingway’s story. This version is more faithful but takes its own liberties. Harry […]

‘Babylon Berlin’ – Wiemer noir on Netflix

Originally published on the Film Noir Foundation website The most expensive German TV series ever produced, Babylon Berlin (Germany, 2017-2018) is Weimar noir, a detective drama turned conspiracy thriller set against the backdrop of decadence and poverty and corruption in 1929 Berlin just before the Nazi party rode the swell of nationalism to power. Think […]

Burl Ives and Robert Ryan star in the western noir by Andre de Toth

‘Day of the Outlaw’ – snowbound western noir on Amazon Prime Video

Day of the Outlaw (1959), a western set in a snowbound mountain town on the high frontier, is one of the toughest, most tension-filled pictures from Andre de Toth, a studio filmmaker who could be counted on to bring a savage edge to his assignments. The town is already coiled like a spring thanks to […]

Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum star in the film noir classic directed by Jacques Tourneur'

Baby, I don’t care – ‘Out of the Past’ on Criterion Channel

In a genre full of desperate characters scrambling and plotting to grab their slice of the American dream, Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past (1947) is a hard-boiled tale of betrayal with an unusually haunting quality. Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is the classic doomed not-so-innocent of the American cinema, a former private detective whose life […]

Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell star in the 1948 film noir classic.

Nicholas Ray’s ‘They Live by Night’ on Criterion Channel

“This boy… and this girl… were never properly introduced to the world we live in…,” begins They Live By Night (1948), a bubble of a brief, idealized vision of young love immediately swept away in the urgency and desperation of the prison break in the very next scene. The directorial debut of American filmmaker Nicholas […]

I Wake Up Streaming – October 2019

Originally published on the Film Noir Foundation website Joseph H. Lewis never again matched the dizzying heights of the delirious masterpiece Gun Crazy, but he did create at least one additional classic in the noir canon. The Big Combo (1955) stars Cornel Wilde (also an uncredited producer) as a driven cop hounding preening mobster Richard Conte, an arrogant […]

Simone Simon and Kent Smith star in Jacques Tourneur's classic horror film for producer Val Lewton

The original ‘Cat People’ on Criterion Channel

The original Cat People (1942) was made on a low budget for RKO’s B-movie unit, the first in an amazing series of B-horror films from producer Val Lewton that transcended its origins. It’s a masterpiece of mood and psychological ambiguity masquerading as a cheap exploitation knock-off. Cheap it is, but Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur […]

‘Le Doulos’ – the French criminal code on Criterion Channel

If classic French cinema is any indication, then gangsters were the great Gallic underground hero. Where the prototypical American gangsters are invariably cultural outsiders and immigrants who muscle their way to power in sprays of bullets, their French counterparts are dapper men with a code of loyalty who walk the tightrope between respect and disrepute. […]

'Sin City' from Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

‘Sin City’ – hard-boiled pulp fiction on Netflix

In Sin City (2005), Robert Rodriguez pulls out all stylistic stops to translate the most graphic of graphic novels—Frank Miller’s Sin City tales, all hard-boiled tributes to pulp fiction and film noir—from two-dimensional pages to free-floating big screen action, and he drafted Miller to help master not just the look, but whole hard-boiled extremism. Men […]