Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in the film by Orson Welles

‘Touch of Evil’ – Orson Welles on the border on Netflix

Orson Welles’ baroque border town murder mystery Touch of Evil (1958/1998) is a wild masterpiece, a sleazy, grimy, jittery, and ultimately dazzling work of cinematic magic. It’s considered the last great film noir and the bookend to the true noir era. It was also Welles’s last attempt at a career in Hollywood before he packed […]

Orson Welles is Harry Lime on Carol Reed's classic

Continental noir: ‘The Third Man’ on Netflix

Carol Reed’s continental film noir The Third Man (1949), written by Graham Greene and starring Joseph Cotten as a cynical American pulp novelist playing detective in the rubble-strewn underworld of post-war Vienna and Orson Welles as a charming but ruthless black marketeer, is one of the true classics. The film is directed by Reed but […]

Leo Gordon and Neville Brand in the prison drama by Don Siegel

‘Riot in Cell Block 11’ on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD

It may not have been obvious at the time but Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) was a perfect match of film and filmmaker. Don Siegel later made a name for himself with his gritty Clint Eastwood collaborations (not to mention his brilliant Invasion of the Body Snatchers) but was just a promising journeyman director […]

Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffe star in the film noir from John Huston

John Huston’s ‘The Asphalt Jungle’ on FilmStruck

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) is one of John Huston’s rare forays into the genre that would later be called film noir. His first, The Maltese Falcon (1941), helped set the template of the PI noir. Ten years later, working from an adaptation of the caper novel by W.R. Burnett scripted in collaboration […]

Jean Gabin stars in Julien Divivier’s poetic French film noir

‘Pépé le Moko’ – The romance of French noir on FilmStruck

Jean Gabin was a brooding, rough working class anti-hero in France when his role as cool master criminal Pépé le Moko (France, 1937) made him an international star. Set in the Casbah of French Morroco, a labyrinth of alleys and termite-hole dwellings in an underworld slum that creates its own bustling, self-contained society within Algiers, […]

Phil Karlson directs John Payne, Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, and Jack Elam in this B-movie film noir classic.

‘Kansas City Confidential’ on FilmStruck

Kansas City Confidential (1952), the first of three collaborations between Phil Karlson, a director who graduated from B-movies with a strong storytelling punch and a tough, two-fisted sensibility, and John Payne, a former light romantic lead and bland song-and-dance man of Fox musicals, was a career changer for both of them. Payne was already reinventing […]

Joan Crawford stars in the film noir directed by David Miller

Joan Crawford in ‘Sudden Fear’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

Joan Crawford took charge of her career as she aged out of the ingénue roles that propelled her to stardom, developing stories and pursuing properties that offered strong characters for a mature woman. She gave herself a second act when she fought hard for Mildred Pierce (1945) at Warner Bros. and seven years later, as […]