Five Films You Didn’t Know Were Noir

In Features by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Think of Film Noir and we think of a world populated by private eyes, gangsters, psychopaths, and femme fatales. Where deception, lust, and betrayal run rampant and the only light comes from cold, stark neon … From seminal masterpieces such as The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari to modern takes on the genre like Cold In July noir is cinema’s dark and brooding baby.

This month sees the release of Taschen’s Film Noir: 100 All-Time Favorites– an epic tome featuring 680 pages of posters, rare stills, quotes and noir worship. An introduction by Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader is suitably illuminating. To mark its release, FilmJuice takes a leap into the sickly pulsating heart of cinema’s most admired and vilified genre with a look at Five Films You Probably Didn’t Know Were Noir.

Get Carter (1971)
Substitute Humphrey Bogart for Michael Caine and transpose 1970s Newcastle to ‘50s New York and Mike Hodge’s great British gangster movie could well have been a classic era noir. The elements are all there: the self-serving anti-hero, the sexually-predatory dame, the casually stylish violence and the unrelentingly dark tone.

Blade Runner (1982)
Ridley Scott’s LA of 2019 is perhaps the ultimate tech noir tribute to the ‘50s hard-boiled detective movie, complete with neon lit streets, an impossibly glamorous femme fatales and a down-on-their luck gumshoe. By the end of the movie the hunted (Rutger Hauer) and the hunter (Harrison Ford) have switched places, in a typically noir turn-around which casts no ‘man’ as the hero.

The Dark Knight (2008)
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight is a far cry from the cartoon Gothic of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and the campery of Joel Schumacher’s 1997 Batman & Robin. Nolan’s cinematic reset delivered a noir nightmare set in a morally ambiguous world where heroes are impotent and bad guys are complex and compelling.

Black Swan (2010)
It may play out like an angst-ridden, indie art house movie but at its heart Black Swan is pure neo noir with scenes that have intense, dream-like terror and characters fuelled by ambition and lust which leads to their ultimate downfall.

Drive (2011)
A common noir theme is the damsel in distress – only the dame in question is usually an ice queen and her knight in armour, a stone, cold killer. In Drive, Ryan Gosling is every inch the psychotic noir anti-hero, who ultimately ends up lost on a dark, endless road to nowhere.

Film Noir: 100 All-Time Favorites by Paul Duncan is available in hardback from Taschen, priced £34.99; ISBN: 978-3-8365-4356-9.

The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari is re-released in UK cinemas on 29th August.

Cold In July is out on 27th June.