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Film Noir

[9] Chinatown is the name of the movie, but only a short final scene takes place there. One could argue the film is a journey to its namesake, but even that’s not enough to explain the title. In a rare intimate scene in the film, Jack Nicholson tells Faye Dunaway about his time as a cop working in Chinatown. He tried to help a woman, …

[6] Barbara Stanwyck stars in this intimate thriller from director John Sturges (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven) about a woman who is kidnapped by an escaped convict (Ralph Meeker) while trying to find help for her husband. While the husband (Barry Sullivan) is trapped under debris on a beach with rising tide, Stanwyck comes to realize her only means of saving him might be …

[8] Adrien Brody (The Pianist, The Thin Red Line) plays a ’50s Hollywood detective investigating the mysterious death of actor George Reeves, played by Ben Affleck (Gone Girl, The Town). Hollywoodland is based on the true story of Reeves, who struggled to claim fame on the big screen but ended up finding it as the star of television’s The Adventures of Superman. Brody and Affleck …

[8] Teresa Wright (Mrs. Miniver) plays a bored teenager who’s over-joyed when her favorite Uncle (The Third Man‘s Joseph Cotton) comes to stay with her family. But the warmth of family reunion soon gives way to cold suspicion when Cotton starts hiding things from her. Could he be the infamous ‘Merry Widow’ murderer? Alfred Hitchcock said Shadow of a Doubt was his favorite film he …

[6] Jane Wyman stars in this Alfred Hitchcock noir mystery as an aspiring actress who goes undercover to prove her best friend (Richard Todd) is innocent of murdering a theatre starlet’s husband. The starlet is played with icy villainy by the great Marlene Dietrich — but did she really kill her own husband? You may think you know, but don’t be surprised if old Hitch …

[7] Joan Crawford won her Oscar for playing the title character in this noir-melodrama from director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca). Based on the book by James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce is told largely in flashback, with Crawford spilling the beans to police after her second husband is found murdered in their beach house. She tells them how she divorced her adulterous first husband and pulled herself …

[7] Humphrey Bogart escapes from San Quentin to try and prove he’s innocent of killing his wife. Lauren Bacall plays the woman who believes him and gives him shelter. He resorts to plastic surgery to hide his identity from the police and extortionists, but will he be able to discover who the real killer is? Or will he be forced to flee the country? Dark …

[5] Joan Crawford plays an impoverished woman who leaves her husband after a tragedy claims the life of their young son. Determined never to be poor again, she sleeps her way through a string of men to reach a higher social standing. But once she ingratiates herself with gangsters, she gets in over her head. The Damned Don’t Cry delivers the typical Joan Crawford character …

[8] Chameleon master craftsman Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend) staked a name for himself and elevated low-budget film noir to new levels of respectability with his Hitchcockian suspense yarn Double Indemnity. The film, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, stars Fred MacMurray as an L.A. insurance salesman who conspires with an unhappy housewife, played by Barbara Stanwyck, to collect a massive insurance payout …

[6] Humphrey Bogart plays a Hollywood screenwriter suspected of murder until his next door neighbor, played by Gloria Grahame, vouches for him. Grahame starts a romance with Bogey as the investigation continues. It’s not long before Bogey reveals a hidden rage and a violent streak that make her reconsider his culpability. In a Lonely Place is reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard, released the same year. Both …

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