Going chronologically, at least for the first several - all films appear here
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/a+co ... ignatzkat/
unless otherwise noted, and all FTVs unless otherwise noted
1. Marked Woman (Lloyd Bacon/Michael Curtiz (uncr), 1937) (re-watched)
2. Tip-Off Girls (Louis King, 1938)
3. Blackwell's Island (William C. McGann/Michael Curtiz, 1939)
4. Phantom Raiders (Jacques Tourneur, 1940)
5. Dressed to Kill (Eugene Forde, 1941)
6. Crossroads (Jack Conway, 1942)
7. Lady Gangster (Robert Florey, 1942)
8. Afsporet / Derailed (Bodil Ipsen / Lau Lauritzen, 1942)
9. Calling Dr. Death (Reginald Le Borg, 1943)
10. Experiment Perilous (Jacques Tourneur, 1944)
11. The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (Robert Siodmak, 1945)
12. Danger Signal (Robert Florey, 1945)
13. Crack-Up (Irving Reis, 1946)
14. The Brasher Doubloon (John Brahm, 1947)
15. Blackmail (Lesley Selander, 1947)
16. Nora Prentiss (Vincent Sherman, 1947)
17. Johnny O'Clock (Robert Rossen, 1947)
18. Night Has a Thousand Eyes (John Farrow, 1948)
19. The Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948) (re-watch)
20. Døden er et kjærtegn / Death is a Caress (Edith Carlmar, 1949)
21. The Accused (William Dieterle, 1949)
22. Destination Murder
(Edward L. Cahn, 1950)
Cool opening, as a young man watching a movie goes out during intermission, gets in a car driven by an older man, and goes to a house, rings the doorbell, and shoots the man who answers dead, then speeds off back to the movie theater where his date doesn't notice that he's been gone. Nice alibi, right? Unfortunately the murdered man's daughter was home and saw a bit of it, and eventually figuring out that it was perhaps a messenger ('cuz he had a messenger uniform) gets herself involved in solving the crime, which ultimately revolves around a couple of gangsters that run a nightclub - whose relationship with each other is not what it seems at first. Fast-paced brief (72 m) film undermined a bit by the bare-bones cheapness and a couple of fairly mediocre performances, but it moves along and has enough small surprises to keep it interesting.
23. The Sleeping City
(George Sherman, 1950)
Another all-on-location film set in New York City, this one also having the relative novelty of being set in a hospital, and involving a murder/drug racket therein. An intern is killed just steps outside of Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, and the cops suspect it was an inside job, so they send in an undercover detective (Richard Conte) with some medical training. He quickly becomes involved with the victim's girlfriend (Colleen Gray) and finds that a lot of the cash-strapped young students and interns have been using the elevator man (Richard Taber) as a bookie, and that there are outside interests at play as well. Really nicely shot and authentic-feeling, with an excellent chase scene at the ending and a rather different resolution to Conte and Gray's nascent romance than one usually finds in this era.
24. The Damned Don't Cry
(Vincent Sherman, 1950)
Joan Crawford in her typical melodramatic, over-the-top mode as a young and beautiful (Crawford was 44 when she made this and looks it, but is continuously referred to as if she's a Marilyn Monroe type stunner - I guess Crawford fans don't care or are blind to it, I just found it pretty amusing) wife and mother from Texas oil country who abandons her hubby after the death of their child and goes to New York, where she gets involved with an honest but dull accountant (who else but Kent Smith?) as a step to moving up the social and wealth ladders - but in her case, this also means getting involved with organized crime in the figures of hoods David Brian and Steve Cochran and, eventually, a gang war that moves from New York to Tahoe. It's all quite well done and very much an obvious A picture star vehicle, though it's no match for something like Mildred Pierce
, and while I'll probably never be a huge Crawford fan, I think there's a certain amount of autobiography in this tale (Crawford was from a working-class family in Texas) that gives her performance some extra juice.
25. The Second Woman
(James V. Kern, 1950)
Another film significantly lessened by it's simplistic wrap-it-up ending - which I started to figure out around the halfway point - this does nevertheless contain some points of interest in it's story of architect Robert Young who owns a modernist self-designed house on the northern California coast, haunted by memories of his dead fiancee and guilt, who seems to be cracking up and possibly enacting self-destructive and dangerous acts on himself and those around him. Enter sympathetic Betsy Drake, niece of his neighbor, to help put things right. Lots of red herrings - in addition to his own mental instability, our hero seems to have made some local enemies - but it just doesn't add up to a very convincing or interesting resolution. The location work inn Carmel and Monterery with all those windswept pines is nice though, and uncommon in this period.
26. Edge of Doom
(Mark Robson, 1950)
Noir and religion don't intersect all that often, though when they have (most memorably perhaps in Hitchcock's I Confess
and Laughton's Night of the Hunter
) the results have often been interesting; after all guilt and repentance are typical elements of crime films, and most of the more famous noir filmmakers were Jewish or Catholic and certainly were familiar with these ideas. Here we have a tale narrated by a middle-aged priest (Dana Andrews) to a younger man who is thinking about leaving the poor, crime-ridden parish they belong to - Andrews claims that being involved with the young man (Farley Granger) at the center of a crime brought him closer to God, and we get to decide watching the tale play out whether that makes sense or not. Granger is angry at the church because of an incident involving the death of his father years before; as his mother is dying and he feels helpless, he lashes out, with tragic results. This is another film shot on a lot of real locations (in Los Angeles) that has a good gritty feel to it - especially the horrible tenement that Farley, his mother and other residents including the always-wonderful Paul Stewart live in - though it was never clear to me which city it actually was supposed to be. Being pretty cynical about religion and faith it was more than a little difficult for me to swallow the way the moral lesson was delivered, but it's a tribute to the skill of those involved that I still liked the film a lot, redemptive message or no.
27. Hunt the Man Down
(George Archainbaud, 1950)
Preposterous or poorly set-up endings seem to be one of the banes of my viewing for this challenge, and here's another example though it doesn't defeat the film so much as just feel very obvious - and necessary according to the rules of the production code. A nice opening, as a man in a bar saves the young woman working there from being robbed or murdered - but then, appearing in the newspaper, we find that he's actually wanted for murder himself - that he escaped from custody 12 years earlier and has been living under assumed names and moving around since then. And he claims he's innocent, and has a half-dozen witnesses who can prove it - if they can be found after more than a decade which included a war. Not surprisingly, at least one is already dead, one suffered an injury during the war that will prevent him from easily testifying - and a couple of others end up murdered or assaulted over the course of the film. Despite the quick and somewhat silly wrap-up this ends up being a pretty exciting and fun little b flick with such novel scenes as a one-armed cop driving a car and getting in a gun battle.
28. Flicka och hyacinter / Girl With Hyacinths
(Hasse Ekman, 1950)
Thanks to the community here for bringing this to my attention! While this isn't listed as noir on any of the usual lists, I definitely feel after watching it that is belongs as much as some of the other sort-of-noir, proto-noir or other questionable choices, and in fact it bears some significant comparisons in important respects to one of the most influential of all films in the noir cycle that isn't itself usually called noir - Citizen Kane
. I don't want to suggest that it's on that level, but in it's basic premise - the investigation of a tragic life, a life of unfulfilled potential - particularly the potential of love and feeling and connection with others - it works very much the same way, and it's conclusion is ultimately more sad and heartbreaking. The beginning really is all noir, shadowy streets and moods, a young woman (Eva Henning, wife of director/writer Ekman at the time, just perfect for this role) in despair, a dark river, gloomy apartments. And when the tragedy occurs, after this first scene, it becomes a mystery of why, of who this woman really was, and how as a beautiful and reasonably bright young woman she never quite fit in, and never quite connected with anybody who could "save" her. What emerges is a portrait of loneliness as stark and hopeless as any I've seen, and being a lonely and fairly disconnected person myself I found it ultimately shattering and deeply sad. The revelation of the young woman's real inner torment - left until the very end of the film though probably guessable to most people much earlier watching it today - is extremely well executed as are the many flashbacks which seem unreliable singly (this is also somewhat Kane
-like) but together add up to a full portrait of a life un-led. What is saddest at the end is that the revelation, the reason for this woman's ineffable sadness, is still operable today in much of the world; perhaps the fact that it could be dealt with at all in Sweden as early as 1950 points out one of the reasons why Sweden has been at the forefront of human rights and the liberalization of our attitudes towards sex and gender in the decades since. A masterpiece and certainly the best first-time viewing I've had this month so far.
29. 711 Ocean Drive
(Joseph M. Newman, 1950)
I always get excited to see a noir with a number in the title, for whatever reason this always speaks to me of urban crime, of mysterious locations, hidden storerooms on gloomy docks where all manner of crime gets committed...anyway, given that irrational expectation, this is a bit of a disappointment, thought it's still reasonably entertaining and without really serious flaws. Edmond O'Brien is a lowly guy working a lowly job for the telephone company, who by chance meets a guy who knows a guy who...and he ends up a gangster in charge of a huge wire service operation all over the southwest. Things aren't gonna end well, are they? Especially when the nationwide syndicate decides he's getting too big for his britches and comes gunning for him - while O'Brien thinks he can have ever more and it will never end. Good supporting cast including Joanne Dru as the obligatory wife/girlfriend who exchanges one mobster for another, and who desperately hopes she can help her man avoid a violent end, but given all the bad things O'Brien does in the film... while this is fairly predictable overall, the cast and the really excellent location work - some of the best I've seen really, with a great violent confrontation at Hoover Dam maybe the high point - keep it interesting enough. Amazing how many star actors there were in the 40s and 50s like O'Brien, Ernest Borgnine and Brorderick Crawford, average-looking guys who actually stayed on top of the pile for years because of their work and talent though they were never matinee idols. Have we gotten more shallow as viewers since then? In many ways I think so.
30. Guilty Bystander
(Joseph Lerner, 1950)
It's hard for me to review this fairly as a) it was a pretty poor copy - there don't seem to be better ones available, and b) I was a bit drunk and too tired when I watched it. If the copy were better I'd probably re-watch the second half but I'll just hope for something better to turn up eventually. It's definitely the kind of film I'm attracted to these days - gritty and grimy (though some of that's probably the print's fault) with Zachary Scott, one of the all-time best sleazebag villains in film playing a rare semi-sympathetc role as a drunk ex-cop/low-rent PI trying to find his kidnapped young son, and perhaps get back in the good graces of his ex-wife (Faye Emerson). There's also Mary Boland as the seedy owner of the flophouse Scott stays in, and a number of lesser luminaries who all look as hard-up as they probably were in real life. Scott's performance is one of his best and really treads the line between asshole and semi-likable, and the feel of poverty and desperation is palpable. I can't quite say I loved this and the ending was, once again, too neat, but a really good copy might go a long way to arguing for it.