Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Writing, Visuals and Directors in Film Noir

These are three noir top ten lists that I decided not to go into detail on.

Best Writing for a Film Noir

1) “The Maltese Falcon” (1941)
2) “L.A. Confidential” (1997)
3) “The Big Sleep” (1946)
4) “The Sweet Smell of Success” (1957)
5) “Miller’s Crossing” (1990)
6) “Double Indemnity” (1944)
7) “Murder, My Sweet” (1944)
8) “Mulholland Dr.” (2001)
9) “The Third Man” (1949)
10) “Brick” (2005)

Best Visuals in a Film Noir

1) “The Element of Crime” (1984)
2) “The Matrix” (1999)
3) “Dark City” (1998)
4) “Night and the City” (1950)
5) “Night of the Hunter” (1955)
6) “Se7en” (1997)
7) “The Red Spectacles” (1987)
8) “The Third Man” (1949)
9) “Touch of Evil” (1958)
10) “The Big Combo” (1955)

Top 10 Favorite Noir Directors

1) The Coen Brothers
2) Fritz Lang
3) David Fincher
4) Christopher Nolan
5) Alfred Hitchcock
6) Orson Welles
7) Robert Siodmak
8) Otto Preminger
9) John Dahl
10) Jules Dassin

7 comments:

Mad Dog said...

You and your Coen Bros. fetish. I enjoyed Fargo and Blood Simple, but Miller's Crossing just put me to sleep.

Walrus said...

I suspect I won't get too many people agreeing with me listing Miller's Crossing's writing above Blood Simple and Barton Fink, but that's how I feel. I think my sister, Meredith, would join you in thinking my love of "Miller's Crossing" is displaced.

Fargo has superior writing, but I'm not sure I consider it noir.

Miller's Crossing is essentially an unofficial adaptation of the Hammett novel "Red Harvest" that had already been adapted by Kurosawa as "Yojimbo," by Leone as "A Fist Full of Dollars" and also as "Last Man Standing" with Bruce Willis. Without even officially acknowledging the book, the Coen Brothers make the most accurate version capturing the mood and adding a whole visual layer. Plus you get the usual Coen playful irony, cleverness and dark wit.

Walrus said...

Mad Dog,

I do hope you enjoy The Red Spectacles representing.

Mad Dog said...

Oh indeed I do. :3

That woman at the end was a brilliant stroke. Oshii certainly has a good eye. Apparently he's teaming up with the Battle Royale II director to make some movie about an Asian refugee woman taking up arms against the police in a near-future setting. This intrigues me because this is essentially what he added to the story of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG.

exactly why said...

I'm going to jump in here a couple comments too late and support you all the way with Miller's Crossing. It is indeed the most thematically faithful adapataion of Red Harvest and it also neatly encapsulates one of Hammett's other novels, The Glass Key, in ways that the 1942 adaptation wtih Alan Ladd - though it has its own supply of dark wit - didn't seem to dare. Hammett's brutal and brutalized anti-heroes are so quintessentially noir. Brick is excellent, and the older adaptations are good, but, with the possible exception of that glorious 1941 Maltese Falcon, I think the Coen Brothers do his style best, and Miller's Crossing is a beautiful distillation of dreary, violent Hammett-ness. Blood Simple is another great unofficial adaptation of Red Harvest, only on a smaller scale and with the story warped into something even more twisted - where the detective really does 'go blood simple like the natives.'

Walrus said...

Exactly Why,

Interesting reading of Blood Simple as a miniature Red Harvest. I have to think about that for a while and maybe watch it again, but there is a definite connection especially in the blood-soaked arc, twisted motivations and perspectives and nihilistic self-destruction.

I do like the Glass Key movie, but it plays softball with the themes and violence, ultimately backing down from being a stone-cold serious Hammett adaptation.

Walrus said...

Looks like someone over at DigitalDreamDoor agrees with me and exactly why about "Miller's Crossing." They list it as #1 on a list of 100 most underrated films. The full list can be found here: http://www.digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/movie-pages/movie_under84.html

I definitely like the idea of an underrated list and while I don't agree with all the things chosen (How is "Garden State" not overrated? Why is "Ninth Gate" even mentioned?) there are a lot of good points made on the list.