Pitfall (1948)

There’s a formula to film noirs, and while not strictly enforced there are particular elements one looks for – the morally ambiguous hero, interplay between light and shadow, an evil femme fatale. It is both this adherence to and divergence from convention that makes director Andre de Toth’s Pitfall so special. Recently released on a…

Lady on a Train (1945)

Originally published December 15th, 2015 Maybe it’s the forced togetherness and spirit of brotherhood that makes the holidays so perfect for the noir genre. Whether it’s the glittery Hollywood pulp of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) or the nightclubs and trains in Lady on a Train, the subgenre of “Christmas noirs” are always funner and…

Riffraff (1947)

  In a world of gritty landscapes and dark shadows it’s often easy to forget the exotic locations many film noirs are located in. Riffraff is one such exotic adventure noir, although outside of an obligatory mention of its Panamanian setting it’s all mostly rear projection and interiors. However, it is this otherworldly, foreign experience…

Fallen Angel (1945)

Fallen Angel is certainly the perfect title for a film noir; the term, attributed to the ultimate fallen angel, Lucifer, immediately conjures up images of Hell, sin, and dark dames leading you astray. Those are all elements peripherally in Otto Preminger’s film, but screenwriter Harry Kleiner ends up taking a wrong turn into domestic drama…

Where Danger Lives (1950)

You don’t often find noir that is just plain bad. Noir has a formula and conventions, and not every testing of that formula yields gold but it’s hard to get coal outright. Where Danger Lives contains a polished pedigree with Robert Mitchum and Claude Rains, even B-list actress Faith Domergue isn’t awful, but Charles Bennett’s…

The Big Heat (1953)

The different breeds of noir can end up creating a dark morass of shadows and fog, with little variety in-between that it’s remarkable that some noirs were able to stand out from the pack at all.┬áDirector Fritz Lang was a film noir maestro by the time The Big Heat was released – having helmed M…