Columbia Noir

Columbia Noir

26 Episodes

One year ago, the Criterion Channel launched with a journey into the dark side of the Columbia Pictures catalog, and we’re pleased to bring it back with an expanded lineup of classic noir deep cuts. While rival studios like MGM and Paramount lavished money and top-tier production values on splashy musicals and prestige literary adaptations, the notoriously budget-conscious Columbia was right at home in the gritty, slightly disreputable world of film noir. The Columbia lot was where auteurs like Fritz Lang, Nicholas Ray, and Orson Welles realized pulp-poetry perfection in masterpieces like THE BIG HEAT, IN A LONELY PLACE, and THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI. It was also where resourceful genre specialists could overcome budgetary constraints through sinister, stylized atmosphere and directorial vision in killer Bs like the gothic mystery MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS and the minimalist-cool hitman thriller MURDER BY CONTRACT. Starring genre icons like Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth, Gloria Grahame, and Glenn Ford, these shadowy gems epitomize the hard-boiled essence of noir.

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Columbia Noir
  • Introducing Columbia Noir

    Episode 1

    Critics Imogen Sara Smith and Farran Smith Nehme explore the style and sensibility that Columbia Pictures brought to film noir.

  • Blind Alley

    Episode 2

    Directed by Charles Vidor • 1939 • United States
    Starring Chester Morris, Ralph Bellamy, Ann Dvorak

    One of the very first Hollywood films that could be described as a noir, this brisk psychological thriller stars Chester Morris as an inmate who escapes from prison and hides out in the home of a ...

  • My Name Is Julia Ross

    Episode 3

    Directed by Joseph H. Lewis • 1945 • United States
    Starring Nina Foch, George Macready, Dame May Whitty

    An unemployed London secretary is lured to the Cornish coast for a position as an elderly woman’s live-in assistant. Soon, however, she finds herself a prisoner in an isolated mansion, where s...

  • So Dark the Night

    Episode 4

    Directed by Joseph H. Lewis • 1946 • United States
    Starring Steven Geray, Micheline Cheirel

    Joseph H. Lewis, the director of the classic film noir GUN CRAZY, established his reputation as a talented stylist by wrangling this complicated story—of a Parisian detective (Steven Geray) who falls in l...

  • Gilda
    Episode 5


    Episode 5

    Directed by Charles Vidor • 1946 • United States
    Starring Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready

    “Gilda, are you decent?” Rita Hayworth tosses her hair back and slyly responds, “Me?” in one of the great star entrances in movie history. GILDA, directed by Charles Vidor, features a sultry Hayw...

  • The Lady From Shanghai

    Episode 6

    Directed by Orson Welles • 1947 • United States
    Starring Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane

    Orson Welles’s puzzle-box noir scrambles the conventions of the genre to create a triumph of Hollywood surrealism. The director stars as an unwitting Irish sailor who finds himself drawn into a w...

  • Johnny O’Clock

    Episode 7

    Directed by Robert Rossen • 1947 • United States
    Starring Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, Lee J. Cobb

    Dick Powell continued his evolution from fresh-faced 1930s crooner to 1940s noir tough guy with his hard-boiled turn in this stylish crime drama. He stars as Johnny O’Clock, the suave co-owner of a h...

  • Dead Reckoning

    Episode 8

    Directed by John Cromwell • 1947 • United States
    Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lizabeth Scott, Morris Carnovsky

    Humphrey Bogart delivers some of the most deliciously overwrought hard-boiled dialogue of the noir era in this offbeat, byzantine crime drama. He plays ex-Army captain Rip Murdock, who, wh...

  • The Dark Past

    Episode 9

    Directed by Rudolph Maté • 1948 • United States
    Starring William Holden, Nina Foch, Lee J. Cobb

    The 1940s craze for pop-Freudian psychoanalysis stories yielded this suspenseful thriller, a remake of the 1939 film BLIND ALLEY. This version features an intense performance from William Holden as a ...

  • In a Lonely Place

    Episode 10

    Directed by Nicholas Ray • 1950 • United States
    Starring Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame

    When a gifted but washed-up screenwriter with a hair-trigger temper—Humphrey Bogart, in a revelatory, vulnerable performance—becomes the prime suspect in a brutal Tinseltown murder, the only person who ca...

  • The Mob
    Episode 11

    The Mob

    Episode 11

    Directed by Robert Parrish • 1951 • United States
    Starring Broderick Crawford, Betty Buehler, Richard Kiley

    This gut-punching crime drama updates the 1930s gangster-movie formula with the murky moral complexity of 1950s noir. Broderick Crawford brings a wisecracking, tough-guy swagger to the rol...

  • Affair in Trinidad

    Episode 12

    Directed by Vincent Sherman • 1952 • United States
    Starring Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, Alexander Scourby

    Having established herself as a femme fatale for the ages in GILDA, Rita Hayworth was reunited with costar Glenn Ford for this sultry tropical noir, which went on to become an even bigger box...

  • The Sniper

    Episode 13

    Directed by Edward Dmytryk • 1952 • United States
    Starring Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz, Gerald Mohr

    Blacklisted director Edward Dmytryk—one of the original Hollywood Ten—made his return to filmmaking with this disturbingly prescient psychological thriller. Shot with gritty, documentary-style re...

  • The Big Heat

    Episode 14

    Directed by Fritz Lang • 1953 • United States
    Starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin

    Fritz Lang’s hard-boiled cop vs. criminals yarn stars Glenn Ford as Dave Bannion, a police detective and family man driven by grief to conduct a relentless vendetta against a mobster (Alexander Scourby)...

  • Human Desire

    Episode 15

    Directed by Fritz Lang • 1954 • United States
    Starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford

    In this adaptation of Emile Zola’s “La bête humaine,” veteran Jeff Warren (Glenn Ford) returns from Korea to his job as a railroad engineer and quickly succumbs to the advances of his boss's wif...

  • Drive a Crooked Road

    Episode 16

    Directed by Richard Quine • 1954 • United States
    Starring Mickey Rooney, Kevin McCarthy, Dianne Foster

    Mickey Rooney plays Eddie Shannon, a Los Angeles mechanic and race car enthusiast who is seduced by a gangster’s girlfriend and blackmailed into participating as the getaway driver in a bank ro...

  • Pushover
    Episode 17


    Episode 17

    Directed by Richard Quine • 1954 • United States
    Starring Fred MacMurray, Kim Novak, Dorothy Malone

    Paul Sheridan (Fred MacMurray) is one of the duty-bound cops who stake out the apartment of Lana McLane (Kim Novak), the girlfriend of a murderous bank robber. Sheridan makes a move on the beauti...

  • 5 Against the House

    Episode 18

    Directed by Phil Karlson • 1955 • United States
    Starring Guy Madison, Kim Novak, Brian Keith

    Noir specialist Phil Karlson brings an offbeat verve this briskly entertaining heist thriller, which features an early performance from soon-to-be superstar Kim Novak. She is among a group of college fri...

  • Tight Spot

    Episode 19

    Directed by Phil Karlson • 1955 • United States
    Starring Ginger Rogers, Edward G. Robinson, Brian Keith

    Ginger Rogers brings all the brass and sass she’s got to the role of a former gangster’s moll who, when she’s called to testify against her ex-boyfriend, finds herself caught between the threa...

  • Nightfall
    Episode 20


    Episode 20

    Directed by Jacques Tourneur • 1956 • United States
    Starring Brian Keith, Aldo Ray, Anne Bancroft

    Directed by Jacques Tourneur from one of the masterful, despairing novels of David Goodis, NIGHTFALL is the tale of an innocent man trapped in a senseless and lethal web of seduction and crime. The...

  • The Harder They Fall

    Episode 21

    Directed by Mark Robson • 1956 • United States
    Starring Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger, Jan Sterling

    Humphrey Bogart made his final screen appearance in this hard-hitting boxing exposé, which stands as one of the greatest films ever made about the sport. He plays an unemployed sports writer who ge...

  • The Brothers Rico

    Episode 22

    Directed by Phil Karlson • 1957 • United States
    Starring Richard Conte, Dianne Foster, Kathryn Grant

    Based on a story by Georges Simenon, this hard-hitting gangster drama stars Richard Conte as Eddie Rico, a retired mob accountant who has given up his criminal past for a quiet life running a lau...

  • The Burglar

    Episode 23

    Directed by Paul Wendkos • 1957 • United States
    Starring Dan Duryea, Jayne Mansfield

    Based on the pulp-fiction novel by David Goodis, who also penned the screenplay, this little-known crime thriller stars noir mainstay Dan Duryea as a jewel thief who targets the mansion of a wealthy evangelist ...

  • Murder by Contract

    Episode 24

    Directed by Irving Lerner • 1958 • United States
    Starring Vince Edwards, Phillip Pine, Herschel Bernardi

    Vince Edwards stars as a hired assassin whose latest “assignment” (Caprice Toriel) is about to testify against the mob. But this particular target is not so easy to get at. So he waits . . . ...