Shadowy atmosphere, seedy characters, pulp philosophy, and cynicism as thick as smoke: there’s nothing like film noir. As America returned from World War II, the national unconscious gave rise to a new breed of crime picture, populated by gumshoes, femmes fatales, and fall guys whose labyrinthine entanglements—captured in lush chiaroscuro cinematography—expressed a dark fatalism never before seen on the big screen. Where other Hollywood movies sought to recreate the magic of dreams, film noir aimed for the seductive danger of nightmares. Featuring some of the genre’s most ingenious directors (Edgar G. Ulmer, Otto Preminger, Henry Hathaway, Jules Dassin) and most magnetic stars (John Garfield, Veronica Lake, Burt Lancaster, Ida Lupino), this sampler will lead you down a few of noir’s darkest alleys.
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer • 1945 • United States
Starring Tom Neal, Ann Savage
From Poverty Row came a movie that, perhaps more than any other, epitomizes the dark fatalism at the heart of film noir. As he hitchhikes his way from New York to Los Angeles, a down-on-his-luck nightclub pianist ...