Rockstar Recommends: A Film Noir Round Up – Part One
With only one week to go until L.A. Noire hits stores, we hope that our Rockstar Recommends series of Noir genre favorite films, books and events have helped to get you in the spirit of things over the past few months, and have turned you on to some great works that you may not have checked out before. The Film Noir canon is truly an American hallmark and with L.A. Noire’s release, we’re very proud to be contributing to it in a new way.
Today, we present part one in a last roundup of classic Noirs – all of which are paid homage directly in the game with their titles appearing on the sides of 50 lost film reels scattered across the city that you can track down as Detective Cole Phelps. Finding them all will nab you the “Hollywoodland” Achievement/Trophy.
Next week, look for part two which will cover some of the great ‘Neo-Noirs’ (films that are faithful to the conventions of the genre but take place in modern or even otherworldly settings). If you’ve got some personal favorites of your own, please drop ‘em on us in the comments area below.
The Big Sleep (1946, Dir. Howard Hawks)
Adapted from Raymond Chandler’s bestseller of the time, this is Bogey and Bacall at their finest. If you’ve ever wondered what the allure of these two was all about, this is the one to watch. Set in Los Angeles with Bogart assuming the role of Chandler’s private dick, Philip Marlowe, the story is as winding and dizzying as Noir storytelling can get, but you’ll enjoy it all the way.
Sunset Boulevard (1950, Dir. Billy Wilder)
In the heart of Hollywood, an aged and quite disturbed ex-silent-film starlet (Gloria Swanson) forges a strange relationship with a young, opportunistic screenwriter (William Holden). This piece of Grand Dame Guignol is also the film that birthed the ‘hag horror’ genre that peaked in the 60’s with movies like “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” and “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”
The Lady from Shanghai (1948, Dir. Orson Welles)
A landmark Noir starring legendary, international sex symbol Rita Hayworth alongside her husband at the time Orson Welles, who also directed the picture. A tale of intrigue, suspicion and betrayal that travels from New York City to an unexpected climax in San Francisco.
The Third Man (1949, Dir. Carol Reed)
This one takes the genre to post-War Vienna where an American pulp writer (Joseph Cotten) seeks out answers as to the mysterious death of an old friend who had been living there. Truly some of the most incredible Film Noir cinematography you will find – and regarded as one of the great masterpieces of cinema. Love that score too.
The Killing (1956, Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
An early Kubrick film that served as the template for future non-linear crime story moviemaking like “Pulp Fiction” – “The Killing” is an amazing movie, definitely ahead of its time. Telling the story of a band of criminals working to pull off a heist at a race track, it brings you individual perspectives from various members – including ringleader Sterling Hayden (“Crime Wave”), crooked cop Ted de Corsia (“The Naked City”) and cuckolded window teller Elisha Cook Jr (“The Maltese Falcon”).
Double Indemnity (1944, Dir. Billy Wilder)
For those of us who may have grown up more familiar with Fred McMurray as the congenial dad from ‘My Three Sons’, watching this one provides quite a shock. One of the cornerstones in the Film Noir genre, it’s got it all – scheming femme fatale temptresses, a man taken down a downward spiral of his own weakness, a clever investigator working on a hunch (Edward G. Robinson in one of his most celebrated roles) - remade in the 80’s as the sexed up “Body Heat” with Kathleen Turner and William Hurt.
Previous Rockstar Recommends:
True Crime Detective Magazines (Taschen)
Rare California-Set Films of the 13th Annual Los Angeles Festival of Film Noir
“Crime Wave” aka “The City Is Dark” | “The Naked City” | “He Walked by Night” | “Chinatown” | “Scarlet Street” | “Detour”