Almost Noir

Film noir is an exciting genre of the cinema and includes some of the best films ever made. Dark, mysterious, foreboding, psychological, often violent. It was a genre popular after World War II, into the 1950s, usually shot in black and white to help convey the darker emotional tone of the subject matter.

Bogart, Lorre, Astor and Greenstreet: The Maltese Falcon.

If you watch Turner Classic Movies (TCM), film historian Eddie Muller hosts a weekly feature on noir films. Muller has written a fantastic book on the genre and offers onscreen insights into the genre and each film shown.

Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth: The Lady From Shanghai.

Noir as a film genre, disappeared from from American film in the 1960s, although films that contained elements of the genre were still released. In the 1960s, filmmakers were separating themselves from older films with more stylized expression, adult subject matter and protagonists who were much edgier than the noir film characters.

In the 1970s, noir was back, as America was more nostalgia focused, and audiences enjoyed the look-back and how noir elements were integrated into the new cinematic landscape. Suddenly, being tagged with the film noir label was not a hindrance, but trippy filmmaking.

Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past.

Let’s look at films since the 1970s that embrace the noir genre. Film noir is a genre that will always be associated with films made in the 1940s and 1950s. Films since then, I call “almost noir” because no matter how authentic they appear or embracing of the genre, they are not part of the classic film noir period. You may disagree, but the era in which those films were made are part of the essence of the films.

Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil

No every crime drama, mystery or psychological thriller is a noir film. Noir is a special kind of emotional and stylistic shading.

The following is by no means a complete list, but I’ve picked out a number of films that enter the discussion noir to be considered as “almost noir” films. Some of these are considered classics, others decent films, and many of varying quality.

Play Misty For Me (1971)

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)

High Plains Drifter (1973)

The Long Goodbye (1973)

The Laughing Policeman (1973)

The Conversation (1974)

Chinatown (1974)

The Parallax View (1974)

Night Moves (1975)

Farewell, My Lovely (1975)

Marathon Man (1976)

The Late Show (1977)

The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

Blowout (1981)

Eyewitness (1981)

Blade Runner (1982)

The Thing (1982)

The Dead Zone (1983)

Blood Simple (1984)

Tightrope (1984)

Jagged Edge (1985)

Best Seller (1987)

Lethal Weapon (1987)

No Way Out (1987)

D.O.A. (1988)

Narrow Margin (1990)

The Two Jakes (1990)

Cape Fear (1991)

Dead Again (1991)

A Kiss Before Dying (1991) remake

Shattered (1991)

Basic Instinct (1992)

The Player (1992)

Malice (1993)

The Pelican Brief (1993)

Striking Distance (1993)

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Nick of Time (1995)

The Quck and the Dead (1995)

Blood and Wine (1996)

Fargo (1996)

Heaven’s Prisoners (1996)

LoneStar (1996)

Mulholland Falls (1996)

Conspiracy Theory (1997)

Jackie Brown (1997)

L.A. Confidential (1997)

The Spanish Prisoner (1997)

Switchback (1997)

Apt Pupil (1998)

Dark City (1998)

Enemy of the State (1998)

Fallen (1998)

Mercury Rising (1998)

Out of Sight (1998)

A Simple Plan (1998)

Snake Eyes (1998)

Twilight (1998)

8mm (1999)

Arlington Road (1999)

The Bone Collector (1999)

Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Gloria (1999)

In Dreams (1999)

Magnolia (1999)

Payback (1999)

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Memento (2000)

Sexy Beast (2000)

Traffic (2000)

What Lies Beneath (2000)

3,000 Miles to Graceland (2001)

Along Came a Spider (2001)

Donnie Darko (2001)

Heist (2001)

The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

Mulholland Drive (2001)

The Pledge (2001)

The Tailor of Panama (2001)

Vanilla Sky (2001)

Signs (2002)

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)

The Hours (2002)

Insomnia (2002)

The Quiet American (2002)

Road to Perdition (2002)

Solaris (2002)

Twisted (2004)

Secret Window (2004)

Taking Lives (2004)

The Punisher (2004)

Cellular (2004)

The Forgotten (2004)

White Noise (2005)

Sun City (2005)

The Interpreter (2005)

Dark Water (2005)

Flight Plan (2005)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Syriana (2005)

16 Blocks (2006)

Lady in the Water (2006)

The Departed (2006)

Deja Vu (2006)

Zodiac (2007)

Premonition (2007)

Grindhouse (2007)

Disturbia (2007)

Perfect Stranger (2007)

Fracture (2007)

Mr. Brooks (2007)

In the Valley of Elah (2007)

Michael Clayton (2007)

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Untraceable (2008)

Vantage Point (2008)

88 Minutes (2008)

Deception (2008)

Lakeview Terrace (2008)

Eagle Eye (2008)

Max Payne (2008)

Killshot (2009)

State of Play (2009)

Surveillance (2009)

A Perfect Getaway (2009)

Edge of Darkness (2010)

The Ghost Writer (2010)

Shutter Island (2010)

The Killer Inside Me (2010)

Inception (2010)

Takers (2010)

Stone (2010)

The Roommate (2011)

Limitless (2011)

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

Source Code (2011)

Wrecked (2011)

Hannah (2011)

Drive (2011)

Super 8 (2011)

Abduction (2011)

The Ides of March (2011)

Contagion (2011)

The Thing (2011)

Haywire (2011)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Man on a Ledge (2012)

Safe House (2012)

The Cold Light of the Day (2012)

Alex Cross (2012)

Deadfall (2012)

A Dark Truth (2013)

Gangster Squad (2013)

Broken City (2013)

Parker (2013)

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013)

Paranoia (2013)

Prisoners (2013)

The Counselor (2013)

Out of the Furnace (2013)

Swerve (2013)

The Outsider (2014)

Non-Stop (2014)

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

No Good Deed (2014)

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

The Equalizer (2014)

Gone Girl (2014)

Last Shift (2014)

Addicted (2014)

Nightcrawler (2014)

Inherent Vice (2014)

Blackhat (2015)

Little Accidents (2015)

The Boy Next Door (2015)

Wildcard (2015)

Out of the Dark (2015)

Run All Night (2015)

Child 44 (2015

Self/less (2015)

No Escape (2015)

The Hateful Eight (2015)

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Money Monster (2016)

The Infiltrator (2016)

The Girl on the Train (2016)

The Accountant (2016)

Wind River (2017)

The Mountain Between Us (2017)

Suburbicon (2017)

All I See is You (2017)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (2017)

The Shape of Water (2017)

All the Money in the World (2017)

The Commuter (2018)

Red Sparrow (2018)

Unsane (2018)

You Were Never Really Here (2018)

Searching (2018)

Bullitt County (2018)

Destroyer (2018)

Serenity (2019)

Cold Pursuit (2019)

Greta (2019)

Dragged Across Concrete (2019)

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Joker (2019)

The Good Liar (2019)

Inherit the Viper (2020)

The Last Thing He Wanted (2020)

The Night Clerk (2020)

Lost Girls (2020)

Blood and Money (2020)

Tenet (2020)

Honest Thief (2020)

The Midnight Sky (2020)

4 thoughts on “Almost Noir

  1. Man, have you actually seen all these? That’s quite a list! I’ve seen a few, mainly the earlier ones. “Almost noir” is apt, since original film noir was a hangover from WWII, and the B&W cinematography was an important stylistic element (“noir” is French for “dark”). Most original film noirs were low-budget and used B-grade actors (Double Indemnity and A Touch of Evil being notable exceptions).

    But I’m far from an expert…you said it, Eddie Muller is THE go-to source!


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