Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Inevitably present on any list of the best film noirs. As much as any movie, Out of the Past could be shown as an ultimate example of the genre. It would make a fine introduction to people who haven’t experienced noir before. The striking black-and-white cinematography, the femme fatale (more than one, actually), the femme’s dupe (more than one, actually), the plot that makes increasingly less sense as the film progresses ... it’s all here. Roger Ebert once wrote a guide to film noir, ten things that make the genre stand out. Many of the items on his list are here: “A movie which at no time misleads you into thinking there is going to be a happy ending.” “Locations that reek of the night, of shadows, of alleys, of the back doors of fancy places, of apartment buildings with a high turnover rate, of taxi drivers and bartenders who have seen it all.” “Cigarettes.” (He calls Out of the Past “The best smoking movie of all time.” “Women who would just as soon kill you as love you, and vice versa.” Robert Mitchum is excellent as the detective with a past ... oftentimes, the dupe is a near-moron (see William Hurt’s character in Body Heat), but Mitchum’s detective is rarely fooled, which makes his actions even more impressive. He knows what he does with Jane Greer’s femme fatale will lead to destruction, and he does it anyway. Greer’s character is set up before she even appears on screen ... we’re told everyone falls for her, and soon enough, Mitchum falls in line. Toss in Kirk Douglas early in his career, and you’ve got it all, or close enough (and if you’re still hungry, there’s Rhonda Fleming as the back-up fatale). #179 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 9/10. For a companion noir, try Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place with Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.
The Suspect (Shin-yeon Won, 2013). 7/10.