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Film Noir, American Workers, and Postwar Hollywood$

Dennis Broe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813033228

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813033228.001.0001

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(p.129) Appendix: Crime Films of Each Film Noir Period

(p.129) Appendix: Crime Films of Each Film Noir Period

Source:
Film Noir, American Workers, and Postwar Hollywood
Publisher:
University Press of Florida

Reference Sources

Langman, Larry, and Daniel Finn. A Guide to American Crime Films of the Forties and Fifties. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995.

Silver, Alain, and Elizabeth Ward, eds. Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style. 3rd ed. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press, 1992.

Personal film viewing

Period One: 1940–1944

This section lists detective films and films evolving out of the detective series that most prominently feature either a detective, a criminal, or someone in between (reporters were common) investigating a crime and in contention with the law because of the investigation. There were in the period also many holdovers from the prior period of the (p.130) dapper detective, where there is no such movement outside the law, but the films here constitute a powerful trend that was seized upon and magnified in the postwar period. Films following the model of the harassed detective continued to be made after the war, and several are listed here. At the same time, though, in a parallel series of films cataloged in period two, the detective moved fully outside the law and became a suspect and a fugitive him or herself.

Note: Films that are cross-listed (i.e., those that fall prominently into more than one period or type) have a “D” (for Double) following any but their primary listing.

Total: 57 films

1940

Am I Guilty; Slightly Honorable; Stranger on the Third Floor

1941

Among the Living; Face behind the Mask; High Sierra; Maltese Falcon; Meet Boston Blackie; San Francisco Docks; Strange Alibi

1942

Dr. Broadway; Glass Key; I Wake Up Screaming; Moontide; No Place for a Lady; Street of Chance; This Gun for Hire; Time to Kill; Today I Hang

1943

Chance of a Lifetime; Eyes of the Underworld; Fallen Sparrow; Find the Blackmailer; One Dangerous Night; Shadow of a Doubt; Unknown Guest

1944

Crime by Night; Dark Waters; Dead Man’s Eyes; Double Exposure; End of the Road; Last Ride; Laura; Murder My Sweet; Phantom Lady; Power of the Press; Seven Doors to Death; When Strangers Marry

Several postwar films, in a period marked by the protagonist being more directly outside the law, featured the residual formation of the private detective still harassed by the law.

1945

Johnny Angel

1946

The Big Sleep; Crime of the Century; Invisible Informer; Mysterious Intruder

1947

The Brasher Doubloon; Calcutta; Crimson Key; Danger Street; Exposed; Gangster; Johnny O’Clock; I Love Trouble; Lady in the Lake; Tree on a Ticket

1948

Argyle Secrets; Bungalow 13; Mystery in Mexico

1954

World for Ransom

(p.131) Period Two: 1945–1950

Films of this period are divided into three groups (social problem, retreat into genre, radical disillusionment); the second group is further divided according to the type of protagonist.

Social Problem

16

Retreat into Genre1

 

  Working-Class Fugitive

28

  Criminal/Convict

34

  Depression-Era Drifter

8

  Middle-Class Fugitive

57

  Detective Outside the Law

34

  War Veteran

16

  Victim

3

Subtotal

196

Radical Disillusionment

3

Total

199

Social Problem

1945

Cloak and Dagger; Cornered; Ministry of Fear

1946

The Stranger

1947

Body and Soul; Brute Force; Crossfire; Dark Horse

1948

Berlin Express; Border Incident; Call Northside 777; Open Secret

1949

Jigsaw

1950

Caged

1952

Talk About a Stranger

1958

I Want to Live

Retreat into Genre

Working-Class Fugitive

1946

Crack-Up; Deadline at Dawn; The Killers

1947

Big Fix; Body and Soul (D)—also Social Problem; Desperate

1948

The Big Punch; Caught; Highway 13; Lady from Shanghai; Out of the Storm

1949

Alias the Champ; Chicago Deadline; Criss Cross; Manhandled; The Set-Up; Thieves Highway; The Window

1950

The Breaking Point; The Damned Don’t Cry; Gun Crazy; Side Street; Try and Get Me; Under My Skin

1953

Angel Face; 99 River Street

1954

Drive a Crooked Road; Fast and the Furious

1955

Killer’s Kiss

(p.132) Criminal/Convict

1945

Ministry of Fear (D)—also Social Problem; My Name Is Julia Ross; Within These Walls

1946

Decoy; Inside Job; Thieves Holiday

1947

Brute Force (D)—also Social Problem; Dark Passage; Key Witness; The Locket

1948

Angel in Exile; Hollow Triumph; I Walk Alone; Kiss the Blood Of My Hands; Larceny; Raw Deal; They Live by Night

1949

Arctic Manhunt; House of Strangers; Knock on Any Door; Moon-rise; Shockproof

1950

Asphalt Jungle; Convicted; Gambling House; Hi-Jacked; State Penitentiary; The Sun Sets at Dawn; Walk Softly Stranger

1951

Cry Danger; The Scarf

1953

Blue Gardenia

1954

Fast and Furious; Riot in Cell Block 11

1955

Naked Dawn

1956

The Killing

Depression-Era Drifter

1946

The Chase; Fallen Angel; Gilda; The Postman Always Rings Twice; Strange Love of Martha Ivers

1947

Invisible Wall

1950

Dark City

1951

His Kind of Woman

Middle-Class Fugitive

1944

Double Indemnity

1945

Apology for Murder; Crimson Canary; Road to Alcatraz; Spellbound; Three’s a Crowd; The Unseen

1946

Criminal Court; Dark Mirror; Fear; French Key; Girl on the Spot; They Made Me a Killer

1947

Backlash; Blind Spot; Born to Kill; Dishonored Lady; Double Life; Framed; The Pretender; They Won’t Believe Me; 13th Hour; The Unsuspected

1948

The Big Clock; Disaster; Force of Evil (D)—also Radical Disillusionment; Gentleman from Nowhere; Impact; Million Dollar Weekend; The Pitfall; Road House; Ruthless; Shed No Tears; Sleep My Love; Sorry Wrong Number

1949

The Accused; Reckless Moment; Strange Bargain; Too Late for Tears

1950

D.O.A.; The File on Thelma Jordan; House by the River; In a Lonely Place; Shadow on the Wall; Sleeping City; Sunset Boulevard; The Underworld Story; Where Danger Lives; Whirlpool

1951

Cause for Alarm; The Scarf; The Second Woman; Secrets of Monte Carlo; The Strip

1953

Inferno

1954

Witness to Murder

1955

Double Jeopardy

1956

The Wrong Man

(p.133) Detective outside the Law

These films form a special unit emphasizing the breakdown of the detective as a quasi-legal figure. Films adapted from Cornell Woolrich sources are listed first (since Woolrich’s detective protagonists foster this breakdown), followed by films that trace the mainline development of the detective outside the law.

One characteristic of the detective film in this period is the emergence of the female detective, who is often not a private detective but an ordinary person who investigates and who is frequently disbelieved by the law. These films are noted with an “FD” following the title.

Woolrich Adaptations

1942

Street of Chance (D)—see period one

1944

Phantom Lady (D)—see period one

1946

Black Angel (FD); The Chase (D)—also Depression-Era Drifter; Deadline at Dawn (D)—also Working-Class Fugitive

1947

Fall Guy; Fear in the Night; The Guilty

1948

I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes (FD); Night Has a Thousand Eyes (D)—also Victim.

1949

The Window (D)—also Working-Class Fugitive

1950

No Man of Her Own

1954

Rear Window

1956

Nightmare

1958

Nightfall (David Goodis’s adaptation, but very Woolrich-like)

(p.134) Mainline Detective outside the Law

1945

Johnny Angel; Lady on a Train; Strange Illusion; Two O’Clock Courage

1946

Accomplice; Blonde Alibi (FD); The Dark Corner; Inner Circle; Night Editor; Nocturne; So Dark the Night

1947

Bury Me Dead; Out of the Past; Railroaded

1948

Behind Locked Doors; Bodyguard

1949

Cover-Up; Manhandled (D)—also Working-Class Fugitive

1950

Destination Murder; Guilty Bystander; Woman on the Run (FD)

1951

Danger Zone

1953

No Escape

1954

Blackout

1955

Hell’s Island; Mr. Arkadin

War Veteran

These films detail the vet whose experience in the war, a collective experience akin perhaps to the experience of the rank-and-file member in the strikes after the war, causes him to more acutely feel the greedy postwar landscape.

A subgroup of these films features an amnesiac war vet, whose trauma—because of the dissolving of the bonds of the wartime collective and integration into an atomized homefront—induces forget-fullness of a possible criminal past before the war, in the same way the strikers were being told their recent past collective activity, that of the strikes after the war, was criminal. The amnesiac, though, finally clears himself and remembers that what he did in the past is not the crime that the law accuses him of committing. These films are indicated with an “A.”

(p.135)

1946

Blue Dahlia; Nobody Lives Forever; Somewhere in the Night (A); Step by Step

1947

Crossfire (A) (D)—also Social Problem; Dead Reckoning; High Wall (A); The Long Night; Ride the Pink Horse

1948

Fighting Back (A); Key Largo

1949

Act of Violence; Big Steal; Clay Pigeon; The Crooked Way; Undertow

1950

Backfire

Victim

1945

Detour

1948

Night Has a Thousand Eyes

1949

Criss Cross (D)—also Working-Class Fugitive

1950

D.O.A.(D)—also Middle-Class Fugitive; Sunset Boulevard (D)—also Middle-Class Fugitive; Night and the City

Radical Disillusionment

1946

Woman on the Beach

1948

Force of Evil

1951

The Big Night

Period Three: 1950–1955

Films of this period are divided into four categories of protagonist (A fifth category, pre-period documentary procedurals, traces the beginnings of the police procedural, the mainline of the period, in the second half of the 1940s). Tree of these categories validate the law in an increasingly unproblematic way as the period proceeds, beginning with the criminal cop struggling to stay inside the law, moving to the mainline protagonist of the period in the cop/law enforcement agency/informer procedural, and then evolving to the vigilante cop as supra-agent of the law. Throughout the period a parallel series of films features the psychotic fugitive, in which the protagonist is a fugitive but, unlike the films of period two, which views the fugitive sympathetically, here that fugitive is viewed as a villain, one who becomes more dangerous and less rational as the period progresses.

(p.136)

Pre–Period Documentary Procedural

6

Criminal Cop

17

Mainline Procedural: Cop, Law Enforcement Agency Official, or Undercover Informer

95

Psychotic Fugitive

50

Vigilante Cop

14

Total

182

Pre–Period documentary Procedurals

These films established the procedural and its protagonist, the cop, law enforcement agent, or undercover informer.

1944

Main Street after Dark

1945

House on 92nd Street

1947

Kiss of Death

1948

Canon City; Naked City; T-Men

Criminal cop

1949

Scene of the Crime

1950

Between Midnight and Dawn; Man Who Cheated Himself; Where the Sidewalk Ends

1951

The Prowler; The Racket; Roadblock; Rogue River

1952

Kansas City Confidential; On Dangerous Ground; Scandal Sheet

1953

City That Never Sleeps; Vicki

1954

Private Hell 36; Pushover; Shield for Murder

1958

Ver tigo

(p.137) Mainline Procedural: cop, law enforcement agency official, or undercover informer

1948

Assigned to Danger; Dark Past; The Street with No Name

1949

Abandoned; Arson, Inc.; C-Man; Dangerous Profession; Devil’s Henchmen; Flaming Fury; Follow Me Quietly; He Walked by Night (D)—also Psychotic Fugitive; Homicide; Illegal Entry; Johnny Allegro; Johnny Stool Pigeon; Port of New York; Post Office Investigator; Prison Warden; Trapped; The Undercover Man

1950

Armored Car Robbery; Borderline; Bunco Squad; Customs Agent; Deported; Federal Agent At Large; Federal Man; Lady WithoutPassport; Mystery Street; Panic in the Streets; Revenue Agent; Sideshow; Sleeping City; Southside 1–1000; Tattooed Stranger; Tension; Undercover Girl; Union Station; Woman from Headquarters

1951

Appointment with Danger; Detective Story; The Enforcer; FBI Girl; Fingerprints Don’t Lie; I Was a Communist for the FBI; Insurance Investigator; M; The Mob; People against O’Hara; The Sellout; Smuggler’s Gold; Unknown Man

1952

Afair in Trinidad; Carbine Williams; Captain Black Jack; Captive City; Loan Shark; Macao; My Six Convicts; The Narrow Margin; The Turning Point

1953

Blueprint for Murder; City That Never Sleeps; Code 2; Cry of the Hunted; Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison; Murder without Tears; Pickup on South Street; The System; Vice Squad; Violated

1954

The Big Chase; A Bullet Is Waiting; Crime Wave; Dangerous Mission; Down Tree Dark Streets; Dragnet; Duffy of San Quentin; Miami Story

1955

Big Combo; Bobby Ware Is Missing; Finger Man; House of Bamboo; I Cover the Underworld; Inside Detroit; Murder Is My Beat; New Orleans Uncensored; Phenix City Story; Running Wild; Tight Spot; Toughest Man Alive

1956

Outside the Law; Swamp Women; Wetbacks

1958

The Lineup; The Mugger

Psychotic fugitive

1948

Beyond the Forest; Cry of the City; A Double Life

1949

Chinatown at Midnight; He Walked by Night; The Treat; White Heat

1950

Dial 119; Edge of Doom; Experiment Alcatraz; Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye; 711 Ocean Drive; Shakedown

1951

He Ran All the Way; The Hoodlum; The Killer That Stalked New York; Never Trust a Gambler; Strangers on a Train; Under the Gun

1952

Beware My Lovely; Confidence Girl; Models, Inc.; The Sniper; The Steel Trap; The Tief; Without Warning

1953

The Hitch-Hiker; Man in the Attic; Niagara; Split Second

1954

Human Desire; Loophole; Make Haste to Live; The Other Woman; Suddenly

1955

Black Tuesday; Big House; The Big Knife; Crashout; Dial Red O; Desperate Hours; I Died a Thousand Times; Life in the Balance; The Night Holds Terror; Storm Fear

1956

The Killer Is Loose; Ransom

1957

Man on the Prowl; The Night Runner

1959

Odds against Tomorrow

(p.138) Vigilante Cop

1953

Big Heat; I, The Jury

1954

Human Jungle; The Long Wait; Naked Alibi; Ring of Fear; Rogue Cop

1955

Crooked Web; Kiss Me Deadly

1956

Female Jungle

1957

The Midnight Story; My Gun Is Quick; Street of Sinners

1958

Touch of Evil

Notes:

(1) Relevant social problem and radical disillusionment films are listed in the retreat into genre category, preceded by a “D” (Double).