French film critic Nino Frank came up with the term “film noir” (translation: “black cinema”) back in 1946 to describe Hollywood films with dark themes.
Fast forward to today: you can peruse 100 of the most iconic film noir flicks from the past century in Taschen’s weighty new tome, Film Noir. 100 All-Time Favourites.
And currently, you can watch eight of these films on Netflix. Taken together, books and movies make for the perfect weekend binge.
Directed by Robert Wiene.
This silent horror film makes reference to social issues during World War I and juxtaposes reality with a dreamworld. If you enjoy plot twists, you will relish every second of this classic.
Directed by Billy Wilder.
This Oscar-winning film -- for Best Score, Best Art Direction for a Black-and-White Film, and Best Original Screenplay -- makes unforgettable storytelling out of Hollywood's tendency to throw away talent with age. The plot is laced with love, murder, and plenty of tragedy.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Filmed during the Watergate scandal that prompted president Richard Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974, this political thriller, an updated noir, questions the invasion of privacy through audio surveillance. The film reminds us that even the walls have ears.
Directed by Roman Polanski.
Inspired by the California Water Wars, 'Chinatown' is full of conspiracy. Capturing the golden age of 1930s and '40s Hollywood, it won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and is recognised as one of the best films in cinematic history, as well as a classic new noir whose style was influenced by an earlier era.
Directed by Martin Scorsese.
Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) stands in front of a mirror, revolver in hand, and speaks the famous line, 'You talkin' to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who do you think you're talking to?' Yeah, that's a scene from this movie.
Directed by David Lynch.
'Blue Velvet' was highly criticised at its release, but it still earned Lynch an Oscar for Best Director. The film draws you in by using the camera as a set of eyes, making you feel what the characters feel. It was a comeback film for Dennis Hopper, and it gave Isabella Rossellini, daughter of Ingrid Bergman, her first taste of stardom.
Directed by Paul Verhoeven.
Setting the tone for what's to come, the opening scene involves an ice pick, blood, and animalistic sex.
Another highlight: A rock star is killed mid-coitus.
Directed by Quentin Tarantino.
'Pulp Fiction' launched Uma Thurman's career, alerted the world to Tarantino's dark genius, and reintroduced John Travolta to a whole new generation of moviegoers. In short, the film is an organised tangle of unrelated characters, drugs, guns, cheeseburgers, and pop culture references.
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