Saw Brick and Liked It. What Should I Have Been Watching All These Years?

I just saw the movie Brick, and really liked it.

I understand the movie adapts a lot of conventions from the Noir tradition. But I only know this because I have read it somewhere. I have never, to my knowledge, seen for myself any of the classic examples of this kind of movie.

In fact, I don’t even know what the classic examples are.

So please educate me. What movies do I need to see to catch up? How can I earn the right to not just “like” but “appreciate” the film I just saw? :slight_smile:


Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and The Third Man - those would be my top three.

I’m sure some people who are more knowledgeable will come along with even more reccomendations.

Three great choices, and I’d add Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice. For more modern noir films set in the classic time periods (1930s through '50s), you must also watch Chinatown ('70s) and L.A. Confidential ('90s) – both as good (and in some ways better) than the black and white classics.

Thanks for the suggestions!

L.A. Confidential is already one of my favorite movies. I’m going to Netflix the others that have been suggested so far.


I’ll recommend two of my favorite Coen Brothers movies:

-Millers Crossing
-The Man who wasn’t there

I think a lot of their movies are influenced by Noir but those are the most obvious two.

I’ll add Notorious, The Lost Weekend, Asphalt Jungle and Shadow of Doubt.

Here’s one long article which lists many examples of film noir:

Here’s another:

There is a noir-ish John Cusack movie that bombed at the box office (it was REALLY improperly marketed) called The Ice Harvest that I liked (Connie Nielson was hopelessly miscast, though- or she just had a really off 7 weeks at the office…).

We did a thread about noir last year and you should find the names of many films to watch in that.

I argued there that true noir didn’t come about until after WWII. It was reaction to the disillusionment of veterans, some of whom were trained to be killers and found normal society unbearable. (Yes, one sentence shorthand, not a full treatment of the subject.)

Several actors got their real fame in noir, including Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas. Director Fritz Lang did several good noirs, possibly because of his background in expressionistic German films, with the highly stylized use of black and white that became the noir trademark.

While the films in Wendell Wagner’s links are the famed ones, many of them go outside of what I consider noir. I’d check TCM for early 1950s b-movies that sound dark because I’ll bet you’ll find more films closer to true noir in the little films than in the big Hollywood ones. Noir worked best on a zero budget. Noir was stripped down. People with no futures and no presents. People living on the raw edge of emotion. People with no money. People who didn’t care whether they lived or died. Nothing fancy. No gaudy patter. (Much as I love Chandler, I consider him pre-noir.) Noir was the dark side of The Honeymooners, what happened after Ralph sent Alice to the moon.

Twin Peaks.

Thanks for the link and the advice.

Dumb question: What’s TCM?

Also, have you seen Brick? Do you think it’s tapping into genuine Noir as you describe it?


Turner Classic Movies:

Aha. I don’t have it.

Exapno Mapcase could you name a few of the films you have in mind?


I have a terrible memory for film titles, but Kirk Douglas was great in Detective Story. That was right after his performance in Ace in the Hole, which, while not technically noir, is the most cynical film put out in the 1950s, and so has some of the same attitude toward the world. Or In a Lonely Place, one of Bogart’s lesser-known films. Where the Sidewalk Ends stars Dana Andrews, who did a lot of these.

Those should be easy to find because they have big name stars. You’ll just have to experiment to search out the good b-movies with lesser names. Maybe if lissener shows up, he’ll know.

consider A slight case of murder with William H Macy for a fun post-modern look and the genre

Are Body Double and Body Heat noir? They’re certainly dark, but maybe there’s too much humor in them to qualify as true noir.

Body Heat is certainly neo-noir (i.e., film noir made after the classic period of 1940 to 1960). In fact, I would consider it one of the three best neo-noir movies (along with Blood Simple and Chinatown). Body Double is a good but not great film in my opinion. It’s outside the classic period, so it’s neo-noir at best. Furthermore, it’s got a happy ending, and indeed a happy ending where the hero rescues himself from his situation. Classic film noir protagonists are trapped and don’t solve their problems. There isn’t much humor in my opinion in Body Double and even less in Body Heat.