5 Legendary Noir Films that Redefined the Genre According to Antoine de Bujadoux
Film Noir is jam-packed with suspense, mystery, and in-depth explorations of darkness within the human soul. So it's no surprise that many credit film noir with setting the stage for modern-day classics. Below, cinema expert Antoine de Bujadoux lists five noir films that redefined the genre.
Double Indemnity (1944)
This film tells of a murder plot conceived by scheming housewife Phyllis Dietrichson and an opportunist insurance agent named Walter Neff. When the two plot to murder Dietrichson's husband and claim the insurance payout, insurance investigator Barton Keyes is hot on their tracks. According to Bujadoux, what ensues is a complex and treacherous thickening of the plot. Double Indemnity influenced the genre so much that it is preserved in the National Film Registry. It was also nominated for several Academy Awards. "Though it didn't actually win any, Double Indemnity influenced the genre for years to come," said Bujadoux.
The Third Man (1949)
According to Bujadoux, this film asks its audience to examine their closest relationships. What if you don't know people as well as you think you do? This question has become central to the genre of film noir. And Bujadoux says you can watch the answer play out in real-time in The Third Man. Holly Martins travels to Vienna to seek out a friend, who he discovers has died an untimely death. But as Martins begins to investigate the circumstances, he finds that there may be more afoot than he initially thought.
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Because of its early positioning in the film noir genre, Murder, My Sweet has become a defining staple. According to Bujadoux, the plot contains so many twists and turns that a viewer is on tenterhooks throughout the entire film. The story follows private investigator Philip Marlowe on what should be a simple missing person case. But lo and behold, there's something much more sinister at play. "This film demonstrates the tragic yet poetic ending that so many noir films try to capture," said Bujadoux.
The Woman in the Window (1944)
Though many noir films excel at suspenseful plot twists, The Woman in the Window throws their audience one of the most daring surprise endings of all time. According to Bujadoux, this movie set the stage for so many directors in the future to ask the question, "What is reality?" The Woman in the Window follows Professor Richard Wanley as he goes from staring at a beautiful woman in a painting to inadvertently getting sucked into a murder cover-up.
Night and the City (1950)
This film follows Harry Fabian as he tries to launch a wrestling ring in London. The wrestling market is controlled by a man named Kristo, and the two face off in a dance to the death. The entire plot is saturated with suspense and betrayal, defining the pillars of the genre once more. According to Bujadoux, this is a must-see film for fans of British noir.