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THE THIRD MAN is one of the great representations of the German influence on the noir look. All those blown-up buildings make for lots of cool shadows. Orson Welles’ reputation and fame would take a huge hit if not for his performance here as the vile Harry Lime. Too bad Orson took a lump sum and passed on taking a cut of the movie’s box office.

WHY SEE IT? The visuals are great, but it’s the cynicism that makes this one of the great noirs. Harry is a slime, but everyone likes him. He uses his girl, she knows it, and she’d STILL take him back while the nice wimp hero doesn’t even get a last look from her as she walks away.

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John Alton’s noir photography reached its acme in T-MEN and RAW DEAL. See them both if you want to know what noir’s supposed to look like.

WHY SEE IT? It’s a nifty story of a noir hero pulled by a good girl and a bad girl, though everyone knows who he should end up with, seeing how he’s no good. Raymond Burr in fine bad guy form.

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GILDA is a perverse film. A lot of critics like to read in certain ideas, but it’s not a case of revisionism–it really is a pervy love story about a guy torn between a girl and her husband.

WHY SEE IT? Rita Hayworth’s performance of “Put the Blame on Mame.”

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WHY SEE IT? After seeing it several times, I still can’t decide if I like FIGHT CLUB or just appreciate David Fincher’s visual storytelling. It’s his NATURAL BORN KILLERS, and like that it’s morally confused.

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I remain unconvinced of THE MALTESE FALCON’s noirishness, but I have a replica of the black bird on my desk, and have watched this as often as I have SUNSET BOULEVARD.

WHY SEE IT? It’s entertaining as hell watching Bogart wander among these characters. Peter Lorre’s “You bloated eeediot!” was the seed of Ren Hoek.

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WHY SEE IT? Ava Gardner was hot as hell in this.

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