Five must-see film noirs

With 1946’s Gilda about to be re-released in selected UK cinemas this week, we decided to pick five more film noirs from the Park Circus catalogue which we think all film fans should search out on the big screen.

1. The Big Heat (1953)

Gilda’s Glenn Ford returns to the genre once more as cop Dave Bannion in director Fritz Lang’s 1953 classic, The Big Heat. Bannion is a lone crusader against corruption in the police force, an unusual set-up for film noir films. With a dash of murder and a whole lot of revenge, as the trailer screams, this is “a film of tremendous excitement!”

2. The Killing (1956)

Director Stanley Kubrick’s second film noir, The Killing stars Sterling Hayden as Johnny Clay, a criminal planning a racetrack heist which doesn’t quite go to plan. Although not a success upon its original release, The Killing has gone on to become a firm favourite with film fans thanks to its unusual directorial style: Quentin Tarantino is thought to be a fan of Kubrick’s non-linear storytelling.

3. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)

Something of a passion project for star Harry Belafonte, who commissioned the script and produced it, Odds Against Tomorrow is the first film noir with a black lead. Belafonte is Johnny Ingram, a nightclub entertainer embroiled in a bank robbery by Robert Ryan and Ed Begley. Today the film is both an important historical document of an America about to change thanks to the civil rights movement and a taut crime drama in its own right.

4. The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

Released a year after Gilda, The Lady from Shanghai sees a very different Rita Hayworth in the role of Elsa Bannister: with her hair shorn and dyed blonde, Hayworth is more sex symbol than sultry femme fatale. Orson Welles stars in and directs this twisted tale of deceit and murder, a film which currently runs at 87 minutes but which, in its original form, ran to 155 minutes.

5. The Long Goodbye (1973)

Robert Altman’s take on the Raymond Chandler’s 1954 novel, The Long Goodbye, saw Philip Marlowe, played by Elliott Gould, brought bang up-to-date for 1970s audiences: Altman even dubbed him Rip Van Marlowe, as if the character had fallen asleep for a couple of decades before waking up in 1973. Though more neo noir than traditional film noir, this is a memorable take on the private eye genre and a satire on the changes in society that have occurred between the 50s and 70s.

To find out if any of the above films are screening at a cinema near you, visit


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