Laura with Shelby Carpenter

A complex psychological thriller masquerading as a film noir, 1944’s Laura is about three men who are bewitched by a woman so ethereally, transcendentally beguiling that it is entirely appropriate that, when director Otto Preminger takes the curtain up, Laura (Gene Tierney) is already dead. What follows is a basic whodunit pulled in various unusual directions. A for-instance: the cop on the case, Detective McPherson (Dana Andrews), invites one of the men suspected of killing her, Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), to accompany him while he cross-examines other witnesses. What cop does that? Another: the cop doesn’t do very much actual investigating and instead spends an inordinate amount of time in the dead woman’s … Read more

Night and the City

Harry with a silhouette of St Paul's Cathedral behind

Night and the City is often described as the best film noir out of the UK. It was made by an American director with a French sounding name, Jules Dassin, which is poetically appropriate at least since the US is the home of noir and it was the French who coined the term. The title is surely the noirest of the noir – both night and the city are key elements of the genre. But this is London-based, and with a vengeance. Dassin, having fled the House UnAmerican Committee’s McCarthyite witch hunt after taking Twentieth Century-Fox’s Darryl F Zanuck’s advice to make himself scarce and head to London, took full advantage of a … Read more