Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finalizing Plans for the Noir Top 100

I know it’s been quiet around these parts lately. I’ve been recharging the creative and writing juices after completed the annual countdown and watching noirs like a madman in preparation for the next project. I’m just throwing up something now to kind of finalize plans and map out how I’m envisioning things playing out.

As I mentioned in the last post, the definition of “film noir” means different things to different people. Rather than trying to settle on one universal definition that everyone can agree with, I’m taking the advice of one of the greatest visitors of the blog, Samuel Wilson, and simply rolling with my own definition of noir. Some films will be included that others don’t feel qualify and I’m sure that I’ll also leave some out that others think should be in the countdown. But I think this is what can be incredibly interesting for those following things. As we get near the top spots, there can suspense about both the ordering of selections and even about whether certain “borderline noirs” will even be included.

Right now, the plan is for the countdown to begin after the holidays – I’m thinking that Monday January 4 sounds like a good starting point. It will proceed as I previously described, with extended (1-page) capsule reviews and analysis of one film per day. Similar to the Year’s Best Countdown, this will not really be a “greatest” noirs list, but will be more reflective of my personal taste – which, I’m guessing, will be much more interesting to people than the usual suspects being recycled. Of course, a lot of those films that appear on “greatest” lists are going to be found in my countdown as well, but not all of them. Some beloved and well-regarded noirs will not be among my Top 100. I actually think that the ranking is what will be most interesting to people. I don’t know that the countdown will feature an abundance of rare films or noirs that have been seen by very few people, although there will be a few of these. The most interesting aspect will be how I order things and how the debates ensue from the rankings.

And one other caveat is that I will not be bound by previous rankings I’ve made, such as my Top 100 of all time list… my tastes and preferences change far too often to be beholden to a list of just a few weeks ago! :)

Sound like a plan? I’m really looking forward to getting things going! I’ll be using the next few weeks before it starts to get in as many new noirs as I can so as to make my list as complete as possible. There are still so many hard-to-get noirs that I simply won’t be able to see before the countdown begins, but there will still be a number of excellent films to discuss.


  1. Dave, I can only imagine what a thorough job you must be doing, and I agree with what you said there about not being held down by any restrictions. The after-holidays start is wise, as you can ultilize som eof the free time for writing and organizing, and I would imagine the internet traffic will be down at that time. But it's a labor of love and your have quite a few readers here, noir fanatics and the more casual followers.

  2. I guess it is best to just go for yourself. I just hope you'll include some of the films I expect to see on this list :)
    I've been going through a slight noir craze myself lately, and have been trying to see as many of the greats as possible. I had already seen quite a few, as you know, but I had missed out on a lot of the noirs that don't get crazy acclaim outside the world of film noir itself. So I got to see some amazing movies by Michael Mann and Fritz Lang (most notably Railroaded! and The Big Heat, respectively) as well as Force Of Evil which was a very pleasant surprise. Throughout almost the whole movie I was slightly disappointed, but then as the ending unfolded, I knew I was watching a masterpiece. Especially the final scene is breathtaking. Good stuff.

    And I had never before seen The Big Combo either, so that was really great, having seen that one!

    So I'm sure the countdown will be awesome.

  3. Sam and Tom - Thanks for chiming in. It should be fun. I'll be cramming in as many unseen noirs as I can before it begins, but there are still so many I want to get to but just won't be able to!

  4. Dave, the more you mention about this incredibly well chosen countdown, the more excitement it seems to generate among us as to which film noir will eventually get to be reviewed in the final post for this countdown!!!

    I completely agree that the definition of noir varies a lot from person to person, and hence its a prudent decision to choose your own definition that befits your idea, opinion and understanding of noir. Though of course it would be a bit helpful for people like us who'll be following your countdown as to what parameters (if any) you'll be applying while selecting (and rejecting) movies, as it'll help us in gauging what to expect and what not to expect.

    Anyway, without any further ado, let the curtains roll and the show begin...

  5. I agree, Shubhajit, but the most logical definition I can come up with echoes the famous remarks of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: "I know it when I see it." :)

  6. Dave - Sounds great!!!

    "I will not be bound by previous rankings I’ve made, such as my Top 100 of all time list…"

    I agree, I love making list but since taste change and you see more films your thoughts change, what was once #1 is now a little further down the list, so yeah go with how you feel now.

  7. I'm soliciting bloggers' favorites (of their own posts) for my year-end round-up at The Dancing Image. Here's the explanation (with a bit of a mea culpa):

    Feel free to leave your own selection there - links to all submissions will be posted around the 30th, but I'll certainly be taking them after that too.

    Thanks & happy new year!

    P.S. Looking forward to this noir countdown, though I probably won't have much to add - there's just so many noirs I haven't seen. Hopefully this will serve as a good guide...