1960 • 90 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #408 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes
With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, anything-goes crime narrative, and effervescent young stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, Breathless helped launch the French New Wave and ensured that cinema would never be the same.
1950 • 95 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #274 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
Two-bit hustler Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) longs for “a life of ease and plenty.” Trailed by an inglorious history of go-nowhere schemes, he tries to hatch a lucrative plan with a famous wrestler.
1973 • 102 minutes • 1.85:1 • United States
Spine: #475 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
In one of the best performances of his legendary career, Robert Mitchum plays small-time gunrunner Eddie “Fingers” Coyle in an adaptation by Peter Yates of George V. Higgins’s acclaimed novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
1979 • 140 minutes • 1.66:1 • Japan
Spine: #384 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes
Director Shohei Imamura turns this fact-based story—about the seventy-eight-day killing spree of a remorseless man from a devoutly Catholic family—into a cold, perverse, and at times diabolically funny examination of the primitive coexisting with the modern.
1997 • 97 minutes • 1.85:1 • Norway
Spine: #47 Editions: Dual Format Blu-ray/DVD, DVD, iTunes
The success of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s chilling procedural anticipated the international hunger for Scandinavian noirs and serial- killer fictions, and the film features one of Skarsgård’s greatest performances.
1955 • 118 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #115 Editions: Dual Format Blu-ray/DVD, Collector’s Sets
After making such American noir classics as Brute Force and The Naked City, the blacklisted director Jules Dassin went to Paris and embarked on his masterpiece: a twisting, turning tale of four ex-cons who hatch one last glorious robbery in the City of Light.
1967 • 91 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #38 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes
When Japanese New Wave bad boy Seijun Suzuki delivered this brutal, hilarious, and visually inspired masterpiece to the executives at his studio, he was promptly fired.
1966 • 82 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #39 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes
In this jazzy gangster film, reformed killer Tetsu’s attempt to go straight is thwarted when his former cohorts call him back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang.
1963 • 143 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #24 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, iTunes
Adapting Ed McBain’s detective novel King’s Ransom, Kurosawa moves effortlessly from compelling race-against-time thriller to exacting social commentary, creating a diabolical treatise on contemporary Japanese society.
1955 • 117 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #35 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
Before Psycho, Peeping Tom, and Repulsion, there was Diabolique, a heart-grabbing benchmark in horror filmmaking, featuring outstanding performances by Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, and Paul Meurisse.
1970 • 140 minutes • 1.85:1 • France
Spine: #218 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
Alain Delon plays a master thief, fresh out of prison, who crosses paths with a notorious escapee and an alcoholic ex-cop (Yves Montand). The unlikely trio plot a heist, against impossible odds, until a relentless inspector and their own pasts seal their fates.
1964 • 90 minutes • 1.75:1 • United States
Spine: #18 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes
The setup is pure pulp: A former prostitute (a crackerjack Constance Towers) relocates to a buttoned-down suburb, determined to fit in with mainstream society.
1969 • 145 minutes • 1.85:1 • France
Spine: #385 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets
Atmospheric and gripping, Army of Shadows is Melville’s most personal film, featuring Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and the incomparable Simone Signoret as intrepid underground fighters who must grapple with their conception of honor in their battle against Hitler’s regime.
1991 • 101 minutes • 1.85:1 • United States
Spine: #486 Edition: DVD
In this nightmarish urban odyssey, inner-city police detective Bobby Gold (Joe Mantegna), is following the murder of an elderly Jewish candy-shop owner, which leads him down a path of obscure encounters and clues, as well as a profound reckoning with his own self and identity.
1984 • 98 minutes • 1.77:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #469 Edition: DVD
Terence Stamp is Willie, a gangster’s henchman turned “supergrass” (informer) trying to live in peaceful hiding in a Spanish village. Sun-dappled bliss turns to nerve-racking suspense, however, when two hit men—played by John Hurt and Tim Roth—come a-calling to bring Willie back for execution.
1949 • 104 minutes • 1.33:1 • United Kingdom
Spine: #64 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime—and thus begins this legendary tale of love, deception, and murder.
Lars von Trier
1991 • 107 minutes • 2.35:1 • Denmark
Spine: #454 Edition: DVD
Lars von Trier’s hypnotic Europa is a fever dream in which American pacifist Leopold Kessler stumbles into a job as a sleeping-car conductor for the Zentropa railways in a Kafkaesque 1945 postwar Frankfurt. Europa is one of the great Danish filmmaker’s weirdest and most wonderful works.
1976 • 135 minutes • 1.85:1 • United States
Spine: #254 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets, iTunes
John Cassavetes engages with film noir in his own inimitable style with The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Ben Gazzara brilliantly portrays a gentleman’s club owner, Cosmo Vitelli, desperately committed to maintaining a facade of suave gentility despite the seediness of his environment.
1962 • 109 minutes • 1.66:1 • France
Spine: #447 Edition: DVD
A stone-faced Jean-Paul Belmondo stars as enigmatic gangster Silien, who may or may not be responsible for squealing on Faugel, just released from the slammer and already involved in what should have been a simple heist. Le doulos is one of the filmmaker’s most gripping crime dramas.
1966 • 144 minutes • 1.66:1 • France
Spine: #448 Editions: DVD, iTunes
With his customary restraint and ruthless attention to detail, director Jean-Pierre Melville follows the parallel tracks of French underworld criminal Gu (Lino Ventura), escaped from prison and roped into one last robbery, and the suave inspector, Blot (Paul Meurisse), relentlessly seeking him.
1960 • 108 minutes • 1.66:1 • France
Spine: #434 Edition: DVD
A character study of a career criminal at the end of his rope, this rugged noir from Claude Sautet is a thrilling highlight of sixties French cinema, starring Lino Ventura and Jean-Paul Belmondo.
1961 • 77 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #428 Edition: DVD
Swift, brutal, and black-hearted, Allen Baron’s New York City noir Blast of Silence is a sensational surprise, a low-budget, carefully crafted portrait of a hit man on assignment in Manhattan during Christmastime.
1948 • 98 minutes • 1.33:1 • Japan
Spine: #413 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets
In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician.
1947 • 98 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #383 Editions: DVD, iTunes
As hard-hitting as its title, Brute Force was the first of Jules Dassin’s forays into the crime genre, a prison melodrama that takes a critical look at American society as well, starring Burt Lancaster.
1948 • 96 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #380 Editions: DVD, iTunes
Master noir craftsman Jules Dassin’s dazzling police procedural The Naked City was shot entirely on location in New York. As influenced by Italian neorealism as American crime fiction, this double Academy Award winner remains a benchmark for naturalism in noir.