The intimacy of black and white noir film gives the shadows a gravity that pulls you deeper into the stories. There's no CGI to cover up questionable storytelling (holler if you hear us, Michale Bay!), and in these old-school British noir movies, there's not even any color to spice things up. There's only murder, mystery, and betrayal, and maybe a little more murder in these five British noir movies you owe it to yourself to see at least once!
“The October Man”.
Guilt and a brain injury ensure that the protagonist, Jim is never quite sure where he stands. He finds happiness that lasts for a brief moment before things spin away from him when a neighbor is murdered and he might very well be the murderer. Peachy’s confession scene in “The October Man” is made twice as menacing by the way he grips and releases the fireplace poker, raising and lowering the tension over and over.
“Green for Danger”.
Death becomes murder and more murder follows after at a hospital during World War II. With both great music and musical cues, this gritty British noir movie lays on the mystery and menace with a deft skill. Inspector Cockrill’s initial appearance in “Green for Danger” is a quick shot of sunlight before you return to the shadowy corridors of the hospital.
A detective gets summoned to deal with a burglary of an important government official and finds that the case is much more tangled than at first believed. Murders become tangled throughout this case in “Inspect Hornleigh” and all the cast gains a suspicious aura. Hornleigh is a great character that makes others feel off-balance even as he seems to careen out of control, especially when dealing with the only survivor of a group of four businessmen in a brilliant little inquisitional scene.
Taking you back to the days when finding someone wasn’t as easy as an internet search, John Graham’s wife is struck by a driver and flees the scene putting into motion John’s hunt for the killer. “Cloudburst” is one driven British noir film that deftly manages to keep the foundation of the love between husband and wife a strong motivating force as much as John’s revenge. John’s revenge on the killer is picture perfect but does beg the question of why his target never learned how to dodge, especially as he was a boxer.
“Taste of Fear”.
The corpse of her father moves around as if by magic while a wheelchair bound woman seeks to find out the truth behind her father’s death in “Taste of Fear”. With attention paid towards the slow building of suspense, this noir film does a great job with providing interesting twists and a cast that doesn’t over emote. As the solicitor explains the will at the end, the stepmother’s reaction makes or breaks the scene depending on what you think of this final twist.