Recommended by Charles Mudede
Noir City 2018, presented by Eddie Muller, the “Czar of Noir,” includes three films that are in my top 30 noirs: Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep, which was written by William Faulkner and stars the image gods Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall; Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, which has one of the most humanist faces of Hollywood’s golden age (Joseph Cotten) playing a baddie (Uncle Charlie); and Michael Curtiz’s Mildred Pierce. This last film, which inspired a burning ball of pop-punk by Sonic Youth, is also one of the few great race films in the noir canon. At the heart of Mildred Pierce is a warm relationship between two hardworking American women played by Joan Crawford and Butterfly McQueen—one of black America’s most famous atheists. This relationship forms the work’s paradise, the America that could or ought to be. But this paradise is ultimately destroyed by the America that is obsessed with money.