FILM NOIR, THE CRIME MOVIE STYLE OF shadowy streets, tough guys and two-timing dames, has never been hotter—as the continuing video release of ever-more-obscure titles from noir’s classic period in the 40s and 50s proves. If you already know the classics (The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, Night of the Hunter, Touch of Evil, etc.), check out these lesser-known examples of high noir style:

Phantom Lady—If this 1944 find-the-real-killer- before-a-man- gets-the-chair mystery, from a story by Cornell (Rear Window) Woolrich, had stars you’d ever heard of, it’d be a famous classic. Director Robert Siodmak gives it incredible atmosphere—dig that midnight jam session!

T-Men—Cops go undercover to bust up a gang. A triumph of style over a tight B-movie budget, it propelled director Anthony Mann to “A” pictures like El Cid—and it boasts a real surprise halfway through that a more expensive movie wouldn’t have dared.

Branded To Kill—Okay, this one’s a real ringer; it comes from 1967— and from Japan. Brutal, often absurdly funny tale of competition between Tokyo’s (apparently officially ranked!) top two hitmen.

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