Best 20th century film noir selected by Guillermo del Toro

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Guillermo del Toro’s top 5 picks

Leading up to the release of Nightmare Alley, director Guillermo del Toro hand-picks a selection of classic films in the film noir genre to be shown on-screen in Toronto theatres until mid-December.

The series, Guillermo del Toro Presents: Film Noirs from 20th Century Studios, is a selection of the director’s top five films in the genre, which he considers to be the most influential. The films del Toro selected are in the hardboiled noir style, on archival 35mm prints, released by 20th Century Fox in the 1930s to the 1950s. Some films have even been restored.

Hand-picked by the director himself, the films include Otto Preminger’s Fallen AngelMoontide by Fritz Lang and Archie Mayo, Henry Hathaway’s Niagara, Samuel Fuller’s Pickup on South Street, and Jean Negulesco’s Roadhouse.

On their site, TIFF notes that the collection of films selected by del Toro were influenced by the art that was being created in other film studios between the 1930s and 1950s. Such highly-stylized gangster pictures that came out of the Warner Bros. studio in the ‘30s “cemented the anti-hero archetype in the face of the Hays Code’s guidelines.” 

The Hays Code was a set of rules meant to curtail moral and ethical standards for content in the motion picture industry and is a precursor of the film rating system.

TIFF also suggests that del Toro sees the legendary monster movies produced by Universal Studios in the ’30s to the ’50s, “whose creatures became the visual and emotional reference points for all subsequent horror-movie monsters,” and the stream of films noirs released under the banner of 20th Century Fox, as equally deserving of canonization. 

Screenings of the del Toro curated set of films will take place at TIFF Bell Lightbox from December 3 to 19, 2021 at the TIFF Cinematheque in downtown Toronto.

A three-city premiere of del Toro’s film Nightmare Alley happens December 1 before the film’s release in theatres.

NB: films noirs – Core Magazines uses the Oxford Dictionary version of the plural form of film noir

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird


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