(Hiroshi Teshigahara, Japan, 1964): Using sand as the operative metaphor for the instability of identity and futility of escape, Hiroshi Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes blends a modernist cinematic sensibility with a near noir account of fate and desire at the bottom of a big hole....

(Michael Powell, UK, 1960): The London street corner where a hooker lingers beneath a streetlamp is as phony looking as any New York avenue concocted by Stanley Kubrick in Eyes Wide Shut nearly forty years later, but the effect is considerably more sinister, instantly establishing an aura of...

(Serge Bromberg, Ruxandra Medrea, France, 2009): The madness on display in Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno, a pastiche assembly of the unfinished 1964 film noir the notoriously perfectionistic director of Quai des Orfevres and Diabolique nearly lost his mind and life in the making, is nothing if...

(John Boorman, USA, 1967): The image of Lee Marvin, perched on the rocks surrounding Alcatraz, about to slip into the deathly waves rolling between him and the city of San Francisco rising in the distance, suggests a primal force on the move: a monster on the...

(Arthur Penn, USA, 1967): Of those movies that suggested an undeniable countercultural infiltration of the moviegoing mainstream by 1967, Bonnie and Clyde is the one that still stands as vital, beautiful and dangerous. Watching it, you can still feel the period's undercurrents surging, and its...

(John Frankenheimer, USA, 1962): Opening in the teeth of the Cuban Missile Crisis, John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate offered a cubist vision of the American nightmare: a country infiltrated by subliminally programmed Communist assassins activated by long-distance suggestion, where the latent anxieties of the whole...

(Stuart Rosenberg, USA, 1967): As Biblical allegories go, Stuart Rosenberg's Cool Hand Luke suggests Jesus was no patch on Paul Newman, blue eyes and all. When Newman, in his anamorphic sun-kissed prime at 41, delivers himself up for martyrdom at the end of movie after...

(Kieron Hawkes, UK, 2012): The hard-boiled egg of action movie motivators, it's pretty hard to screw up a revenge story. If your villains are nasty enough and the crime they commit heinous enough, our primal desire to see them pay will practically make your movie for...

(J Blakeson, UK, 2009): As a lesson in purely self-sufficient visual storytelling, the opening ten minutes of J Blakeson's The Disappearance of Alice Creed is something of a master class. Two men (Eddie Marsan and Martin Compson) are preparing for something sinister: they go shopping for items like...

(Hans Petter Moland, Norway/Sweden, 2014): In the land of big snow, no man is more powerful than the guy who drives the plough. In Hans Petter Moland's deep-drift neo-noir comedy In Order of Disappearance is the duty of Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgard), a dour Swede who clears...