Ten noir couples to die for

By Evangeline Jennings

Here we are again. Kissy Face Day. A very special occasion, if you’re into that kind of thing. Chocolate hearts and blow jobs. Couples everywhere. Pardon me while I puke.

When you think of a great fictional couple, depending on your age and inclination, you’ll likely think of Romeo and Juliet, Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara, Yuri Zhivago and Lara, or Oliver and Jenny.

Younger viewers may prefer Shrek and Fiona or – at a stretch – Edward and Bella.

And then, of course, there’s always Meg Ryan and her cast of Hollywood thousands. See also Iron Man and Pepper Potts. Butch Cassidy and Sundance. Even Holmes and Watson. But whatever you do, don’t mention Meh and McDreamy because then I’d have to kill you.

Since I don’t have a single romantic bone in my body, I’ve made a list of my own. Ten noir couples to die for.

I’m using my own definitions, of course.

Philip Marlowe  and Vivian Sternwood Rutledge – The Big Sleep (1946)

Despite the best efforts of David Lynch and the Wachowskis, The Big Sleep remains one of the most confusing movies ever. But does that really matter, when you have this kind of chemistry?

Even more remarkable when you realize Marlowe was a playa.

(With Dorothy Malone)

(With Martha Vickers)

Bart Tare and Annie Star – Gun Crazy (1950)

Peggy Cummins
Peggy Cummins

Cold-blooded Peggy Cummins owns this movie and kinda defines a style. It’s fast and tight and visceral, and breaks the ground for Bonnie and Clyde.

Talking of which …

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

The best damn girl in Texas meets a man with a record and runs off to break a whole bunch of bloody taboos.

There but for the grace of riot grrl, go Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Veronica Sawyer and Jason Dean – Heathers (1988)

I refuse to say anything glib about this movie.

You’re not a rebel. You’re fucking psychotic.

Matthew Scudder and Elaine Mardell  (1990)

I’m sorry, but this is a literary one. Lawrence Block’s Scudder is an alcoholic ex-cop who quit NYPD and left his family after the accidental death of an innocent. Elaine is a former hooker who used to give Scudder freebies back in the day.

They’re reunited in A Ticket To The Boneyard when a serial killer rapes and beats Elaine half to death – maybe more.

Truly none more noir.

A Ticket To The Boneyard
A Ticket To The Boneyard

Max Cady and Danielle Bowden – Cape Fear (1991)

This is why.

So it this.

Max: Every man has to go through hell to reach paradise.

Danielle: If you hold on to the past, you die a little each day.

If only they’d offed Jessica Lange and Nick Nolte and set off on the run together. They could have called the sequel  Natural Born Killers.

Thelma and Louise (1991)

Is this feminism or revenge fantasy? Was the ending a mistake, a throwback to the Hays Code with a ridiculously moralistic ending? Who cares? If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, I don’t know you.

Clarence Worley and Alabama Whitman – True Romance (1993)

Tony Scott changed the original Tarantino-scripted ending to give Clarence and Alabama a happy ever after. And why not?

Alabama: I’m not a whore. I’m a call-girl. There’s a difference, you know ?

Clarence: If there’s one thing this last week has taught me, it’s better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.

Apparently I like Christian Slater. And Juliette Lewis.

Mickey and Mallory Knox – Natural Born Killers (1994)

Oliver Stone goes daft punk and does Tarantino in the ass. Mickey and Mallory are mad and marvelous. And like Clarence and Alabama, they’re worth a happy ending.

Apropos of nothing at all, I wonder what would people would have made of Heathers if Veronica had gone along with JD’s master plan?

Corky and Violet – Bound (1996)

Bound was the first film directed by the Wachowskis. Claustrophobic, symbolic, and all about the hand, it’s only confusing if you don’t understand.Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly shine. Apparently Tilly was originally cast as Corky. Hard to believe when you see how perfect she is as Violet.

Violet: We make our own choices, we pay our own prices.

Corky: Either pull the trigger or get that fucking thing out of my face.


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