I read your comments about noirs (the older noirs) and neo noirs with a smile on my face. We are old geezers, but I believe you are correct on just about every point.
What made the old domestic noirs so great was the equally great Hollywood studio system, where whole worlds were freshly created from a team of talented set designers, coupled with exterior filming in urban milieus that was the result of the development of faster film stock. Plus you had classically trained European musicians providing the musical track. The actors in the old noirs were approximately the same age , or younger , than the actors in neo noirs, but their life experiences, through a Depression and a world war, gave them more of a grown up “seen it all” tougher, hard-bitten demeanor.
As for those whispered lines that are difficult to pick up, I have definitely noticed that as well. Part of it is the whispered lines themselves, and part could be as we age our hearing isn’t what it was. I know that is the case with me. The lines in the older noirs are much more declamatory. I only would disagree about the vulgarity and sex. We are all better off without a strict Production Code.
The Olson list eliminates Chinatown, which is an egregious omission. Also, The Conversation, Taxi Driver, Who’ll Stop The Rain, Fingers, The Last Embrace, The Parallax View, and even something outside the mainstream studio system like Jon Jost’s Last Chants For A Slow Dance are all worthy neo noirs, and that list is just off the top of my head and we are still in the 1970s.
Some of the best neo noirs, imo, can now be found on TV. Mindhunter and Ozark, both released by Netflix with season one in the can, and working on season two, are both worthy, and certainly can be categorized with the neo noir label. Then, of course, we have Breaking Bad, pure noir, and about the best thing the medium has ever given us.