Case in point: WOMAN ON THE RUN. It's a fun noir that has been fetishized for nearly twenty years now, and that continues in the post-DVD release phase via the indulgence of TCM co-hosts who program it outside the noir slot at a frequency rate much higher than many other films that are at least as worthy (and often more so).
To put things in context, here's a list of the film noirs made by American production companies and released in 1950 (one of the great years for film noir; some might argue the greatest of them all). The annotations will be explained and discussed below:
711 Ocean Drive
Armored Car Robbery
The Asphalt Jungle
Between Midnight and Dawn
Born to Be Bad
The Breaking Point
The Damned Don't Cry!
Edge of Doom
The File on Thelma Jordon
House by the River
Hunt the Man Down
In a Lonely Place
The Killer That Stalked New York
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
A Lady Without Passport
The Man Who Cheated Himself
Night and the City
No Man of Her Own
No Way Out
Once a Thief
One Way Street
Outside the Wall
Panic in the Streets
The Second Woman
The Secret Fury
Shadow on the Wall
The Sleeping City
The Sound of Fury (AKA Try and Get Me)
The Tattooed Stranger
This Side of the Law
The Underworld Story
Walk Softly, Stranger
Where Danger Lives
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Woman in Hiding
Woman on the Run
Titles in bold type are the massive consensus picks at the finest noirs of 1950.
Those underlined are films that have been known, praised, and consistently in the public eye since before the 21st century tsunami of DVD availability for movies in general and film noir in particular.
Those show in italics are films that those who've been difficult to see until recently, but that are arguably as worthy as any of the underlined titles (and in a few cases, on a par with the top films shown in bold type).
One film, THE BREAKING POINT is shown in bold and underlined, as it is the most recent addition to the upper echelon of films, having been hard to see until the FNF began its efforts.
The exercise here would be to look at the three groupings of films--which are repated below and put into their categories below to faciliate comparison--and determine just how far "up the food chain" the shaggy, brittle, backwards-looking WOMAN ON THE RUN really is in the context of what surrounded it in 1950.
Consensus Top Films
The Asphalt Jungle, The Breaking Point, The Damned Don't Cry, D.O.A., Gun Crazy, In A Lonely Place, Night and the City, Sunset Boulevard, Try and Get Me, Where The Sidewalk Ends
Notable films known and/or rising in estimation in recent years
Armored Car Robbery, Caged, Dial 1119, Guilty Bystander, House by the River, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, The Man Who Cheated Himself, Quicksand, Shakedown, Side Street, The Underworld Story, Union Station, Where Danger Lives, Woman on the Run
Worthy films still overlooked and undervalued
711 Ocean Drive, The File on Thelma Jordon, Highway 301, The Lawless, Mystery Street, No Way Out
Rate these films using the old Top 25 methodology (tiers of five) and see where a film like WOMAN ON THE RUN lands in terms of its in-year competition. The love for this film is not entirely misplaced, but the impression from this viewer is that it will be well down the list in a majority of the cases.
There are 30 films across these three lists. Six tiers of five would be the way to organize one's impressions of their relative quality. Here's a sample ballot (YMMV):
1: ASPHALT JUNGLE, THE BREAKING POINT, IN A LONELY PLACE, SUNSET BOULEVARD, WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS
2: THE DAMNED DON'T CRY, GUN CRAZY, THE LAWLESS, NIGHT AND THE CITY, TRY AND GET ME
3: CAGED, D.O.A, DIAL 1119, THE FILE ON THELMA JORDON, MYSTERY STREET
4: 711 OCEAN DRIVE, GUILTY BYSTANDER, NO WAY OUT, SIDE STREET, THE UNDERWORLD STORY
5: ARMORED CAR ROBBERY, KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE, SHAKEDOWN, WHERE DANGER LIVES, WOMAN ON THE RUN
6: HIGHWAY 301, HOUSE BY THE RIVER, THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF, QUICKSAND, UNION STATION
From such a list we might find a group of films that deserve to be given some of the extra exposure being lavished on WOMAN ON THE RUN, so that they can be properly discovered by noir aficionados.