Forty Essential Film Noir Classics

I have trouble stopping at 40 on this Forty Essential Film Noir Classics. I will continue to update the list as more movies are added.

I wanted to add a definition for Film noir, so I went to the great movie critic Roger Ebert.  I have shortened his definitions but included the link below so you can read the complete original.

1. A French term meaning “black film,” or film of the night.

2. Doesn’t mislead you into thinking there will be a happy ending.

3. Locations that reek of the night, of shadows, of alleys, of the back doors of fancy places.

4. Cigarettes. Everybody in film noir is always smoking. The best smoking movie of all time is Out of the Past, in which Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas smoke furiously at each other.

Out of the Past (1947) - Forty Film Noir Classics

Out of the Past (1947) – Forty Film Noir Classics

5. Women who would just as soon kill you as love you, and vice versa. This is priceless JEC.

6. For women: low necklines, floppy hats, mascara, lipstick, boudoirs, calling the doorman by his first name, high heels, red dresses, having gangsters as boyfriends, having soft spots for alcoholic private eyes, and sprawling dead on the floor with every limb meticulously arranged and every hair in place.

7. For men: fedoras, suits and ties, shabby residential hotels with a neon sign blinking through the window, buying yourself a drink out of the office bottle, cars with running boards, all-night diners, on first-name terms with homicide cops, knowing a lot of people whose descriptions end in “ies,” such as bookies, newsies, junkies, alkys, jockeys and cabbies.

8. Movies either shot in black and white, or feeling like they were.

9. Relationships in which love is only the final flop card in the poker game of death.

10. The most American film genre, because no society could have created a world so filled with doom, fate, fear, and betrayal, unless it were essentially naive and optimistic.

RogerEbert.com

Noir Fest

RankNameYearSummary
1The Maltese Falcon

Maltese Falcon (1941)
1941The best of ALL the film noir. Humphrey Bogart is amazing so is everyone else...
2Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity">Double Indemnity (1944)
1944Foolish insurance man meets one of the best femme fatale in this must see drama...
3The Postman Always Rings Twice1946Infidelity and murder...
4Out of the Past

Out of the Past (1947)
1947The best femme fatale ever...
5Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard (1950)
1950...
6The Asphalt Jungle1950Gritty heist drama as everything falls apart...
7The Big Sleep1946Detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) is hired by a wealthy client. By the end of the case, there is murder, blackmail, and maybe love...
8Touch of Evil1958Orson Welles directed this masterpieces that starred Charleton Heston as Mexican detective...
9D.O.A.

D.O.A. (1950) poster
1950A "who done it" like you have never seen before...
10Brute Force

Brute Force (1947)
1947Prisoners obsessed with a pin-up tell their tale as they wait to escape. Burt Lancaster leads a fantastic cast with Hume Cronin as a sadistic guard...
11Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole (1952)
1952A savage critique of corrupt mass media. Kirk Douglas is on fire...
12Crime of Passion

Crime of Passion (1957) poster
1957Crime of Passion (1957) is a great film noir, focused on the woman played by Barbara Stanwyck. Featuring Sterling Hayden, Raymond Burr, and Fay Wray...
13All the King's Men1949Southern politics the real way...
14Shield for Murder1954Crooked cop Detective Lt. Barney Nolan (Edmond O'Brien) murders and robs a bookie so he can start a new life with his girlfriend Patty (Marla English) while cops Sgt. Mark Brewster (John Agar) and Capt. Gunnarson (Emile Meyer) follow the clues. Also, features Carolyn Jones and Claude Akins. Super intense film noir...
15The Narrow Margin1952Set on a train, this is the classic Film Noir featuring Marie Windsor and Charles McGraw
16Laura

Laura (1944)
1944Gene Tierney is an iridescent angel and Dana Andrews a stolid cop who nails the killer after falling for a dead dame...
17The Killing1956Sterling Hayden is amazing in the tale of a robbery gone horribly wrong...
18The Killers1946Burt Lancaster in his file debut is amazing...
19Key Largo

Key Largo (1947)
1948Gangsters and a hurricane in the Florida Keys. Plus Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall...
20Sweet Smell of Success1957Ambition and betrayal stripped of all pretense...
21The Naked City1948Two New York City detectives investigating a suicide that turns out to be murder...
22The Lady From Shanghai1947Orson Welles’ brilliant jigsaw with a femme fatale that is one of the greatest...
23The Big Heat

The Big Heat (1953)
1953A tough cop, played by Glenn Ford takes on a well-connected mob. Gloria Grahame is great in this film...
24Dark Passage

Dark Passage (1947)
1947An escaped convict and his helper starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall...
25The Big Combo

The Big Combo (1955)
1955Obsessed cop hunts down a psychotic crime boss...
26The Stranger1946Orson Welles directs and stars as a War Crimes Commission investigator travels to New England in search of Nazis. t to find an infamous Nazi...
27Fallen Angel1945Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, and John Carridine...
28I Want to Live!

I Want to Live! (1958)
1958I Want to Live! (1958) is a gritty film noir that focuses on the femme side of the story. Susan Hayward is amazing as the condemned woman...
2999 River Street

99 River Street (1953)
1953An ex-boxer falls into a trap and is accused on murder...
30Requiem For A Heavyweight1962A washed-up boxer...
31The Set-Up1949Robert Ryan is great as washed-up boxer in Robert Wise’ sharp expose of the fight game. Brooding and intense noir classic..
32The Harder They Fall1956This is a gritty boxing Film-Noir without a series femme fatale. This movie was Humphrey Bogart last film. Rod Steiger led a vicious crew of gangsters. Real boxers rounded out the crew. Mark Robson directed this tale of corruption and betrayal in the sweet science...
33The Blue Gardenia1953US
35The Prowler1951Van Heflin is homme-fatale in Trumbo thriller. Director Losey is unforgiving. Each squalid act is suffocatingly framed.
36Gilda1946A small-time hood goes to work in a casino only to find his new boss is married to his ex-lover...
37The Phenix City Story1955The entire town is corrupt. Alabama! ...
38High Sierra1941A thief, after being released from prison, is hired by his old boss to learn an inept group in the robbery of a mountain resort...
39Caged1950This film has a great female cast. Set in a woman's prison this film has a very dark ending...
40White Heat1949Cagney plays a psychopathic con with a mother complex trying to break out of prison to rejoin his old gang. The ending goes off with a bang...
41In A Lonely Place1950Nick Ray deftly explores effect of isolation, frustration, and anxiety on the creative psyche as noir entrapment...
42Dead Reckoning1947A soldier flees rather than receive the Medal of Honor, his war buddy, played by Humphrey Bogart goes to his buddy's hometown where love and murder follow...

Forty Essential Film Noir Classics

Lorre and Greenstreet

Lorregreenstreet

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