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

RankNameYearPosterSummary
1The Maltese Falcon1941Maltese Falcon (1941)The best of ALL the film noir. Humphrey Bogart is amazing so is everyone else...
2Touch of Evil1958Orson Welles directed this masterpieces that starred Charleton Heston as Mexican detective...
3Out of the Past1947Out of the Past (1947)The best femme fatale ever...
4Double Indemnity1944Double Indemnity (1944)Foolish insurance man meets one of the best femme fatale in this must see drama...
5Ace in the Hole1952Ace in the Hole (1952)A savage critique of corrupt mass media. Kirk Douglas is on fire...
6D.O.A.1950D.O.A. (1950) posterA "who done it" like you have never seen before...
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...
8The Asphalt Jungle1950Gritty heist drama as everything falls apart...
9The Postman Always Rings Twice1946Infidelity and murder...
10Sunset Boulevard1950Sunset Boulevard (1950)...
11Brute Force1947Brute Force (1947)Prisoners 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...
12Crime of Passion1957Crime of Passion (1957) posterCrime 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...
15Dead 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...
16Laura1944Laura (1944)Gene 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 Largo1948Key Largo (1947)Gangsters 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...
22High 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...
23The Lady From Shanghai1947Orson Welles’ brilliant jigsaw with a femme fatale that is one of the greatest...
24Gilda1946A small-time hood goes to work in a casino only to find his new boss is married to his ex-lover...
25The Big Heat1953The Big Heat (1953)A tough cop, played by Glenn Ford takes on a well-connected mob. Gloria Grahame is great in this film...
26Caged1950This film has a great female cast. Set in a woman's prison this film has a very dark ending...
27Dark Passage1947Dark Passage (1947)An escaped convict and his helper starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall...
28M1931Fritz Lang directed the story of a German child killer. When the police can't find the murderer other criminals join in the hunt...
29The Big Combo1955The Big Combo (1955)Obsessed cop hunts down a psychotic crime boss...
30The 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...
31They Live by Night1948An injured convict falls for a woman that nursed him back to health. Their relationship doesn't seem to have a chance...
32White 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...
33Fallen Angel1945Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, and John Carridine...
34I Want to Live!1958I Want to Live! (1958)I 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...
35Murder, My Sweet1944(Aka Farewell, my Lovely). The most noir fun you will ever have. Raymond Chandler’s prose crackles with moody noir direction from Edward Dmytryk...
36The Third Man1949Orson Welles is amazing in this hard to follow film...
37Criss-Cross1949An armored truck driver and his ex-wife work with a gang to pull off an insider robbery of the truck...
38Pitfall1948An insurance man falls for a femme fatale who's boyfriend is in jail. Things turn dark...
3999 River Street195399 River Street (1953)An ex-boxer falls into a trap and is accused on murder...
40Requiem For A Heavyweight1962A washed-up boxer...
41The 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...
42Scarlet Street1946A lonely man and an evil couple...
43The Phenix City Story1955The entire town is corrupt. Alabama! ...
44Notorious1946Spies with Carey Grant and Ingrid Bergman...
45Ride the Pink Horse1946Disillusioned WW2 vet arrives in a New Mexico town to blackmail a war racketeer. Imbued with a rare humanity...
46Call Northside 7771948...
47In A Lonely Place1950Nick Ray deftly explores effect of isolation, frustration, and anxiety on the creative psyche as noir entrapment...
48The Hitch-Hiker1953Two buddies on a vacation pick up a murderous escaped convict who plans to kill them when the trip is over...

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Forty Essential Film Noir Classics

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JEC

I am a professional archaeologist, a bonsai guy, a classic movie reviewer, and database expert. Past exploits include Golden Gloves boxing, a 2nd Degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and an Eagle Scout badge.

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