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.

http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/a-guide-to-film-noir-genre

RankNameYearPosterSummary
1The Maltese Falcon1941
Maltese Falcon (1941)

Maltese Falcon (1941)

The best of ALL the film noir. Humphrey Bogart is amazing so is everyone else. JEC
2Touch of Evil1958Orson Welles directed this masterpieces that starred Charleton Heston as Mexican detective. JEC
3Out of the Past1947
Out of the Past (1947)

Out of the Past (1947)

The best femme fatale ever. JEC
4Double Indemnity1944
Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity (1944)

Foolish insurance man meets one of the best femme fatale in this must see drama. JEC
5Ace in the Hole1952Ace in the Hole (1952)A savage critique of corrupt mass media. Kirk Douglas is on fire. JEC
6D.O.A.1950
D.O.A. (1950) poster

D.O.A. (1950)

A "who done it" like you have never seen before. JEC
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. JEC
8The Asphalt Jungle1950Gritty heist drama as everything falls apart. JEC
9The Postman Always Rings Twice1946Infidelity and murder. JEC
10The Killers1946Burt Lancaster in his file debut is amazing. JEC
11Brute Force1947
Brute Force (1947)

Brute 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. JEC
12Notorious1946Spies with Carey Grant and Ingrid Bergman. JEC
13All the King's Men1949Southern politics the real way. JEC
14Laura1944
Laura (1944)

Laura (1944)

Gene Tierney is an iridescent angel and Dana Andrews a stolid cop who nails the killer after falling for a dead dame. JEC
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. JEC
16The Killing1956Burt Lancaster's first film and it's a winner. JEC
17Key Largo1948
Key Largo (1947)

Key Largo (1947)

Gangsters and a hurricane in the Florida Keys. Plus Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. JEC
18Sweet Smell of Success1957Ambition and betrayal stripped of all pretense. JEC
19The Naked City1948Two New York City detectives investigating a suicide that turns out to be murder. JEC
20High 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. JEC
21The Lady From Shanghai1947Orson Welles’ brilliant jigsaw with a femme fatale that is one of the greatest. JEC
22Gilda1946A small-time hood goes to work in a casino only to find his new boss is married to his ex-lover. JEC
23The Big Heat1953
The Big Heat (1953)

The Big Heat (1953)

A tough cop, played by Glenn Ford takes on a well-connected mob. Gloria Grahame is great in this film. JEC
24Caged1950This film has a great female cast. Set in a woman's prison this film has a very dark ending. JEC
25Dark Passage1947
Dark Passage (1947)

Dark Passage (1947)

An excaped prisoner and her helper starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. JEC
27M1931Fritz Lang directed the story of a German child killer. When the police can't find the murderer other criminals join in the hunt. JEC
28The Big Combo1955
The Big Combo (1955)

The Big Combo (1955)

Obsessed cop hunts down a psychotic crime boss. JEC
29The 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. JEC
30They Live by Night1948An injured convict falls for a woman that nursed him back to health. Their relationship doesn't seem to have a chance. JEC
31White 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. JEC
32The Set-Up1949Robert Ryan is great as washed-up boxer in Robert Wise’ sharp expose of the fight game. Brooding and intense noir classic. JEC
33I Want to Live!1958
I Want to Live! (1958)

I 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. JEC
34Murder, 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. JEC
35The Third Man1949Orson Welles is amazing in this hard to follw film. JEC
36Criss-Cross1949An armored truck driver and his ex-wife work with a gang to pull off an insider robbery of the truck. JEC
37Pitfall1948An insurance man falls for a femme fatale who's boyfriend is in jail. Things turn dark. JEC
3899 River Street1953
99 River Street (1953)

99 River Street (1953)

An ex-boxer falls into a trap and is accused on murder. JEC
39Requiem For A Heavyweight1962A washed-up boxer. JEC
40The Hitch-Hiker1953Two buddies on a vacation pick up a murderous escaped convict who plans to kill them when the trip is over. JEC
41Scarlet Street1946A lonely man and an evil couple. JEC
42Call Northside 7771948JEC
43The Phenix City Story1955The entire town is corrupt. Alabama! JEC
44Sunset Boulevard1950
Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

JEC

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Forty Essential Film Noir Classics

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