Greatest Femmes Fatales in Classic Film Noir

by lankalion | created - 11 Apr 2011 | updated - 09 Mar 2015 | Public

A femme fatale is a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She is an archetype of literature and art. Her ability to entrance and hypnotize her victim with a spell was in the earliest stories seen as being literally supernatural, hence the most prosaic femme fatale today is still described as having a power akin to an enchantress, vampire, witch, or demon. The phrase is French for "deadly woman". A femme fatale tries to achieve her hidden purpose by using feminine wiles such as beauty, charm, and sexual allure. In some situations, she uses lying or coercion rather than charm. She may also be (or imply to be) a victim, caught in a situation from which she cannot escape; The Lady from Shanghai (a 1947 film noir) is one such example. Although typically villainous, femmes fatales have also appeared as antiheroines in some stories, and some even repent and become heroines by the end of the tale. In social life, the femme fatale tortures her lover in an asymmetrical relationship, denying confirmation of her affection. She usually drives him to the point of obsession and exhaustion so that he is incapable of making rational decisions.

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1. I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Passed | 82 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Why is Inspector Ed Cornell trying to railroad Frankie Christopher for the murder of model Vicky Lynn?

Director: H. Bruce Humberstone | Stars: Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar

Votes: 2,986

I Wake Up Screaming (1941) is a black-and-white suspense film starring Betty Grable, Victor Mature, and Carole Landis. The film is an early example of the film noir style.[1] It is based on the novel with the same title by Steve Fisher, with a screenplay by Fisher and Dwight Taylor. It was one of the few times Betty Grable had a straight dramatic role in a picture.

2. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Not Rated | 100 min | Film-Noir, Mystery

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
96 Metascore

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre

Votes: 126,659

The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 Warner Bros. film based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett and a remake of the 1931 film of the same name. Written and directed by John Huston, the film stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade; Mary Astor as his femme fatale client; Gladys George, who received third billing despite having a relatively minor role; Peter Lorre; and Sydney Greenstreet in his film debut. The film was Huston's directorial debut and was nominated for three Academy Awards.

3. Double Indemnity (1944)

Not Rated | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

8.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Byron Barr

Votes: 111,615 | Gross: $5.72M

Double Indemnity is a 1944 American film noir, directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, and produced by Buddy DeSylva and Joseph Sistrom. The script was based on James M. Cain's 1935 novella of the same title which originally appeared as an eight part serial in Liberty magazine. The film stars Fred MacMurray as an insurance salesman, Barbara Stanwyck as a provocative housewife who wishes her husband were dead, and Edward G. Robinson as a claims adjuster whose job is to find phony claims. The term double indemnity refers to a clause in certain life insurance policies that doubles the payout in cases when death is caused by accidental means.

4. Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Approved | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After being hired to find an ex-con's former girlfriend, Philip Marlowe is drawn into a deeply complex web of mystery and deceit.

Director: Edward Dmytryk | Stars: Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger

Votes: 9,813

Murder, My Sweet is a 1944 American film noir directed by Edward Dmytryk, and starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, and Anne Shirley. The film was released in the United Kingdom under the title Farewell, My Lovely, which is the title of the 1940 Raymond Chandler novel it is based on, and also the film's original American title.

5. Laura (1944)

Not Rated | 88 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating.

Director: Otto Preminger | Stars: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price

Votes: 35,420

Laura is a 1944 American film noir directed by Otto Preminger. It stars Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb. The screenplay by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, and Elizabeth Reinhardt is based on the 1943 novel of the same title by Vera Caspary. In 1999, Laura was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The American Film Institute ranked the film #73 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills, the score #7 in AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores, and it was ranked the fourth best film in the mystery genre in AFI's 10 Top 10.

6. The Woman in the Window (1944)

Not Rated | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

When a conservative middle-aged professor engages in a minor dalliance with a femme fatale, he is plunged into a nightmarish quicksand of blackmail and murder.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey, Edmund Breon

Votes: 10,554

The Woman in the Window (1944) is a film noir directed by Fritz Lang that tells the story of psychology professor Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) who meets and becomes enamored with a young femme fatale. Based on J. H. Wallis' novel Once Off Guard, the story features two surprise twists at the end. Scriptwriter Nunnally Johnson founded International Pictures (his own independent production company) after writing successful films such as The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and other John Ford films, and chose The Woman in the Window as its premiere project. Director Fritz Lang substituted the film's dream ending in place of the originally scripted suicide ending, to conform with the moralistic Production Code of the time.

7. Detour (1945)

Approved | 68 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Chance events trap hitch-hiker Al Roberts in a tightening net of film noir trouble.

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer | Stars: Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake, Edmund MacDonald

Votes: 11,116

Detour (1945) is a film noir cult classic that stars Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake and Edmund MacDonald. The movie was adapted by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney (uncredited) from Goldsmith's novel and was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. The 68-minute film was released by the Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), one of the so-called "poverty row" film studios in mid-twentieth century Hollywood.

8. Fallen Angel (1945)

Approved | 98 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A slick con man arrives in a small town looking to make some money, but soon gets more than he bargained for.

Director: Otto Preminger | Stars: Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, Charles Bickford

Votes: 3,617

Fallen Angel is a 1945 black-and-white film noir directed by Otto Preminger, with cinematography by Joseph LaShelle, who had also worked with Preminger on Laura a year before. The film features Alice Faye, Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, and Charles Bickford. It was the last film Faye made as a major Hollywood star. Disappointed at how studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck cut her role out of the picture, Faye left the studio the day after a preview screening, and did not make another film until State Fair (1962).

9. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A writer falls in love with a young socialite and they are married soon after, but her obsessive love for him threatens to be the undoing of both them and everyone else around them.

Director: John M. Stahl | Stars: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price

Votes: 8,844

Leave Her to Heaven is a 1945 American 20th Century Fox Technicolor film noir motion picture starring Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, with Vincent Price, Darryl Hickman, and Chill Wills. The story revolves around a femme fatale who entraps a husband and commits several crimes motivated by her insane jealousy. The story was adapted for the screen by Jo Swerling, having been based on the best selling novel of the same name authored by Ben Ames Williams. The film was directed by John M. Stahl. Tierney received an Oscar nomination as Best Actress in a Leading Role for this film. The film grossed over $5,000,000 and was Fox's highest-grossing picture of the 1940s.

10. Mildred Pierce (1945)

Not Rated | 111 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden

Votes: 18,233

Mildred Pierce is a 1945 Warner Bros. feature film starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, and Eve Arden in a film noir tale about a long-suffering mother and her ungrateful daughter. The screenplay by Ranald MacDougall, William Faulkner, and Catherine Turney was based upon the 1941 novel Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain. The film was directed by Michael Curtiz and produced by Jerry Wald with Jack L. Warner as executive producer. Mildred Pierce was Crawford's first starring film for Warner Bros. after leaving MGM, and won her the Academy Award for Best Actress.

11. Scarlet Street (1945)

Approved | 102 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

7.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When a man in mid-life crisis befriends a young woman, her venal fiancé persuades her to con him out of the fortune they mistakenly assume he possesses.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Margaret Lindsay

Votes: 11,295

Scarlet Street is a 1945 American film noir directed by Fritz Lang and based on the French novel La Chienne (The Bitch) by Georges de La Fouchardière, that previously had been dramatized on stage by André Mouëzy-Éon, and cinematically as La Chienne (1931) by director Jean Renoir. The principal actors Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea, had earlier appeared together in The Woman in the Window (1944) also directed by Fritz Lang. The three were re-teamed for Scarlet Street. The film was later featured in an episode of Cinema Insomnia.

12. The Big Sleep (1946)

Not Rated | 114 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers

Votes: 69,428

The Big Sleep is a 1946 film noir directed by Howard Hawks, the first film version of Raymond Chandler's 1939 novel of the same name. It stars Humphrey Bogart as detective Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as the female lead in a film about the "process of a criminal investigation, not its results." William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman co-wrote the screenplay. In 1997, the U.S. Library of Congress deemed this film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," and added it to the National Film Registry.

13. The Blue Dahlia (1946)

Not Rated | 96 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An ex-bomber pilot is suspected of murdering his unfaithful wife.

Director: George Marshall | Stars: Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Howard Da Silva

Votes: 6,171 | Gross: $2.70M

The Blue Dahlia (1946) is an American film noir directed by George Marshall and written by Raymond Chandler. A navy officer returns home to an unfaithful wife, who is later murdered. The film marks the third pairing of stars Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.

14. Decoy (1946)

Approved | 76 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A mortally wounded female gangster recounts how she and her gang revived an executed killer from the gas chamber, to try and find out where he buried a fortune in cash.

Director: Jack Bernhard | Stars: Jean Gillie, Edward Norris, Robert Armstrong, Herbert Rudley

Votes: 1,214

Decoy is a 1946 American film noir. Directed by Jack Bernhard, the film stars Jean Gillie, Edward Norris, Robert Armstrong, Henry Rudley, Sheldon Leonard and Marjorie Woodwarth. The film was produced by Jack Bernhard and Bernard Brandt as a Jack Bernhard Production, with a screenplay by Ned Young, based on an original story by Stanley Rubin. Decoy is a showcase of how film noir can do so much with so little. Short-lived Jean Gillie stars as one of the film genre's toughest femme fatales, a drop-dead beauty who chemically revives her sweetheart-in-crime after he gets the gas chamber. She's after money, not love: he knows where the loot is stashed

15. Gilda (1946)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A small-time gambler hired to work in a Buenos Aires casino learns that his ex-lover is married to his employer.

Director: Charles Vidor | Stars: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Joseph Calleia

Votes: 22,796

Gilda (1946) is a black-and-white film noir directed by Charles Vidor. It stars Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth in her signature role as the ultimate femme fatale. The film was noted for cinematographer Rudolph Mate's lush photography, costume designer Jean Louis' wardrobe for Hayworth (particularly for the dance numbers), and choreographer Jack Cole's staging of "Put the Blame on Mame" and "Amado Mio", sung by Anita Ellis.

16. The Killers (1946)

Not Rated | 103 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, Albert Dekker

Votes: 15,585

The Killers is a 1946 American film noir. It is based in part on the short story of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. The film was directed by Robert Siodmak and features Burt Lancaster in his screen debut, as well as Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, and Sam Levene. An uncredited John Huston and Robert Brooks co-wrote the screenplay, which was credited to Anthony Veiller. In 2008, The Killers was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

17. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Not Rated | 113 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A married woman and a drifter fall in love, then plot to murder her husband. Once the deed is done, they must live with the consequences of their actions.

Director: Tay Garnett | Stars: Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn

Votes: 15,477 | Gross: $8.33M

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 1946 drama-film noir based on the 1934 The Postman Always Rings Twice novel by James M. Cain. This adaptation of the novel is the best known, featuring Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames, and Audrey Totter. It was directed by Tay Garnett, with a score written by George Bassman and Erich Zeisl (the latter uncredited). This version was the third filming of The Postman Always Rings Twice, but the first under the novel's original title and the first in English. Previously, the novel had been filmed as Le Dernier Tournant (The Last Turning) in France in 1939, and as Ossessione (Obsession) in Italy in 1942.

18. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

Unrated | 116 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Once three childhood friends. Now, a ruthless, domineering woman is married to an alcoholic D.A., and a returning companion who may have been the only witness to her murder of her rich aunt seventeen years earlier.

Director: Lewis Milestone | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas

Votes: 6,413

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is a black-and-white film noir released in the United States in 1946, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott and Kirk Douglas in his film debut. The movie is based on the short story "Love Lies Bleeding" by playwright John Patrick, using the pseudonym Jack Patrick, and was produced by Hal B. Wallis. The screenplay was written by Robert Rossen and Robert Riskin, who was not credited, and was directed by Lewis Milestone. The film was entered into the 1947 Cannes Film Festival.

19. Born to Kill (1947)

Approved | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A calculating divorcée risks her chances at wealth and security with a man she doesn't love by getting involved with the hotheaded murderer romancing her foster sister.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Claire Trevor, Lawrence Tierney, Walter Slezak, Phillip Terry

Votes: 3,672

Born to Kill is a 1947 film noir starring Lawrence Tierney and directed by Robert Wise. It was the first film noir to be directed by Wise, who later directed The Set-Up (1949), The Captive City (1952), and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). The film also features Claire Trevor, Walter Slezak, and Elisha Cook Jr.

20. Dead Reckoning (1947)

Passed | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A soldier runs away rather than receive the Medal of Honor, so his buddy gets permission to investigate, and love and death soon follow.

Director: John Cromwell | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lizabeth Scott, Morris Carnovsky, Charles Cane

Votes: 4,973

Dead Reckoning is a 1947 Columbia Pictures film noir starring Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott and featuring Morris Carnovsky. It was directed by John Cromwell and written by Steve Fisher and Oliver H.P. Garrett based on a story by Gerald Drayson Adams and Sidney Biddell.

21. Lady in the Lake (1946)

Approved | 105 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

6.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The lady editor of a crime magazine hires Philip Marlowe to find the wife of her boss. The private detective soon finds himself involved in murder.

Director: Robert Montgomery | Stars: Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully

Votes: 4,031

Lady in the Lake is a 1947 American noir film that marked the directorial debut of actor Robert Montgomery who also starred in the film. It was an adaptation of the 1944 Raymond Chandler novel The Lady in the Lake. The picture features Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully, Leon Ames and Jayne Meadows. Chandler, a twice Oscar nominated screenwriter who did not author the screenplay for this or any other screen adaptations of his own novels, surprisingly disdained Montgomery's ambition to create a cinematic version of the first person narrative style of his Phillip Marlowe novels.

22. Out of the Past (1947)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming

Votes: 26,393

Out of the Past (originally released in the United Kingdom as Build My Gallows High) is a 1947 film noir directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas. The film was adapted by Daniel Mainwaring (using the pseudonym Geoffrey Homes), with uncredited revisions by Frank Fenton and James M. Cain, from his novel Build My Gallows High (also written as Homes). The film is considered by film historians to be a superb example of film noir, due to its convoluted, dreamlike storyline and its chiaroscuro cinematography (cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca also shot Tourneur's Cat People). In 1991, Out of the Past was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

23. The Paradine Case (1947)

Approved | 125 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

6.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A happily married London barrister falls in love with the accused poisoner he is defending.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn

Votes: 8,446

The Paradine Case is a 1947 American courtroom drama film, set in England, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by David O. Selznick. The screenplay was written by Selznick and an uncredited Ben Hecht, from an adaptation by Alma Reville and James Bridie of the novel by Robert Smythe Hichens. The film stars Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Alida Valli, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ethel Barrymore and Louis Jourdan. It tells of an English barrister who falls in love with a woman who is accused of murder, and how it affects his relationship with his wife.

24. The Woman on the Beach (1947)

Approved | 71 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

6.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A Coast Guardsman suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress becomes involved with a beautiful and enigmatic seductress married to a blind painter.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Joan Bennett, Robert Ryan, Charles Bickford, Nan Leslie

Votes: 1,452

The Woman on the Beach (1947) is a film noir directed by Jean Renoir, released by RKO Radio Pictures, and starring Robert Ryan, Joan Bennett, and Charles Bickford.

25. Force of Evil (1948)

Not Rated | 79 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An unethical lawyer, with an older brother he wants to help, becomes a partner with a client in the numbers racket.

Director: Abraham Polonsky | Stars: John Garfield, Thomas Gomez, Marie Windsor, Howland Chamberlain

Votes: 4,711

Force of Evil (1948) is a film noir directed by Abraham Polonsky who had already achieved a name for himself as a scriptwriter, most notably for the gritty boxing film Body and Soul (1947). Like Body and Soul it starred John Garfield. The movie was adapted by Abraham Polonsky and Ira Wolfert from Wolfert's novel Tucker's People. In 1994, Force of Evil was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

26. The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

Not Rated | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Fascinated by gorgeous Mrs. Bannister, seaman Michael O'Hara joins a bizarre yachting cruise, and ends up mired in a complex murder plot.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders

Votes: 21,383 | Gross: $0.01M

The Lady from Shanghai is a 1947 film noir directed by Orson Welles and starring Welles, his estranged wife Rita Hayworth and Everett Sloane. It is based on the novel If I Die Before I Wake by Sherwood King.

27. Pitfall (1948)

Not Rated | 86 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Insurance executive John Forbes falls for femme fatale Mona Stevens while her boyfriend is in jail and he suffers serious consequences as a result.

Director: André De Toth | Stars: Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr

Votes: 1,870

Pitfall is a black-and-white 1948 film noir drama directed by André De Toth. The film was based on a novel of the same name by Jay Dratler, and was titled Tragedia a Santa Monica for its Italian release.. The drama features Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, and Raymond Burr.

28. Criss Cross (1949)

Not Rated | 84 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An armored truck driver and his lovely ex-wife conspire with a gang to have his own truck robbed on the route.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally

Votes: 5,699

Criss Cross (1949) is a film noir, directed by Robert Siodmak from a novel by Don Tracy. This black and white film was shot partly on location in the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles. The film was written by Daniel Fuchs. Franz Planer's cinematography creates a black-and-white film noir world. Miklós Rózsa scored the film's soundtrack. The production nearly derailed when producer Mark Hellinger died suddenly before filming began. Lancaster claimed he was unhappy with the way Siodmak and Fuchs had reworked Hellinger's idea of a racetrack heist into a fatal romantic triangle.

29. Gun Crazy (1950)

Passed | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A well meaning crack shot husband is pressured by his beautiful marksman wife to go on an interstate robbery spree, where he finds out just how depraved and deadly she really is.

Director: Joseph H. Lewis | Stars: John Dall, Peggy Cummins, Berry Kroeger, Morris Carnovsky

Votes: 9,076

Gun Crazy is a 1950 film noir feature film starring Peggy Cummins and John Dall in a story about the crime-spree of a gun-toting husband and wife. The film was directed by Joseph H. Lewis, and produced by Frank King and Maurice King. The screenplay by Dalton Trumbo (credited to Millard Kaufman because of the Hollywood Blacklist), and MacKinlay Kantor was based upon a short story by Kantor published in 1940 in The Saturday Evening Post. Gun Crazy was selected for the National Film Registry, and is also known as Deadly Is the Female.(1950)

30. The Third Man (1949)

Not Rated | 93 min | Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller

8.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

Director: Carol Reed | Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard

Votes: 128,242 | Gross: $0.45M

The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. The screenplay was written by novelist Graham Greene, later becoming his novella of the same name. Anton Karas wrote the score, which used only the zither; its title cut topped the international music charts in 1950.

31. Too Late for Tears (1949)

Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Through a fluke circumstance a ruthless woman stumbles across a suitcase filled with $60,000, and she is determined to hold onto it even it if means murder.

Director: Byron Haskin | Stars: Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore, Dan Duryea, Arthur Kennedy

Votes: 2,430

Too Late for Tears is a 1949 black-and-white film noir directed by Byron Haskin and starring Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea. The screenplay was written by Roy Huggins, drawn from a serial he wrote for the Saturday Evening Post. The film was reissued as Killer Bait in 1955. Too Late for Tears has been in the public domain for years but there are sundry edits and running times.

32. The File on Thelma Jordon (1950)

Passed | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Assistant district attorney Cleve Marshall falls for the mysterious Thelma Jordon when she seeks help solving robberies of her aunt's estate.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey, Paul Kelly, Joan Tetzel

Votes: 1,472

The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) is a film noir directed by Robert Siodmak from a screenplay by Ketti Frings. It stars Barbara Stanwyck and Wendell Corey.

33. Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, Film-Noir

8.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A screenwriter is hired to rework a faded silent film star's script only to find himself developing a dangerous relationship.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson

Votes: 158,718

Sunset Boulevard (also known as Sunset Blvd.) is a 1950 American film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It was named after the boulevard that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, California.

34. Angel Face (1953)

Not Rated | 91 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Ambulance driver Frank Jessup is ensnared in the schemes of the sensuous but dangerous Diane Tremayne.

Director: Otto Preminger | Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, Mona Freeman, Herbert Marshall

Votes: 5,571

Angel Face (1952) is a black-and-white film noir directed by Otto Preminger. The drama, filmed on location in Beverly Hills, California, features Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons.

35. Don't Bother to Knock (1952)

Approved | 76 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

After being dumped by his girlfriend, an airline pilot pursues a babysitter in his hotel and gradually realizes she's dangerous.

Director: Roy Ward Baker | Stars: Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Bancroft, Donna Corcoran

Votes: 4,721

Don't Bother to Knock is a 1952 American thriller film starring Marilyn Monroe as Nell Forbes, a disturbed babysitter watching a child at the same New York hotel where pilot Jed Towers (Richard Widmark) is staying. He sees her through his window and the two meet. Towers witnesses her strange behavior and becomes increasingly aware that Nell is the last person the parents (played by Jim Backus and Lurene Tuttle) should have entrusted with their daughter.

36. The Big Heat (1953)

Not Rated | 90 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando, Alexander Scourby

Votes: 18,581

The Big Heat is a 1953 film noir directed by Fritz Lang, starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, and Lee Marvin. It is about a cop who takes on the crime syndicate that controls his city after the brutal murder of his beloved wife. The film was written by former crime reporter Sydney Boehm based on a serial by William P. McGivern which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, and was published as a novel in 1952.

37. Niagara (1953)

Approved | 92 min | Film-Noir, Thriller

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

As two couples are visiting Niagara Falls, tensions between one wife and her husband reach the level of murder.

Director: Henry Hathaway | Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, Max Showalter

Votes: 12,245

Niagara is a 1953 dramatic thriller, film noir directed by Henry Hathaway. Unlike other films noir of the time, Niagara was shot in Technicolor and was one of 20th Century Fox's biggest box office hits of the year. The drama features Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters and others

38. One Girl's Confession (1953)

Approved | 74 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Another of the "Fate and Irony" films from director-writer-producer-actor Hugo Haas but this one has less hair-shirt torment than most of his offerings, although his camera, as usual, ... See full summary »

Director: Hugo Haas | Stars: Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas, Glenn Langan, Helene Stanton

Votes: 283

One Girl's Confession is a 1953 low-budget film noir released by Columbia Pictures. The movie stars Cleo Moore and was written, produced, and directed by Hugo Haas who also plays a supporting part in the film. This film was released on DVD by Sony Pictures in 2010 as part of the Bad Girls of Film Noir Volume II collection.

39. Pickup on South Street (1953)

Approved | 80 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A pickpocket unwittingly lifts a message destined for enemy agents and becomes a target for a Communist spy ring.

Director: Samuel Fuller | Stars: Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter, Murvyn Vye

Votes: 10,200

Pickup on South Street (1953) is writer-director Samuel Fuller's film noir released by the 20th Century Fox studio. The film stars Richard Widmark, Jean Peters and Thelma Ritter. In June 1954, Ritter co-starred alongside Terry Moore and Stephen McNally in a Lux Radio Theatre presentation of the story. 20th Century Fox remade the picture in 1967 as The Cape Town Affair, directed by Robert D. Webb and starring Claire Trevor (in the Thelma Ritter role), James Brolin (in his first leading role), and Jacqueline Bisset.

40. Human Desire (1954)

Approved | 91 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Korean War vet returns to his job as a railroad engineer and becomes involved in an affair with a co-worker's wife following a murder on a train where they meet.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford, Edgar Buchanan

Votes: 2,964

Human Desire (1954) is a black-and-white film noir directed by Fritz Lang, and based on the novel La Bête humaine by Émile Zola. The story was filmed twice before: La Bête humaine (1938) directed by Jean Renoir and Die Bestie im Menschen (1920).

41. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Not Rated | 106 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A doomed female hitchhiker pulls Mike Hammer into a deadly whirlpool of intrigue, revolving around a mysterious "great whatsit."

Director: Robert Aldrich | Stars: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Juano Hernandez

Votes: 15,401

Kiss Me Deadly is a 1955 film noir drama produced and directed by Robert Aldrich starring Ralph Meeker. The screenplay was written by A.I. Bezzerides, based on the Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer mystery novel Kiss Me, Deadly. Kiss Me Deadly is often considered a classic of the noir genre. The film grossed $726,000 in the United States and a total of $226,000 overseas. Kiss Me Deadly marked the film debuts of both actresses Cloris Leachman and Maxine Cooper.

42. The Killing (1956)

Not Rated | 85 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Crooks plan and execute a daring race-track robbery.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen

Votes: 68,127

The Killing is a 1956 film noir produced by James B. Harris and directed by Stanley Kubrick. It was written by Kubrick and Jim Thompson and based on the novel Clean Break by Lionel White. The drama features Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards and Elisha Cook Jr.

43. The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956)

Approved | 92 min | Drama

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Set in the early '40s, a San Francisco prostitute is run out of town just as the second World War has begun to intensify. Mamie settles down in Hawaii, hoping to start a new life. Though ... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: Jane Russell, Richard Egan, Joan Leslie, Agnes Moorehead

Votes: 405

The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956) is a romantic drama film made by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. It was directed by Raoul Walsh and produced by Buddy Adler from a screenplay by Sydney Boehm based on the novel of the same name by William Bradford Huie.The film stars Jane Russell and Richard Egan with Joan Leslie, Agnes Moorehead, and Michael Pate.

44. High School Confidential! (1958)

Approved | 85 min | Crime, Drama

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A tough kid comes to a new high school and begins muscling his way into the drug scene. As he moves his way up the ladder, a schoolteacher tries to reform him, his aunt tries to seduce him,... See full summary »

Director: Jack Arnold | Stars: Russ Tamblyn, Jan Sterling, John Drew Barrymore, Mamie Van Doren

Votes: 710

High School Confidential is a 1958 crime drama film directed by Jack Arnold. It stars Mamie Van Doren, Russ Tamblyn, Jan Sterling, John Drew Barrymore, Jackie Coogan. The film also features a cameo by Jerry Lee Lewis who opens the movie singing a song of the same name, which Lewis co-wrote with Ron Hargrave. Michael Landon also appears in a supporting role.

45. Vertigo (1958)

PG | 128 min | Mystery, Romance, Thriller

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore

Votes: 285,392 | Gross: $3.20M

Vertigo is a 1958 American psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring James Stewart, Kim Novak, and Barbara Bel Geddes. The film was written by Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor, based on a novel by Boileau-Narcejac. A retired police detective, who has acrophobia, is hired as a private investigator to follow the wife of an acquaintance to uncover the mystery of her peculiar behavior. The film received mixed reviews upon initial release, but has garnered much acclaim since then and is now frequently ranked among the greatest films ever made, and often cited as a classic Hitchcock film and one of the defining works of his career.