Best Film Noir

by enicholson | created - 04 Jan 2011 | updated - 1 month ago | Public

38 of the best films noir I've seen to date (though I may have left out a few)

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1. The Set-Up (1949)

Approved | 73 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Sport

Because aging boxer Bill Thompson always lost his past fights, his corrupt manager, without telling Thompson, takes bribes from a betting gangster, to ensure Thompson's pre-arranged dive-loss in the next match.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias, Alan Baxter

Votes: 7,158

The most underrated film ever made? Perhaps

2. Double Indemnity (1944)

Passed | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

95 Metascore

An insurance representative lets himself be talked by a seductive housewife into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses the suspicion of an insurance investigator.

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

Votes: 133,416 | Gross: $5.72M

3. Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, Film-Noir

A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return.

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

Votes: 186,830

4. Laura (1944)

Passed | 88 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

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: 39,899 | Gross: $4.36M

5. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Passed | 112 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A major heist goes off as planned, until bad luck and double crosses cause everything to unravel.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore

Votes: 22,452

6. The Third Man (1949)

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

97 Metascore

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: 149,989 | Gross: $0.45M

7. The Naked City (1948)

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

Two New York City detectives investigate the death of an attractive young woman. The apparent suicide turns out to be murder.

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart, Don Taylor

Votes: 11,150

8. The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

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

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: 24,348 | Gross: $0.01M

9. The Woman in the Window (1944)

Approved | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

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: 12,656

10. D.O.A. (1949)

Approved | 83 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

Frank Bigelow, told he's been poisoned and has only a few days to live, tries to find out who killed him and why.

Director: Rudolph Maté | Stars: Edmond O'Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, Beverly Garland

Votes: 10,029

11. Brute Force (1947)

Passed | 98 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard.

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford, Yvonne De Carlo

Votes: 8,219

12. Ace in the Hole (1951)

Not Rated | 111 min | Drama, Film-Noir

72 Metascore

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to rekindle his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur, Porter Hall

Votes: 26,996 | Gross: $3.97M

13. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Not Rated | 100 min | Film-Noir, Mystery

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: 143,456 | Gross: $2.11M

14. Out of the Past (1947)

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

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: 30,210

15. The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

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

Two fishermen pick up a psychotic escaped convict who tells them that he intends to murder them when the ride is over.

Director: Ida Lupino | Stars: Edmond O'Brien, Frank Lovejoy, William Talman, José Torvay

Votes: 6,443

16. Nightmare Alley (1947)

Passed | 110 min | Drama, Film-Noir

The rise and fall of Stanton Carlisle, a mentalist whose lies and deceit prove to be his downfall.

Director: Edmund Goulding | Stars: Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, Helen Walker

Votes: 6,804

17. Pickup on South Street (1953)

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

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: 11,911

18. Fallen Angel (1945)

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

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: 4,348

19. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Approved | 96 min | Drama, Film-Noir

100 Metascore

Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner

Votes: 25,529

20. The Big Clock (1948)

Not Rated | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

After murdering someone, a magazine tycoon tries to frame an unknown, innocent man for the murder instead, while the innocent man tries to solve the murder himself.

Director: John Farrow | Stars: Ray Milland, Maureen O'Sullivan, Charles Laughton, George Macready

Votes: 7,314

21. Criss Cross (1949)

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

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: 6,742

22. Touch of Evil (1958)

PG-13 | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

99 Metascore

A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia

Votes: 94,545 | Gross: $2.24M

23. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

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

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: 17,301

24. Gun Crazy (1950)

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

74 Metascore

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: 10,552

25. Mildred Pierce (1945)

Passed | 111 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

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: 21,032

26. The Big Sleep (1946)

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

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: 75,437 | Gross: $6.54M

27. Angel Face (1953)

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

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: 6,319

28. Night and the City (1950)

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

A small-time grifter and nightclub tout takes advantage of some fortuitous circumstances and tries to become a big-time player as a wrestling promoter.

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hugh Marlowe

Votes: 11,045 | Gross: $3.60M

29. Kiss of Death (1947)

Approved | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Nick Bianco is caught during a botched jewellery heist. The prosecution offer him a more lenient sentence if he squeals on his accomplices but he doesn't roll over on them. Three years into the sentence an event changes his mind.

Director: Henry Hathaway | Stars: Victor Mature, Brian Donlevy, Coleen Gray, Richard Widmark

Votes: 6,712

30. Murder, My Sweet (1944)

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

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: 11,225

31. On Dangerous Ground (1951)

Approved | 82 min | Drama, Film-Noir

Rough city cop Jim Wilson is disciplined by his captain and is sent upstate, to a snowy mountain town, to help the local sheriff solve a murder case.

Directors: Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino | Stars: Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond, Charles Kemper

Votes: 5,838

32. Act of Violence (1949)

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

An embittered, vengeful POW stalks his former commanding officer who betrayed his men's planned escape attempt from a Nazi prison camp.

Director: Fred Zinnemann | Stars: Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Mary Astor

Votes: 4,184

33. The Breaking Point (1950)

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

An otherwise moral captain of a charter boat becomes financially strapped and is drawn into illegal activities in order to keep up payments on his boat.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: John Garfield, Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter, Juano Hernandez

Votes: 2,380

34. Murder by Contract (1958)

Approved | 81 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Claude is a ruthless and efficient contract killer - until he finds his next target is a woman.

Director: Irving Lerner | Stars: Vince Edwards, Phillip Pine, Herschel Bernardi, Caprice Toriel

Votes: 2,212

35. Gilda (1946)

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

A small-time gambler hired to work in a Buenos Aires casino discovers his employer's new wife is his former lover.

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

Votes: 25,788

36. Detour (1945)

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

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: 13,573 | Gross: $0.02M

37. Kansas City Confidential (1952)

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

An ex-con trying to go straight is framed for a million dollar armored car robbery and must go to Mexico in order to unmask the real culprits.

Director: Phil Karlson | Stars: John Payne, Coleen Gray, Preston Foster, Neville Brand

Votes: 5,509

38. Ministry of Fear (1944)

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

Stephen Neale has just been released from an asylum during World War 2 in England when he stumbles on a deadly Nazi spy plot by accident, and tries to stop it.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Carl Esmond, Hillary Brooke

Votes: 6,217



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