I don’t know about you, but I love Film Noir, particularly the classic period of this genre from roughly 1940 to 1960. Film Noir is defined as:
“A style or genre of cinematographic film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace. The term was originally applied (by a group of French critics) to American thriller or detective films made in the period 1944–54 and to the work of directors such as Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder.”
Despite the rather morose definition, I find the genre of Film Noir to be both exciting and very entertaining. In addition to the attributes described in the definition, some others that are common in many Film Noir movies include:
- Some of the best titles in all of cinematic history – Double Indemnity, Dial M for Murder, Call Northside 777, and many others are so memorable.
- Gritty urban scenes made even more so by the black & white cinematography
- A beautiful woman at the center of the story – the femme fatale
- Crimes of passion
- The hero seeking redemption for past mistakes or crimes
- A tough overworked cop
- Heavies, mobsters, and thugs
- Surprising/unexpected twists and turns (both good and bad)
- Lots of smoking and/or drinking
- Trench coats, suits, handguns, and fedoras
- Most violent scenes are either filmed from a distance or left to your imagination
Below is a list of the 22 Film Noir movies seen thus far presented based on my current personal rankings for each. Their Internet Movie Database (IMDB) ratings are listed too along with some comments from me. Given that there are 845 film noir movies listed on the Internet Movie Database, I’ve got my work cut out for me to see them all. As more are seen, the list will be updated and expanded. Enjoy!!!!!
RANK/FILM/(YEAR RELEASED)/IMDB RATING – comments
- Double Indemnity (1944) = 8.3 – Billy Wilder – need I say more.
- The Third Man (1949) = 8.1 – amazing cinematography – filmed in war-ravaged Vienna after WWII
- The Big Heat (1953) = 8.0 – perhaps Glenn Ford’s best role and performance
- Call Northside 777 (1948) = 7.4 – great journalistic whodunit with Jimmy Stewart
- Dial M for Murder (1954) = 8.2 – Grace Kelly is wonderful – Alfred Hitchcock film
- Crime Wave (1954) = 7.4 – a gritty and realistic movie – credited film debut for one Charles (Buchinsky) Bronson (see photo at bottom)
- Gun Crazy (1950) = 7.6 – Better than Bonnie & Clyde in my opinion
- Key Largo (1948) = 7.8 – stuck in a hurricane with mobsters, oh joy!
- Berlin Express (1948) = 6.8 – certainly a unique plot/setting – searching for a kidnapped peace activist and filmed in post-WWII Germany
- Pickup on South Street (1953) = 7.7 – Film Noir and fighting Commie conspirators
- Kansas City Confidential (1952) = 7.4 – intriguing film of tracking down crooks whose faces were hidden by masks
- Ace in the Hole (1951) = 8.1
- The Big Sleep (1946) = 7.9
- Sunset Boulevard (1950) = 8.4
- The Stranger (1946) = 7.4
- The Maltese Falcon (1941) = 8.0 – good film, but too wordy
- The Underworld Story (1950) = 7.0
- Human Desire (1954) = 7.1
- The Big Clock (1948) = 7.7
- Gilda (1946) = 7.7
- Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) = 7.4
- Detour (1945) = 7.4 – just one redeeming character and she’s only in the film briefly
If you love Film Noir, here’s an image link to an encyclopedia on the topic available through Amazon.com*.
*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using these links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.