15 the Greatest Classic Noir Movies

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15.Murder, My Sweet

Claire Trevor, Dick Powell

Released: 1944

Directed by: Edward Dmytryk

Murder, My Sweet is a 1944 American film noir, directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, and Anne Shirley. The film is based on Raymond Chandler’s 1940 novel Farewell, My.

14.The Big Heat

Lee Marvin, Glenn Ford

Released: 1953

Directed by: Fritz Lang

The Big Heat is a 1953 film noir directed by Fritz Lang, starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin. The film was written by former reporter Sydney Boehm, based on a serial by William P..

13.Kiss Me Deadly

Cloris Leachman, Nat King Cole

Released: 1955

Directed by: Robert Aldrich

This film 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..

12.The Killing

Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray

Released: 1956

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

This film 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..

11.Strangers on a Train

Alfred Hitchcock, Farley Granger

Released: 1951

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Strangers on a Train is a 1951 American psychological thriller film noir produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and based on the 1950 novel Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. It was shot..

10.Gun Crazy

Russ Tamblyn, Peggy Cummins

Released: 1950

Directed by: Joseph H. Lewis

Gun Crazy is a 1950 film noir feature film directed by Joseph H. Lewis, and produced by Frank King and Maurice King. The production features Peggy Cummins and John Dall in a story about the..

9.Laura

Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb

Released: 1944

Directed by: Otto Preminger

Laura is a 1944 American film noir produced and directed by Otto Preminger. It stars Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, and Clifton Webb along with Vincent Price and Judith Anderson. The screenplay by Jay..

8.Criss Cross

Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis

Released: 1949

Directed by: Robert Siodmak

Criss Cross is a 1949 film noir starring Burt Lancaster, directed by Robert Siodmak from Don Tracy’s novel of the same name. This black-and-white film was shot partly on location in the Bunker Hill..

7.The Big Sleep

Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart

Released: 1946

Directed by: Howard Hawks

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. The movie stars Humphrey Bogart as detective Philip Marlowe and..

6.The Asphalt Jungle

Marilyn Monroe, Jack Warden

Released: 1950

Directed by: John Huston

The Asphalt Jungle is a 1950 film noir directed by John Huston. The caper film is based on the 1949 novel of the same name by W. R. Burnett and stars an ensemble cast including Sterling Hayden, Jean…

5.The Third Man

Orson Welles, Trevor Howard

Released: 1949

Directed by: Carol Reed

The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. It is considered one of the greatest films of all time,..

4.Sunset Boulevard

William Holden, Buster Keaton

Released: 1950

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Sunset Boulevard—stylized onscreen 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..

3.The Maltese Falcon

Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre

Released: 1941

Directed by: John Huston

The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 Warner Bros. film noir based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. Directed by John Huston, the film stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam

n A Lonely Place

Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame

Released: 1950

Directed by: Nicholas Ray

In a Lonely Place is a 1950 film noir directed by Nicholas Ray, and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, produced for Bogart’s Santana Productions. The script was adapted by Edmund North

And in the first place of the ladder

Out of the Past

Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum

Released: 1947

Directed by: Jacques Tourneur

Out of the Past 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, with uncredited revisions by..

What is film noir?
Film noir is a style or genre of films made in Hollywood in the ’40s and ’50s that have stylistic and thematic similarities. Specifically, tales of crime and moral ambiguity shot in black & white with high contrast lighting (bright lights and deep black shadows).

Film noir translates from French as “black film,” but that’s misleading because these aren’t French films. The term was, however, coined by French critics.

It’s actually German cinematographers and directors like John F. Seitz and Fritz Lang that deserve the most credit for shaping the style. They applied the fundamentals of expressionism to the gritty American crime story, inverting the internal turmoil and anguish of private eyes and volatile gangsters so they’re visible on the surface.

No wonder critics started calling them “black films.”

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