The Greatest Classic Noir Movies, Ranked

Over 800 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Classic Noir Movies, Ranked
Voting Rules
Vote up the slickest, most stylish, most entertaining noirs.

Sex, murder, and mystery come together in classic noir films. The top old noir movies feature an unsuspecting protagonist getting swept up in a world of intrigue. This is a list of the greatest famous noir movies, including everything from The Maltese Falcon to Sweet Smell of Success to House by the River.

What films will you find on this list of the best noir movies in the genre? In Sunset Boulevard, a writer gets lost in a forgotten star's life of fantasy. William Holden and Gloria Swanson captivate in this 1950 film. The Third Man is another one of the best classic noir films ever made. Barbara Stanwyck stars as a murderous housewife in the 1944 noir masterpiece Double Indemnity. Other good movies featured on this list include Port of Shadows, The Killers, and Touch of Evil.

Which old noir movie do you think deserves the top spot on this list? Vote your favorites up to number one, and please add any classic films that are missing.

Most divisive: The Killers
Ranked by
  • The Maltese Falcon
    Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre
    234 votes
    • Released: 1941
    • Directed by: John Huston
    In the intricate web of The Maltese Falcon, private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) finds himself entangled in a dark mystery. A femme fatale, Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), hires him for what appears to be a simple case. But when his partner is murdered, things take a sinister turn. The plot thickens as an elusive artifact - the titular Maltese Falcon - comes into play. John Huston directs this noir classic, which was nominated for three Academy Awards in 1942. Amidst shadowy allies and treacherous enemies, Spade navigates deception and danger in this gripping tale of greed and betrayal.
  • The Big Sleep
    Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers
    207 votes
    • Released: 1946
    • Directed by: Howard Hawks
    Private investigator Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) is hired by General Sternwood to help resolve the gambling debts of his wild young daughter, Carmen (Martha Vickers). Sternwood's older daughter, Vivian (Lauren Bacall), provides assistance when she implies that the situation is more complex, and also involves casino owner (John Ridgely) and a recently disappeared family friend. As people linked to the Sternwoods start being murdered, Marlowe finds himself getting ever deeper into the case.
  • Double Indemnity
    Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
    203 votes
    • Released: 1944
    • Directed by: Billy Wilder
    Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir crime drama directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, based on James M. Cain's 1943 novella of the same name, which originally appeared as an eight-part serial in Liberty magazine, beginning in February 1936. Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) is a provocative housewife who, perhaps plotting her husband's deaths, buys life insurance in his name from salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray).
  • Out of the Past
    Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas
    219 votes
    • Released: 1947
    • Directed by: Jacques Tourneur
    The quiet life of small-town gas station owner Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is interrupted when a figure from his shady past, small-time crook Joe Stephanos (Paul Valentine), recognizes him. Stephanos' boss, crooked gambler Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas), had hired Jeff to track down Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer), a girlfriend who shot Whit and made off with $40,000 of his. Jeff and Kathie fell in love, but she left him to go back to Sterling, who now wants Jeff to settle a few old scores.
  • The Third Man
    Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard
    190 votes
    • Released: 1949
    • Directed by: Carol Reed
    In the aftermath of World War II, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), an American writer, navigates the shadowy underbelly of ruined Vienna in search of his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). A British officer tells him that Harry is dead, but inconsistencies arise. As a web of deception unravels, Martins discovers a chilling secret about Lime. This noir classic The Third Man is directed by Carol Reed and won an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Its haunting zither score and atmospheric cinematography remain iconic in cinema history.
  • Strangers on a Train
    Robert Walker, Farley Granger, Ruth Roman
    169 votes
    • Released: 1951
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
    In the suspenseful thriller, Strangers on a Train, tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger) encounters eccentric Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) during a chance meeting on a train. A conversation ensues, with Antony proposing an unthinkable pact: murder swapping. The chilling plot spirals when Antony takes their conversation as a binding agreement and acts upon it, plunging Haines into an unfathomable dilemma. Directed by the renowned Alfred Hitchcock, this film is a masterwork of tension and terror. It was nominated for the Best Cinematography award at the 1952 Academy Awards.