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The Best Film Noir Movies 

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Updated March 4, 2020 18.4k votes 1.2k voters 77.5k views 173 items

A list of the best film noir movies. While not every film noir is on this list, the best film noir titles are here. If you believe we missed one of the film noir classics, though, feel free to add it to the list of the best film noir titles yourself. Film Noir began in the 1940's and continued into the 1950's. Today we have neo-noir.

What are the best film noir movies? Borrowing high contrast cinematography from Germany, film noir based its storytelling on characters who were ultimately doomed. Film noir filmmakers were also masters of skirting the Hays Code (censorship in the name of decency) through the use of implication, subtext, and suggestive dialogue in their film noir classics. Today, Film Noir is easily one of the most resilient genres to survive the Hays Code, with films that still stand up to today's modern films.

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Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor

Released: 1941

Directed by: John Huston

Released: 1941 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 ...more

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Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Rhonda Fleming

Released: 1947

Directed by: Jacques Tourneur

Released: 1947 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 ...more

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Greg Stopera added Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, Roman Polanski

Released: 1974

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir mystery film, directed by Roman Polanski from a screenplay by Robert Towne, starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The film was inspired by the ...more

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Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Dorothy Malone

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 ...more
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Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

Released: 1944

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Released: 1944 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 ...more

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Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotten

Released: 1949

Directed by: Carol Reed

Released: 1949 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 ...more

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Marilyn Monroe, Jack Warden, James Whitmore

Released: 1950

Directed by: John Huston

Released: 1950 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, ...more
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William Holden, Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson

Released: 1950

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Released: 1950 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 ...more

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Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Judith Anderson

Released: 1944

Directed by: Otto Preminger

Released: 1944 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 ...more

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Vertigo is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Film Noir Movies
James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1958

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Vertigo is a 1958 American psychological thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock. The story was based on the 1954 novel D'entre les morts by Boileau-Narcejac. The screenplay was ...more

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Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy

Released: 1950

Directed by: Nicholas Ray

Released: 1950 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 ...more
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Alfred Hitchcock, Farley Granger, Leo G. Carroll

Released: 1951

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1951 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 ...more

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Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards

Released: 1956

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Released: 1956 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 ...more

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Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich

Released: 1958

Directed by: Orson Welles

Released: 1958 Touch of Evil is a 1958 American thriller film, written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles. The screenplay was loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson. Along with ...more

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Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster, Edmond O'Brien

Released: 1946

Directed by: Robert Siodmak

Released: 1946 The Killers is a 1946 American film noir directed by Robert Siodmak and based in part on the short story of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. It stars Burt Lancaster in his film debut, Ava ...more
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Lon Harris added Ann Savage, Tom Neal, Tim Ryan

Released: 1945

Directed by: Edgar G. Ulmer

Detour is a 1945 film noir thriller that stars Tom Neal and Ann Savage. The film was adapted by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney from Goldsmith's novel of the same name and was directed by ...more

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Cloris Leachman, Nat King Cole, Jack Elam

Released: 1955

Directed by: Robert Aldrich

Released: 1955 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 ...more

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Alfred Hitchcock, Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten

Released: 1943

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1943 Shadow of a Doubt is a 1943 American psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten. Written by Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, and Alma ...more

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Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish

Released: 1955

Directed by: Charles Laughton, Terry Sanders, Robert Mitchum

Released: 1955 The Night of the Hunter is an American thriller film directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. Based on the 1953 novel of the same name by Davis ...more

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Claire Trevor, Dick Powell, Mike Mazurki

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, ...more
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Lana Turner, Hume Cronyn, John Garfield

Released: 1946

Directed by: Tay Garnett

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 1946 drama-film noir based on the 1934 novel of the same name by James M. Cain. This adaptation of the novel features Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil ...more
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Russ Tamblyn, Peggy Cummins, Trevor Bardette

Released: 1950

Directed by: Joseph H. Lewis

Released: 1950 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 ...more
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Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready

Released: 1946

Directed by: Charles Vidor

Released: 1946 Gilda is a 1946 American black-and-white film noir directed by Charles Vidor and starring Rita Hayworth in her signature role as the ultimate femme fatale and Glenn Ford as a young thug. The ...more
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Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1946

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1946 Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately ...more

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Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson

Released: 1948

Directed by: John Huston

Released: 1948 Key Largo is a 1948 film noir directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall and featuring Lionel Barrymore and Claire Trevor. The movie was adapted ...more

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