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The Best Film Noir Movies

Updated June 10, 2021 16.9k votes 1.4k voters 82.8k views142 items

List RulesVote up your favorite noir films of all time.

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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    Out of the Past

    Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum

    Released1947

    Directed byJacques 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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    290
    50

    The Big Sleep

    Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart

    Released1946

    Directed byHoward 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...  more
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    353
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    The Maltese Falcon

    Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre

    Released1941

    Directed byJohn 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 Spade...  more

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    The Killers

    Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster

    Released1946

    Directed byRobert 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 Gardner,...  more
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    262
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    In a Lonely Place

    Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame

    Released1950

    Directed byNicholas 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 from...  more

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    Kiss Me Deadly

    Cloris Leachman, Nat King Cole

    Released1955

    Directed byRobert 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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    236
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    The Asphalt Jungle

    Marilyn Monroe, Jack Warden

    Released1950

    Directed byJohn 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, Jean...  more
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    212
    50

    Detour

    Ann Savage, Tom Neal

    Released1945

    Directed byEdgar 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 Edgar G....  more
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    232
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    The Killing

    Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray

    Released1956

    Directed byStanley 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 drama...  more

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    216
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    Laura

    Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb

    Released1944

    Directed byOtto 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 Jay...  more
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    191
    30

    Murder, My Sweet

    Claire Trevor, Dick Powell

    Released1944

    Directed byEdward 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...  more
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    280
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    The Third Man

    Orson Welles, Trevor Howard

    Released1949

    Directed byCarol 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 time,...  more
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    232
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    Strangers on a Train

    Alfred Hitchcock, Farley Granger

    Released1951

    Directed byAlfred 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 shot...  more
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    295
    122

    Chinatown

    Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway

    Released1974

    Directed byRoman 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 California...  more

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    Vertigo

    James Stewart, Kim Novak

    Released1958

    Directed byAlfred 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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    Gun Crazy

    Russ Tamblyn, Peggy Cummins

    Released1950

    Directed byJoseph 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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    208
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    Touch of Evil

    Charlton Heston, Orson Welles

    Released1958

    Directed byOrson 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 Welles,...  more

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    The Postman Always Rings Twice

    Lana Turner, Hume Cronyn

    Released1946

    Directed byTay 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 Kellaway,...  more
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    342
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    Double Indemnity

    Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck

    Released1944

    Directed byBilly 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 appeared...  more
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    159
    58

    Shadow of a Doubt

    Alfred Hitchcock, Teresa Wright

    Released1943

    Directed byAlfred 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 Reville, the...  more

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    Gilda

    Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford

    Released1946

    Directed byCharles 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 film was...  more
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    175
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    Nightmare Alley

    Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell

    Released1947

    Directed byEdmund Goulding

    Released: 1947
    Nightmare Alley is a 1947 film noir starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell, and directed by Edmund Goulding. The film is based on the 1946 novel of the same name, written by William Lindsay...  more
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    297
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    Sunset Boulevard

    William Holden, Buster Keaton

    Released1950

    Directed byBilly 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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    Scarlet Street

    Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett

    Released1945

    Directed byFritz Lang

    Released: 1945
    Scarlet Street is a 1945 American film noir directed by Fritz Lang about a middle-aged painter who is seduced by a woman and paints her a portrait, only to come across that she's using him for his...  more
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    The Big Heat

    Lee Marvin, Glenn Ford

    Released1953

    Directed byFritz Lang

    Released: 1953
    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....  more

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