The Blacklist

Before we get too much deeper into Noirvember, I’ve often been asked to provide a list of my all-time favorite noir films.  This is painfully hard to do, because it’s like picking my favorite bastard child whose birth I had nothing to do with.  It’s a lot of good movies, folks.  Also, I’m pretty sure that I’ve done this before, although a quick scan of this website tells me (a) I haven’t and (b) I used to be a lot funnier.

Anyway, for the sake of argument/discussion/moving on with our lives, I tossed together a list of 100 essential noir films.  Keep in mind this doesn’t include any proto-noir (pre-war), neo-noir (post-1960), foreign noir, blended genre stuff, color noir, or any other outliers:  this is all just classic-era, pure noir, listed in order of release day.  It is not definitive in any way other than that it includes only films that I would happily sit down and watch again for no reason.  I welcome your comments or questions, and look forward to this shutting you up for a while.

1946

Gilda (Columbia, 1946; Charles Vidor, dir.; Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready)

Night Editor (Columbia, 1946; Henry Levin, dir.; William Gargan, Janis Carter, Jeff Donnell)

The Blue Dahlia (Paramount, 1946; George Marshall, dir.; Allan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix)

The Postman Always Rings Twice (M-G-M, 1946; Tay Garnett, dir.; John Garfield, Lana Turner, Hume Cronyn)

The Stranger (RKO, 1946; Orson Welles, dir.; Orson Welles, Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson)

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Paramount, 1946; Lewis Milestone, dir.; Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott)

The Big Sleep (Warner Bros., 1946; Howard Hawks, dir.; Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers)

The Killers (Universal, 1946; Robert Sidomak, dir.; Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner Edmond O’Brien)

Decoy (Monogram, 1946; Jack Bernhard, dir.; Jean Gillie, Robert Armstrong, Sheldon Leonard)

1947

Dead Reckoning (Columbia, 1947; John Cromwell, dir.; Humphrey Bogart, Lizabeth Scott, Morris Carnovsky)

The Devil Thumbs a Ride (RKO, 1947; Felix A. Feist, dir.; Lawrence Tierney, Ted North, Nan Leslie)

Nora Prentiss (Warner Bros., 1947; Vincent Sherman, dir.; Ann Sheridan, Kent Smith, Bruce Bennett)

Born to Kill (RKO, 1947; Robert Wise, dir.; Lawrence Tierney, Claire Trevor, Elisha Cook Jr.)

Brute Force (Universal, 1947; Jules Dassin, dir.; Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford)

They Won’t Believe Me (RKO, 1947; Irving Pichel, dir.; Robert Young, Susan Hayward, Jane Greer)

Crossfire (RKO, 1947; Edward Dmytryk, dir.; Robert Young, Robert Ryan, Robert Mitchum)

Body and Soul (United Artists, 1947; Robert Rossen, dir.; John Garfield, Lilli Palmer, Hazel Brooks)

Dark Passage (Warner Bros., 1947; Delmer Daves, dir.; Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Moorehead)

Ride the Pink Horse (Universal, 1947; Robert Montgomery, dir.; Robert Montgomery Wanda Hendrix, Thomas Gomez)

Nightmare Alley (20th Century FOX, 1947; Edmund Goulding, dir.; Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Helen Walker)

Out of the Past (RKO, 1947; Jacques Tourneur, dir.; Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas)

The Lady from Shanghai (Columbia, 1947; Orson Welles, dir.; Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Everett Sloane)

T-Men (Eagle-Lion, 1947; Anthony Mann, dir.; Dennis O’Keefe, Alfred Ryder, Mary Meade)

1948

Call Northside 777 (20th Century FOX, 1948; Henry Hathaway, dir.; Jimmy Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee. J. Cobb)

The Naked City (Universal, 1948; Jules Dassin, dir.; Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Ted De Corsia)

The Big Clock (Paramount, 1948; John Farrow, dir.; Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Sullivan)

Ruthless (Eagle-Lion, 1948; Edgar G. Ulmer, dir.; Zachary Scott, Louis Hayward, Sydney Greenstreet)

Raw Deal (Eagle-Lion, 1948; Anthony Mann, dir.; Dennis O’Keefe, Claire Trevor, John Ireland)

Key Largo (Warner Bros., 1948; John Huston, dir.; Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G Robinson)

Hollow Triumph (Eagle-Lion, 1948; Steve Sekely, dir.; Paul Henried, Joan Bennett, Eduard Franz)

Pitfall (United Artists, 1948; André de Toth, dir.; Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Raymond Burr)

Road House (20th Century FOX, 1948) Jean Negulesco, dir.; Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, Richard Widmark)

Moonrise (Republic, 1948; Frank Borzage, dir.; Dane Clark, Gail Russell, Ethel Barrymore)

Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (Universal, 1948; Norman Foster, dir.; Burt Lancaster, Joan Fontaine, Robert Newton)

He Walked By Night (Eagle-Lion, 1948; Anthony Mann, dir.; Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Jack Webb)

Act of Violence (M-G-M, 1948; Fred Zinnemann, dir.; Van Helfin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh)

The Dark Past (Columbia, 1948; Rudolph Maté, dir.; William Holden, Lee J. Cobb, Nina Foch)

Force of Evil (M-G-M, 1948; Abraham Polonsky, dir.; John Garfield, Marie Windsor, Thomas Gomez)

1949

Criss Cross (Universal, 1949; Robert Siodmak, dir.; Burt Lancaster, Yvonne DeCarlo, Dan Duryea)

Impact (United Artists, 1949; Arthur Lubin, dir.; Brian Donlevy, Ella Raines, Charles Coburn)

The Set-Up (RKO, 1949; Robert Wise, dir.; Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias)

They Live By Night (RKO, 1949; Nicholas Ray, dir.; Farley Granger, Cathy O’Donnell, Howard Da Silva)

Too Late for Tears (United Artists, 1949; Byron Haskin, dir.; Dan Duryea, Lizabeth Scott. Don DeFore)

White Heat (Warner Bros., 1949; Raoul Walsh, dir.; James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O’Brien)

Trapped (Eagle-Lion, 1949; Richard Fleischer, dir.; Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Payton; John Hoyt)

Thieves’ Highway (20th Century-FOX, 1949; Jules Dassin, dir.; Richard Conte, Valentina Corese, Lee J. Cobb)

Border Incident (M-G-M, 1949; Anthony Mann, dir.; Richardo Montalban, George Murphy, Howard Da Silva)

1950

The File on Thelma Jordan (Paramount, 1950;  Robert Siodmak; Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey, Paul Kelly)

Gun Crazy (United Artists, 1950; Joseph H. Lewis, dir.; Peggy Cummins, John Dall, Anabel Shaw)

Side Street (M-G-M, 1950; Anthony Mann, dir.; Farley Granger, Cathy O’Donnell, Jean Hagen)

Quicksand (United Artists, 1950; Irving Pichel, dir.; Mickey Rooney, Jeanne Cagney, Peter Lorre)

One Way Street (Universal, 1950; Hugo Fregonese, dir.; James Mason, Dan Duryea, Märta Torén)

D.O.A. (United Artists, 1950; Rudolph Maté, dir.; Edmond O’Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler)

In a Lonely Place (Columbia, 1950; Nicholas Ray, dir.; Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy)

Caged (Warner Bros., 1950; John Cromwell, dir.; Eleanor Paker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby)

The Asphalt Jungle (M-G-M, 1950; John Huston, dir.; Sterling Hayden, Sam Jaffe, Jean Hagen)

Armored Car Robbery (RKO, 1950; Richard Fleischer, dir.; Charles McGraw, William Talman, Adele Jergens)

Panic in the Streets (20th Century FOX, 1950; Elia Kazan, dir.; Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes)

Where the Sidewalk Ends (20th Century FOX, 1950; Otto Preminger, dir.; Dana Andrews, GeneTierney, Bert Freed)

Where Danger Lives (RKO, 1950; John Farrow, dir.; Robert Mitchum, Faith Domergue, Claude Rains)

Sunset Blvd. (Paramount, 1950; Billy Wilder, dir.; William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim)

No Way Out (20th Century Fox, 1950; Jospeh L. Mankiewicz, dir.; Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, Sidney Poitier)

The Breaking Point (Warner Bros., 1950; Michael Curtiz, dir.; John Garfield, Patricia Neal, Wallace Ford)

Union Station (Paramount, 1950: Rudolph Maté, dir.; William Holden, Nancy Olson, Barry Fitzgerald)

Dark City (Paramount, 1950; William Dieterle, dir.; Charlton Heston, Lizabeth Scott, Viveca Lindfors)

Dial 1119 (M-G-M, 1950; Gerald Mayer, dir.; Marshall Thompson, VirginiaField, Sam Levene)

Try and Get Me (United Artists, 1950; Cy Endfield, dir.; Frank Lovejoy, KathleenRyan, Lloyd Bridges)

1951

Shadow of a Doubt (United Artists, 1951; Joseph Losey, dir.; Van Heflin, Evelyn Keyes, John Maxwell)

Ace in the Hole (Paramount, 1951; Billy Wilder, dir.; Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Porter Hall)

Strangers on a Train (Warner Bros., 1951; Alfred Hitchcock, dir.; Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman)

His Kind of Woman (RKO, 1951; John Farrow, dir.; Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price)

Roadblock (RKO, 1951; Harold Daniels, dir.; Charles McGraw, Joan Dixon, Lowell Gilmore)

On Dangerous Ground (RKO, 1951; Nicholas Ray, dir.; Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond)

1952

Scandal Sheet (Columbia, 1952; Phil Karlson, dir.; John Derek, Donna Reed, Broderick Crawford)

The Narrow Margin (RKO, 1952; Richard Fleischer, dir.; Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White)

The Sniper (Columbia, 1952; Edward Dmytryk, dir.; Adolphe Menjou, Gerald Mohr, Arthur Franz)

Kansas City Confidential (United Artists, 1952; Phil Karlson, dir.; John Payne, Preston Foster, Colleen Gray)

1953

The Hitch-Hiker (RKO, 1953; Ida Lupino, dir.; Edmond O’Brine, William Talman, Frank Lovejoy)

Pickup on South Street (20th Century FOX, 1953; Samuel Fuller, dir.; Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter)

City That Never Sleeps (Republic, 1953; John H. Auer, dir.; Gig Young, William Talman, Mala Powers)

99 River Street (United Artists, 1953; Phil Karlson, dir.; John Payne, Evelyn Keyes, Brad Dexter)

The Big Heat (Columbia, 1953; Fritz Lang, dir.; Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin)

1954

Crime Wave (Warner Bros., 1954; André De Toth, dir.; Sterling Hayden, Gene Nelson, Phyllis Kirk)

Human Desire (Columbia, 1954; Fritz Lang, dir.; Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford)

Private Hell 36 (Filmmakers Inc., 1954; Don Siegel, dir.; Ida Lupino, Steve Cochran, Howard Duff)

Suddenly (United Artists, 1954; Lewis Allen, dir.; Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, James Gleason)

1955

Crashout (Filmmakers Inc., 1955; Lewis R. Foster, dir.; William Bendix, Arthur Kennedy, Luther Adler)

The Big Combo (Allied Artists, 1955; Joseph H. Lewis, dir.; Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Jean Wallace)

Kiss Me Deadly (United Artists, 1955; Robert Aldrich, dir.; Ralph Meeker, Maxine Cooper, Albert Dekker)

The Phenix City Story (Allied Artists, 1955; Phil Karlson, dir.; John McIntire, Richard Kiley, Kathryn Grant)

Killer’s Kiss (United Artists, 1955; Stanley Kubrick, dir.; Jamie Smith, Irene Kane, Frank Silvera)

The Desperate Hours (Paramount,1955; William Wyler, dir.; Humphrey Bogart, Frederic March, Martha Scott)

1956

While the City Sleeps (RKO, 1956; Fritz Lang, dir.; Dana Andrews, George Sanders, Ida Lupino)

The Killing (United Artists, 1956; Stanley Kubrick, dir.; Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor)

1957

Crime of Passion (United Artists, 1957; Gerd Oswald, dir.; Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, Raymond Burr)

Sweet Smell of Success (United Artists, 1957; Alexander Mackendrick, dir.; Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison)

The Brothers Rico (Columbia, 1957; Phil Karlson, dir.; Richard Conte, James Darren, Kathryn Crosby)

1958

Touch of Evil (Universal, 1958; Orson Welles, dir.; Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh)

Murder By Contract (Columbia, 1958; Irving Lerner, dir.; Vince Edwards, Phillip Pine, Caprice Toriel)

1959

Odds Against Tomorrow (United Artists, 1959; Robert Wie, dir.; Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Gloria Grahame)

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