10 Best Film Noir Films

Thursday, January 27 by Joan Russell

Learn about the 10 best film noir films made during the 1940s and 1950. Film noir is a term used to describe the black and white movies with crime and detective themes made.

  1. "Sunset Boulevard." A movie about greed and vanity filmed in a series of flashbacks and voice over narration, the film begins with a body floating in a swimming pool. William Holden is a writer that lives off women to support his career. He takes up with aging, vain, silent screen star Norma Desmond, played by Gloria Swanson. It is filmed in an old gloomy mansion where the woman and her memories live. This film was made in 1950.
  2. "Double Indemnity." This is a movie about a femme fatale that convinces her insurance salesman boyfriend to help murder her husband for the insurance money. Her boyfriend is played by Fred MacMurray, and the sexy blond is played by Barbara Stanwyck. Edward G. Robinson is the insurance investigator that is on their trail. It was made in 1944.
  3. "The Third Man." A pulp fiction writer is invited by his friend to stay in Vienna after World War II to write. The writer is played by Joseph Cotton. His friend Harry Lime is played by Orson Wells. When Cotton arrives in Vienna, he finds that his friend has been killed in a hit and run accident. He investigates the crime when he discovers that many of the explanations do not add up. It was made in 1949.
  4. "Sorry, Wrong Number." This movie was made in 1948. It is about a bed ridden heiress, Barbara Stanwyck, that overhears on the phone that her husband is planning to kill her. The movie focuses on her desperate attempts to get help before he does the job. She does not know she is the victim. Burt Lancaster plays the husband. The phone is her only connection to the world.
  5. "Strangers on the Train." Two strangers meet on a train to talk about how they can plan a murder and get way with it. Bruno Anthony, played by Robert Walker, is serious about committing the crimes while the tennis star played by Farley Granger assumes Bruno is kidding. Bruno wants to kill his father so is looking for someone to help him. This suspenseful exciting film made in 1951.
  6. "Notorious." Ingrid Bergman is recruited by government agent Cary Grant to spy on the Nazi group her father was once involved with. They fall in love but face complications during her mission. She marries Claude Rains, a member of the Nazi Spy group she has infiltrated. While living in the mansion, she becomes ill and no one knows what's wrong with her. This film was made in 1946.
  7. "The Big Sleep." This is an exciting detective story with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Bogart plays the detective who investigates a case with twists and turns in the plot that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Lauren Bacall plays his love interest who thinks her father is not telling the detective all the facts of the case. "The Big Sleep" was made in 1946.
  8. "The Killing." The movie is about a group of people planning a race horse robbery. It is complicated by police, airport regulations, various characters involved and a small dog. Sterling Hayden plays the crook that masterminds the plot with some very unusual characters. The movie was made in 1956.
  9. "Shadow of A Doubt." An uncle who is also a killer visits his family in California. His niece, named Charlie, who looks up to him over time begins to suspect him of the crimes she reads about in the paper. When he discovers that she suspects him, her life is in danger as he plans to eliminate any problems. His niece is played by Teresa Wright. The movie was made in 1943.
  10. "Key Largo." This is a story about an war officer who goes to a run down hotel in Key Largo to honor his dead friend's memory. He becomes involved in helping people when the hotel in taken over by gangsters. Humphrey Bogart plays the lead role with Lauren Bacall as his love interest. This movie was made in 1948.