Dark, mysterious and centred around nefarious characters with dubious morals and questionable motives, film noir is one of the most respected and loved genres in all of cinema. Known for its frightening femme fatales, lascivious love triangles, dapper detectives and an ultra-cool monochrome aesthetic, film noir has had an incalcuable influence on the rest of cinema since its inception in the 1940s.
The term ‘film noir’ was first coined by French film critic Nino Frank in 1946, who is considered to have identified this new trend in Hollywood filmmaking. This stylish and beloved genre developed throughout the next decade and entered a golden age in the 1950s. Due to changing trends in cinema in the 1960s, the popularity of film noir declined for a time, before re-emerging in the 1970s as neo-noir with films such as The Long Goodbye (1973) and Chinatown (1974).
Here we have listed a selection of key film noir movies that we feel serve as a strong introduction to this expansive genre of film. We have attempted to procure a collection of titles that exemplify film noir and are notable for different reasons. There are hundreds of movies to discover within this category, but if you are a noir-novice, then our list will serve as a good place to begin your journey into this dark and sinister cinema style…
Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)
High Sierra (1941)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
This Gun For Hire (1942)
The Big Sleep (1946)
The Killers (1946)
The Lady From Shanghai (1947)
The Third Man (1949)
White Heat (1949)
Gun Crazy (1950)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
The Night of The Hunter (1955)
Touch of Evil (1958)
So, that’s our brief history of Film Noir!
What’s your favourite film noir? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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