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Noirvember is a month long tribute to great film noir. If you are new to watching classic movies, film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood’s classical film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Film noir is associated with a low-key, black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hard-boiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Great Depression.

We are BIG fans of noir as are a lot of you. Here are the films noir that we believe are the best. If you don’t agree, let us know in the comment section.


Poster for the movie "The Big Sleep"

© 1946 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

The Big Sleep (1946)

Dir: Howard Hawks

Stars:  Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone,

Private Detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he’s seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.

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Poster for the movie "Detour"

© 1945 Producers Releasing Corporation − All right reserved.

Detour (1945) 

Dir: Edgar G. Ulmer

Stars:  Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake

Al Roberts, a New York nightclub pianist, hitch-hikes to Hollywood to meet his girlfriend Sue. The gambler he’s riding with, Charles, unexpectedly dies. Afraid the police wouldn’t believe the truth, Al takes the man’s identity. In a gas station, he gives a lift to Vera, a woman that knew Charles and blackmails Al with tragic consequences.

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Poster for the movie "Double Indemnity"

© 1944 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Double Indemnity (1944) 

Dir: Billy Wilder

Stars:  Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

Unsuspecting Mr. Dietrichson becomes increasingly accident prone after his icily calculating wife encourages him to sign a double indemnity policy proposed by a smooth-talking insurance agent. Against a backdrop of distinctly California settings, the partners in crime plan the perfect murder to collect the insurance. Perfect until a claims manager gets a familiar feeling of foul play and pursues the matter relentlessly.

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Poster for the movie "Gilda"

© 1946 Columbia Pictures − All right reserved.

Gilda (1946)

Dir: Charles Vidor

Stars:  Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready

Just arrived in Argentina, small-time crooked gambler Johnny Farrell is saved from a gunman by sinister Ballin Mundson, who later makes Johnny his right-hand man. But their friendship based on mutual lack of scruples is strained when Mundson returns from a trip with a wife: the supremely desirable Gilda, whom Johnny once knew and learned to hate. The relationship of Johnny and Gilda, a battlefield of warring emotions, becomes even more bizarre after Mundson disappears…

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Poster for the movie "Gun Crazy"

© 1950 King Brothers Productions − All right reserved.

Gun Crazy (1950)

Dir: Joseph H. Lewis

Stars:  Peggy Cummins, John Dall, Berry Kroeger

Bart Tare is an ex-Army man who has a lifelong fixation with guns, he meets a kindred spirit in sharpshooter Annie Starr and goes to work at a carnival. After upsetting the carnival owner who lusts after Starr, they both get fired. Soon, on Starr’s behest, they embark on a crime spree for cash. Subjects of a manhunt, they are tracked by police in the hills Tare enjoyed as a boy.


Poster for the movie "In a Lonely Place"

© 1950 Columbia Pictures Corporation − All right reserved.

In a Lonely Place (1950)

Dir: Nicholas Ray

Stars:  Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy

Dixon ‘Dix’ Steele, a down-on-his-luck screenwriter needs to adapt a trashy novel. At a night club, the hat-check girl, Mildred Atkinson is engrossed reading it. Too tired to read the novel, he asks Mildred to go home with him, to explain the plot. Later that night, Mildred is murdered and Steele is a prime suspect, his record of violence when angry goes against him.

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Poster for the movie "Laura"

© 1944 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation − All right reserved.

Laura (1944)

Dir: Otto Preminger

Stars:  Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price

A detective falls in love with the portrait of the murder victim whose death he is investigating.

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Poster for the movie "The Maltese Falcon"

© 1941 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Dir: John Huston

Stars:  Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet

Spade and Archer is the name of a San Francisco detective agency. That’s for Sam Spade and Miles Archer. The two men are partners, but Sam doesn’t like Miles much. A knockout, who goes by the name of Miss Wanderly, walks into their office; and by that night everything’s changed. Miles is dead. And so is a man named Floyd Thursby. It seems Miss Wanderly is surrounded by dangerous men. There’s Joel Cairo, who uses gardenia-scented calling cards. There’s Kasper Gutman, with his enormous girth and feigned civility. Her only hope of protection comes from Sam, who is suspected by the police of one or the other murder. More murders are yet to come.

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Poster for the movie "Mildred Pierce"

© 1945 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

Mildred Pierce (1945)

Dir: Michael Curtiz

Stars:  Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott

After her cheating husband leaves her, Mildred Pierce proves she can become independent and successful, but can’t win the approval of her spoiled daughter.

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Poster for the movie "The Night of the Hunter"

© 1955 United Artists − All right reserved.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

Dir: Charles Laughton

Stars:  Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Billy Chapin

In the Deep South, a serial-killing preacher hunts two young children who know the whereabouts of a stash of money.

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Poster for the movie "Out of the Past"

© 1947 RKO Radio Pictures − All right reserved.

Out of the Past (1947)

Dir: Jacques Tourneur

Stars:  Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas

Jeff Bailey seems to be a mundane gas station owner in remote Bridgeport, CA. He is dating local girl Ann Miller and lives a quiet life. But Jeff has a secret past, and when a mysterious stranger arrives in town, Jeff is forced to return to the dark world he had tried to escape.

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Poster for the movie "Phantom Lady"

© − All right reserved.

Phantom Lady (1944)

Dir:  Robert Siodmak

Stars:  Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis,

A mystery woman is a murder suspect’s only alibi for the night of his wife’s death. Based on a story by noir scribe Cornell Woolrich.

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Poster for the movie "The Postman Always Rings Twice"

© 1946 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) − All right reserved.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Dir: Tay Garnett

Stars:  Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway

Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway), a middle-aged roadside diner owner, hires a drifter, Frank Chambers (John Garfield), to work at his restaurant. Frank quickly begins an affair with Nick’s beautiful young wife, Cora (Lana Turner), and the two conspire to kill Nick and seize his assets. When they succeed, local prosecutor Kyle Sackett (Leon Ames) becomes suspicious, but is unable to build a solid case. However, the couple soon realizes that no misdeed ever goes truly unpunished.

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Poster for the movie "Scarlet Street"

© − All right reserved.

Scarlet Street (1945)

Dir:  Fritz Lang

Stars:  Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea,

A man in mid-life crisis befriends a young woman after rescuing her from an attack. She believes he is rich and her boyfriend persuades her to con him out of his fortune.

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Poster for the movie "Strangers on a Train"

© 1951 Warner Bros. − All right reserved.

Strangers on a Train (1951)

Dir:  Alfred Hitchcock

Stars:  Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker

A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder…a theory that he plans to implement.


Poster for the movie "Sunset Boulevard"

© 1950 Paramount Pictures − All right reserved.

Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Dir: Billy Wilder

Stars:  William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson

A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.

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Poster for the movie "The Third Man"

© 1949 London Film Productions − All right reserved.

The Third Man (1949)

Dir: Carol Reed

Stars:  Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard

An American pulp writer arrives in post-WWII Vienna only to find that the friend who waited for him is killed under mysterious circumstances. The ensuing mystery entangles him in his friend’s involvement in the black market, with the multinational police, and with his Czech girlfriend.


Poster for the movie "They Live by Night"

© − All right reserved.

They Live by Night (1949)

Dir:  Nicholas Ray

Stars:  Cathy O’Donnell, Farley Granger, Howard Da Silva

Legendary director Nicholas Ray began his career with this lyrical film noir, the first in a series of existential genre films overflowing with sympathy for America’s outcasts and underdogs. When the wide-eyed fugitive Bowie (Farley Granger), having broken out of prison with some bank robbers, meets the innocent Keechie (Cathy O’Donnell), each recognizes something in the other that no one else ever has. The young lovers envision a new, decent life together, but as they flee the cops and contend with Bowie’s fellow outlaws, who aren’t about to let him go straight, they realize there’s nowhere left to run. Ray brought an outsider’s sensibility honed in the theater to this debut, using revolutionary camera techniques and naturalistic performances to craft a profoundly romantic crime drama that paved the way for decades of lovers-on-the-run thrillers to come.

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They Won't Believe MeThey Won’t Believe Me (1947)

Dir: Irving Pichel

Stars: Robert Young, Susan Hayward, Jane Greer

Philandering California stockbroker Larry Ballentine, on trial for murdering his wife and girlfriend, takes the stand to explain one death as suicide and the other as an accident.


Poster for the movie "Touch of Evil"

© 1958 Universal International Pictures (UI) − All right reserved.

Touch of Evil (1958)

Dir: Orson Welles

Stars:  Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles

Stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in Mexican border town.

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Browse the rest of our noir collection here.