Film Noir Movie List (and crime dramas)

1931 M (1:50:40) is a 1931 German drama-thriller directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. M is supposedly based on the real-life case of serial killer Peter Kürten, the "Vampire of Düsseldorf", whose crimes took place in the 1920s.

1944 Double Indemnity Directed by Billy Wilder and widely regarded as a classic, it is often cited as a paradigmatic film noir and as having set the standard for the films that followed in that genre. The film stars Fred MacMurray as an insurance salesman, Barbara Stanwyck as a provocative housewife who wishes her husband were dead, and Edward G. Robinson as a claims adjuster whose job is to find phony claims. The term double indemnity refers to a clause in certain life insurance policies that doubles the payout in cases when death is caused by accidental means. 

1938 Young and Innocent (1:22:06) Also released as "The Girl Was Young". When an actress is murdered by her jealous estranged husband, her boyfriend, writer Robert Tisdall discovers her body on the beach. He is erroneously thought to be the murderer. He is able to escape and goes on the run with a police constable's daughter Erica, determined to prove his innocence.

1947 The Web (1:29:02 )  is a black-and-white thriller starring Vincent Price. The film, directed by Michael Gordon, is considered film noir. It also features amongst its cast the science fiction/horror writer Fritz Leiber as Leopold Kroner.

1949 Too Late for Tears (1:33:29) Alan and Jane Palmer (Kennedy and Scott) are driving to a party in the Hollywood Hills one evening when someone in another car throws a suitcase stuffed with cash into the back seat of their convertible.

1950 House By The River (1:24:14) Reviews for the film were mixed when first released. Modern reviewers tend to give the gothic noir more positive write ups. Richard Brody for the New Yorker Magazine writes in his 2005 review: "Every detail of the film, from its opening shots of the nearby river and the wind in the trees, has moral resonance. Stephen promises to change, but from the moment that he listens lasciviously to Emily’s bathwater sluicing down a drainpipe his bad end is already foretold—and the elements of nature, the wind and the water, are the ultimate agents of his doom." Link

1950 Woman on the Run (1:16:53) Frank Johnson flees police after becoming an eyewitness to murder. He is pursued around scenic San Francisco by his wife, a reporter, the police, and... the real murderer. ~IMDb

1951 Cause For Alarm! (1:12:56) Ellen (Loretta Young) narrates the tale of "the most terrifying day of my life", how she was taking care of her bedridden husband George Z. Jones (Barry Sullivan) when he suddenly dropped dead.

1955 Cast a Dark Shadow (1:22:24) After a year of marriage, Edward "Teddy" Bare (Dirk Bogarde) kills his wealthy older wife, Monica (Mona Washbourne), after she asks her lawyer, Phillip Mortimer (Robert Flemyng), to make a will. He stages it to look as if she was accidentally asphyxiated while drunkenly trying to light a gas heater.

1955 The Big Combo (1:23:41)  Police Lt. Diamond must close his surveillance of mob boss Brown because the department says its too expensive. Determined that he can dig up the dirt they need, Diamond makes one last attempt to uncover evidence against Brown by going through his girlfriend.

1948 Ruthless (1:46:37) is a drama film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and starring Zachary Scott and Louis Hayward. Horace Vending shows himself to the world as a rich philanthropist. In fact, the history of his rise from his unhappy broken home shows this to be far from the case. After being taken in by richer neighbors, he started to exhibit an obsessive and selfish urge to make more and more money, loving and leaving women at will to further his end.” 

1945 Strange Illusion (1:25:10) Paul has a strange, recurring dream in which his mother falls in love with a dangerous man, a dream which also contains the image of his father's death in an automobile accident under mysterious circumstances. Through the help of his friend, a psychiatrist, Paul realizes that his dream is coming true, and that his mother is falling under Curtis's influence. Curtis, in fact, is a homicidal maniac who lives as an out-patient at the sanitarium of the unscrupulous Dr. Muhlbach. 

1941 I Wake Up Screaming (1:22:12) A young promoter, Frankie Christopher is accused of the murder of Vicky Lynn, a young actress he ‘discovered’ as a waitress while out with ex-actor robin Ray and gossip columnist Larry Evans. Frankie hides out with Vicky’s sister Kull with whom he is falling in live but is eventually captured and interrogated by the cops. An obsessive police officer, Cornell, knows that Frankie is innocent but because the evidence is completely incriminating, he tries to put the suspect behind bars anyway.”

1948 He Walked by Night (1:18:54) “The film's no-frills parallel narrative is divided between hunters and hunted - the L.A.P.D. and a coolly calculating electronics expert/cop killer, respectively. Sought by authorities for the point blank murder of an off-duty officer who had stopped him for questioning, Roy Martin (Richard Basehart) easily makes noir's most malevolent psycho-loners top ten.” Link: Film Noir of the Week

1953 The Hitch-Hiker (1:10:48) "The Hitch-Hiker (1953) is a film noir directed by Ida Lupino about two fishing buddies who pick up a mysterious hitchhiker during a trip to Mexico...The film is based on the true story of Billy Cook, a psychopathic murderer. It has been called the first film noir directed by a woman..."

1946 The Stranger (1:31:13) "Rankin's wife Mary begins to suspect the worst of her husband, but is too blinded by love to accept the facts. She is torn between desires to learn the truth about her husband, and torn by the idea of helping Rankin create his new life." Article about The Stranger

1954 Suddenly (1:15:40) Film critic Carl Mazek makes the case that the “Machiavellian attitude" of John Baron links the picture with the brutal films noir of the 1950s. Moreover, the themes of violence, sense of claustrophobia and despair mark the film as completely amoral and, as such, Suddenly is quite opposite of non-noir films like The Desperate Hours (1955). Link

1946 The Strange Woman (1:38:37) If noir looks at the darkness of the human soul, this is one of the darkest journeys into human sexuality…Ulmer fortunately refuses to give this character a typical Freudian explanation found so often in pictures of this time, and instead allows the duality between her saintly philanthropic good deeds and her sadomasochistic nature to not be answered, only to add mystery to this femme fatale, who truly is a 'strange woman.’ Link: Film Noir of the Week

1954 The Sleeping Tiger (1:27:18) Two criminals are stalking the streets of London one dark night. Frank Clemmons, a cocky young man, holds psychiatrist Dr. Clive Esmond up at gunpoint, but Dr. Esmond manages to overpower him. Frank has two options; he can go to prison or he can be a guest at Dr. Esmond’s house where he’ll be a human guinea pig subjected to Dr. Esmond’s scrutiny, which aims to cure him of his criminality. Frank agrees upon the latter.

1944 The Woman in the Window is a film noir directed by Fritz Lang that tells the story of psychology professor Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) who meets and becomes enamored with a young femme fatale...the film was suspenseful, ably directed by Lang, and filled with all kinds of Freudian psychological interpretations about sexual repressions. The dark camera shots and jittery angles caught by cinematographer Milton Krasner, added to the tension seen in Robinson's internal struggle. The performances by the stars were superb. That the Robinson character made one wrong move in his life and had to pay for it, shows how even the most innocent type of person is capable of murder if he's faced with the right circumstances..."

1945 Scarlet Street (1:41:27) "...sets a long-standing trend of a criminal not punished for his crime; this is the first Hollywood film where that happened...The Edward G. Robinson character is viewed as an ordinary man who is influenced by an evil couple who take advantage of his vulnerability and lead him down an amoral road where he eventually in a passionate moment loses his head and commits murder. Chris's imagination can no longer save him from his dreadful existence, and his complete downfall comes about as the talented artist loses track of reality and his dignity." Link

1945 Detour (1:07:39) Detour is a film noir thriller that stars Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake and Edmund MacDonald. The 68-minute film was released by the Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), one of the so-called "poverty row" film studios in mid-twentieth century Hollywood. Although made on a small budget with bare sets and straightforward camera work, Detour has gathered much praise through the years and is held in high regard. 

1950 D.O.A. (1:23:10) "…directed by Rudolph Maté, the frantically paced plot revolves around a doomed man's quest to find out who has poisoned him – and why – before he dies…he key to the mystery is a bill of sale for what turns out to be stolen iridium. Bigelow had notarized the document for Eugene Philips six months earlier. He connects Eugene's mistress Marla Rakubian to gangsters led by Majak. They capture Bigelow and since he has learned too much about the theft, Majak orders his psychotic henchman Chester to kill him. However, Bigelow manages to escape." 

1947 The Two Mrs. Carrolls An artist meets Sally while on vacation in the country. They develop a romance but Carroll doesn't tell her that he's already mearried. Suffering from mental illness, Carroll returns home where he paints an impression of his wife as the angel of death. Article about the Two Mrs. Carrolls

1950 Sunset Boulevard (1:44:67) Link: American film noir …named after the boulevard  that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, California. The film stars William Holden as an unsuccessful screenwriter, Gloria Swanson as a faded silent movie star who draws him into her fantasy world, in which she dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen…Praised by many critics when first released, Sunset Boulevard was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won three. It is widely accepted as a classic, often cited as one of the most noteworthy films of American cinema. Sunset Boulevard Discussion Thread

1951 The Thirteenth Letter (1:25:28) This film noir concerns a Canadian doctor who receives a series of poison pen letters. Letters are  sent to other members of the town, signed with the mysterious pseudonym "Raven."

1945 Leave Her to Heaven (1:44:00) Ellen is already engaged to another man (Vincent Price), but she jilts him and rapidly marries Richard, who at first is fascinated not only with Ellen's beauty, but with her exotic and intense manner. It gradually becomes apparent however that Ellen is pathologically jealous towards any other person and any other activity that her husband cares about.

1957 Sweet Smell of Success (1:36:00) The film tells the story of a powerful newspaper columnist (clearly based on Walter Winchell) who uses his connections to ruin his sister's relationship with a man he deems inappropriate. Despite a poorly received preview screening, Sweet Smell of Success has greatly improved in stature over the years. In 1993, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Sweet Smell of Success Discussion Thread

1940 Rebecca (2:05:05) is a 1940 psychological/dramatic noir thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock as his first American project, and his first film produced under his contract with David O. Selznick...The film is a gothic tale about the lingering memory of the title character, Maxim de Winter's dead first wife, which continues to haunt Maxim, his new bride, and Mrs. Danvers.

1947 A Double Life (5:39 film clip) Ronald Coleman discusses the anxieties and uncertainties of the theatre in this soliloquy.

1943 Shadow of a Doubt  is an American thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock starromg Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten. David Mamet calls it Hitchcock's finest film.

1955 Night of the Hunter Its plot focuses on a corrupt reverend-turned-serial killer who uses his charms to woo an unsuspecting widow and her two children in an attempt to steal a fortune hidden by the woman's dead husband. The novel and film draw on the true story of Harry Powers, hanged in 1932 for the murders of two widows and three children in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

1937 Love From a Stranger (1:26:38) Carol wins the lottery, but her sudden wealth leads to a break up with her fiancé Ronald. Then Carol quickly falls in love with the romantic and mysterious Gerald, and marries him despite the warnings of her friends. Not long after, she begins to see that Gerald is disturbed and perhaps even dangerous...starring Basil Rathbone and Ann Harding.

1957 Slander Trailer and link to full movie Slander features Cochran as H.R Manley, the self-made millionaire owner of Real Truth, a trashy scandal sheet. Manley lives in a Manhattan apartment (New York, again) along with his alcoholic mother (Rambeau) who deplores her son’s magazine and his hypocrisy. On the other hand, Manley loves his mother and is anxious for her approval (the film seems to suggest probably too much so). He insists to her that his crusade for the truth is both real and legitimate. Film Noir of the Week

1950 The Second Woman Jeff Cohalan (Robert Young) a successful architect who is tormented by the fact that his fiancée was killed in a mysterious car accident on the night before their wedding. Blaming himself for her death, Colahan spends his time alone, lamenting in the state-of-the-art cliff-top home he'd designed for his bride-to-be.

1936 Sabotage (1:15:56) also released as The Woman Alone, is a 1936 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Detective Sargent Ted Spencer is on the trail of Verloc, part of a gang of foreign London saboteurs. As a cover, Verloc manages a cinema with his wife and her brother, who don't know his secret. Spencer takes a job at the shop next door to observe the family.

1949 Trapped (1:18:05) is a semi-documentary film noir. The film begins with a voice over footage of the treasury department, then quickly begins the story once a woman tries to deposit a twenty-dollar bill at the bank.

1955 The Big Bluff (1:11:11) When scheming opportunist Ricardo De Villa learns that a wealthy widow has a terminal heart disease, he seduces and marries her. Playing the part of a faithful and doting husband, he hides his affair with an exotic dancer while waiting for his wife's demise. When her condition changes and it seems she will not die on her own, the conniving man takes matters into his own hands.

1949 Too Late for Tears (1:33:29)Young Lisbeth Scott and Alan Kennedy are driving one night when another car flashes its lights at them and the driver tosses a bag containing 60,000 dollars into their car and drives off. Alan wants to turn it in, but the money reveals a rather frightening side of Jane's personality and she insists they keep it for a while. Their story twists and turns as the rightful recipient tracks them down.

1947 Lured (1:42:20) also known as Personal Column in the USA. Sandra Carpenter (Lucille Ball) is an American who came to London to perform in a show but now is working as a taxi dancer. She is upset to find out that a friend, a dancer named Lucy Barnard (Tanis Chandler), is missing and believed to be the latest victim of the notorious "Poet Killer," who lures victims with ads in the newspaper's personal columns and sends poems to taunt the police.

1968 No Way To Treat a Lady (1:48:07) Rod Steiger stars as Christopher Gill, a serial killer who is fixated on his late mother, who had been an actress. Gill preys on older women who remind him of her. A Broadway theater director and costumer, he adopts various disguises, e.g. priest, policeman, plumber, hairdresser, etc., to put his victims at ease (and also avoid being identified) before strangling them and painting a pair of lips on their foreheads with garish red lipstick.

1947 The Web (1:27:02) Leopold Kroner (Fritz Leiber), formerly of Colby Enterprises, is released after five years in prison for embezzlement. Andrew Colby (Vincent Price), claiming that Kroner has threatened him, hires lawyer Bob Regan (Edmond O'Brien) as a personal bodyguard. That evening, Regan hears a gunshot from Colby's study and finds Kroner there, apparently trying to kill Colby. Regan kills Kroner when he turns around, pointing the gun at him.

Great Resources

Steve is the Film Noir of the Week editor. The blog was started in 2005 - and has been updated every week since the summer of '05.

Film Noir Studies found its own origins in a college course and a long-time fascination with old black-and-white movies. Its purpose is to continue the discussion about film noir – perhaps even fueling the fascination with the topic – by focusing on the classic noir films of the 1940s and ‘50s. The site is also intended to be an important resource for film students, professors, and movie buffs, alike.