100 Greatest Film Noirs
of All-Time

(Classic and Neo-Noir)

The 100 Greatest Film Noirs of All-Time

  • Greatest Classic Film Noirs (1940-1958)
    The term "Film noir"
    (literally 'black film" or "black cinema') was coined by French film critics (first by Nino Frank in 1946) who noticed the trend of how 'dark', downbeat and black the looks and themes were of many American crime and detective films released in France to theatres during and following World War II. A wide range of films reflected the resultant tensions and insecurities of the time period, and counter-balanced the optimism of Hollywood's musicals and comedies.

    Classic film noir developed during and after World War II, taking advantage of the post-war ambience of anxiety, pessimism, and suspicion. It was a style of low-cost, B-list American films (the bottom of a double feature) that capitalized on advancements in film-making in the 20s and 30s, including synchronized sound, panchromatic (black and white) film stock with better light sensitivity, more compact lighting equipment, and cheaper on-location shoots. Film noir first evolved in the 1940s, became prominent in the post-war era, and lasted in a classic "Golden Age" period until the late 1950s.

    Feelings of fear, mistrust, bleakness, loss of innocence, despair and paranoia (displayed through visual styling and low-key lighting) were readily evident in noir, reflecting the 'chilly' Cold War period when the threat of nuclear annihilation was ever-present. The criminal, violent, misogynistic, hard-boiled, or greedy perspectives of anti-heroes in film noir's story conventions were a metaphoric symptom of society's evils, with a strong undercurrent of moral conflict, purposelessness and sense of injustice. There were rarely happy or optimistic endings in noirs.

  • Greatest Neo-Noirs or Post-Noirs (1958 and after)
    Film noirs have recently been released in the modern era and have been refashioned for present-day sensibilities. A number of them in the 60s-70s were hard-boiled policeman-hero films that contained film noirish characteristics. Most neo-noirs attempted to re-establish the moods and themes of classic noirs. So-called post-noirs (modern tech-noirs, neo-noirs, or cyberpunk) appeared after the classic period with an attempt to revive the themes of classic noir, although they portrayed contemporary times and were often filmed in color. Tech-noir (also known as 'cyberpunk') refers specifically to a hybrid of high-tech science-fiction and film noirs portraying a decayed, grungy, unpromising, dark and dystopic future - similar to what was found in the low-life, underworld environments of hard-boiled 'pulp fiction' made popular by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

Introduction to Film Noir

Greatest Femmes Fatales in Classic Film Noir

Classic Film Noir Title Screens (1940-1958)

100 Greatest Film Noirs of All-Time

Filmsite's 60 Greatest Classic Film Noirs
(1940 to 1958)

(chronological order, unranked)
The linked titles below refer to reviews (with screenshots) in the "Greatest Moments and Scenes" section of the site

The Letter (1940)

High Sierra (1941)

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Suspicion (1941)

This Gun for Hire (1942)

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Double Indemnity (1944)

Gaslight (1944)

Laura (1944)

Murder, My Sweet (1944)

The Woman in the Window (1944)

Detour (1945)

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

The Lost Weekend (1945)

Mildred Pierce (1945)

Scarlet Street (1945)

Spellbound (1945)

The Big Sleep (1946)

The Blue Dahlia (1946)

Gilda (1946)

The Killers (1946)

Notorious (1946)

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

Kiss of Death (1947)

Lady in the Lake (1947)

Nightmare Alley (1947)

Odd Man Out (1947)

Out of the Past (1947)

T-Men (1947)

Force of Evil (1948)

Key Largo (1948)

The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

The Naked City (1948)

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

They Live By Night (1948)

All the King's Men (1949)

Criss Cross (1949)

The Third Man (1949)

White Heat (1949)

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

D.O.A. (1949/1950)

Gun Crazy (1949/1950)

In a Lonely Place (1950)

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Strangers on a Train (1951)

Angel Face (1952/53)

Don't Bother to Knock (1952)

The Narrow Margin (1952)

The Big Heat (1953)

Pickup on South Street (1953)

The Big Knife (1955)

Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Phenix City Story (1955)

The Killing (1956)

The Wrong Man (1956)

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Touch of Evil (1958)

Filmsite's 40 Greatest Post or Neo-Noirs
(Post 1958)

(chronological order, unranked)

Vertigo (1958)

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)

Breathless (1960) (aka À Bout de Souffle)

The Naked Kiss (1964)

Point Blank (1967)

The Long Goodbye (1973)

Chinatown (1974)

Night Moves (1975)

Taxi Driver (1976)

Body Heat (1981)

Cutter's Way (1981)

Blade Runner (1982)

Blood Simple (1984)

Blue Velvet (1986)

Angel Heart (1987)

Black Widow (1987)

After Dark, My Sweet (1990)

The Grifters (1990)

Miller's Crossing (1990)

Basic Instinct (1992)

Red Rock West (1993)

The Last Seduction (1994)

Se7en (1995)

The Usual Suspects (1995)

Bound (1996)

Fargo (1996)

L.A. Confidential (1997)

Lost Highway (1997)

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Dark City (1998)

A Simple Plan (1998)

Memento (2000)

The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

Femme Fatale (2002)

Oldboy (2003)

Brick (2005)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)

Inherent Vice (2014)

Previous Page Next Page