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Film noir movies share similar plots: a private detective is investigating a murder; a mysterious, glamorous woman appears.
The protagonists: the detective is smart, intelligent, charming and handsome. The female lead is a sultry seductress, ie, a femme fatale.
The films tend to have various degrees of brutality and eroticism depending on the director’s style.
The structure of the film is stripped bare: there’s no gore like in horror films and no special effects. The main characteristics of film noir movies are the mood and the ambience.
Film noir movies are set in urban or suburban areas and the action mostly take place on the road. These movies create a special atmosphere of suspense and thrill. Film noir movies have been heavily influenced by German Expressionism from the 1910s and 1920s.
Here’s what I think are the top 5 best classic film noir movies
In no particular order, here’s some unforgettable film noir movies.
Sunset Boulevard is a classic noir film directed by Billy Wilder (who directed Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot) featuring Gloria Swanson, a faded movie star who dreams of a return to her former glory.
Sunset Boulevard won three Oscars and was nominated for 11.
John Huston directed this noir in 1950 – he won two Oscars and was nominated for 15.
Asphalt Jungle gave Marilyn Monroe her first serious film appearance, launching her career as an actress.
The film follows a group of men who plan a robbery.
Humphrey Bogart (lead in Casablanca and Oscar winner for The African Queen directed by John Huston) plays a San Francisco detective. A mysterious femme fatale appears on the scene and just as mysteriously a man is killed. The main theme is the frantic search for a statuette, the Maltese falcon from the movie’s title. The film is directed by John Huston.
Actress Anita Eckberg (lead in Fellini‘s La Dolce Vita) is attacked with a knife in the shower – this film is considered as a precursor to Alfred Hitchcock‘s thriller Psycho (1960). The main setting is a seedy strip club.
The story of a doctor in San Francisco who is getting frustrated and bored with his life, until he meets femme fatale Nora Prentiss. He falls in love with Nora and devises a plan to leave his wife.
I would probably start from Asphalt Jungle just for Marilyn‘s performance.