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The Top 5 Best Classic Film Noir Movies

Paola_Bassanese_itcher_contributorYou must be a certain kind of person to like film noir movies: you love intrigue, murder, mesmerising characters and an unhappy ending. ~ Paola Bassanese
Film noir movies are crime dramas with a strong stylish and sexy element and were particularly popular in the 1940s and 1950s.

Film Noir Movie Characteristics

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.


What are Film Noir Movies

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.

1. `Sunset Boulevard´ (Billy Wilder, 1950)

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.

2. `Asphalt Jungle´ (John Huston, 1950)

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.

3. `The Maltese Falcon´ (John Huston, 1941)

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.

4. `Screaming Mimi´ (Gerd Oswald, 1958)

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.

5. `Nora Prentiss´ (Vincent Sherman, 1947)

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.


Which One?

Which one to choose?

I would probably start from Asphalt Jungle just for Marilyn‘s performance.


I am Paola Bassanese, and I love twitter – I think in slogans! I am a contributing author at itcher mag covering mainly quirky movies that I like and that I hope you′ll like too. [n-e-x-t] I have written a few books including The Foraging Home Cook, and also write about health and lifestyle for the Huffington Post. I consider myself to be a Londoner even though I was born in Italy. I love 80s music and foreign language films, but I also enjoy going to the opera and ballet.
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