Film Noir Movies

Film-Noir-WallpaperWant to know the best Film Noir movies?  How about the worst Film Noir movies?  Curious about Film Noir’s box office grosses or which Film Noir movie picked up the most Oscar® nominations? Need to know which Film Noir movie got the best reviews from critics and audiences and which got the worst reviews? Well you have come to the right place….because we have all of that information.

What is Film Noir?  One definition of film noir is….a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly such that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Film noir in French means black film.  Before researching this page…we pretty much thought a film noir movie was a black and white, dark, crime movie.  Well after researching these movies for the last couple of months we no longer have any idea what a film noir movie really is anymore.

Part of our research was finding and reading lots of film noir books and lots of internet lists that named the best film noir movies.  We found Film Noir Guide by Michael F. Keaney. Encyclopedia of Film Noir by Geoff Mayer and Brian McDonnell, Dark Cinema: American Film Noir in Cultural Perspective by Jon Tuska and Film Noir and the Cinema of Paranoia by Wheeler Winston Dixon very useful.  Every book we read had a different definition of film noir.  At one point it seemed that every movie ever made was a form of film noir.

So how did we come up with these 263 movies on the following table?  First of all we picked one timeline…..1940-1959.  Any movie labeled a film noir that was not made in those 19 years was excluded from our table.  This rule pretty much destroyed many of the internet film noir lists.  We actually found one internet list that only had 6 movies made before 1970 on their all-time film noir list.  Next we created a excel spreadsheet.  We used 11 different sources (books and internet resources). Once a movie was labeled a film noir movie in 5 different sources…it made our table.

Double Indemnity is the best reviewed film noir movie on our page.

Double Indemnity is the best reviewed film noir movie on our page.

Film Noir Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort Film Noir movies by the stars or director of movie.
  • Sort Film Noir movies by adjusted domestic box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort Film Noir movies by yearly domestic box office rank
  • Sort Film Noir movies how they were received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations each Film Noir movie received and how many Oscar® wins each Film Noir movie won.
  • Sort Film Noir movies by Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR Score puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score


And finally:  This is obviously not every single film noir movie ever made.  There are 1000s and 1000s of movies that many people consider film noir.  We made 250 movies as our cut off point.  Hopefully we have included the most popular film noir movies…though I am sure the good folks at the TCM message boards will find another 250 movies that need to be on the list. This was a request from Flora Breen Robison. Hey Flora….this was officially the most difficult requested page ever…but well worth the effort considering how supportive you are of our little old website.

So are you thinking….250 Film Noir movies is nice but I want more.  Then check out this wonderful Film Noir page by the people at Plundering The Genre: Film Noir.

Academy Award® and Oscar® are the registered trademarks of the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences.

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178 thoughts on “Film Noir Movies

  1. Hi Bruce,


    Your list contains five movies listing Dick Powell. Dick Powell was a very successful song and dance leading man in the 30’s. Following WWII however he was the first actor to portray Phillip Marlowe on film (Murder My Sweet) becoming a very successful tough guy leading man until the mid 50’s. Then came his ill fated directorial carreer….that’s a whole other story though.

    I wonder if this teaser is enough to wet your appetite?

    Dick Powell

    Maybe I am too subtle?

    Dick Powell

    This is a great list by the way as I love noirs however how does The Bold And The Beautiful get on this?

    Maybe because Dick Powell is in it?


    1. Hi Bruce,

      I see you don’t get to this page often….just trying to see where Mr Matures’ Kiss of Death rates…..🤔

      1. Hey Marcel….not sure how I missed these two comments…but you will be happy to know we now have a Dick Powell page. 61 of his movies ranked in 6 different categories.

  2. Well I do see Bad Day At Black Rock is listed. Love this film. Funny how this film gets classified. Some say it is a noir and some say it is a western. To me it isn’t either of these but just a drama (but there is post WWII alienation which is a noir theme).

    Genre classification with film or music is mostly about marketing; i.e. a way of categorizing product to make it easier for consumers to find similar type product. I remembers years back the first time I say ‘alternative’ as a category in a record store. Alternative to what????

    Anyhow great info and it is nice that no one is taking it too seriously. i.e. it is just info; deal with it.

    1. Hey JamesJazzGuitar
      Bad Day At Black Rock is an interesting film….of the 11 sources I used to collect this information….5 mentioned the movie…while 6 completely ignored it. On top of that I am working on a Western Page….and shockingly many people list it as one of the greatest westerns every made. Not 100% sure…..but the last time I watched that movie….it took place right after the end of World War 2….lol.
      Glad you liked the page….I have shared this page on some Facebook Film Noir pages….and they are taking it way too serious. Thanks for the kind words about my page.

  3. Questions on three films:

    1.) I’d call 1950’s “So Long at the Fair” a historical noir. Did it just not make enough sources to be called a noir?

    2.) Are silents included? If they aren’t, OK. If they Are, I thought Hitchcock’s silent “The Lodger” (1926) was better than the 1944 version–that’s JMO, though. 🙂

    3.) Are early talkies included? If yes, take a look at Hitchcock’s “Blackmail” (1929).
    Heck of a good job compiling data aside from these questions.

    1. Hey Film Lover 293.
      1. I actually did not find any sources that listed So Long At The Fair as a Film Noir. IMDb only lists it as drama and mystery.
      2. Since the time frame was 1940 to 1959…..most silent films were excluded.
      3. Same time frame eliminated the early talkies.

      I think any thing Hitchcock got touched would fall into the noir subject.

      Thanks for the compliment and for checking out my latest.

  4. Bruce Cogerson, the next time you talk/contact your friend in London please ask if him/her UNDERSTANDS my frustration(s) concerning our issue. This is a CLASSIC Film Noir Group (1940 – 1958). Please tell him/her that. I’d be interested to know if him/her AGREES with me that this group is NOT for Revisionists like you and David Leeson & David John Terelinck. Thank you. I take back my prior words “I’ll just block you…etc.” All three of you men are GENTLEMEN. I’ll address another post to David in a few minutes after this post. Please read it. Your upcoming Crime Noir B&W top 100 list SOUND GREAT Bruce! I’m sure most if not all of those movie will into classic noir (1940-1958). I’m looking forward to viewing it. Please make sure to post it here as well as your page. Thank you again. smile emoticon

    1. Hey Lou. If you go all the way back to the first few comments on our website…you will see that Steve knows actually how you feel. Pretty sure you both mentioned the same exact movies that were bothersome. Usually it is my ranking system that gets him fired up… this case it was the inclusion of the contested film noir movies. Actually here is Steve’s original comment:

      “Interesting list Bruce. There are many films here that aren’t film noir by any definition of the term, and some of the others are tenuous at best. If you’re going to list movies with noirish aspects the list might never end.

      Another fascinating page Bruce but a list of the top 100 best film noir might have been preferable. Winchester 73, The Wild One, My Favorite Brunette, Treasure of the Sierra Madre to name a few shouldn’t be on the list.”

      Almost sounds like your comment…does it not.

      Finished my Beatty page…he is shockingly 79 today…..and turning my attention to the that Top 100 Crime Noir page. Thanks for coming back and commenting again.

      1. As far as I”m, concerned everybody here is a good guy/gal. I’m more than willing to give people the benefit of a doubt when it comes to posts or anything. This is a real good group w/a lot of smart people who like movies, all types of movies, and sometimes our love of films does go over the parameters of the group’s, but that can easily be resolved. I did at one time wander but the moderator reminded me and so no big deal. I think the opinions and knowledge of t his group matches those who write books, and in my case I used outside to complement my ideas.

    2. Lou, I am Bruce’s friend from London. You can check out the comment I posted earlier on. Basically I was surprised at the amount of movies here that were not film noir. I mentioned a season of genuine noir that I had watched a year ago. Bruce relied on a number of books which had listed movies with ‘elements’ of noir, it’s not the same thing. He has promised to list a 100 or so movies that fall under the heading of ‘film noir’. Bruce is a good man who is trying to do the right thing. There’s no need for any nastiness.

      1. Hey Steve….thanks for the sharing your thoughts. Currently working on a new list…that will only focus on one category of film noir….the down and dirty and gritty crime noir category. Let’s see …currently Shane, The Sad Sack and Lady and the Tramp in the top 3 spots….lol.

  5. Film noir is a fuzzy category. For every rule about what makes a film noir, there are a few exceptions–films that are noir, even though they lack that supposedly necessary condition. To argue that any film is not noir, just because it lacks one or two characteristics that are usually associated with noir, is misguided, in my opinion. But my attempts to satirize this type of film-noir fundamentalism seem to have fallen victim to Poe’s Law.

    1. I like this comment. Fuzzy is a great way to describe. I agree with you….every rule has a few exceptions. I like how you referenced Poe’s Law. You have made your point very wisely.

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