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An addendum to The TSPDT 250 Quintessential Noir Films list, this list includes films that are noir precursors, modern noir, non-American noir, and additional films between 1940-1964 that have noir elements.
TSPDT is updating this list. This new listing of noir films - that will be revealed gradually over the next year or so - is an updating and sizeable expansion of the 250 Quintessential Noir Films and will replace this list upon its completion
Description updated 11/2/15
The TSPDT 250 Quintessential Noir Films list contains 241 films that all contain three key ingredients.
1) They were all produced in the United States;
2) They were all shot in black-and-white;
3) They were all produced between 1940 to 1959.
The nine films that have been included that exclude at least one of these key ingredients are two non-American-produced noir (The Third Man and Mr. Arkadin), four color noir films (Leave Her to Heaven, Niagara, Party Girl and Slightly Scarlet), and three films from the early 1960s (Cape Fear, Underworld, U.S.A. and The Naked Kiss).
Other titles included in the list are noir precursors, modern noir, non-American noir, and additional films between 1940-1964 that have noir elements.
Section changes will be listed in this complete list (so the reader will know where in the list modern noir films begin/end, etc.).
Films 1 - 250 (The Accused through The Wrong Man) are TSPDT's 250 Quintessential Noir Films.
Films 251 - 358 (The 13th Letter through A Woman's Secret) are "More American Noir Films and/or Films with Noir Elements from 1940 to 1964" Category A: films often cited as film noir. These films weren't far away from being included on the 250 Quintessential listing, and most of them contain many - if not all - of the classic noir ingredients.
Films 359 - 513 (5 Against the House through Women's Prison) are "More American Noir Films and/or Films with Noir Elements from 1940 to 1964" Category B: films quite often cited as film noir, but not to the same degree as those listed in Category A. It must be considered that in most cases these films contain strong film noir elements.
Films 514 - 750 (The Thirteenth Hour through A Woman's Vengeance) are "More American Noir Films and/or Films with Noir Elements from 1940 to 1964" Category C: films not often cited as film noir. These films include certain film noir characteristics, even though - in many cases - they belong in other clear-cut genres, e.g. Westerns. However, it should also be acknowledged that many of these films are without doubt 'fully-blown' noirs (of the very neglected variety).
Films 751 - 825 (Another Man's Poison through Wicked as They Come) are British-produced noir (1940-1964).
Films 826 - 837 (Bob le flambeur through The Wages of Fear) are French-produced noir (1940-1964).
Films 838 - 843 (Ossessione through Stolen Identity) are classified as "other" non-American noir produced between 1940-1964: 1 Italian, 3 Japanese, 1 Mexican, and 1 Austrian, respectively.
Films 844 - 871 (The Beast of the City through You Only Live Once) are "Noir-Precursors": films that shaped the look of noir before the style came into its own during the 1940s. All are American-produced except The Green Cockatoo (UK), La Bête Humaine, Pépé le Moko, and Quai des brumes (France), and M (Germany).
Films 872 - 962 (Angel's Flight through The Salton Sea) are "Neo-Noir / Modern Noir" films made after the 'golden age' of film noir up to 2002. They are grouped them by decade, and all are American-produced, except for:
French-produced: Le Samouraï, Le deuxième souffle, Le cercle rouge, Série noire, La femme Nikita, Léon, and Mulholland Dr.
German-produced: Der amerikanische Freund
UK-produced: The Big Sleep (1978), Get Carter (1971), and Mona Lisa
"More than 700 films from the classic period of film noir (1940 to 1959) are presented in this exhaustive reference book. For each film, the following information is provided: the title, release date, main performers, screenwriter(s), director(s), type of noir, thematic content, a rating based on the five-star system, and a plot synopsis that does not reveal the ending."
Sample of Keaney's ratings:
★ Female Jungle (1956)
★½ Secret Beyond the Door... (1948)
★★ Suspicion (1941)
★★½ Whirlpool (1949)
★★★ Gilda (1946)
★★★½ I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951)
★★★★ The Sniper (1952)
★★★★½ Act of Violence (1948)
★★★★★ Body and Soul (1947)
Michael F. Keaney is a fan of classic movies and the author of "British Film Noir Guide.
The Neo Noir/Modern Noir (Post-1964) section lists 91 films made after the 'golden age' of film noir. These films have borrowed from the artistic glories of the past, but also have embellished the film noir landscape with their contrasting modern aesthetics (particularly with the use of colour). We have grouped them by decade, and all are American-produced, except where noted.
It was inside the pages of "Black Mask" magazine (1920-51) that Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe were born, and this pulp fiction playground went on to greatly influence American cinema. In fact, Tarantino's film "Pulp Fiction" was originally titled "Black Mask".
While many writers flourished in this genre, the list below concentrates solely on the works of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and James Cain. I have endeavored to include all films based on their novels or stories, all screenplays, and anything derivative of their work. For instance, Hammett wrote only one "Thin Man" novel, but I have included all six films. While this list is heavy on noir and hard-boiled private eyes, it is not exclusively either. For example, "Black Bird" is here because it's a Sam Spade parody, not because of who wrote it, and 1982's "Hammett" is here because - honestly - what other list would it qualify for?
"This work presents 369 British films produced between 1937 and 1964 that embody many of the same filmic qualities as those "black films" made in the United States during the classic film noir era. This reference work makes a case for the inclusion of the British films in the film noir canon, which is still considered by some to be an exclusively American inventory.
The following information is presented: a quotation from the film; title and release date; a one- to five-star rating; production company, director, cinematographer, screenwriter, and main performers; and a plot synopsis with commentary. Appendices categorize films by rating, release date, director and cinematographer and also provide a noir and non-noir breakdown of the 47 films presented on the Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, a 1960 British television series."
NOTE: I created this list in May 2012 and had to add well over 75 titles to iCM, suggesting that there are many obscurities worth checking out.
Keaney included 26 of the 47 Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre "films" into this work that he considered to be film noirs or at the very least marginal noirs. The remaining 21 "films" were not included.
Sample of Keaney's ratings:
★ The Hypnotist (1957)
★½ The Door with Seven Locks (1940)
★★ The Girl Hunters (1963)
★★½ The Queen of Spades (1949)
★★★ Contraband (1940)
★★★½ The Small Back Room (1949)
★★★★ Seven Days to Noon (1950)
★★★★½ Brighton Rock (1947)
★★★★★ Gaslight (1940)
Not reviewed: Escape (1948)
4 films received ★★★★★
11 films received ★★★★½
27 films received ★★★★
44 films received ★★★½
64 films received ★★★
84 films received ★★½
78 films received ★★
27 films received ★½
2 films received ★
28 films are "not reviewed" since they were not available at the time of writing.
Michael F. Keaney is a fan of classic movies and the author of Film Noir Guide
List combining The TSPDT Mega Noir List, The Film Noir Guide, The Film Noir Encyclopedia, The DVD Beaver Essential Film Noir List, The British Film Noir Guide and the 2 BFI Film Noir Lists.
"Robert Mitchum once commented to Arthur Lyons about his movies of the 1940s and 1950s: "Hell, we didn't know what film noir was in those days. We were just making movies. Cary Grant and all the big stars at RKO got all the lights. We lit our sets with cigarette butts." Film noir was made to order for the "B," or low-budget, part of the movie double bill. It was cheaper to produce because it made do with less lighting, smaller casts, limited sets, and compact story lines—about con men, killers, cigarette girls, crooked cops, down-and-out boxers, and calculating, scheming, very deadly women. In Death on the Cheap, Arthur Lyons entertainingly looks at the history of the B movie and how it led to the genre that would come to be called noir, a genre that decades later would be transformed in such "neo-noir" films as Pulp Fiction, Fargo, and L.A. Confidential. The book, loaded with movie stills, also features a witty and informative filmography (including video sources) of B films that have largely been ignored or neglected—“lost" to the general public but now restored to their rightful place in movie history thanks to Death on the Cheap."
Background: - 'Film Noir' was the term given by French film critic Nino Frank in 1946 to Hollywood crime films playing in France following WWII. The 'Golden Age' of Film Noir is regarded to be the 1940s and 1950s, and as with any set dates there is always some overlap of the style. However 'Noir' style films from 1960 and on have been labeled 'Neo-Noir'. (See list below top 100)
Elements of 'Film Noir': - Night-time city streets; morally weak private eye, detective, or other protagonist; femme fatale (a beautiful but treacherous woman); crime of passion or money; high-contrast lighting and distorted shadows; paranoia; corruption; an ill-fated relationship; narrative in the "first-person". Any mixture or slight variation of this soup of elements constitutes a "Noir" film. (A precise definition has never been set in stone)
Criteria: - These Greatest 'Film Noir' Movies were chosen for their direction, acting, storyline, cinematography, box office success and popularity. These films were NOT chosen for how highly rated they are overall, but how they rate in the subject of "Film Noir Movies".
From the DVD Beaver website: "We have taken care to parse down the pre-existing list(s) while occasionally adding our own titles (agreed upon by committee). We decided that our below listing - always in state of flux, with possible insertions or deletions potentially forthcoming - finally be made public."
Film gris (French for "grey film"), a term coined by Thom Andersen, is a type of film noir which categorizes a unique series of films that were released between 1947 and 1951. They came in the context of the first wave of the communist investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
from: Film Noir, The Encyclopedia, 4th edition (2010). 512 pages in total. Edited by Alain Silver, Elizabeth Ward, James Ursini, Robert Porfirio. Co-editor: Carl Macek. Pages 13-346: The Classic Period.
Including (see pages 343-345):
Lady on a train (1945),
Ministry of Fear (1944),
The Mob (1951),
Second Chance (1953),
The Tattooed Stranger (1950).