Dark, gritty, and mysterious; these are what characterize classic noir films, which reached their peak in the 1940s. Film noir is a unique genre that takes inspiration from emotions felt after the Great Depression, hence the cynical and pessimistic plotlines.
However, not all noir films were able to translate these emotions into something that could be felt by the audience. Only a handful isconsidered truly the best, and hereare five of them:
The best classic noir films of all time
1. The Blue Dahlia (1946)
One of the most notable noir films in the last century; The Blue Dahlia follows the story of a discharged naval officer’s struggles after returning home from the South Pacific. Protagonist Alan Ladd discovers that his wife has been unfaithful during his absence.
The story takes a turn when the wife is found dead, and Alan is a prime suspect.
2. A Woman’s Vengeance (1948)
A Woman’s Vengeance more or less has the same theme as The Blue Dahlia; however, this time around, this classic noir film details the story of an unfaithful husband. Henry Maurier is suspected of killing his wife with poisondespite other suspects being present.
The screenplay by author Aldous Huxley is based on his own short story, The Gioconda Smile.
3. Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
Coming much later into the film noir scene, Farewell, My Lovely is a neo-noir crime thriller directed by Dick Richards. The movie is based on Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same name, revolving around private detective Philip Marlowe and his seemingly impossible task of finding a bank robber’s long-lost girlfriend.
4. Journey into Fear (1943)
Renowned filmmaker Orson Welles produced and co-wrote Journey into Fear, an American spy film based on a novel of the same name. The movie follows Howard Graham, a ballistics expert, and his attempt to escape from Nazi pursuers.
5. Murder by Contract (1958)
Murder by Contract is another classic noir film with crime and murder as the central theme. In this film, ruthless hitman Vince Edwards runs into trouble upon discovering that his next target is a woman. According to him, women are much harder to kill than men—and chaos ensues.
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