Film Noir: Top 20 Classic Noir Movies in Hollywood (Pre 1990s)

Film noir (/nwɑːr/; French) is a term that is used to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Yeah, that is the literal definition. But, a movie of this genre is mostly dark and brooding and certainly a part of crime dramas. In the cinema experience, the term shows movies that are based on realism. Originally, this term was used only in its classic sense. The movies were black and white and specifically American. But time evolved their horizons and here we have a list of those movies that were extremely powerful and if you love crime, action, thrills and all these three at the same time, this list is for you. The ones created after 1990s are known as Neo-Noir Movies and the ones post 1990s are known as Classic Noir Movies.

Here are the top 20 Classic-Noir in Hollywood (Pre 1990s)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

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The Big Sleep (1946)

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The Blast of Silence (1961)

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Shaft (1971)

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Chinatown (1974)

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A woman named Evelyn Mulwray hires a private investigator JJ Gittes to spy on her husband. Hollis Mulwray Gittes who specializes in ‘cheating-husband’ cases finds himself in a mesh of questionable identities, lies and deceit. Soon after he took the assignment, a series of events tainted Chinatown with murder and mysterious events. JJ finds out something about Evelyn that shakes the story.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

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Pointblank (1967)

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Vertigo (1958)

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Scottie Ferguson is a detective who develops a fear of heights after an unfortunate incident which also causes him to retire from his profession. However, he is lured back into the business when a man hires him to spy on his beautiful wife, Madeline. The husband believes Madeline has gone crazy and contemplating suicide. Initially, Scottie is apprehensive, but he takes up the case and slowly becomes obsessed with Madeline.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

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An insightful film noir, ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is the story of what all goes behind the cameras. It is a dark and tragic take on the life of Hollywood actresses. The lead character is Norma Desmond, who is an ageing actress of the silent era. Norma’s career declined with the coming of the sound cinema. Desmond gets a second chance when a screenwriter pitches the idea of writing a script for her. The character of Norma is believed to have drawn inspiration from the Hollywood actors, who were popular before the talkies.

Scarlet Street (1945)

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Strangers on a Train (1951)

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The Night of the Hunter (1955)

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Shadow on the Stairs (1941)

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Double Indemnity (1944)

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Walter Neff, an insurance salesman arrives at the house of a man named Dietrichson, to see if he’s interested in renewing his car insurance, there he meets Dietrichson’s wife, Phyllis. After talking to her, Walter realizes that Phyllis is not treated right by her husband and wants to get rid of him. At first, Phyllis appears to fit the role of an innocent housewife perfectly, being friendly towards her and her husband’s visitor, Neff. The whole ordeal arouses the suspicion of an insurance investigator as Neff falls under the spell of Phyllis who manipulates him into committing her dirty deed.

A Life At Stake (1955)

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The Third Man (1949)

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Set in post-war Vienna, The Third Man follows a writer, Holly Martins, who visits his friend, Lime, only to find out that he has been killed in a street accident. Truths with dire consequences unravel as Holly starts investigating the mysterious death of his friend that hints at a wider conspiracy involving the dark corruption of the city.

Body Heat (1981)

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Blade Runner (1982)

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Rick Deckard, a former police officer knows that his job as a blade runner is to track bioengineered beings called replicants and retire (kill) them. His supervisor, Bryant wants him to hunt down the violent Leon and his team of replicants Roy, Batty, Pris and Zohra who were the creations of a man named Tyrell. What Deckard didn’t know was that these replicants were, in turn, hunting him. Rachael comes into Deckard’s life after he meets Tyrell and he is told that she is also a replicant who thinks that she is a human due to her false memories. Deckard moves forward with his hunt encountering tough situations and Rachael struggles with the question of her existence. Among thrilling action, shocking revelations and unforeseen betrayals, their love blossoms. Watch the movie to find out the fate of Deckard, whether he is the hunter or becomes the hunted?

M (1931)

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Set in the 1930s, M is a classic German thriller. Hans Beckert is a serial killer, a psychopath preying on children, abducting them and then mercilessly murdering them. As a result of such heinous crimes, Beckert becomes the prime target of a vast Berlin police hunt. The entire town is on the edge of its toes as no one has any clue of this psychopath and what his next move will be. His crimes are so dark that even the underworld and mafia members are targeting Beckert. With both sides of the law at his tail, Beckert tries to escape justice.

711 Ocean Drive (1950)

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Laxitha Mundhra

Laxitha is a content creator at FlickZee. A management student, reader, movie buff and a couch potato by day, and a writer by night. Coffee keeps her awake and she is introverted. Try finding her on Instagram and Facebook. But a word of caution: Don't get her started on Harry Potter and MCU.