1,000 Noir Films

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1,000 Noir Films: They Shot Dark Pictures, Didn’t They?
Compiled by Bill Georgaris
"Film noir is not a genre… It is not defined, as are the western and gangster genres, by conventions of setting and conflict, but rather by the more subtle qualities of tone and mood. It is a film "noir," as opposed to the possible variants of film gray and off white." - Paul Schrader, Notes on Film Noir, Film Comment, 1972

"Film Noir is the flip side of the all-American success story. It's about people who realize that following the program will never get them what they crave. So they cross the line, commit a crime and reap the consequences. Or, they're tales about seemingly innocent people tortured by paranoia and ass-kicked by Fate. Either way, they depict a world that's merciless and unforgiving." - Eddie Muller

"Film Noir is a historical, stylistic and thematic trend that took place primarily, but not exclusively, within the generic complex of the American crime film of the forties and fifties. The term was first introduced by French cinéaste Nino Frank in 1946. For many years it was known only to the French, who seemed to be the only ones equipped (critically or otherwise) to grapple with its definition and/or historical implications." - Spencer Selby (Dark City: The Film Noir; 1984)

"A motion picture with an often grim urban setting, photographed in somber tones and permeated by a feeling of disillusionment, pessimism, and despair.” – Dictionary.com
After many long nights pondering whether to update TSPDT’s noir pages or not, I finally gave in to the nagging voices in my head and, eventually, just got on with it. Glad I did, as my passion for noir cinema has subsequently been agreeably rekindled.

Film noir is darkness. Darkness in all its forms - from the characters, the situations, the settings, right through to the cinematography and shadowy goings-on. Noir should be watched in darkness too, adding further to the experience. As a viewer, noir draws us into a world far removed from our own lives, yet we can still almost always relate to the protagonists and their predicaments. This is because they are usually regular Joes, just like us, but who find themselves in unimaginable traps of one kind or another. The experience of watching these guys go through hell (sometimes they survive, but often not) is not only unnerving, but also morbidly enjoyable. Unnerving, because we hate to see sympathetic characters in immense danger, but enjoyable because we - the voyeurs - are not going through it. Additionally, the femme fatale, the mainstay of many a film noir, is another essential part of the noir fabric. On the outside she is almost always a beguiling and beautiful creature that you can't take your eyes off. But on the inside she is a venomous, gold-digging, man-pinching monster.

And then there is the technical side of noir. As with any good film, the direction, script and acting performances must come together for it to work, but rarely in other films is cinematography more important than it is in film noir. Even if you are watching a less than great noir, there is usually something redeeming about it and often what can get you through is the artistry and panache of the visuals.

It is for these reasons and many others that I can rarely go past a film noir as one of my first viewing choices, and hence why, in the end, I couldn't resist this project.

Of course there is a lot more to noir than this, as this collection of 1,000 Noir Films will more than adequately demonstrate. As you will discover via these 1,000 films, the noir style, though mostly at home in the crime realm, has touched - with varying degrees of success - most of the other film genres, including the Western, horror and science fiction.

To kick things off, I offered up the first 100 of the 1,000 films. These 100 films have been identified, according to my research, as the most mentioned/cited noir films of all-time. Call them the 100 most essential or quintessential, or whatever you like. They are, simply put, the 100 films that most often show up on film noir lists, in film noir festivals, and/or in film noir publications. These 100 films are tagged within the 1,000 Noir Films pages.

Following this initial collection of 100 noirs, a further 900 noir films (or films with prominent noir elements) were added. These 900 films are, in effect, the 101st to 1,000th most cited noir films (according to my research). Please note that this list has not been and will not be ranked, as per the Greatest Films and 21st Century projects.

It must be stressed that this listing is not a ‘best of’ or ‘greatest’ list; it is strictly a listing of the most oft-cited noir films. Though most of the films that comprise the 1,000 are more than worthwhile (many, of course, are brilliant), there is no hiding from the fact that not all of the 1,000 films are of the highest quality. And that is putting it very nicely. They are here because they are noir, not because they are all necessarily classics (though, many invariably are).

In terms of composition, the 1,000 Noir Films listing is primarily comprised of noir films that were produced in the United States, shot in black-and-white, and produced/released during the 1940s and 1950s (1940 to 1959). This is often referred to as the Classic American Noir period.

Films within the 1,000 Noir Films listing that do not encompass all three of these ‘ingredients’ will be labelled accordingly within their entry, as follows:

1) Films not produced in the United States, will be labelled according to their nationality, e.g. Brit-Noir for a UK-produced noir, French Noir for a French-produced noir, etc.
2) Films shot in colour will be labelled as a Colour-Noir.
3) Films released prior to 1940 will be labelled as a Noir-Precursor, films released in the 1960s will be labelled as a Late-Noir, and films released from 1970 onwards will be labelled as a Neo-Noir.
4) Additionally, films containing noir elements that are clearly outside the crime genre will be labelled accordingly. For example, as a Western Noir, or as a Sci-Fi Noir, etc.

Please note that, based on TSPDT's research, each film in the 1,000 Noir Films listing received at least eleven citations, culled from many noir-related sources. If you wish to dig deeper, you can browse a further list of 842 more noir(ish) films here. These films received between five to ten noir-related citations.

Please refer to the updates page to keep track of any other developments with regards to this venture. You can commence browsing the progressive listing of films here.

View the 1,000 Noir Films and the 842 noir(ish) films in EXCEL format.

Thanks very much to Slim for her contributions to this project.

Please contact me at bill@theyshootpictures.com if you have any questions, corrections and/or comments.

The 1,000 Noir Films: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - Y - Z
View by:
Title / Director / Year / Country
More Noir(ish) Films / 50 Key Noir Directors / Updates / Links