Best film noirs

Watching Lady from Shanghai yesterday reminded me that I like “film noir.” So I Googled “Best film noir” and found two Top Ten and two Top Twenty lists. Lots of films I’ve not seen. So I appeal to Dopers for help pruning this list. (I’ve watched many of the films already, but leave them on this list.)

I’ve sorted the following list by IMDB rating, but add 0.3 points if the film was on two or more of the “Top” lists, and add 0.2 if easy-on-the-eyes Rita Hayworth stars. I do not understand the great love for Sunset Boulevard. It tops this IMDB list, but I’d place it at the bottom.
Sunset Boulevard 8.5+0.3
Double Indemnity 8.3+0.3
Chinatown 8.2+0.3
The Third Man 8.2+0.3
Out of the Past 8.1+0.3
Touch of Evil 8.1+0.3
Laura 8.1+0.3
The Big Sleep 8.0+0.3
The Big Heat (1953) 8.0+0.3
Night and the City 8.0+0.3
L.A. Confidential 8.3
Sweet Smell of Success 8.2
The Maltese Falcon 8.1
In a Lonely Place 8.0
The Killing (1956) 8.0
In a Lonely Place (1950) 8.0
Lift to the Scaffold (Elevator to the Gallows) 8.0
Blood Simple 7.7+0.3
Kiss Me Deadly 7.7+0.3
The Asphalt Jungle (1950) 7.9
Gilda 7.7+0.2
Lady from Shanghai 7.7+0.2
Scarlet Street 7.9
They Live by Night 7.6+0.3
Nightmare Alley (1947) 7.8
The Killers (1946) 7.8
Pickup on South Street 7.8
The Woman in the Window (1944) 7.8
The Long Goodbye 7.7
Murder My Sleep 7.6
Criss Cross (1949) 7.6
Ride the Pink Horse 7.4
The Big Combo 7.4
Detour (1945) 7.4
The Prowler (1951) 7.3
The Reckless Moment 7.2
Inherent Vice 6.7

Here are some films not on the Top Noir lists which I liked. Perhaps this will help Dopers offer me recommendations:
The Usual Suspects 8.6
Taxi Driver 8.3
Snatch (2000) 8.3
Reservoir Dogs 8.3
Unforgiven (1992) 8.2
Fargo (1996) 8.1

Knife in the Water 7.6
Bound (1996) 7.4
Remedy (2005) 4.6
The first six are great classics — Snatch and Fargo have too much humor to be considered film noir, but what about Taxi Driver or Unforgiven? Are they “film noir”?

I certainly wouldn’t put Remedy on a Top list, but I enjoyed it and wonder about its very low IMDB score. Have others watched it?

I believe the title is Murder, My Sweet. I recommend it, the Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, and Out of the Past.

I recommend Brick. It is definitely a Noir, but it plays with the genre by putting the action in a High School.

I recommend The Last Seduction.
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For a more recent noir that was decently done, try The Man Who Wasn’t There, with Billy Bob Thornton.

In your second group, I’d say that Unforgiven comes closest to a noir film as it has all the elements of pessimism, fatalism and menace, with a sexual element thrown in as well.

Some of those aren’t film noir; they’re hard-boiled detective. I realize that a lot of people nowadays define film noir loosely; is some cases people apply it to any old movie that isn’t a comedy, a musical, or a western.

But in the narrow sense, a film noir is when the main character does something he knows is wrong and then the film follows him through the consequences.

No Le Samouraï?

It’s worth seeing Detour if you haven’t already. Copyright expired, so it’s online.

The term was coined specifically in reference to the ‘hard-boiled detective’ or crime films of the 40s and 50s, and has broadened to include any films that are cynical and pessimistic, usually accompanied by low-key lighting.

Second! A somewhat novel approach to the genre, but very enjoyable.

I just glanced through the list and I don’t recall seeing Miller’s Crossing. Again, it’s a bit different (“noir lite”).

Body Heat should be included.

:smack: It seemed simpler to retype than copy/paste from the lists. Especially stupid of me: I had to correct the Murder, My Sweet title to look up its IMDB rating, but forgot to also correct the list.

Several years ago I went on a binge of downloading some public-domain films noirs from YouTube and this was one of them. But I remember it only very vaguely. I’ll watch it again. (That batch also included Shadow of a Doubt and The Big Heat; Shadow of a Doubt is a noir not on a Top list and was quite poor IMO.)

All crime films weren’t noir though. The French critics observed it in the US movies and coined the word. It needed to conform to certain conventions, technical and philosophical, or it was just a crime film.

This is just my opinion: the term “noir” should refer not only to the lighting but also to the world view, which should be dark. Films like “Laura” and “The Big Sleep” don’t have a dark world view, they’re more of a white knight rescuing a dame genre. Same for “The Dark Corner” (it’s not on the list but it’s main attraction is Lucille Ball as the loyal secretary to the detective). It has the trappings of noir, but all the problems go back to one bad guy, and it has a happy ending largely due to pluck and determination.

I don’t see DOA on that list, it certainly has a dark world view in that the main character doesn’t do anything really wrong but he pays for it anyway. I recommend it (the original, I haven’t seen the remake).

Where the hell is Body Heat for goodness sake? Really, not on the list ???

Touch of Evil, while very high should be near the very top. So should L.A. Confidential which is a near perfect film in my opinion.

Surely it is. Carmen murdered Sean Regan. That there are insane, creepy wealthy people is a pretty dark view.

Shouldn’t the plural be “films noir”?

I’ll echo this, and also suggest Red Rock West, with a surprisingly subtle Nic Cage and an unsurprisingly non-subtle Dennis Hopper. Like The Last Seduction, distribution issues kept it off most people’s radar.

In hard-boiled detective movies like The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, or The Maltese Falcon the protagonist is following a code. It’s not easy to follow that code and the protagonist usually suffers for doing so. But generally, the protagonist survives and “wins” in the end (even if it’s often just a technical win and the protagonist isn’t happy with having won).

In film noir movies like Detour, Double Indemnity, or They Live by Night you have a protagonist who breaks a rule. The rest of the story is showing the consequences of that, usually with the protagonist ending up dead. Even in D.O.A. - which is often described as the story of an innocent victim trying to solve his own poisoning - the story starts with Frank Bigelow going to a seedy nightclub while he’s on a business trip.

So both genres serve as morality tales but they’re telling two different stories.

Out of the Past has a protagonist making a mistake in the past and paying for it in the present.