24 Film Noir Classics - Imaginary Prisons - the City

by milam_ogden | created - 09 May 2015 | updated - 09 May 2015 | Public

Imogen Sara Smith has written an excellent book on film noir movies. It is entitled IN LONELY PLACES: Film Noir Beyond the City. My first top 10 list was created in the beginning of April, 2015 entitled film noirs and dusty roads, noir outside the city. This list contains film noir with a city/urban setting. Here is the list as they appeared in chapter 1 of this book.

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1. Double Indemnity (1944)

Passed | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

95 Metascore

An insurance representative lets himself be talked by a seductive housewife into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses the suspicion of an insurance investigator.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Byron Barr

Votes: 137,168 | Gross: $5.72M

2. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Approved | 96 min | Drama, Film-Noir

100 Metascore

Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner

Votes: 26,626

3. Night and the City (1950)

Not Rated | 96 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

A small-time grifter and nightclub tout takes advantage of some fortuitous circumstances and tries to become a big-time player as a wrestling promoter.

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hugh Marlowe

Votes: 11,452 | Gross: $3.60M

4. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Not Rated | 106 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

A doomed female hitchhiker pulls Mike Hammer into a deadly whirlpool of intrigue, revolving around a mysterious "great whatsit".

Director: Robert Aldrich | Stars: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Juano Hernandez

Votes: 17,705

5. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

Unrated | 116 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

A man is reunited with his childhood friend and her husband, who believe he knows the truth about the death of her rich aunt years earlier.

Director: Lewis Milestone | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas

Votes: 7,972

6. Force of Evil (1948)

Passed | 79 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

89 Metascore

An unethical lawyer, with an older brother he wants to help, becomes a partner with a client in the numbers racket.

Director: Abraham Polonsky | Stars: John Garfield, Thomas Gomez, Marie Windsor, Howland Chamberlain

Votes: 5,570

7. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Passed | 112 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A major heist goes off as planned, until bad luck and double crosses cause everything to unravel.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore

Votes: 23,078

8. New York Confidential (1955)

Approved | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A top syndicate crime boss and his corrupt politicians, make multi-million deals and order murders , until the vicious pattern finally catches up to him.

Director: Russell Rouse | Stars: Broderick Crawford, Richard Conte, Anne Bancroft, Marilyn Maxwell

Votes: 506

9. The Brothers Rico (1957)

Passed | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A retired mob accountant is drawn back in when his brothers, who have recently made a hit for the organization, decide to go to the authorities.

Director: Phil Karlson | Stars: Richard Conte, Dianne Foster, Kathryn Grant, Larry Gates

Votes: 785

10. The Wrong Man (1956)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama, Film-Noir

In 1953, an innocent man named Christopher Emmanuel "Manny" Balestrero is arrested after being mistaken for an armed robber.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle, Harold J. Stone

Votes: 24,333

11. Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

Approved | 64 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

An aspiring reporter is the key witness at the murder trial of a young man accused of cutting a café owner's throat and is soon accused of a similar crime himself.

Director: Boris Ingster | Stars: Peter Lorre, John McGuire, Margaret Tallichet, Charles Waldron

Votes: 3,430

12. Fourteen Hours (1951)

Approved | 92 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

An unhappy man threatens suicide by standing on the ledge of a high-rise building for 14 hours.

Director: Henry Hathaway | Stars: Paul Douglas, Richard Basehart, Barbara Bel Geddes, Debra Paget

Votes: 2,170

13. The Window (1949)

Approved | 73 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

To avoid the heat of a sweltering summer night a 9-year-old Manhattan boy decides to sleep on the fire escape and witnesses a murder, but no one will believe him.

Director: Ted Tetzlaff | Stars: Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart

Votes: 3,320

14. City That Never Sleeps (1953)

Approved | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Johnny Kelly, who plans on resigning from the police force and leaving his wife the next day, has a very eventful last night on duty.

Director: John H. Auer | Stars: Gig Young, Mala Powers, William Talman, Edward Arnold

Votes: 1,124

15. The Naked City (1948)

Not Rated | 96 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Two New York City detectives investigate the death of an attractive young woman. The apparent suicide turns out to be murder.

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart, Don Taylor

Votes: 11,524

16. Pickup on South Street (1953)

Passed | 80 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

A pickpocket unwittingly lifts a message destined for enemy agents and becomes a target for a Communist spy ring.

Director: Samuel Fuller | Stars: Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter, Murvyn Vye

Votes: 12,205

17. Cry of the City (1948)

Passed | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Police Lieut. Candella, longtime friend of the Rome family, walks a tightrope in the case of cop-killer Martin Rome.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Victor Mature, Richard Conte, Fred Clark, Shelley Winters

Votes: 2,212

18. Panic in the Streets (1950)

Approved | 96 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.

Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jack Palance

Votes: 6,791

19. The Killer That Stalked New York (1950)

Passed | 79 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

Police seek a smuggler while doctors, unaware she's the same person, desperately comb unprotected New York for a smallpox carrier.

Director: Earl McEvoy | Stars: Evelyn Keyes, Charles Korvin, William Bishop, Dorothy Malone

Votes: 1,010

20. City of Fear (1959)

Approved | 81 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A vicious killer escapes from San Quentin with a cannister of what he believes to be heroin but is actually a radioactive substance that threatens all Los Angeles.

Director: Irving Lerner | Stars: Vince Edwards, Lyle Talbot, John Archer, Steven Ritch

Votes: 796

21. The Sniper (1952)

Approved | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A sniper kills young brunettes as the police attempt to grapple with the psychology of the unknown assailant.

Director: Edward Dmytryk | Stars: Arthur Franz, Adolphe Menjou, Gerald Mohr, Marie Windsor

Votes: 2,684

22. Scarlet Street (1945)

Approved | 102 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

When a man in mid-life crisis befriends a young woman, her venal fiancé persuades her to con him out of the fortune they mistakenly assume he possesses.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Margaret Lindsay

Votes: 13,578

23. He Walked by Night (1948)

Approved | 79 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

This film-noir piece, told in semi-documentary style, follows police on the hunt for a resourceful criminal who shoots and kills a cop.

Directors: Alfred L. Werker, Anthony Mann | Stars: Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell

Votes: 4,747

24. In a Lonely Place (1950)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery

A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his lovely neighbor clears him. However, she soon starts to have her doubts.

Director: Nicholas Ray | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Carl Benton Reid

Votes: 24,447



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