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My top 40 favourite Film Noirs 1940-1960

40. The Dark Corner (1946) / 39. Road House (1948) / 38. The Killers (1946) / 37. Born to Kill (1947) / 36. The Big Sleep (1946) /  35. Shadow of a Doubt (1943) / 34. Kiss Me Deadly / 33.  Laura (1944)/ 32. Scarlet Street (1945) / 31. Nightmare Alley (1947) / 30. Side Street (1950) / 29. While the City Sleeps (1956) / 28. Sudden Fear (1952) / 27. D.O.A (1949) / 26. Act of Violence (1949)


Key Largo Poster25. Key Largo (1948)

Dir. John Huston. With Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson.

When your head says one thing and your whole life says another, your head always loses.

 

 


24. The Killing (1956) The Killing Poster

Dir. Stanley Kubrick. With Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray.

You have my sympathies, then. You have not yet learned that in this life you have to be like everyone else – the perfect mediocrity; no better, no worse. Individuality’s a monster and it must be strangled in it’s cradle to make our friends feel confident. You know, I’ve often thought that the gangster and the artist are the same in the eyes of the masses. They are admired and hero-worshipped, but there is always present underlying wish to see them destroyed at the peak of their glory.

 


Out of the Past Poster23. Out of the Past (1947)

Dir. Jacques Tourneur. With Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer.

-That’s not the way to win.

-Is there a way to win?

-There’s a way to lose more slowly.

 

 


22. Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Where the Sidewalk Ends Poster

Dir. Otto Preminger. With Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney.

It’s a wonderful day. No job. Everybody against me. My poor dad sitting in a cell… and it’s a wonderful day. Isn’t that amazing?

 

 

 


21. Pickup on South Street (1953)Pickup on South Street Poster

Dir. Sam Fuller. With Richard Widmark, Jean Peters.

-Listen, Mister. When I come in here tonight, you seen an old clock runnin’ down. I’m tired. I’m through. Happens to everybody sometime. It’ll happen to you too, someday. With me it’s a little bit of everything. Backaches and headaches. I can’t sleep nights. It’s so hard to get up in the morning, and get dressed and walk the streets. Climb the stairs. I go right on doin’ it! Well, what am I gonna do, knock it? I have to go on makin’ a livin’… so I can die. But even a fancy funeral ain’t worth waitin’ fer if I gotta do bus’ness with crumbs like you.

 


20. Underworld U.S.A. (1960)

Underworld U.S.A. Poster

Dir. Sam Fuller. With Cliff Robertson, Dolores Dorn.

Why don’t you take a good look at yourself. What do you see? A doctor? A scientist? A businessman? You see a scar-faced ex-con. A two-bit safecracker. A petty thief who don’t know when he really made the big time. Where do you come off to blast her? No matter what she’s been, what she’s done. She’s a giant! And you wanna know why? Well, I’ll tell ya. Because she sees something in you worth saving. If only one tenth of one percent of all the good in her could rub off on you, you’d be a giant, too. But you’re a midget! In your head, in your heart, in your whole makeup. You’re a midget!

 


19. Force of Evil (1948) Force of Evil Poster

Dir. Abraham Polonsky. With John Garfield, Thomas Gomez.

A man could spend the rest of his life trying to remember what he shouldn’t have said.

 

 

 

 


18. Kiss of Death (1947) Kiss of Death Poster

Dir. Henry Hathaway. With Victor Mature, Richard Widmark.

Nick Bianco hadn’t worked for a year. He had a record – a prison record. They say it shouldn’t count against you but when Nick tried to get a job the same thing always happened: “Very sorry.” No prejudice, of course, but no job either. So this is how Nick went Christmas shopping for his kids.

 

 


17. Strangers on a Train (1951) Strangers on a Train Poster

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. With Farley Granger, Robert Walker.

-Poor unfortunate girl.

-She was a tramp.

-She was a human being. Let me remind you that even the most unworthy of us has a right to life and the pursuit of happiness.

-From what I hear she pursued it in all directions.

 


Detour Poster16. Detour (1945) 

Dir. Edgar Ulmer. With Tom Neal, Ann Savage.

Money. You know what that is, the stuff you never have enough of. Little green things with George Washington’s picture that men slave for, commit crimes for, die for. It’s the stuff that has caused more trouble in the world than anything else we ever invented, simply because there’s too little of it.

 

 


Murder by Contract Poster15. Murder by Contract (1958)

Dir. Irving Lerner. With Vince Edwards, Philip Pine.

-There are a lot of people around that would like to see lots of other people die a fast death… only they can’t see to it themselves. They got conscience, religion, families. They’re afraid of punishment here or hereafter. Me… I can’t be bothered with any of that nonsense, I look at it like a good business. The risk is high but so is the profit.

 

 


14. Notorious (1946)Notorious Poster

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. With Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman.

You’re sore because you’ve fallen for a little drunk you tamed in Miami and you don’t like it. It makes you sick all over, doesn’t it? People will laugh at you, the invincible Devlin, in love with someone who isn’t worth even wasting the words on.

 

 

 


White Heat Poster

13. White Heat (1949)

Dir. Raoul Walsh. With James Cagney, Virginia Mayo.

-I’d look good in a mink coat, honey.

You’d look good in a shower curtain.

 

 

 


Double Indemnity Poster12. Double Indemnity (1944)

Dir. Billy Wilder. With Fred MacMurray, Barbra Stanwyck.

Suddenly it came over me that everything would go wrong. It sounds crazy, Keyes, but it’s true, so help me. I couldn’t hear my own footsteps. It was the walk of a dead man.

 

 

 


11. The Big Heat (1953) The Big Heat Poster

Dir. Fritz Lang. With Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame.

-I guess a scar isn’t so bad, not if it’s only on one side.

-I can always go through life sideways.

 

 

 


Sweet Smell of Success Poster

10. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Dir. Alexander Mackendrick. Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis.

Mr. Falco, let it be said at once, is a man of 40 faces, not one – none too pretty, and all deceptive. You see that grin? That’s the, eh, that’s the Charming Street Urchin face. It’s part of his helpless act: he throws himself upon your mercy. He’s got a half-dozen faces for the ladies. But the one I like, the really cute one, is the quick, dependable chap. Nothing he won’t do for you in a pinch – so he says. Mr. Falco, whom I did not invite to sit at this table tonight, is a hungry press agent, and fully up to all the tricks of his very slimy trade.

 


 

9. Night and the City (1950)Night and the City Poster

Dir. Jules Dassin. With Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney.

 

Harry. Harry. You could have been anything. Anything. You had brains… ambition. You worked harder than any 10 men. But the wrong things. Always the wrong things…

 

 


 

8. Rififi (1955)Rififi Poster

Dir. Jules Dassin. With Jean Servais, Carl Mohrner.

There’s something I always wanted to tell you. There are kids, millions of kids who’ve grown up poor. Like you. How did it happen? What difference was there between them and you, that you became a hood, a tough guy, and not them? Know what I think, Jo? They’re the tough guys, not you.

 

 


 

7. Gun Crazy (1950)Gun Crazy Poster

Dir. Joseph Lewis. With Peggy Cummins, John Dall.

-Honey, I’ll make money like you want me to. Big money. But it takes time, you gotta give me time.

-You’ll never make big money. You’re a two-bit guy.

Honey, listen…

No guts, nothing! I want action!

 


 

6. Naked City (1949)The Naked City Poster

 

Dir. Jules Dassin. With Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff.

-I don’t know anything about medicine, doctor, but that’s one prescription that never cured anything.

 

 


 

5. The Third Man (1949)Image result for the third man 1950"

Dir. Carol Greene. With Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli.

Don’t be so gloomy. After all it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.

 


 

4. Sunset Boulevard (1950)Sunset Blvd. Poster

Dir. Billy Wilder. With Gloria Swanson, William Holden.

-You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.

-I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.

 

 


 

3. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)

Dir. Robert Wise. With Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Shelley Winters.


 

2. The Asphalt Jungle (1950) Image result for asphalt jungle poster"

Dir. John Huston. With Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen.

People are being cheated, robbed, murdered, raped. And that goes on 24 hours a day, every day in the year. And that’s not exceptional, that’s usual. It’s the same in every city in the modern world. But suppose we had no police force, good or bad. Suppose we had… just silence. Nobody to listen, nobody to answer. The battle’s finished. The jungle wins. The predatory beasts take over.

 


Image result for touch of evil"

 

1. Touch of Evil (1958)

Dir. Orson Welles. With Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, and Orson Wells.

-Come on, read my future.

-You haven’t got any. Your future is all used up.

 

By Miguel Zapata

Singer-songwriter and illustrator from A Coruña (Spain) based in London since 2009.