It's Noirvember! Here are 10 Essential Films Noir from the 1940s and 1950s

Double Indemnity (1944), directed by Billy Wilder
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In this classic film noir, insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) gets roped into a murderous scheme when he falls for the sensual Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), who is intent on killing her husband (Tom Powers) and living off the fraudulent accidental death claim. Prompted by the late Mr. Dietrichson's daughter, Lola (Jean Heather), insurance investigator Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) looks into the case, and gradually begins to uncover the sinister truth.


Laura (1944), directed by Otto Preminger
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Manhattan detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) investigates the murder of Madison Avenue executive Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) in her fashionable apartment. On the trail of her murderer, McPherson quizzes Laura's arrogant best friend, gossip columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) and her comparatively mild fiancé, Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price). As the detective grows obsessed with the case, he finds himself falling in love with the dead woman.

Gilda (1946), directed by Charles Vidor
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Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) is a small-time American gambler, newly arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When he is caught cheating at a game of blackjack, Farrell manages to talk his way into a job with the casino's owner, the powerful Ballin Mundson (George Macready). The two form an uneasy partnership based off their mutual lack of scruples until Mundson introduces Farrell to his beautiful new wife, Gilda (Rita Hayworth), who just happens to be Farrell's ex-lover.

Notorious (1946), directed by Alfred Hitchcock
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In order to help bring Nazis to justice, U.S. government agent T.R. Devlin (Cary Grant) recruits Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), the American daughter of a convicted German war criminal, as a spy. As they begin to fall for one another, Alicia is instructed to win the affections of Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), a Nazi hiding out in Brazil. When Sebastian becomes serious about his relationship with Alicia, the stakes get higher, and Devlin must watch her slip further undercover.

Out of the Past (1947), directed by Jacques Tourneur
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The quiet life of small-town gas station owner Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is interrupted when a figure from his shady past, small-time crook Joe Stephanos (Paul Valentine), recognizes him. Stephanos' boss, crooked gambler Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas), had hired Jeff to track down Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer), a girlfriend who shot Whit and made off with $40,000 of his. Jeff and Kathie fell in love, but she left him to go back to Sterling, who now wants Jeff to settle a few old scores.

Key Largo (1948), directed by John Huston
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This classic film noir by John Huston stars Humphrey Bogart as World War II vet Frank McCloud. Visiting Key Largo to pay his respects to the family of his late war buddy, McCloud attempts to comfort his comrade's widow, Nora (Lauren Bacall), and father, James Temple (Lionel Barrymore), who operate a hotel. But McCloud realizes that mobsters, led by the infamous Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson), are staying in the hotel. When the criminals take over the establishment, conflict is inevitable.

The Third Man (1949), directed by Carol Reed
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Set in postwar Vienna, Austria, "The Third Man" stars Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a writer of pulp Westerns, who arrives penniless as a guest of his childhood chum Harry Lime (Orson Welles), only to find him dead. Martins develops a conspiracy theory after learning of a "third man" present at the time of Harry's death, running into interference from British officer Maj. Calloway (Trevor Howard) and falling head-over-heels for Harry's grief-stricken lover, Anna (Alida Valli).

In a Lonely Place (1950), directed by Nicholas Ray
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Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) and his neighbor Laurel (Gloria Grahame) are just getting to know each other romantically when the police begin questioning Dixon about his involvement in the murder of a girl he met once. Certain her new love interest is innocent, Laurel stands by Dixon, but as the police continue pressing him, Dixon begins to act increasingly erratically. The blossoming love affair suffers as Laurel begins to wonder if Dixon really might be a killer.

No Way Out (1950), directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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Robbers Ray Biddle (Richard Widmark) and his brother are shot and taken to the local hospital. There, the two are treated by Dr. Brooks (Sidney Poitier), the hospital's only black doctor. The brothers assault Brooks with racist slurs. And, when his brother ends up dying on the operating table, Ray accuses the doctor of murdering him. Blind with rage, Ray works to turn the white community of the city against Brooks, who finds an unlikely ally in the dead man's widow, Edie (Linda Darnell).

The Hitch-hiker (1953), directed by Ida Lupino

Watch the entire film for free on YouTube.

"The Hitch-Hiker" is a film noir directed by Ida Lupino about two fishing buddies who pick up a mysterious hitchhiker during a trip to Mexico. The movie was written by Robert L. Joseph, Lupino, and her husband Collier Young, based on a story by "Out of the Past" screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring, who was blacklisted at the time and did not receive screen credit. The film is based on the true story of Billy Cook, a psychopathic murderer. Two men (Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy) on a fishing trip pick up a hitchhiker named Emmett Myers (William Talman), who turns out to be a psychopath who has committed multiple murders.

Sources: Google, myself
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