The best black films and how to watch them

A mix of soft jazz music and tobacco smoke fills the air as the silhouette of a trench coat and a fedora-clad spectator trudges through a dark city hallway, accompanied only by his shadow. A scene like this can only mean one thing: you are watching film noir.

Although these stylistic elements are common to classics like The great sleep Where The Maltese Falcon, not all of the best entries of the genre are so “black and white” like “neo-noir” thrillers like Drive Where Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. These are just a few of the esteemed favorites from our following list of the best film noir films, starting with one of the biggest romantic tragedies in cinema.

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity

(Image credit: Paramount)

Double indemnity (1944)

Fred MacMurray plays an insurance executive seduced by a beautiful woman (Barbara Stanwyck) into killing her husband to receive his insurance benefits in Double indemnity. Directed by legendary Billy Wilder, the seven-time Oscar nominee is one of the most definitive blacks to come out during the genre’s prime for his jaw-dropping suspense, compelling romance, and cutting-edge dialogue from Wilder’s screenplay and co-writer Raymond Chandler. , which was adapted from The James M. Cain Novel.

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Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall The Great Sleep

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Great Sleep (1946)

Director Howard Hawks’ adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel following Academy Award winner Humphrey Bogart’s Phillip Marlowe in a murderous blackmail case is one of Hollywood’s most influential mystery novels. In reality, The great sleep (also along with Lauren Bacall, Bogart’s frequent co-star) is a frequent source of comparison with The great Lebowski – the 1998 stoner comedy / mystery thriller hybrid of Joel and Ethan Coen, who cite Chandler as an influence for cinema.

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Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

One of the most beloved mystery comedy / thriller hybrids in recent memory is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the astonishing first film of Deadly weapon scribe Shane Black, which he adapted from Brett Halliday’s novel Bodies are where you find them. The role of Harry Lockhart – a thief mistaken for an actor and teamed up with a Hollywood sleuth (Val Kilmer) to seek a movie role – is seen as Robert Downey Jr.’s first big comeback before hitting hard with the MCU.

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Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand in The Man Who Wasn't There

(Image credit: USA Films)

The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

The Coen Brothers would bring their noir-inspired style of storytelling to something a little more on the side of tradition with a film that has everything from blackmail to murder, 1940s set and beautiful black-and-white cinematography nominated for the Oscars by Roger Deakins. Billy Bob Thornton plays a barber whose plans to profit from his wife’s (Frances McDormand) affair with his boss (James Gandolfini) backfires horribly The man who wasn’t there – a story that sounds familiar in its beginnings, but refreshing (and at times very bizarre) in its execution.

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The Cast of the Maltese Falcon

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

One of the most iconic characters in Humphrey Bogart’s film noir is Samuel Spade, the hero of Dashiell Hammett’s novel about the murder and deception surrounding a statuette believed to be worth a fortune. Written and directed by John Huston (with whom Bogart would work again in the years 1951 The african queen), The Maltese Falcon had such a lasting influence on the mystery genre for its twist and ending and heartbreaking final quote.

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The Rope Cast

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Rope (1948)

Before he became known for making some of the best horror films of all time, Alfred Hitchcock was a master of black variety suspense and one of legend’s most exciting and technically inventive works in this regard is Rope. James Stewart stars in this adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s play about two men (John Dall and Farley Granger) having a dinner party just to prove they committed the perfect crime which is shot to appear as if it were filmed in one continuous hold.

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James Stewart and Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much

(Image credit: Paramount)

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

James Stewart plays an American doctor whose visit to Paris with his wife (Doris Day) is marred when they witness a murder and is only made worse by the kidnapping of their teenage son (Christopher Olsen) in The man who knew too much. Starring Day’s memorable performance of the song “Que Sera Sera,” this thriller is further proof that pairing Stewart with director Alfred Hitchcock is sure to give you chills.

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Orson Welles in The Third Man

(Image credit: Selznick Liberation Organization)

The Third Man (1949)

Joseph Cotten plays an American pulp fiction writer whose visit to Vienna is marred by the suspicious death of his friend and former classmate, whose truth he decides to uncover behind the disparate testimony. The legendary Orson Welles plays the victim in the center of The third man – a moving murder mystery of director Carol Reed, whose visual style particularly influenced the film noir genre.

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Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in Touch of Evil

(Image credit: universal)

Touching Evil (1958)

While investigating a bomb attack on the US-Mexico border, a DEA agent (Charlton Heston) begins to suspect a US police captain of being ill, which is worrying for him and his family. wife (Janet Leigh) as more secrets are revealed. Orson Welles plays the corrupt cop in the center of Touch evil, which he also wrote and directed in a striking and visually stunning adaptation of Whit Masterson’s novel Badge of evil.

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Farley Granger and Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Strangers on a Train (1951)

Farley Granger plays a married tennis star who would rather be with the daughter of a US senator, and Robert Walker plays a man who offers to kill his wife if the athlete kills his father. This deadly affair is the premise of Alfred Hitchcock’s founding psychological thriller Strangers on a train – an adaptation of the novel by Patricia Highsmith written in part by Raymond Chandler.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Brick

(Image credit: Focus Features)

Brick (2005)

Can you imagine a mysterious murder with all of the same themes, archetypes, and language of a Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett story set in modern times and with a cast of characters still in high school? Writer and Director Rian Johnson of Knives Out celebrity did it and turned it into her fascinating debut feature Brick, starring his frequent collaborator Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a loner infiltrating a teenage criminal world to solve his girlfriend’s death.

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Guy Pearce in Mémento

(Image credit: Sony)

Remembrance (2000)

Can you imagine a murder mystery told in reverse that still manages to be an incredibly compelling and suspenseful story throughout? Co-Writer and Director Christopher Nolan achieved that with his brilliant and captivating American debut. Memento, starring Guy Pearce as a man trying to resolve his wife’s death despite a condition that makes him unable to remember what happened to him just moments earlier.

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Bruce Willis in the city of sin

(Image credit: Dimension)

The City of Sin (2005)

Co-directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez capture the very essence of comic book on film with their groundbreaking adaptation (a word that barely describes how much it brings the source to life) of Miller collectively called the city of sin. The masterful game changer boasts a stellar star cast, a remarkably unique aesthetic, and dialogue that redefines the language of classic film noir more than it pays homage to it.

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Cary Grant in North By Northwest

(Image credit: MGM)

North by Northwest (1959)

A case of mistaken identity leads a New York advertiser (Cary Grant) to flee international spies. Even those who have never seen the breathtaking ride that is Alfred Hitchcock North to northwest can instantly recognize him from the iconic, jaw-dropping scene in which Grant’s character barely dodges a plane flying straight at him.

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Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling in Drive

(Image credit: FilmDistrict)

Drive (2011)

The best neo-noir thrillers challenge the conventions of the originals while honoring and reflecting what made them so powerful to begin with. Director Nicolas Winding Refn Absolutely Nails That Intent With His Instant Classic Crime Drama Drive, starring Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stuntman by day, a runaway driver by night who puts himself in danger trying to protect the woman of his dreams (Carey Mulligan) and her family.

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Movies don’t get much darker than this – hence the name “film noir”. However, the darkness shone so bright as in these amazing titles.

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