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Welcome to the Movie Poster Shop's list of
"The 50 Best Film Noir Movie Posters EVER!"

For the uninitiated, one might ask, "What is film noir?"

The simplest way to describe it would be not for us to attempt describing it at all and let you read a few online descriptions.


Dictionary.com describes the film noir genre as follows: "A motion picture with an often grim urban setting, photographed in somber tones and permeated by a feeling of disillusionment, pessimism, and despair."
OK, not bad...a good start.

Wikipedia said this about film noir: "Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940's to the late 1950's." That about nails it!
Read more Wikipedia on film noir here.

Always a contentious issue between true film noir fans is when, exactly, was the golden age of the genre. We agree with the time frame described by the Wikipedia entry. There have been numerous films produced since that could definitely be described as film noir. Typically if the movie was made after the late 1950's it could be described as "Neo Noir". More recent examples would be "Chinatown" (1974), "Body Heat" (1981), "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962), and more recently the excellent "The Usual Suspects" (1995).

For us, movie poster fans the movie posters produced for these films are some the best designs ever done. Typical design elements of film noir movie posters are steamy images of gorgeous, sultry femme fatales and guys with fedoras and hand guns. Omnipresent were images of men and women smoking. In fact, one might say (running contrary to the folks who protest the images of actors smoking in films) that some of the best film noir movie posters have images of cigarettes dangling from mouths or nestled in the actors hands.

Original movie posters for film noir movies are highly sought after by collectors. Original film noir posters have garnered very high prices over the last ten years. Movie Poster Shop allows you to get the best looking film noir movie posters at an affordable and accessible price. We hope you enjoy our collection of
"The 50 Best Film Noir Movie Posters EVER!"

Our apologies go out to those aficionados who don’t see the movie poster for their favorite film noir movie here. We admit to leaving out some great movies of the genre. Quite simply some movie posters for the great films sucked. Please remember this is a list of the best movie posters not movies.



1. The Blue Dahlia

(1946)


The tagline says it all about this movie, "Tamed by a brunette - framed by a blonde - blamed by the cops!" Raymond Chandler wrote this screenplay also. Many good lines in this one too. The "Blue Dahlia" refers to a bar where much of action takes place. On entering, Alan Ladd’s character Johnny Morrison says to a group of patrons, "Seems I've lost my manners or would anyone here know the difference". His wife played by Doris Dowling says a beauty, "I take all the drinks I like, any time, any place. I go where I want to with anybody I want. I just happen to be that kind of a girl". The movie poster is one of the best ever. The crisp colors and layout of the principle actors make this a keeper. The wary look on Alan Ladd’s face is almost an example of foreshadowing of the plot itself. The smoke that lingers in the air from his cigarette almost looks like it is moving as you look at it.

2. Niagara

(1953)


This was actually a very good movie. Marilyn Monroe is well cast as the disgruntled Rose Loomis. A couple of clever lines of dialogue occur when Ray Cutler (Max Showalter) commenting a particularly revealing dress worn by Monroe asks his wife Polly Cutler (Jean Peters) "Why don't you ever get a dress like that?", she responds, "Listen. For a dress like that, you've got to start laying plans when you're about thirteen. The movie was directed by veteran film noir helmsman Henry Hathaway ("Kiss of Death, "Call Northside 777") The Belgian movie poster is one of our favorites and what we consider to be the best for any Marilyn Monroe film. The image of Monroe lying prone with the Niagara Falls flowing over her is a brilliant design. The close up floating heads of her and Joseph Cotton are excellent.


This is a very good heist – film noir movie. John Payne gave one of his better performances. He was accompanied by four of Hollywood’s hardest working character actors, Preston Foster, Neville Brand, Jack Elam and always tough guy Lee Van Cleef. A good tagline read, "Exploding! Like a gun in your face! – The brutal inside story of ganglands biggest frame-up.. The dirtiest double-cross of them all.

Payne plans an intricate armored car robbery; all the participants meet to set it up wearing masks so none of them know who the others are. This was an interesting premise that would make Quentin Tarantino proud. Some great hard-boiled lines include, "What makes a two-bit heel like you think a heater would give him an edge over me?" "I know a sure cure for a nosebleed: a cold knife in the middle of the back" and this nugget, "What's waiting for you, Harris? the chair, the gas chamber, or just a rope?"

The US movie poster is good but still doesn’t hold a torch to the fantastic artwork found on the Belgian version. There are similar images on the two posters (not always the case) but what makes this movie poster is the fedora wearing, mask covered individual with the haunting eyes in the top left. A very cool poster!

4. This Gun for Hire

(1942)


Veronica Lake (the quintessential Hollywood blonde bomb shell) co-stars with Alan Ladd and Robert (Seventy-six trombones) Preston. The movie was adapted from a novel written by Graham Greene from a novel entitled "This Gun for Sale". The flick had some great lines which included; "What's the matter? You look like you've been on a hayride with Dracula" You are trying to make me go soft. Well, you can save it. I don't go soft for anybody" and "No mystery about me, just a hick lawyer the voters got stuck with."

The film typically finds its way on to the "Top 50 Best Film Noir" movies lists but as a rule it is in the lower half. The movie poster on the other hand is widely considered as one of the best. We agree. The image of Veronica Lake shows not only how beautiful she is but it exudes both an overt sexiness and says you need to be wary of me at the same time. Quite a combination!

5. Gilda

(1946)


The tagline says, "There NEVER was a Woman Like Gilda!" In fact in my opinion there never was a woman like Rita Hayworth. A good film noir movie, but, not a great film. What is great about this film is the movie poster. This is the quintessential image of the beautiful woman in her long evening gown with the cigarette held high in the air. The smoke drifting off into the distance is almost sexual. One of the very best! There are two other Italian movie posters that are awesome and kept us guessing. Check the art work out from two other Gilda posters (Italian "A" & Italian "B") that have great designs.

6. Nightmare Alley

(1947)


The tagline which was not on the poster said, "He was all things to all men...but only one thing to all women! " Tyrone Power (cast against type) plays a huckster trying to get ahead in the world. He tramples over a few gorgeous women on the way. The dangling cigarette suggests a certain impertinence or brazenness of the character. The movie poster is classic 40’s Fox stone litho with brilliant colors and a saucy design


Joseph L. Mankiewicz ("All About Eve" & "Guys and Dolls") directed this taut little movie about a returning World War II vet who has amnesia and is determined to find out who he is. Along the way he runs in to a young night club singer played by Nancy Guild and a supposedly good guy, night club owner Richard Conte. All kinds of interesting stuff happen after that. The movie poster ranks as high as it does because it has it all. There is the cool image of John Hodiak’s head with the rings in the background and the bolts of light shooting out of his head. He almost looks like Mandrake the Magician. You have Nancy Gild in her "Ilsa Lund" trench coat, a handgun, hand on an iron gate and lastly a terse looking Richard Conte in the bottom right corner. A tremendous film noir movie poster.

8. Gun Crazy

(1950)


The movie was originally titled "Deadly is the Female". The tagline said it all, "SHE BELIEVES IN TWO THINGS…Love and Violence!" The movie poster has actress Peggy Cummins looking like the definitive gun moll (including the "Bonnie Parker" beret) The movie poster has pulp fiction cover written all over it. It was tough choosing this one-sheet design over the three sheet.

9. Out of the Past

(1947)


Another great tagline not on the poster was, "A MAN - Trying to run away from his past...A WOMAN - Trying to escape her future!" This movie was an outstanding example of the genre. The poster is an excellent example of classic film noir posters. Robert Mitchum looks great with his "gumshoe" fedora and hanging cigarette. Jane Greer is attired in a sexy outfit with a 38 revolver hanging from right hand. Nice…

10. Mildred Pierce

(1945)


This film is always mentioned as a film noir classic. It was much more, a social commentary on divorce and the struggles of a woman on her own in a world dominated by men. Well ahead of it’s time for 1945. Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) the film was nominated for 6 Oscars (including Best Picture) with the Best Actress award going to Joan Crawford for her performance as Mildred Pierce. The film was adapted from a James Cain novel of the same name. Of course the book was much harsher and bloody and steeped in cynicism than the script ever was.

A few cool lines from script include, "You know, you keep on refusing me, and one of these days I'm going to start thinking you're stubborn." When men get around me, they get allergic to wedding rings. And to the same character Ida Corwin *(Eve Arden) who spoke the last line, Wally Fay (Jack Carson) says, "I hate all women. Thank goodness you're not one".

The US movie poster comes from the same Warner Brothers design school as "The Big Sleep, "White Heat" and "Key Largo". So we turn again to the Italian’s for our choice for this film. The artwork is superlative. Joan Crawford never looked better. One can imagine that a little foreshadowing was involved as we see Crawford on the left with gun in hand.



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