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.
11. Maltese Falcon
There are so many things to like about this movie, including the poster. Directed by John Huston and penned by Dashiell Hammett, this movie is a film noir heavyweight. The film stars Humphrey Bogart as the hard-nosed shamus, Sam Spade. A great supporting cast with Sidney Greenstreet in his Oscar winning role as Kasper Gutman and Peter Lorre as the smarmy Joel Cairo. Great lines abound, "The best goodbyes are short…adieu, "When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it". Another gem, "You’re a good man, sister". Great stuff! The movie poster has Bogart clutching two 45’s with a stern, determined look on his face. Mary Astor is leaning or slouching provocatively on a coffee table in bottom right.
This Otto Preminger directed classic sees Dana Andrews playing police detective Mark McPherson. Clever screenplay is littered with all kinds of great lines like; "Yeah, "dames are always pulling a switch on you", "I can afford a blemish on my character, but not on my clothes" and the tell tale line delivered by Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) "You'd better watch out, McPherson, or you'll finish up in a psychiatric ward. I doubt they've ever had a patient who fell in love with a corpse." The movie poster is a classic film noir design. The use of the extended letter "L" in "Laura" is a nice touch.
This movie may have won an award for best written low-budget films in 1951 but as this genre goes it has never been consider a great noir film. The two best things about it really were the taglines, "Murder was her mistake - marrying her was his! "and "A low down on a come on girl" and the movie poster. No better image said "bad girl than this one. Loose doesn’t adequately describe.
Henri-Georges Clouzot directed this (often overlooked) classic thriller. Two faves of mine and brilliant films that Clouzot directed shortly after this were "The Wages of Fear" and "Daibloque". This little gem stars Suzy Delair as Jenny Lamour and Bernard Blier as Maurice Martineau as her jealous husband. The movie really ramps up after a murder and the arrival of Louis Jouvet as Detective Inspector Antoine.
The artwork for this French movie poster in a word is, "lustrous". The image of the imposing Louis Jouvet peering down on images of the central characters and the funky geometric line drawings is brilliant.
In this film Bogart plays a screenwriter with a temper. A woman dies and he is the prime suspect. Enter Gloria Grahame as his next store neighbor and alibi. A relationship between the two follows and Bogart’s character starts to reveal a very dangerous side that calls everything into question. The film was directed by Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause) and it was considered groundbreaking in that for the rather staid 50’s it dealt with violence at home. The tagline read, "The Bogart suspense picture with a surprise finish". Surprise it was. The US movie poster like many others is a little lame. We chose the Italian poster for its exemplary artwork and design.
16. Double Indemnity
Another Billy Wilder directed classic from the James Cain classic novel. The tagline was "It's Love and Murder at First Sight!" Barbra Stanwyck is at her beguiling best as the attractive Phyllis Dietrichson. Fred McMurray plays William Neff the unsuspecting insurance salesman who gets duped into killing Stanwyck’s husband. Double crosses galore!
The Spanish movie poster has a great image of McMurray in his prison skivvies. There are some almost Dali-esque like images in the background behind McMurray. Stanwyck can be seen in the foreground with an alluring and conniving smile on her face. Beautiful European art work!
Probably the best thing about this stinker was the movie poster. This was definitely not considered to be one of Alan Ladd’s better roles. The film was directed by John Farrow who was married to Maureen Sullivan for 27 years until his death in 1963. A much better movie directed by Farrow (a year later) was "The Big Clock" which starred his wife. That was a great flick with Charles Laughton playing the heavy. His role was reprised in 1987 by Gene Hackman in the film "No Way Out". Despite that film being much better than "Calcutta" There is no comparing the movie posters. Check the movie poster for "The Big Clock" and decide for yourself which one is better.
18. Dark Passage
This was the third of four films that starred Bogart and Bacall. Good tagline that says, "Two of a Kind! Tough...Torrid...Terrific! The four "T"’s. Bogart plays Vince Parry a prison escapee wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. The movie begins as we see the world through the camera lens as if we were Parry’s own eyes after he has had plastic surgery. Very clever lensing. Bacall plays sympathetic supporter, Irene Jansen who helps Parry on his journey to find the real killer. The US movie poster is quite good. We fell for the Danish version for its stark, simple art deco-like lines. The telephone poles, the ghosted image of Bacall, the colors, the San Francisco skyline and the shadow cast of a guy with a gun who can’t be seen in the bottom left of the movie poster. Very cool design indeed.
This film is definitely considered a film noir classic. Adapted from the novel written by James Cain (Double Indemnity) in 1934, the content was considered far too racy to be filmed given the mores of the time. It took 12 years to be brought to the screen. The result was a tense film noir drama that saw John Garfield playing the drifter Frank Chambers, who hooks up with a dissatisfied wife played by the luminous Lana Turner. The tagline, "Their Love was a Flame that Destroyed!" says it all. The US movie poster is quite popular but the German is outstanding. The images of the two stars especially Lana Turner with the then ubiquitous cigarette hanging from her lips are beautiful.
20. Glass Key
Veronica Lake, what does a guy say? She was so attractive it hurts. Hot on the heels of great noir film "This Gun for Hire" here she plays another irresistible blonde bomber. Along for the ride was her previous co-star Alan Ladd who plays the sidekick for a newly repentant politician played by the film noir staple Brian Donlevy. The film was based on the Dashiell Hammett novel of the same name. Hammett considered this his best book.
A couple of great lines from the movie include," My first wife was the second cook at a third-rate joint on 4th Street", "I just met the swellest dame... She smacked me in the kisser." And "I get along very well with Paul because he's on the dead up-and-up. Why don't *you* try it sometime? It was a toss-up choosing the best movie poster for this film. Both the one-sheet and the three-sheet are great. We decide on the one-sheet because all the images fit inside a graphic of a key. We do like the image of Veronica on the three sheet though, check it out.