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 donít 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.
Robert Mitchum had to be in more film noir movies than any other actor. In this film he play a young doctor who falls for a (what we later learn) is a less than mentally stable woman, played by Faith Domergue (Dr. Ruth in "This Island Earth"). Needless to say, he should have known better considering he met after she tried to kill herself. Somehow her husband (Claude Rains) ends up dead and they end up on the run from the law. Mitchum laments later in the film, "It all fits in, all the symptoms. I didn't fall in love with a woman - I fell in love with a patient." This awesome movie poster image is from the three-sheet.
22. The Killers
A brilliant film directed by Robert Siodmak ("Criss Cross" "Cry in the City") was considered his best. He was nominated for an Oscar as Best Director. He lost to William Wyler for "The Best Years of Our Lives". Adapted from an Ernest Hemingway short story the movie starred Burt Lancaster and had Ava Gardner playing the femme fatale Kitty Collins. Notable fact is that the film was remade in 1964 and was considered the breakout picture for Lee Marvin. The US movie poster was OK but doesnít compare to the Italian version.
You could almost call this movie "Road Film Noir". The tagline reveals a little bit for us, "He went searching for love... but Fate forced a DETOUR to Revelry...Violence...Mystery! "Tom Neal plays Al Roberts who while hitch hiking to LA from New York gets a ride from a dodgy gambler who dies mysteriously on the road. Al assumes his identity and soon picks up another hitch hiker. This time it is a woman simply named Vera. As fate would have it she knew the dodgy gambler and threatens to blackmail him. Vera is played with delicious femme fatale splendor by Ann Savage. This part was undeniably her most famous role.
The script was written by Martin Goldsmith ("Narrow Margin" (1952) "Shakedown" (1952)). The script was virtual treasure trove of great film noir one-liners. It included; "I was tussling with the most dangerous animal in the world, a woman." "What kind of dames thumb rides? Sunday School teachers?" As I drove off, it was still raining and the drops streaked down the windshield like tears."
Even better a few from Vera, "Say who do you think you're talking to - a hick? Listen Mister, I been around, and I know a wrong guy when I see one. What'd you do, kiss him with a wrench?" I'd hate to see a fellow as young as you wind up sniffin' that perfume Arizona hands out free to murderers! And lastly, "Stop makin' noises like a husband.
The movie poster is right up there with the many of the classic designs. We like the name of the movie as a sign, the white striped borders and especially the images Neal and Savage leaning provocatively against a street sign.
24. Asphalt Jungle
John Huston directed this masterful tale of crooks, heists and ultimately double crosses and betrayal. He was nominated for an Oscar as Best Director in 1951. He lost out to Joseph L. Mankiewicz for "All About Eve". He was in some heavyweight company that year with Carol Reed losing for "The Third Man", Billy Wider for "Sunset Boulevard" and George Cukor for "Born Yesterday". The film was also notable as the first movie that Marilyn Monroe had a speaking role and some short onscreen time as Angela Phinlay. She delivers a little gem when her characters says, "Haven't you bothered me enough, you big banana-head?" Who would have thunk it, from sterling dialogue like that to one of the sexiest icons of all time. The US movie poster ranks of one of the worst I have ever seen for a film of this magnitude. It was a toss-up for us between the French or Belgian versions. Given that both movie posters feature Monroe despite how little time she is in the movie we opted for the more glamorous French version.
25. Key Largo
This film was the last of the four movies where Lauren Bacall appeared alongside Humphrey Bogart. Edward G. Robinson was excellent playing the nasty cigar chomping Johnny Rocco. Holed up in a hotel in the Florida Keys during a hurricane, the great lines abound. "When your head says one thing and your whole life says another, your head always loses" says Frank McCloud (Bogart). The crux of the film hangs on another one of his lines, "One Rocco more or less isn't worth dying for!". John Huston directed this fourth movie with Bogart after, "The Maltese Falcon", "Across the Pacific" and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre". The US movie poster looks like it was designed by the same folks who did the "The Big Sleep" and "White Heat". There were many good European designs for movie posters but we feel that the Italian is the best of all.
26. Touch of Evil
How good is this movie? Even as Welles found himself further and further outside the Hollywood establishment he wrote and directed this great flick. There are many great movie posters for this film. It was difficult to choose one. We chose this French version for its awesome design and artwork. We also chose it because there was scene at the end of Michael Mooreís movie "Bowling for Columbine" where he interviews a very reluctant Charlton Heston. Heston is seated in a chair and becoming more and more uncomfortable with the questions. Nestled on the floor right behind him was a framed copy of this poster. If itís good enough for Chuck itís good enough for us.
Arguably the best film noir movie ever made in Europe. This French classic directed by Jules Dassin stars Jean Servais as the recently released ex-con Tony Le Stephanois. Dassin won the best director for his efforts at Cannes in 1955. The French movie poster reigns supreme of all the movie posters that were designed for this film.
28. Sunset Boulevard
The Billy Wilder directed classic starred Gloria Swanson as the fading silent screen star Norma Desmond. Who can forget one of the quintessential Hollywood lines, "I am big. It's the pictures that got small" voiced by Swanson with a sweeping movement, clenched teeth, elbow length black gloves and the foot-long cigarette holder. The movie poster is the best of the bunch developed for this film. The twisted film stock is an interesting and thought provoking design choice.
29. White Heat
This film noir classic starred the inimitable James Cagney as psychotic gangster with "Mommy issues" Cody Jarrett. Cagney returned to play a gangster ten years after playing Rocky Sullivan in another film noir staple, "Angels with Dirty Faces". The movie was directed by Hollywood legend Raoul Walsh. Walsh was quite the character. One of his oft repeated line was "Your idea of light comedy is to burn down a whorehouse." Gotta like it, The US movie poster was a pretty tame affair. In fact it was startlingly similar to the design for the US release of the movie poster for the Bogart classic "The Big Sleep". We like this Italian version with the great artwork of the obviously "tame" relationship between Virginia Mayo and Cagney in the film. Use of the English name in the title for an Italian movie poster is quite rare. I guess "Calore Bianco" didnít work for them.
30. Dead Reckoning
Humphrey Bogart plays a former Captain in the military with a great name, Rip Murdock. Rip finds himself looking for his best bud after he disappears one night. During his investigation he encounters the lovely Lizabeth Scott as Dusty Chandler. Howís that for a femme fataleís name? One great line occurs when Rip is describing what kind of guy he is, "I'm the brass-knuckles-in-the-teeth-to-dance-time type. As tough as he is he must deal with Dusty at some point. The tagline suggests, "He Doesn't Trust Anyone...especially Women". Here again is an example of a US movie poster that canít hold a torch to the Italian equivalent."Bogey" with his trademark smoke perched in his lips with a Lizabeth Scott is a fire engine red outfit with gun clasped in hand does it for us.