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"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. 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.

The outstanding Elia Kazan ("On the Waterfront" (1954) "A Street Car Named Desire" (1951)) directed this little thriller that starred Richard Widmark as Clint Reed MD, Barbara Bel Geddes (Yes, Mrs. Ellie Ewing of "Dallas" fame) and the masterful Jack Palance as the "rotten to the core" bad guy, Blackie.

There were a few outstanding lines in this one; Widmark to his other co-star Paul Douglas," You know, my mother always told me if you looked deep enough in anybody... you'd always find some good, but I don't know." Douglas responds, "With apologies to your mother, that's the second mistake she made". Oh, yeah. I went to see my mother-in-law. She was wrestling semifinals...and a statement that stands the test of time. "As far as I know, nobody's yet figured out a way to get money back from the U.S. Government...quickly, that is." Not unless you are a large financial institution of course!

The US movie poster was a very weak design. We really like this Spanish version for its design and artwork. Palance looks great in profile hiding behind a wall clutching a handgun.

Sam Fuller directed this outstanding movie that starred Richard Widmark as the recently released ex-con Skip McCoy. Playing opposite him is Jean Peters as Candy who was carrying a microfilm in her purse destined for some Communist Party baddies before Skip steals it out of her purse. Jean Peters only made a handful of movies after this one. She packed in acting after she married Howard Hughes in 1957. They were "married" for 14 years. Thelma Ritter was nominated for a "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar for her role as the down on her luck Moe Williams. She lost to Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday".

Fuller co-wrote the script and it contains some snappy one-liners. Moe to Candy, "You got any Happy Money? Happy money? Yeah, money that's gonna make me happy." "I have to go on making a living so I can die. But even a fancy funeral ain't worth waiting for if I've gotta do business with crumbs like you." and Skip to Captain Tiger (Murvyn Vye), Pack up the pitch with the charge or drive me back to my shack." Tiger; "I'll drive you back in a hearse if you don't get the kink out of your mouth!"

The US movie poster was stand fare. But the Spanish is gorgeous and subsequently it was the one that made the cut.

43. Cry of the City


Victor Mature stars alongside Richard Conte in this tale of two friends who grew up in the same neighborhood and chose different paths in life. One was a cop the other a gangster. Both actors gave good performances in a movie whose plot lines have been oft repeated in movies for years. The film was directed by Richard Siodmak ("The Killers (1946), Criss Cross (1949)) The film was given Robert Meltzer Award from the WGA (Writers Guild of America). The award was for "Screenplay Dealing Most Ably with Problems of the American Scene". It looks like the WGA has given this award to screenwriters sporadically over the years.

We like the movie poster for its bold imagery and artwork that shows Mature with what appears to be both a pained and angry look on his face casting his eyes at bad guy Conte in the bottom left.

44. Lady in the Lake


Adapted from one of Raymond Chandlerís novels of the same name, it was directed by its star Robert Montgomery. It has been suggested that the film might have been better if Montgomery chose not to direct it. He went on to direct himself in three other movies, then that was it as a director. One can only wonder why. In this movie he plays the gumshoe Philip Marlowe. A couple of Chandler gems in the script were, Adrienne (Audrey Totter) to Marlowe, "Do you fall in love with all of your clients? Only the ones in skirts". "Perhaps you'd better go home and play with your fingerprint collection. "and "That wasn't for nothing. No, it was for five hundred bucks, and you got a little piece of my soul, along with my services. The US movie poster left much to be desired. The Belgian on the other hand has an interesting allure. It might be that sense one gets when you are staring down the barrel of a .38 revolver.

45. Crossfire


This film was considered topical in its day for its portrayal of World War II vets who are central to the plot. The movie boasts quite a cast, Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan (The three Bobs) and the venerable Gloria Grahame a veteran of many film noir flicks. Lex Barker (One of the Tarzanís) even makes an appearance in a bit part. The tagline was, "Sensational? No, it's dynamite!" very true, as the picture dealt with the topic of hate crime. The US movie poster is a good example of the design style for classic film noir movie posters, lots of guns and the obligatory images of both a guy and a gal smoking.

"There's too many of them. I can't kill the world." Says, Reverend Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) at his creepy, sadistic and fanatical best. When we first see his knuckles (on one hand there are tattooed letters spelling "Hate" and on the other it says "Love") we know this some twisted guy. The movie was directed by actor Charles Laughton in his one and only credited film as a director. Not a bad freshman outing. The movie posters from the USA are only OK. We chose this German version for the original artwork of Mitchum and Shelley Winters the central characters or victims?

47. Road House


What could be more 40ís than a Road House. Boy, have times changed. This tense story of betrayal has the very talented Ida Lupino as the woman at the center of attention. Most folks are not aware that Lupino went on to break a lot of barriers herself by directing several films and had a long career directing in television. Richard Widmark played the heavy here and was excellent. Like other movie posters of the time this US version has the hallmarks of a great film noir design.

One of Akira Kurosawaís earlier efforts is a great steamy pot boiler. This movie made before two of his more notable films "Rashoman" and "The Seven Samurai" finds a young Toshiro Mifune playing a rookie cop who gets his gun stolen while on a crowded bus. He solicits the help of senior officer, Takashi Shimura to assist him in getting it back. Things heat up, figuratively and literally as the gun is used in a murder and the investigation takes place during a summer heat wave. Great example of what was to become a stellar career of arguably Japans greatest film director. The film was shot in post war Tokyo in 1949 and this setting adds to the "feel" of the movie.

The movie poster may not graphically hold up to comparison with its American counterparts but is a great example of the Japanese movie posters for the time and years to follow.

49. Narrow Margin


Look no further than the tagline to know what this movie is about, "'THAT BULLET'S MEANT FOR ME!" - Suspense every speeding second aboard a stream-lined syndicate killers seek to find and silence mystery woman headed for the Grand Jury!". Thatís got to be one of the longest taglines ever, revealing also. The film was directed by Richard Fleischer who went on to direct lots of great movies. Two of my favorites of his were "Compulsion" (1959) and "10 Rillington Place" (1971). He also directed the cult classic "Soylent Green". The US movie poster is actually quite good, we prefer the French version with the very cool art deco-like speeding train.

50. Dark City


This movie was ostensibly the film debut of Charlton Heston. He played opposite the gorgeous Lizabeth Scott (a perennial film noir actress) as a down on his luck poker playing bookie. He and his friends hustle a guy for a bunch of money he doesnít have and then he kills himself. All kind of guilty consciences are displayed as the hustlers deal with it and have to face the fact the dead guy has a very vengeful brother. Not a bad premise for a film noir flick. The US movie poster leaves much to be desired, bland doesnít adequately describe. But...The Italian is another story. Lizabeth Scott is looking particularly vamp-like in the foreground with Heston and a cool looking skyline is in the rear.

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