Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Feature
Become A Film Noir Expert In Ten Easy Movies
Master a genre in just a handful of films

submit to reddit

Don your seediest trench coat or sultriest dress and head to the nearest dark alley because it’s time to celebrate that coolest of cool genres: the film noir. From the early ‘40s, these dark-hued thrillers have been populated by iconic, whiskey-stained antiheroes, sharp-eyed femme fatales, world-weary ‘tecs and trigger-happy gangsters; giving us fatalistic tales soundtracked by the screech of tires and the bark of gunshots. Down the years Hollywood’s shadowy B movies have matured into A-list classics. They twist around your mind like the languorous curl of Lucky Strike smoke – stories from the pages of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler told by directors of the calibre of John Huston, Fritz Lang, Anthony Mann, Billy Wilder and Michael Curtiz. Now, with Nicolas Winding Refn’s mod-noir Driver on the horizon, Johnny Depp gearing up for a remake of Hammett’s The Thin Man, edgy French thriller Point Blank arriving in cinemas, and L.A. Noire thrilling gamers, noir is back and you need to know about it. Sexy, smart and sinister, here’s ten classics to get your started.

WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  1 of 10 Next
Become A Film Noir Expert In Ten Easy Movies | The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Director: John Huston
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre
Tagline: "A guy without a conscience! A dame without a heart!"

Whether this noir trailblazer is better than Howard Hawks’ equally definitive Bogart thriller The Big Sleep is a matter for debate, preferably in a dark corner of your local speakeasy at 4am. In the end, it boils down to preference: Hammett or Chandler? Spade or Marlowe? Astor or Hepburn? Falcon offers none of the chauffeur-driven blind alleys that still stump us - and baffled even Chandler - in The Big Sleep, but the smouldering sexual chemistry, oily hucksters (Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, John Ridgely) and pervasive air of menace are all present and correct. John Huston’s San Francisco-set whodunit came first, plucking a whole new genre from the studio ghetto with storytelling as complex and sophisticated as anything audiences had seen before. The plot’s McGuffin – a precious artefact that would give Lucas and Spielberg an idea or two – was chased by one of the greatest noir casts assembled. Bogart, who’d been cast into the to B-movie wilderness in a fit of pique by Jack Warner, led it, making a mockery of the initial decision to cast George Raft. He peppers the film with machine-gun patter, cynical smarts and some of the best lines in ‘40s cinema. “You always have a very smooth explanation,” Joel Cairo sighs in frustration, as Spade weaves his way out of another corner. “What do you want me to do,” says Spade, “learn to stutter?” Heck no Sam, we love you just as you are.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
 
1 of 10
Next

Have Your Say
Register or login now to let us know what you think.

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Interstellar Newsstand Cover Has Arrived
Plus a full preview of what you'll find inside our brand new issue

The Future Of Film: British Film Will Thrive (If Tax Breaks Allow)
Or how Harry Potter saved the British film industry, and could again

The Making Of The Lost Pilot: An Oral History
The cast and crew look back at the epic season opener…

Empire's Gone Girl Review
Our official verdict on David Fincher's adaptation of the best-selling novel

The Future Of Film: The Streaming Services Will Be Major Studios
(Or how Hollywood will have to start worrying about Netflix)

The Empire Podcast #129: Liam Neeson Interview
Plus Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, Holliday Grainger and Jessica Brown Findlay drop by to talk The Riot Club

The Future Of Film: We'll Be Watching Films In Virtual Reality
Immerse cinema aims to become the must-have experience for the filmgoers of the future

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)