10 of the best film noir movies

On the eve of LA Noire's European release, we're staying up all night watching some of its biggest influences

Rockstar’s latest couch magnet LA Noire is on the cusp of release. The film noir-influenced title, which uses realistic facial animation, has already been tipped for 'game of the year' plaudits for its translation of the genre to the video game format. Whether you're new to noir or you've investigated every inch of its darkly stylised glory, these are the 10 films you should watch before you bust out the controller.



When your wife hires a private dick to spy on you, you have a licence to worry. When that detective is Jack Nicholson-shaped, you can double it. And when the woman who hired him turns out to be an impostress, you have the beginnings of Roman Polanski's neo-noir classic.

Miller's Crossing


Gangster noir, as envisaged by the Coen brothers. Need we go on?

LA Confidential


A little-known Russell Crowe played a violent LAPD officer in this film translation of James Ellroy's novel, which scooped a brace of Oscar gongs. It also introduced Guy Pearce to the mainstream, with Kim Bassinger, Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito completing the headline cast. Sadly, The Black Dahlia (2006, also penned by Ellroy) couldn't hold a candle to it.

Blue Velvet


Lynch cut his noir chops by getting Dennis Hopper's psychopathic Frank Booth to chug gas and drop the F-bomb in almost every line he had. Off set, the strains of Bobby Vinton's eponymous lounge-core hit formed the centrepiece of one of cinema's great soundtracks.

Mulholland Drive


David Lynch hired Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring on spec for Mulholland Drive. Then he got them naked. Together. In a love scene. Needless to say, the rest of the film makes sense fleetingly.

More after the break...

Citizen Kane


Orson Welles was given complete control over the project from start to finish, despite being a first-time director. In return he produced what is frequently cited as the best film of all time.

Road to Perdition


Based on Max Allan Collins' graphic novel, Road to Perdition paved the way for the likes of Watchmen, Red and V for Vendetta. But not before treating us to some darkly atmospheric Tommy gun fire.

Dark City


Who says sci-fi can't be noir? Co-written by David S "Dark Knight" Goyer, the conurbation of the title is a sunless Gotham run by telekinetic beings who seek human souls.

Angel Heart


Robert De Niro forgot to clip his nails before shooting Alan Parker's satanic detective thriller, but it didn't stop him or Mickey Rourke giving sweat-inducing performances in this twisted tale.



Neo noir goes back to the classroom in Brick – stoners and loners are entwined in the plot of a Californian high school murder story.


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