Opinions are divided as to the defining characteristics of the noir genre but the term does connote “darkness” of spirit and intent as well as of locale and time of day. Here’s what Roger Ebert thinks:
“Film noir is . . .
1. A French term meaning “black film,” or film of the night, inspired by the Series Noir, a line of cheap paperbacks that translated hard-boiled American crime authors and found a popular audience in France.
2. A movie which at no time misleads you into thinking there is going to be a happy ending.
3. Locations that reek of the night, of shadows, of alleys, of the back doors of fancy places, of apartment buildings with a high turnover rate, of taxi drivers and bartenders who have seen it all.”
These are among my favorites, listed in order of release. A link to the International Movie Database is embedded in each title.
The Big Sleep (1946)
Night and the City (1950)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Night of the Hunter (1956)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Road to Perdition (2002)
* * *
The embedded links are to IMDb, in my opinion the single best source for information about films.
I also highly recommend the American Film Institute which also has a wealth of superb resources.
Link to “Ten of the best films that most people haven’t seen or even heard of”: One Man’s Opinion
Link to “Another ten films that deserve more attention and appreciation”
I wish you entertaining — if not happy — viewing!