Yesterday on The Focus we had a quick explanation of that legendary film genre film noir, which often explored the dark underbelly of – for the most part – American life.

We also examined what might be considered the best film noir films of the 1940s.

The genre coming to an end

Today, we look at the best film noir films of the 1950s, a decade which saw the genre on the way out, but still saw some of the best films of all time produced.

The films on this list feature the usual noir tropes of desperate men and femme fatales, but they also feature nuclear paranoia, the business of film making and men and women trying to survive in a world that seemed on the verge of falling apart.

In A Lonely Place (1950)

Noir icon Humphrey Bogart takes on one of the roles of his career, in this downbeat classic. He takes on the role of a screenwriter suspected of murder, as Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) slowly falls in love with a man capable of killing her.

 

The Killing (1956)

Cinema legend Stanley Kubrick waded into the noir waters with this heist classic. Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) plans to rob a race track of $2 million dollars before resting from crime. Inevitably, in a blaze of backstabbing and betrayal, it all goes wrong.

The Big Heat (1953)

Tough as nails thriller directed by Fritz Lang. Stars Glenn Ford as a policeman out to take on the crime mob which run his city. It has some explicit violence for a 1953 film. Also features legendary tough guy Lee Marvin in an early role.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Burt Lancaster stars as notorious gossip columnist JJ Hunsecker, with Tony Curtis as the press agent who will do anything he can to get publicity for his clients. A rare film that has practically no redeeming characters as everyone is out for themselves.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Robert Aldrich’s blend of noir and atomic bomb horror features legendary detective Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) who ends up in over his head after picking up a hitch-hiker who has escaped from a psychiatric hospital. Also features a glowing briefcase, which may have influenced Quentin Tarantino.

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