Film Noir Style – Leading Men

I grew up with film noir at the drive-in movies and on TV with my family. Enthralled by deep plots, intrigue and mystery, terror and suspense, and seeing the greatest Hollywood actors on the screen.

Film Noir is a true American art form. The style is an American crime movie genre in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s. It is about crime stories told from the criminal’s point of view. The films use black and white cinematography with dark shadows, symbolism, angle shots, twisted perspectives, stylized scenes, and jazz soundtracks. Film noir expressed the doom, fatalism, and cynicism of the apocalyptic era of World War Two and the Cold War. Characters are hopelessly trapped by forces beyond their control, paranoid, and are driven toward a tragic end. Intense drama, complex stories, heart breaking romance, heists that go wrong, chase scenes, shoot outs, intrigue, suspense, betrayal, revenge, jealousy, murder, desperation, and plot twists.

Stylish fashion and decor, night clubs, vintage cars, jazz and singers, dark alleys, and lonely cityscapes at night are all elements of the noir style.

Noir characters usually portray beaten down and desperate criminals who cannot escape their fate. Characters include con-men, mob bosses, hard-nosed police detectives and private eyes, femme fatale ladies who lead men to a tragic end, and innocent women who try to reform the wayward criminal anti-hero.

Humphrey Bogart

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Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957), the American Film Institute selected Bogart as the greatest male star of classic American cinema. He defined both the film noir detective and the desperate criminal. He played in many of the greatest movies in the genre. The Maltese Falcon is considered one of the greatest movies ever made.

Bogart film noir movies: The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, High Sierra, Conflict, Dark Passage, Key Largo, Dead Reckoning, In a Lonely Place, The Enforcer, The Harder They Fall, Knock on Any Door. Sirocco, Deadline USA, They Drive By Night, The Desperate Hours.

Glenn Ford

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1940s Gilda Film Noir Homoeroticism Ambiguity Glenn Ford Rita Hayworth –  Pale Writer

Glenn Ford (1916-2006), most prominent during Hollywood’s Golden Age as one of the biggest box-office draws of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, who had a career that lasted more than 50 years.

Ford film noir movies: The Big Heat, Gilda, Convicted, Framed, Experiment In Terror, Human Desire, The Undercover Man.

Tony Curtis

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Tony Curtis –

Tony Curtis (1925-2010), with a career that spanned six decades, achieving the height of his popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. He acted in more than 100 films.

Curtis film noir movies: Criss Cross, Sweet Smell of Success, The Boston Strangler, Forbidden, The Midnight Story.

Robert Mitchum

Out of the Past conjures dark film noir magic at The Cinematheque August 18  and 24 — Stir

Robert Mitchum (1917-1997), Roger Ebert called Mitchum the soul of film noir: “With his deep, laconic voice and his long face and those famous weary eyes, he was the kind of guy you’d picture in a saloon at closing time, waiting for someone to walk in through the door and break his heart.” The American Film Institute listed him as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema. Out of the Past is considered the greatest film noir movie.

Mitchum film noir movies: Out of the Past, Cape Fear, The Night of the Hunter, Farewell My Lovely, Angel Face, Macao, When Strangers Marry, Where Danger Lives, Undercurrent, The Racket, His Kind of Woman, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Locket, Thunder Road, The Lusty Men, The Big Steal, Crossfire, Pursued, Second Chance, Blood On the Moon.

Burt Lancaster

The Killers (1946)

Pulp International - Vintage American poster for The Killers with Bur  Lancaster and Ava Gardner

Burt Lancaster (1913-1994), a highly acclaimed actor for complex roles and ranked as one of the greatest actors in film.

Lancaster film noir movies: The Killers, Criss Cross, Brute Force, I Walk Alone, Sweet Smell of Success, Sorry Wrong Number, Kiss the Blood Off My Hands, Rope and Sand, Desert Fury.

Alan Ladd

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Alan Ladd as "Philip Raven" in a 1942 promotional photo for the wartime film  noir "This Gun For Hire" : r/OldSchoolCool

Alan Ladd (1913-1964), found success in film in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly in film noir and Westerns.

Ladd film noir movies: The Glass Key, This Gun For Hire, The Blue Dahlia, Calcutta, Appointment With Danger, Wall Street, The Men In the Net.

Dana Andrews

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Dana Andrews | Riding the High Country

Dana Andrews (1909-1992), a major leading man in the 1940s and ‘50s and a big name in film noir and spy films.

Andrews film noir movies: Laura, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Were the Sidewalk Ends, Edge of Doom, Brainstorm, Fallen Angel, Berlin Correspondent, Boomerang!, The Forbidden Street, Tree Hours to Kill.

Kirk Douglas

Ace in the Hole - Moviediva Detective Story From Left Kirk Douglas Eleanor Parker 1951  Photo Print (28 x 22): Posters & Prints

Kirk Douglas (1916-2020), a leading box-office star throughout the 1950s and 60s, known for serious dramas and action movies. Ranked as one of the greatest actors.

Douglas film noir movies: Out of the Past, I Walk Alone, Detective Story, The Big Carnival, Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Ace In the Hole, Champion.

William Holden

William Holden with Nancy Olson in Union Station 1950 | Film noir, Classic  hollywood, Noir movie

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William Holden (1918-1981), a leading man ranked as one of the greatest actors who starred in some of Hollywood’s most popular and critically acclaimed films.

Holden film noir movies: Sunset Blvd., Union Station, The Dark Past, The Turning Point.

Orson Welles

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Orson Welles (1915-1985), a director and actor remembered for his innovative work in film, radio, and theatre. He is considered to be among the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. His Citizen Kane is ranked as the best movie ever made.

Welles film noir movies: Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, Journey Into Fear, The Kremlin Letter, Mr. Arkadin, The Stranger, The Lady From Shanghai.

John Garfield

John Garfield Film Noir Force of Evil 1948 Photograph by David Lee Guss -  Pixels

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John Garfield (1913-1952) a highly acclaimed dramatic actor and a big name in film noir.

Garfield film noir movies: Body and Soul, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Force of Evil, The Breaking Point, He Ran All the Way, Nobody Lives For Ever, Dust Be My Destiny, The Fallen Sparrow, They Made Me a Criminal, Blackwell’s Island, Castle on the Hudson, Out of the Fog, Under My Skin, East of the River.

Joseph Cotton

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Joseph Cotton (1905-1994) highly acclaimed film, stage, radio, and television actor.

Cotton film noir movies: Touch of Evil, Niagra, Journey Into Fear, Beyond the Forest, Shadow of a Doubt, The Killer Is Loose, Citizen Kane, Gaslight, The Third Man, The Steel Trap.

Vincent Price

Vincent Price. "Laura" 1944, Directed by Otto Preminger' Photographic Print  | | Vincent price, Classic film noir, Noir movie

Vincent Price | Horror Film Wiki | Fandom

Vincent Price (1911-1993) dramatic actor on stage, television, and radio, and in more than 100 films. He became an icon in horror films.

Price film noir movies: Laura, His Kind of Woman, While the City Sleeps, Leave Her to Heaven, The Bribe, Shock, The Web.

John Payne

New York After Midnight: 99 RIVER STREET (United Artists 1953) – cracked  rear viewer

John Payne - Internet Movie Firearms Database - Guns in Movies, TV and  Video Games

John Payne (1912-1989) remembered for leading roles and film noir in the 1940s and ‘50s.

Payne film noir movies: The Crooked Way, 99 River Street, Hell’s Island, Kansas City Confidential, Slightly Scarlet, Larceny, The Saxon Charm.


Robert Cummings

Videophiled Noir III: 'Try and Get Me' and the 1946 'The Chase' restored -  Cinephiled

Robert Cummings

Robert Cummings (1910-1990) an actor in comedy, drama, crime, film, and TV.

Cummings film noir movies: Dial M for Murder, The Accused, The Chase, Sleep My Love, The Lost Moment.

Cornel Wilde The Big Combo Cornel Wilde Jean Wallace 1955 Photo Print (14 x  11): Posters & Prints

The Cinematheque / The Big Combo

Cornel Wilde (1912-1989) was a major leading man role actor in the 1940s.

Wilde film noir movies: The Big Combo, Shockproof, High Sierra, Road House, Leave Her to Heaven, Storm Fear.

Ray Milland

The Big Clock (1948) | MUBI

Ray Milland (1907-1986) a leading man in film and TV.

Milland film noir movies: Dial M for Murder, The Big Clock, The Thief, The Ministry of Fear, Lisbon.

Henry Fonda

The Wrong Man (1956) | MUBI

The Wrong Man movie (1956) - Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle -  video Dailymotion

Henry Fonda (1905-1982), one of the most loved actors of all time. His career spanned five decades on Broadway and in Hollywood. He often portrayed characters that embodied an everyman image.

Fonda film noir movies: The Wrong Man, Madigan, You Only Live Twice, Jigsaw.

Victor Mature

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Victor Mature (1913-1999) stage, film, and television actor who was a leading man in Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s.

Mature film noir movies: Cry of the City, Kiss of Death, Wake Up Screaming, The Shanghai Gesture, Violent Saturday.

Edmond O’Brian

Film International

D.O.A. (1950) - Edmond O'Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler - Feature  (Drama, Thriller, Mystery) - video Dailymotion

Edmond O’Brian (1915-1985) leading man in film, stage, and TV.

O’Brian film noir movies: DOA, 777 Ocean Drive, A Double Life, The Turning Point, The Hitchhiker, White Heat, Between Midnight and Dawn, The Shield For Murder.

Cary Grant

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Cary Grant (1904-1963) the ultimate stylish and debonair leading man. One of the greatest actors in films.

Grant film noir movies: Notorious, Suspicion, North By Northwest, To Catch a Thief.

Farley Granger

Farley Granger

Farley Granger, Hitchcock's stranger on a train, dies aged 85 | Movies |  The Guardian

Farley Granger (1925-2011) leading man in film, stage, TV.

Granger film noir movies: Edge of Doom, Side Street, Rope, They Live By Night, Strangers On a Train.

Van Heflin

Film Noir: Act of Violence (1949)

Van Heflin (1908-1971) leading man in film, radio, stage, and TV

Heflin film noir movies: Black Widow, Act of Violence, Possessed, The Prowler, Johnny Eager, The Strange Case of Martha Ivers.

James Stewart

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James Stewart (1908-1997) a celebrated leading man in film, stage, and TV. One of the greatest actors.

Stewart film noir movies: Call Northwest 777, Vertigo, Rear Window, Rope, Anatomy of Murder.

Fred MacMurray

Double Indemnity' Is 75, But Anklets (And Film Noir) Are Forever -  Northwest Public Broadcasting

Borderline (1950) DVD - Zeus

Fred MacMurray (1908-1991) a leading man in films from the 1940s to 70s. Double Indemnity is one of the best film noirs.

MacMurray film noir movies: Double Indemnity, Pushover, Borderline.

Dick Powell

Dick Powell | Hometowns to Hollywood

Murder, My Sweet. The next entry in our Philip Marlowe… | by Greg Smith |  Greg Can Write | Medium

Dick Powell (1904-1963) a celebrated leading man actor, singer, musician, in film and TV.

Powell film noir movies: Murder My Sweet, Cornered, Cry Danger, Johnny O’Clock, The Tall Target, Pitfall, The Ends of the Earth.

Robert Taylor

Tribute to Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor | OCD Viewer

Robert Taylor (1911-1969) film and television actor and singer who was one of the most popular leading men of cinema.

Taylor film noir movies: The Bribe, High Wall, Johnny Eager, Party Girl, Rogue Cop, Undercurrent.





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Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, Alain Silver & Elizabeth Ward, Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY, 1979.

Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood, founder of AOIDE Bruce J. Wood has worked on Wall Street in business finance and strategy, and has written hundreds of finance business plans, strategic plans, economic feasibility studies, and economic impact studies. Bruce has lectured on creativity and strategic thinking, as well as worked on the development of numerous publishing, film, television, and performing arts projects, along with downtown revitalizations, using the arts as an economic catalyst. As an aficionado of music, art, and dance, Bruce is also a writer and an outdoor enthusiast. He has written poetry, blogs, articles, and many creative project concepts. He lives in the Metro Detroit area and enjoys writing poetry, backpacking, and ballroom dancing.

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