Here Are FIVE Classic Film Noirs! From Chinatown To Nightmare Alley!

classic sex film noir

A Journey Into The Dark Corners Of Cinema…

There is a genre of film that lurks in the shadows….and includes amazing dialogue like this:

“How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?”


Welcome To The World Of Film Noir…

You wanna know what film noir is?

“Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.”

Film Noir sex

Cynical Attitudes and Sexual Motivations, Indeed!

I LOVE that definition, as it encompasses what I love most about the movies! Need an example? Well, try out this movie dialogue from “Double Indemnity”:


Walter Neff: You’ll be here too?
Phyllis: I guess so, I usually am.
Walter Neff: Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?
Phyllis: I wonder if I know what you mean.
Walter Neff: I wonder if you wonder.

Ok, that is perfectly written:

“I wonder if you wonder.”

Body Heat movie

Or try out this steamy dialogue from “Body Heat”:

Ned: “Maybe you shouldn’t dress like that.”
Matty: “This is a blouse and a skirt. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Ned: “You shouldn’t wear that body.”

That is GREAT DIALOGUE. And it is from movies that are classic film noir!

Let’s look at five films that, in their own unique ways, are classic Film Noir…starting with a modern day classic…


Body Heat

This is classic film noir – starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner, directed by Lawrence Kasden, who also made “The Big Chill”, “Grand Canyon” and “French Kiss”, among many others. But this is, without a doubt, his finest cinematic achievement, and a career best for Hurt and Turner as well…

Here is the original theatrical trailer, dripping with noir…

best sex film noir movies

William Hurt is Ned Racine, a seedy small town lawyer in Florida. During a searing heatwave he comes across Kathleen Turner, who plays Matty Walker – married to a shady businessman.

Body Heat movie

Here is the dialogue the first night Ned meets Matty, while her husband is away, and it is CLASSIC film noir:

Ned: You can stand here with me if you want but you’ll have to agree not to talk about the heat.
Matty: I’m a married woman.
Ned: Meaning what?
Matty: Meaning I’m not looking for company.
Ned: Then you should have said I’m a happily married woman.

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Actors William Hurt and Kathleen Turner wanted the crew to feel comfortable filming their love scenes. So they lined up the crew and both actors introduced themselves to each crew member. When they did this, both stars were naked.

movie sex scenes

This is one of my all-time favorite movies, almost perfect in setup and execution – and there are some who think that “Body Heat” is an homage to our next film, which is one of the all-time greatest films ever made, by one of Hollywood’s GREATEST Directors!


Double Indemnity

There are many great film noirs, but this one is the gold standard – directed by the legendary Billy Wilder, who directed such masterpieces as “Sunset Boulevard” and “Some Like It Hot” – and written by the legendary Author Raymond Chandler, who wrote “The Big Sleep” and “Farewell, My Lovely” among so many other classic books of deception, lust and murder.

Check out the trailer – black and white and noir…


Fred MacMurray is Walter Neff, an experienced salesman of the Pacific All Risk Insurance Co., who meets the seductive wife of one of his clients.

The terrific dialogue starts right away:

Phyllis: “I was just fixing some ice tea; would you like a glass?”
Walter Neff: “Yeah, unless you got a bottle of beer that’s not working.”

Barbara Stanwyck is Phyllis Dietrichson, who seduces the naive salesman for her own reasons…

The film is full of great, steamy dialogue like this:

Walter Neff: You’ll be here too?
Phyllis: I guess so, I usually am.
Walter Neff: Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?
Phyllis: I wonder if I know what you mean.
Walter Neff: I wonder if you wonder.

Barbara Stanwyck was the first choice to play Phyllis, but she was unnerved when seeing she’d be playing a ruthless killer. When she expressed her concern to Billy Wilder, he asked her, “Are you a mouse or an actress?”

And of course, Fred MacMurray is perfect as the poor sap who doesn’t realize he’s a poor sap until it’s too late…

Walter Neff: “It’s just like the first time I came here, isn’t it? We were talking about automobile insurance, only you were thinking about murder. And I was thinking about that anklet.”

It’s a perfect film – and there are few of those…as I said, written by Raymond Chandler…see all of his incredible books – and how he ended up on The Mary Tyler Moore Show – by clicking on my story here:

In the 1970’s we were given another film noir masterpiece – a film that was nominated for every major award:

“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

A perfect film. As powerful today as when it was released almost 50 years ago. First, let’s look at the classic trailer for a classic film noir…

Simply put, one of the greatest films of all time. Directed by Roman Polanski, starring Jack Nicholson as LA Private Detective Jake Gittes, Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Mulwray, and legendary Director John Huston as LA Businessman Noah Cross…

Noah Cross: “You’ve got a nasty reputation, Mr. Gittes. I like that.”

‘Jake’ Gittes is a private detective who seems to specialize in matrimonial cases. He is hired by Evelyn Mulwray when she suspects her husband Hollis, builder of the city’s water supply system, of having an affair.

best film noir

You don’t need to know anything else – the plot is a history of LA’s water system, a meditation on evil, and a masterclass in film making…and of course, every film noir is driven by sex, violence and desire…

movie shocking-twists

Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway have never been better, and this film hold us today as fresh as when it was released…all three of these film noir do…and all involve a guy who gets into trouble for one simple reason: a woman…


I recently shared a book that tells the entire story of how the film was conceived and produced:

This book goes deeply into the political climate of the time, Director Polanski’s tragedy involving the Manson murders, and much much more…a really terrific book – see more about it here:

Next is a very under-rated film from 1993 that captures the noir spirit perfectly:

Director John Dahl made another great noir film with “The Last Seduction”, but this story is even better!

Nicolas Cage plays a drifter who is mistaken for a hitman in a small town…he goes along with it – until the real hitman arrives!

Yes, Dennis Hopper doesn’t like someone trying to take his job!

Here’s the trailer:

Lara Flynn Boyle plays the mysterious woman, because there’s always one in a film noir…but is she the victim, or did she order the hit?

This is worth searching out!

And do you know that the best-reviewed film of Cage’s career is being released next week?

This new film has Nicolas Cage playing – well, Nicolas Cage! The reviews have been incredible, and you can see the trailer and more by clicking here:

Finally, this last year saw the brilliant Director Guillermo del Toro make his version of a film noir:

Again, a drifter stumbles onto a new world – the carnival sideshow, and quickly falls under its spell…here is the trailer:

The film was nominated for Best Picture of 2021, and it’s a mesmerizing look at one man’s thirst for success, and the price you pay for fame.

An incredible cast stars in this dark, brooding thriller…there are many more great film noirs, but this is a great place to start!

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If you enjoy this story, please share on social media – and leave me a comment with your thoughts on this genre of film!

Film Noir sex

Categories: 70's Cinema, Academy Awards, Action Films, Art, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Film Noir, Great Films, Hollywood, Movies, Obscure Movies, Pop Culture, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities

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14 replies

  1. Loved The Big Goodbye…Roman’s connection to broken spectacles made the hair on my neck stand up.


  2. Body Heat… what a great film! I need to watch it again. And that Chinatown poster… fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. HI John, you have showcased some excellent movies here and some fantastic actors and actresses.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Double Indeminity is such an enduring classic, I never tire of watching it. Modern film-makers should study it, as they rarely if ever match its excellence.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  5. I’ve seen and loved these classics and plan to see nightmare alley and cage’s ‘unbearable’ as well!


  6. I worked a two week run of Kathleen Turner’s one-woman show ‘Tallulah’. The night after the set up I made the mistake of rewatchimg ‘Body Heat’. Prior to going on stage before every performance, Kathleen had to kiss and hug each crew member. Once the show started I had to dash downstairs and wash my face with cold water.

    Liked by 1 person

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