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Humphrey Bogart’s 20 Film Noir Movies, Ranked


Humphrey Bogart's 20 Film Noir Movies, Ranked


Summary

  • Bogart’s iconic role in film noirs solidified his status as a Hollywood legend, blending suspense, crime, and complex characters.
  • Early films like “Midnight” showcased Bogart’s talent before he became a star, with noir themes of murder and mystery.
  • Bogart’s diverse roles, from a private detective in “The Maltese Falcon” to a crusading journalist in “Deadline U.S.A.,” showcased his versatility.



As a legend of classic Hollywood and a true American icon, Humphrey Bogart was best known for his work within the film noir genre. While film noir was a collective term that every viewer has a slightly different definition of, it was most popular during the 1940s and 1950s and was often categorized by cynical attitudes, a black-and-white style, and crime stories involving hard-boiled detectives, cunning femme fatales, and convoluted but engrossing narratives. Bogart was known for these kinds of films as he expertly played heroes and villains in these timeless classics of the Hollywood studio system.

Bogart’s feature film career began in the 1930s, and before long, he made a name for himself with noir roles for acclaimed directors like John Huston and Howard Hawks. As a leading man, Bogart starred in some of the best film noirs of all time, like The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon, and often co-starred with his wife, Lauren Bacall. A true titan of the genre, Bogart’s incredible charisma and impressive screen presence made him the quintessential film noir star and cemented his reputation among the greatest actors who ever lived.



19 Midnight (1934)

Humphrey Bogart as Gar Boni

Midnight was a pre-code crime drama with noir elements and one of Humphrey Bogart’s earliest film roles, which, although he’s often given top billing when referenced today, he only had a minor role in. With a story of adultery, murder, and even the electric chair, Midnight was packed with melodrama based on a play by Paul and Claire Sifton. Following Bogart’s success throughout the 1940s, Midnight was re-released under a new title in 1949, Call It Murder, with Bogart presented as the star even though he originally received eighth billing.


18 Tokyo Joe (1949)

Humphrey Bogart as Joseph ‘Joe’ Barrett

As just one of many films where Humphrey Bogart played a World War II veteran, Tokyo Joe told the story of an American in post-WWII Tokyo caught between the authorities and criminals. Bogart portrayed Joe Barrett in a role that played into his hard-living reputation as a veteran trying to pick up the pieces of his pre-war bar-based and gambling life. Tokyo Joe was an enjoyable picture made well after Bogart had become a star but failed to live up to his best achievements from this era.


17 Conflict (1945)

Humphrey Bogart as Richard Mason

While Humphrey Bogart was often the quintessential film noir hero, in Conflict, viewers witnessed him in a villainous turn in a story about a man who murdered his wife. Conflict was one of five films where Bogart acted opposite Sydney Greenstreet, which also included Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, but was the only one where it was Bogart and not Greenstreet who played the corrupt person or villain. While Conflict hit all the right notes for a compelling film noir, it failed to leave a lasting impact on the genre.


16 The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947)

Humphrey Bogart as Geoffrey Carroll

Malice, murder, and mystery were involved in the story of The Two Mrs.Carrolls, which starred Humphrey Bogart as the painter Geoffrey Carroll, a married man who had an affair with Sally Morton (Barbara Stanwyck) while on vacation. With classic film noir themes of deceit and mistrust, The Two Mrs. Carrolls was a deceitfully creepy entry in Bogart’s filmography that has maintained its suspenseful power to this day. With two notable stars at the helm, The Two Mrs. Carrolls was a real treat for lovers of film noir.


15 Sirocco (1951)

Humphrey Bogart as Harry Smith

Sirocco was a thriller set in Damascus in 1925 that mimicked many of the elements that made Casablanca such a success and blended them with the nihilism of the film noir genre. Humphrey Bogart played Harry Smith, a cynical American expatriate who got mixed up in gun smuggling for rebels during the 1925 Syrian insurgency against French occupation. With an exotic location and characters of ambiguous morality, Sirocco was entertaining, but its striking similarity to one of the greatest films ever made consistently reminded viewers that it was no Casablanca.


14 They Drive By Night (1940)

Humphrey Bogart as Paul Fabrini

The famed starlet Ann Sheridan reunited with her San Quentin co-star Humphrey Bogart for the film noir They Drive By Night, about two transport company truck drivers trying to make a living during the Depression. With accusations of murder, carbon monoxide poisoning, and plenty of hard-boiled cliches, They Drive By Night was released as The Road to Frisco in the United Kingdom. With elements of comedy, romance, and chock-full of tragedy, They Drive By Night was a hidden gem beloved by film aficionados.


13 Knock On Any Door (1949)

Humphrey Bogart as Andrew Morton

Although director Nicholas Ray would produce his finest Humphrey Bogart film noir the following year with In a Lonely Place, Knock on Any Door was a powerful courtroom film noir that addressed juvenile delinquency. With Bogart as an attorney representing a young hoodlum accused of murder, Knock on Any Door was a thinly veiled piece of social messaging and critique. While Knock on Any Door was criticized for its moralistic rhetoric, its biggest issue was that, as far as film noirs go, it was pretty average.


12 The Enforcer (1951)

Humphrey Bogart as Dist. Atty. Martin Ferguson

The Enforcer starred Humphrey Bogart as a crusading district attorney who finally got a chance to take down crime boss Albert Mendoza if only he could get the right evidence. Told primarily through flashbacks, The Enforcer was based on the real investigation of a group of killers dubbed “Murder Inc” by the press (via Crime Reads) and helped popularize terms like ‘contract’ and ‘hit’ concerning organized crime. With plenty of suspense and superb black-and-white cinematography, The Enforcer delivered everything an audience member could want from a film noir Bogart gangster movie.


11 The Desperate Hours (1955)

Humphrey Bogart as Glenn Griffin

As one of Humphrey Bogart’s final roles, seeing him back with a film noir in The Desperate Hours was fantastic. Bogart himself said he viewed his character as a grown-up version of Duke Mantee, a role he played almost 20 years before in The Petrified Forest (via Classic Film Noir), which connected this film to his entire overarching career. With a story about three escaped convicts terrorizing a suburban home, The Desperate Hours had plenty in common with previous Bogart pictures like High Sierra, Key Largo, and We’re No Angels and added to his rich noir-filled filmography.


10 Dead Reckoning (1946)

Humphrey Bogart as Capt. Warren “Rip” Murdock

Dead Reckoning paired Humphrey Bogart with the rising star Lizabeth Scott, who was playing a classic noir femme fatale who attempted to foil Bogart’s investigation and plan to avenge a friend’s death. Like so many other films in this genre, Dead Reckoning’s plot was loose and often confusing, but it kept the suspense going throughout as a mystery of adultery, deceit, and murder was unveiled. While Dead Reckoning won’t win any points for originality, it was still a highly engrossing film noir that featured the dynamic duo of Bogart and Scott.


9 Dark Passage (1947)

Humphrey Bogart as Vincent Parry

Dark Passage was the third of four films the husband-and-wife team Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made together. With an interesting subjective first-person point-of-view for the film’s first act, Dark Passage hid Bogart’s face until it was revealed he got plastic surgery to entirely change his identity when he was finally shown on screen. A uniquely modern approach for 1947, Dark Passage was an enjoyable film noir, but sadly, it does not live up to the greatest cinematic offerings from Bogart and Bacall.


8 Deadline U.S.A. (1952)

Humphrey Bogart as Ed Hutcheson

Something about Humphrey Bogart’s curious charisma meant that casting him as a journalist always worked well, and Deadline U.S.A. was no exception. With a story about a crusading newspaper editor trying to uncover gangsters, save his failing paper, and repair his crumbling relationship with his ex-wife all at once, Deadline U.S.A. truly had it all. Although it was made over seven decades ago, Deadline U.S.A. still felt relevant regarding its themes of fact versus fiction and the importance of journalists’ role as the Fifth Estate who must hold power to account.


7 The Petrified Forest (1936)

Humphrey Bogart as Duke Mantee

The Petrified Forest was one of Humphrey Bogart’s most significant early roles. In it, he co-starred with the acting greats Leslie Howard and Bette Davis. Bogart played Duke Mantee, a notorious gangster who led a hostage situation after fleeing a massive police pursuit. Bogart’s incredible characterization of Duke would inform his reputation for the rest of his career, and the character even made the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains list in 2003, showcasing his continued relevance and memorability so many years later.


6 The Harder They Fall (1956)

Humphrey Bogart as Eddie Willis

Although sports movies may not be the first thing that came to a viewer’s mind when they thought of film noirs, these two genres were expertly blended in The Harder They Fall. With Humphrey Bogart as the ex-writer turned boxer Eddie Willis, The Harder They Fall was significant as it was Bogart’s final film role before he died in 1957. While Bogart was notably unwell during the making of the film, The Harder They Fall was a worthy swansong to his career as he imbued the morally conflicted fighter with depth and pathos.


5 To Have And To Have Not (1944)

Humphrey Bogart as Harry “Steve” Morgan

While To Have and to Have Not may not feature all the qualities of a classic film noir, it did include many noir elements melded with melodrama, romance, and war. With a World War II story about an American expatriate helping to transport a French Resistance leader, To Have and to Have Not repeated many of the same story beats as Casablanca made just two years before. Although with an anti-fascist message, direction by Howard Hawks, and Bogart acting alongside Lauren Bacall for the first time, To Have and to Have Not ticked all the right boxes.


4 High Sierra (1941)

Humphrey Bogart as Roy Earle

The release of High Sierra was an important turning point for Humphrey Bogart that signaled his transition from a notable actor into a bona fide movie star. As the gangster Roy Earle, Bogart walked the fine line between menacing and sentimental as his character showcased a sense of regret and self-reflection not often seen in the crime genre at the time. Full of excitement and suspense, High Sierra included everything a viewer could ask for from a film noir and showcased Bogart in top acting form just as he was on the precipice of superstardom.


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Humphrey Bogart as Frank McCloud

Key Largo was the fourth and final pairing of Humphrey Bogart and his wife Lauren Bacall and stood as a classic film noir by director John Huston. As an old-style gangster movie, Key Largo involved gangsters who took over a hotel and was categorized by the post-WWII pessimism that informed much of the film noir genre in the late 1940s. With a compelling script, a strong cast, and Bogart and Bacall’s intense chemistry oozing into every scene, Key Largo was among the greatest work they did together.


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3 In A Lonely Place (1950)

Humphrey Bogart as Dixon Steele

In a Lonely Place featured Humphrey Bogart’s best performance as Dixon Steele, a troubled man whose dark and sinister nature slowly revealed itself. Starring Bogart alongside Gloria Grahame, In a Lonely Place was a troubling tale of controlling behavior, obsessive love, and violent murder that went far beyond the darkness seen in the average film noir. Although In a Lonely Place struggled to find an audience when it was first released due to its bleak nature, this willingness to address demoralizing themes contributed to its growing reputation over the years and place among the best film noirs ever made.


2 The Big Sleep (1946)

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe

The Big Sleep was the greatest pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and among the best film noirs ever made. An adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective story, it featured Bogart as the iconic private detective Philip Marlowe and touched on almost every film noir cliche and trope from its gritty crime story, enticing femme fatale, and hard-to-follow but amazingly engaging plot. As a must-watch movie for Bogart lovers, The Big Sleep was slick, subversive, and stylish and has remained as entertaining today as when it was first released in 1946.


1 The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade

The absolute pinnacle of Humphrey Bogart’s career in film noir was The Maltese Falcon, which was the perfect culmination of everything great about the genre. As a highly suspenseful crime story that featured Bogart as the quintessential hard-boiled detective Sam Space, Mary Astor as his femme fatale client, as well as Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet in villainous roles, The Maltese Falcon was truly a whose-who of the genre. Not only was The Maltese Falcon insanely influential, but it also defined Bogart for the rest of his career and signaled Humphrey Bogart as one of the all-time great actors.

Sources: Crime Reads, Classic Film Noir, AFI’S 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains

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