For fans of the Film noir genre, including myself, there is no doubt that the 1940s produced a great deal of noir directed by many of the best noir film directors in the history of genres. It was these early noir efforts that would carry the genre well into the 1950s.
The success of the following directors is by no means limited to the 1940s, nor to Film noir exclusively. Many started earlier and / or continued their success as directors over the next several decades in numerous film genres.
They are listed alphabetically and I am sure you will find some of your favorites included. I will also suggest that you watch some of his most notable film noir films of the decade.
Here are my favorites:
Edward Dmytryk – From studio courier to senior director and university professor, Dmytryk directed two of the most classic film noir titles of the 1940s. There was a black side to the career of directors, however, as he was one of the Ten of Hollywood, a group of film industry professionals blacklisted during the McCarthy era.
Murder my sweet – 1944
Crossfire – 1947
Alfred Hitchcock – A London import whose name and films are familiar to all. A master of psychological thrillers, many of which are film noir, Hitchcock had a career spanning more than five decades, earning him the distinction of being considered one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.
Suspicion – 1941
Shadow of a Doubt – 1943
Bewitched – 1945
John huston – Son of actor Walter Huston, John’s career as a director, actor and screenwriter left a monumental impression on the film industry. Huston was considered a rebel and a fervent defender of human rights. Huston’s off-screen exploits attracted as much attention as his films.
The Maltese Falcon – 1941
Key Largo – 1948 (almost black)
Fritz lang – American cinema was lucky when Lang fled Germany and the Nazis (even leaving his wife behind) to Paris and eventually America in 1934. He directed movies in America for more than 20 years before a combination of factors : an economic decline for the film industry. His reputation for being difficult to work with and abusive to actors ended his career on American soil.
Moontide – 1942 (although uncredited)
Scarlet Street – 1945
The Woman in the Window – 1945
Anatole litvak – Also forced to flee Germany and the Nazis, Litvak left for the UK, and then France, before finally landing in Hollywood in 1937. His work was at its peak directing tense and suspenseful crime / noir films .
City for Conquest – 1940
Out of the Fog – 1941
Sorry, wrong number – 1948
Nicolas Ray – During World War II, Ray worked in radio helping with propaganda efforts. His first job as a director was for RKO Radio Pictures in 1949; however, Ray’s best contribution to film noir would come in the next decade.
Knock on any door – 1949
They Live by Night – 1949 (this film marked Ray’s directorial debut, but it was released later last year).
Robert siodmak – His first jobs were also in Germany, and like many others, he was forced to leave with the rise of Nazism. Initial success with the B-movies provided an opportunity to direct higher-budget movies. Siodmak’s contribution to the noir during the 1940s is very impressive.
The Phantom Lady – 1944
Christmas Vacation – 1944 (Don’t you associate Christmas with noir? Try this).
Uncle Harry’s Strange Affair – 1945
The spiral staircase – 1945
The Assassins – 1946
The Dark Mirror – 1946
Cry of the City – 1948
Criss Cross – 1949
Jacques tourneur – Born in Paris, Jacques began his directing career in America for RKO horror legend Val Lewton. This early experience in the horror genre provided the foundation for Tourneur’s mastery of mood and atmosphere, both essential in film noir.
Out of the Past – 1947
Berlin Express – 1948
Raoul walsh – This Hollywood legend developed his skill as a front-line director during the silent film era and would continue for more than 50 years. In the 1930s, Walsh would begin working for Warner Brothers, where he was introduced to and would become a master director of both crime drama and film noir.
They drive at night – 1940
High Sierra – 1941
Persecuted – 1947 (one of the few western blacks)
The Man I Love – 1947
White Heat – 1949
Orson Welles – Known as a “boy genius” for his work directing, co-writing, starring in, and producing the classic Citizen Kane, Welles is considered by many to be one of the most creative figures in film history.
Journey into fear – 1943
Tomorrow is Forever – 1946
The Stranger – 1946
The Lady from Shanghai – 1947
The Third Man – 1949
There are my favorites list film noir directors from the 1940s. If you are a fan of film noir, or just a movie fanatic, you owe it to yourself to see as many of these films as possible.