When doing stereotypical film noir style stories they always have the hard boiled black and white detective narrating to himself with smooth jazz playing while it is raining, like in the first minute of Dan vs The Catburglar.

I have been trying for several hours but I cannot find any movies with a main character that matches that kind of description, yet it seems to be such a common scene construction to immediately evoke references to film noir. What movies actually follow this style and what movie did this originate from?

To clarify I want something black and white, has narration from the main character, lots of smooth jazz, rain, and the stereotypical intro as mentioned above. Has this even appeared in this exact form in any specific movie(s) or was this rather born after the fact and has established itself as a trope without being from a specific movie at all?

  • 3
    At the moment this question seems to be written like a question asking for movie recommendations, something this site unfortunately doesn't entertain, which is why it already has attracted vlsoe-votes for exactly that reason. However, I feel this question might bhe salvagable by rewording it more into the direction of where this specific kind of scene originated from, rather than asking directly for recommendations.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 12:01
  • In particular, change the title. I saw "Noir Recommendations" and was immediately thinking "flag it!" Upon reading the entire question and the comment from @NapoleonWilson, I realize it's more of a "In how many movies has X happened?" question, for example like this one over on scifi.
    – blm
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 17:17
  • I tried to reword the question a bit into a more on-topic direction in order to keep it from getting closed (and would enocurage the close-voters to reconsider their vote), while still trying to stay true to your original question. If this doesn't reflect your question sufficiently enough anymore, feel free to rollback those changes. However, note that as explained, your question ran a high chance of getting closed in its original phrasing.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 19:09
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    @blm Beware though, that a mere "how many movies do have that?" quite borders on a recommendation list, too. The question "where did it ogininate from?" (be that even multiple movies) seems to be more relevant here and at the core of the actual question.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 19:16
  • Tip of the Day: Search for Who's Line is it Anyway Noir scenes and laugh your a** off! Hahaha...
    – LeonX
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 19:14

2 Answers 2


At the time, they wouldn't have yet been known as Film Noir, they would have just been Melodrama.

Contenders might be…

  • Rebecca [1941] has voiceover.
  • The Maltese Falcon [1941] has the detective
  • Double Indemnity [1944] Has the detective, voice-over which starts as a letter dictation then transitions into narration…
  • The Big Sleep [1946] has no voiceover, but it does have the hard-boiled detective & a lot of rain.
    The genre-defining voiceover is actually in the movie trailer..

But still no Jazz until… 1951

According to All About Jazz Crimejazz: The Sound Of Noir the first movie to feature a jazz score was A Streetcar Named Desire [1951]

They also credit Earle Hagen's "Harlem Nocturne" as being the prototype piece from which the 'crimejazz' genre was derived.

Here, by Johnny Otis, featuring Rene Bloch on alto sax

  • The Invisible Man (1933) has the voiceover and is considerably earlier than anything here. Not that I'm claiming it has primacy, or indeed that anything does.
    – user207421
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 22:01

I would say that Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard are the two greatest examples of the Noir Voice-Over. Though it shouldn't be pointed out that neither of the films feature a detective protagonist. But Sunset Boulevard in particular has that really iconic style of Voice-Over that I believe you're referring to.

Also I would like to add that you probably won't find all the elements you're looking for in one film. "I want something black and white, has narration from the main character, lots of smooth jazz, rain, and the stereotypical intro" That's a result of self-awareness of the art, and a probably came about from parody's. You will find these individual elements in various films, but no one Noir that has it all. I really think Sunset Boulevard or Double Indemnity is what you're looking for.

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