The Maltese Falcon is generally considered to be the first true film noir with a widespread release and as far as I’m concerned it’s the best.
It doesn’t carry all the hallmarks of the genre but it set a lot of the guidelines of what was to come. Seeing it for the first time as a teenager it helped me connect a lot of dots and to this day holds a special place in my heart. It was the first time I was introduced to Humphrey Bogart, who is still my favorite golden age Hollywood actor. After seeing countless parodies growing up of the private detective visited by a deadly dame that was in distress it was great to finally see one of the movies where it originated from.