Film Noir Collection Two (Collector's Choice, 5 discs) - DVD
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment And The Film Foundation Partner Once Again To Bring Five Films To Dvd For The First Time, Fully Restored And Remastered, In Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Ii. In This Second Volume, Renowned Directors Fritz Lang, Phil Karlson, And Irving Lerner Are Joined By Jacques Tourneur And Richard Quine In Proving That Lust, Adultery, Greed, And Revenge All Adds Up To Cold, Calculated Murder. Film Noir Classics Ii Takes You On A Dark Journey Among Lowlifes And Mobsters, Cops And Gun Molls, And The Dimwitted, Hapless Pawns Who Forever Changed The Landscape Of Cinema, And Whose Doomed Paths Are As Disturbing Today As When They Were First Committed To Film.
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My favourite film in this collection is Human Desire. It stars the legendary Glenn Ford along with one of the queens of film noir from the 40's and 50's, Gloria Grahame. Their charisma along with the great direction of Fritz Lang make this film a special experience for any film noir movie buff. It has all the attributes of a great film noir (lust, betrayal, revenge, wonderful characters, etc), and a good solid story as a bonus. Special mention should go out to Broderick Crawford who gives a very powerful performance as the angry cuckolded husband.
My next favourite film is City of Fear, starring the largely forgotten but charismatic Vince Edwards. Unfortunately, his career flamed out relatively quickly, but I have been very impressed with his performance in this film, and another film noir of the time called Murder by Contract. There is something about this actor that captures the mood of 1950's film noir and society so effectively.
Finally, I would like to comment on Pushover. This film is particular remarkable because it introduces to us the beautiful actress Kim Novak. The film offers a solid performance by the legendary Fred MacMurray, in a performance somewhat reminiscent of Double Indemnity, as his character slowly but surely sees his criminal plan unravel to disaster.
One of the best collections of film noir I have ever come across
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This Columbia set features 5 films (each on it's own separate disc):
*FAV* Human Desire (1954) 91 minutes
directed by Fritz Lang (ONE OF THE MASTERS!)
starring: Glenn Ford Glenn Ford & Gloria Grahame
The Brothers Rico (1957) 92 minutes
directed by: Phil Karlson
starring: Richard Conte, Dianne Foster, Kathryn Grant, Larry Gates
*FAV* Nightfall (1957) 78 mins
directed by: Jacques Tourneur (one of the masters!)
starring: Aldo Ray, Brian Keith, Anne Bancroft, Jocelyn Brando
City of Fear (1959)| 81 mins
directed by: Irving Lerner
starring: Vince Edwards, Lyle Talbot, John Archer, Steven Ritch
*FAV* Pushover (1954) 88 mins
directed by: Richard Quine
starring: Fred MacMurray, Philip Carey, Kim Novak, Dorothy Malone
If you've never seen a Columbia Film Noir before - here is what to expect: they are gritty, psychological; distinctive in a dark and claustrophobic visual style, their narrative are often come from deep rooted-anxiety, desperation and entrapment; they are focused on the crime itself. These are *Hard-boiled Detective Stories*
Compared to more familiar Fox Film Noirs (Laura (Fox Film Noir), Nightmare Alley (Fox Film Noir), Shock (Fox Film Noir), Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir), & Whirlpool (Fox Film Noir) which are very sleek & surround a central character: a "Dame"; Fox Film Noirs are twisted with themes of suspicion, betrayal, paranoia. The crime usually being an after-effect of greed and desires in a world whose morals have become unattractive and distorted or even disappeared altogether. Fox Film Noirs are sexy, hot ....with some crime thrown in.
In my opinion the simplest comparison I could make would be Columbia Film Noirs are more like the meat & potatoes of Film Noir; ie: Double Indemnity (Universal Legacy Series).. (the actual planning & tension in execution of the crime not the fast double talk) which was an Universal Studios release. vs. Fox Film Noir as a flambé dessert such as "The Postman Always Rings Twice": slick and sexy (a MGM/Warner Bros release).
They are both wonderful products - just with different style.
Film Noir was huge in the 40's - it was dark & edgy, something people could really sink their teeth into during the post-war era. The production code was being a bit more lenient after the horrors shown to the world during the war.
For your further study please consider looking up:
Great Noir Directors; Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger, Michael Curtiz, Jules Dassin, Orson Welles, Jacques Tourneur, Billy Wilder, Robert Siodmak, Rouben Mamoulian & one people don't think of much as a NOIR Director but he certainly was one of the best: Alfred Hitchcock.
Noir Literary sources: Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and W. R. Burnett.
examples of their work:
Hammett= The Maltese Falcon
James M. Cain= Double Indemnity (1944), Mildred Pierce (1945), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), and Slightly Scarlet (1956)
Raymond Chandler= Murder, My Sweet (1944; adapted from Farewell, My Lovely), The Big Sleep (1946), and Lady in the Lake (1947)--he was an important screenwriter in the genre as well, producing the scripts for Double Indemnity, The Blue Dahlia (1946), and Strangers on a Train (1951)
W. R. Burnett= Little Caesar (1929), During the classic era, his work, either as author or screenwriter, was the basis for movies now widely regarded as three of the most famous film noirs; High Sierra (1941), This Gun for Hire (1942), and The Asphalt Jungle (1950).
If you go to [...] and search for year 1946 you can see the top movies released in 1946 - you'll actually see ALL the movies released and just how many of them were Noirs/ crime dramas! It's really impressive and may just turn you on to making a list of movies to watch!
Do this for 1956 or 1957 also to see more Columbia releases. :)
I hope my review has been useful especially to new fans of Noir and seasoned fans who were unsure of spending so much money on this box set; it really is worth it! If you are still uncertain - Give the first volume a try Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics, Vol. 1 (The Big Heat / 5 Against the House / The Lineup / Murder by Contract / The Sniper)- it can be found for a little bit less ($39) & then you'll be hooked on Columbia Film Noir, I know I am!
*FAV* before movie title denotes favorite film in set!
"Human Desire" (1954) is a post-War American adaptation of Emile Zola's 1890 novel, directed by Fritz Lang. Korean War veteran Jeff Warren (Glen Ford) has just returned to his rail yard job, when a co-worker, Carl Buckley (Broderick Crawford), is fired for his violent temper. Carl's younger, comely wife Vicki (Gloria Grahame) is an old friend of owner, though, and Carl asks her to call in a favor. Too bad that Carl's temper is so easily ignited by jealousy. His actions leave him in a bind and Vicki stuck in a miserable marriage with no where to turn but to Jeff. This is a must-see for Gloria Grahame fans. The psychological games and cruelty are memorable, and Vicki is easily the most complex character. 4 stars.
"The Brothers Rico" (1957) is a post-noir thriller based on the story "Les Frères Rico" by Georges Simenon. It features a middle-aged Richard Conte as Eddie Rico, former mob accountant, now the proud owner of a successful legitimate laundry business. But Eddie's brothers Gino (Paul Picerni) and Johnny (James Darren) still work for the mob, and they have gotten themselves in deeper than Eddie would have liked. They're both on the run, in fear of their lives, after a hit job. Eddie turns to his old boss Sid Kubik (Larry Gates) to straighten things out. But Eddie has been out of the loop for a long time, and Kubik isn't what he thinks. Filmed in flat television lighting, but Eddie's anguish is palpable. 4 stars.
"Nightfall" (1957) is another post-noir thriller starring Aldo Ray as Jim Vanning, a man dogged by two trigger-happy thugs whom he had the misfortune to encounter while on a camping trip in Wyoming the previous winter. Things went wrong then, and they're going wrong again, as the thugs will do anything to find out where Vanning hid the loot that they lost in Wyoming. Director Jacques Tourneur presents Vanning's predicament partly in the present tense and partly in flashback. Anne Bancroft has a nice role as Marie, an unusually appealing late-1950s heroine, who falls for Vanning after he tries to protect her from his pursuers. It's only slightly noir, but two appealing stars and some well-conceived action scenes make this film a winner. 4 stars.
"City of Fear" (1959) might be most notable for its jazz score by Jerry Goldsmith, as it relies entirely on the score to create tension. Vincent Ryker (Vince Edwards) has escaped from San Quentin prison. He took with him a canister from the hospital's infirmary that he believed contained a pound of heroin. He heads for Los Angeles to reunite with his business associates and girlfriend June (Patricia Blair). But the contents of the canister is actually radioactive Cobalt 60, which will kill anyone with prolonged exposure. The police scour the city for Ryker and that canister, while the mayor contemplates evacuating the population. The premise is interesting enough, but the film never picks up speed or builds tension. 3 stars.
"Pushover" (1954) employs noir archetypes in a way that sometimes seems like a self-conscious imitation. Nevertheless, it's fun and even has its moments of introspection. Police detective Paul Sheridan (Fred MacMurray) falls for the curvaceous gangster's moll, Leona McLane (Kim Novak), whom he is trying to hit up for information on bank robber boyfriend Harry Wheeler (Paul Richards). Paul and his partner surveil Leona's apartment around the clock, waiting for Wheeler to show up. But Paul and Leona have made other plans: to abscond with the $200,000 from Wheeler's last bank job. This would be a run-of-the-mill noir from late in the cycle were it not for the film's focus on voyeurism, which gives it a little more edge and intellect than it would otherwise have. 4 stars.
The DVDs (Sony 2010): This is a 5-disc set with one movie per disc. There are some sparse bonus features but no audio commentaries. On the "Human Desire" disc, the actress Emily Mortimer comments on that film's emotions and what impresses her about it in "Terror and Desire with Emily Mortimer" (9 min). On "The Brothers Rico" disc, director Martin Scorsese talks about the film's tone and visual style in "Martin Scorsese on The Brothers Rico" (3 1/2 min). On the "City of Fear" disc, director Christopher Nolan talks about film noir at times of societal uncertainty in "Pulp Paranoia with Christopher Nolan" (6 min). All disks include an original theatrical trailer, and all offer subtitles in English SDH.
These movies have everything a film buff can appreciate: amazing stories, interesting characters, beautiful cinematography, great dialogues, suspense, etc.
My rank of the movies is 1 to 5 ( Nr. 1 being the best and five being the least favored):
1. Pushover--- (most interesting story) (the plot reminded me a little of Out of Time from 2003) (great anti-hero portrayal)
2. Human Desire--- (most interesting characters) (a movie made by Fritz Lang) (story based on the novel by Emile Zola)
3. The Brothers Rico--- (a movie about Italian mafia that does not glorify mafia life) (a very-refreshing look at the Italian mob)
4. Nightfall--- (great acting) (solid story) (not satisfied with the ending)
5. City of Fear--- (decent noir)