A rather eclectic collection of film noirs, this collection offers a mixed bag of second rate film noirs that vary in distinction and quality. This collection, however, could only be recommended to the most die hard and devoted fan of film noir from the 40's and 50's. There are no real classics here, though some may argue that The Long Night deserves to be classified as one, but as a big film noir fan I have to admit I found the collection a lot of fun to watch.
The Long Night is probably the best film in this collection, though Sudden Fear would be a close second. The Long Night has great film noir atmosphere, but what is especially noticeable about this film is the exceptional performance by Henry Fonda. Generally not one of my favourite actors, he does however shine in this film with a very powerful performance. Vincent Price is excellent in his supporting role. Director Anatole Litvak does great work in this film, particularly in the way he keeps the suspense at a high level throughout the film.
Sudden Fear is one of Joan Crawford's better film noirs. It is the usual star vehicle for Crawford, but Jack Palance makes this film a cut above the rest. He is excellent as the duplicitous villain in this film, and is probably the most memorable part of it as well. It is also always a treat to have film noir icon femme fatale Gloria Grahame in the film also.
Hangmen Also Die should have been the best film in this collection one would assume since it was directed by the legendary Fritz Lang. Unfortunately, it is probably the least entertaining and interesting of his Hollywood films in my opinion. One problem with this film right off the bat is Brian Donlevy. As much as I like him as a supporting actor, he is simply not right for a leading role. Also, the theme and vision of this film is too ambitious for a film noir, and the obvious low budget consequently takes away much of the film's impact on the viewer.
Behind Locked Doors is a rather bizarre film that if it were not so professionally well made, one would have thought it had been written and directed by Edward D Wood Jr. A strange story if there ever was one for a film noir, it nevertheless is quite entertaining if the viewer is prepared to give it a chance.
Railroaded is a film directed by Anthony Mann, and like the case with Fritz Lang, this film is one of his weaker efforts. Again, the most obvious problem is putting a great supporting actor like John Ireland in the lead role, which I am sorry to say, does not help the film at all. Also, this film is surprisingly boring for a film noir, and I think the main reason is that the plot is just too typically plain and simple, even for a film noir. The film may have overcome this if it had delivered a sense of style and atmosphere, but it failed to do this. Lacking the charisma of a good lead actor, the film unfortunately just does not deliver the kind of entertainment I would like to expect, and as a result is the weakest entry in this collection.