36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Since I wasn't around when any of these films were current and because they are derided by many as "B" films and thus sank into obscurity, I had neither seen nor heard of any of these films when I bought the Forgotten Noir Collector's Set. As luck would have it, this set turned out to be money well spent. Though most of these films will never be considered classics, each of them is enjoyable in its own way.
Here are my favorites from most to least:
1)They Were So Young: Here is a film the topic of which is still of contemporary interest: White slavery. Though the national origins of today's white slaves lie chiefly in Eastern Europe, viewers will see that the false promises that lure impoverished and/or naive young women to seek employment abroad are much the same. This film is full of suspense, double-dealing, and official corruption. Recalcitrant girls who refuse to service wealthy clients are bundled off to service a rabble of coffee plantation laborers on an itinerant riverboat. But one girl refuses to play the game and with the aid of a man she had spurned, a little luck, and an undercover Brazilian agent she cracks the forced prostitution ring wide open. Well-acted, suspenseful and very believable. 5 stars.
2)Shadow Man:A fine English murder intrigue and long on noir. Well acted on all fronts. An ingenious story. 5 stars.
3)Shoot to Kill: Official corruption and double dealing are the name of the game. But fitting ends come to those who deserve them. Rival gangs of thugs seeking to control city are ruthless as is the district attorney to be whose overarching ambition leads ultimately to his deserved demise. 4 stars.
4)Portland Expose: A powerful national gang of crooks sweeps away the local petty one in a play for control of vice in Portland. One club owner in a desireable location is unwittingly sucked in when he allows the local gang to first get its foot in the door installing pinball machines. But the new gang wants to go all out:gaming, prostitution, and an increasing share of the profits. Union pickets(considered sacred at that time)then threats against his family ultimately bring the straight-laced club owner to heel. But he and his family are confronted by increasing danger including an attempted rape of the daughter by a convicted sex-criminal, a gang member who can't stay away from the "dollies". The enraged club owner fights back and with the help of some honest police officials and the muscle of some uncorrupted union leaders beats the crime syndicate. An excellent film which loses a star from the corny "civic-minded" Dragnet style intro and ending as well as the unbelievable scene in which the club-owner's daughter forgives a date who earlier suggested a tryst in a motel since she surely must "get around" because of the "wide-open" kind of establishment her family runs. C'mon, how much cornier can it get? A real woman would tell him to take a permanent hike after smacking his smirking face. 4 stars.
5)Arson Inc: More civic-minded fustian to introduce a story about a crime which is still common today. Fireman recently promoted to the arson unit goes deep underground to investigate a rash of fires, reported and unreported, that result in fraudulent insurance claims. The crime itself is everyday and its cost high, but the storyline here is a little dubious. Then there is the unwitting girlfriend who as always ends up in the middle of things and that corny grandmother who is just silly. Still, the movie is largely well-acted and often suspenseful. 4 stars.
6)Loan Shark: Payday loans can be deadly and this film shows just how deadly they can be. Never take one out! 4 stars.
Although four of these films received only four stars, I give the set five stars overall on the basis of price, quality of film transfer, the overall quality of my favorite two, and the general entertainment value of the collection. I will be sure to view each of these movies more than once and once you get this you will want to do the same.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
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This is a collection of six movies that most of us "Boomers" saw over and over again on TV in the early 1950s.
PORTLAND EXPOSE is the only real non-Lippert entree, and a fairly suspensful drama that was well ahead of the times as far as the material it was presenting...vice, corruption, attempted rape, etc.
THEY WERE SO YOUNG concerns the White Slave Trade in South America. It is of particular interest because it features an international cast, a young Raymond Burr, and Scott Brady...Brady sure looks a lot like Ray Liotta!
LOAN SHARK features a very mature George Raft as an ex-con infiltrating the money lending racket. You get to see how tires are made first hand as he works his way into the mob.
SHOOT TO KILL and ARSON INC. are perhaps the weakest link in this chain, but remain good watchable crime dramas, albeit short on the noir.
The real gem in this package is Cesar Romero in SHADOW MAN, an English made flick that features some nice plot twists, great acting all the way around, and a really nifty score, highlighted by harmoinca solos.
Of course, since this package comes from VCI you KNOW that the picture and sound quality will be superb.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
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For every well-known movie in a genre, there seems to be a dozen more obscure films. That doesn't mean they're bad, just forgotten. Hence, we have Forgotten Noir with six movies that few prior to the DVD era would have ever seen. The Forgotten Noir Collector's Set - Series One has six such movies on three discs.
Disc One has Portland Expose and They Were So Young. Portland Expose is a fair-to-middling gangster flick taking place in Portland, Oregon (though except for some narrated bits at the beginning and end, could pretty much take place anywhere). The mob tries to take over the city, in particular one little lodge owned by the main character. This film has an early appearance by Frank Gorshin (most well-known as The Riddler on Batman) as a hoodlum with a thing for teenage girls. The second movie, They Were So Young, is a tale of white slavery in which young European beauties are flown to South America on "modeling assignments". One such girl tries to break free with the assistance of a mining engineer. Raymond Burr plays a shady millionaire.
Disc Two has Loan Shark and Arson Inc. In Loan Shark, ex-con George Raft (looking a little long-in-the-tooth to play a tough guy) goes undercover in a mob to bring down the killers of his brother-in-law. It also features Russell Johnson (the Professor on Gilligan's Island) as one of the crooks. Arson Inc. also is the tale of a guy going undercover, this time an arson investigator for the fire department who is out to foil an insurance fraud scheme.
Disc Three has Shadow Man and Shoot to Kill. Shadow Man stars Cesar Romero as the slightly shady owner of a night club who winds up being accused of the murder of his ex-lover, a snag in his own attempts to woo a married woman. Shoot to Kill is told mostly in flashback by the only survivor of a car crash which killed her husband - the District Attorney - and a fugitive. What led to the crash is a tale of mob wars and crooked politicians.
It'd be a little much to say that these are classics, but they are all decent, competently made movies. While if you were given a choice between Out of the Past or Loan Shark, you should always for the former, fortunately there's no reason you can't see both. Actually, these films are only borderline noir, but are more straight crime movies with some noirish elements, particularly in terms of lighting. But if you are a fan of these old movies and you've seen the big ones, here's a chance to see some more obscure stuff from that same era.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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This movie was a low budget B film when it was made in 1947, and now it's being distributed on DVD by the low budget Alpha Video. Therefor, it's not too surprising that the video and sound quality are abysmal. They probably weren't that great in 1947, and the print used for this DVD shows its age in spades, and Alpha Video doesn't have the budget to do any restoration work on their releases.
That said, I (contrary to another reviewer) found the movie watchable, and pretty darned interesting and entertaining to boot. A crooked assistant District Attorney frames one crime boss and is in cahoots with several others. He's assisted by his secretary/wife, who is one of the more fascinating female characters I've seen in Film Noir. Perky but iron-hard, pretty but razor-sharp, she's got more on the ball than any of the killers, bosses, politicians and reporters whose violent world she navigates. A Machiavellian tale is told, with fast and furious killings and more plot twists than you'd think could ever be squeezed into 64 minutes.
There's also a great boogie woogie piano piece played by Gene Rodgers as a musical interlude (albeit a little awkwardly inserted). All in all, a fine piece of entertainment and a terrific little "lost gem" of B movie Film Noir!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
C. O. DeRiemer
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When the police reach the site of the car crash, a car they've been chasing through the night and exchanging gunfire with, they find Lawrence Dale, the man who will become District Attorney in the morning, his wife Marian, and the notorious gangster Dixie Logan. Dale and Logan are dead. Marian is rushed to a hospital seriously injured. What's going on?
All will become clear in 64 minutes if you watch this tidy, well-constructed, low-budget programmer from 1947. The acting isn't much and neither is the dialogue, but the story is well constructed, there are lots of intriguing flashbacks and the direction is taut, unhurried and doesn't waste a minute. For a quickie with a five-day shooting schedule, Shoot to Kill is a fine example of why some people, me included, love these Forties, bottom-of-the-bill movies.
The story is all about Lawrence Dale (Edmund MacDonald), a corrupt and ambitious assistant district attorney; Marian Langton (Luanna Walters, billed as Susan Walters), who shows up one morning looking for a job as Dale's secretary; and Mitch Mitchell (Russell Wade), a smart, crime-fighting reporter for The Evening Register. With the ailing DA about to step down, we quickly learn that his replacement, Dale, is in cahoots with some big-boy gangsters, and that the lot of them plan to run the town. But Dale makes a mistake. To put away Dixie Logan on a murder charge, a step that will enhance his reputation as a crime-fighter, Dale manufactures false evidence and bribes two witnesses. It's not long before Logan has busted out of jail with payback in mind. Then Dale starts getting romantic with his new secretary, a woman with a mind of her own. And to top it off, as Dale and his gangster partners plot murder, ace reporter Mitchell gets on their trail.
All this could be as stale as a week-old banana-nut muffin. Shoot to Kill, however, keeps things fresh by using flashbacks, even flashbacks within flashbacks, to make all the plotting and machinations intriguing. There's even a twist at the end that's not telegraphed and yet is believable.
Shoot to Kill is B-level movie-making in all its cheap glory. There's not an actor in sight who ever escaped the low-budget movie mill. Even some of their stories have a kind of B-movie quality. Russell Wade, for instance, was never much of an actor in all the movies he made, most of them in unbilled parts and then as a lead. Still, he had a friendly, likable personality. When he was 31, a year after this movie, Wade packed it in as an actor and became a highly successful real estate man in Palm Springs. Luanna Walters, on the other hand, after years of trying and not succeeding to break out of B-movie purgatory (she played the female interest in a lot of westerns), died of alcoholism when she was 51. Where's Nicole Kidman when we need her, to star in The Luanna Walters Story? Sadly, the movie, Wade and Walters have been long forgotten.
Shoot to Kill is in the public domain. The DVD transfer is just barely adequate. The movie is fun, but not worth the inflated prices some public domain specialists slap on their releases. Be especially wary of those who say their product has been "digitally remastered" or any such meaningless marketing phrases.