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.