7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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VCI Entertainment and Kit Parker Films presents "FORGOTTEN NOIR 2" (Loan Shark (1952) & Arson Inc (1949) --- (Dolby digitally remastered)...featuring top performances from the '40s and '50s with outstanding drama and screenplays, along with a wonderful cast and supporting actors to bring it all together ... another winner from the vaults of almost forgotten Hollywood gems.
First up we have Lippert Pictures feature "LOAN SHARK" (1952) (79 mins/B&W) --- Under Seymour Friedman (Director), Bernard Luber (Producer), Eugene Ling (Screenwriter), Martin Rackin (Screenwriter), Joseph Biroc (Cinematographer), Al Joseph (Editor), Field M. Gray (Art Director) ----- the cast includes George Raft (Joe Gargen), Dorothy Hart (Ann Nelson), Paul Stewart (Donelli), Helen Westcott (Martha Haines), John Hoyt (Phillips), Henry Slate (Paul Nelson), William Phipps (Ed Haines), Russell Johnson (Thompson), Ben Baker (Tubby), Charles Meredith (Rennick), Harlan Warde (Lt. White), Spring Mitchell (Nancy), Margia Dean (Ivy), Ross Elliott (Norm), Robert Bice (Steve Casmer), Robert B. Williams (Scully), Lawrence Dobkin (Walter Karr), William Tannen (Rourke), Jack Daley (Borrower), Virginia Carroll (Netta), Mike Ragan (Maxie), George Eldredge (George), William "Bill" Phillips (Baski) . . . . . our story involves our hero George Raft an ex-con to infiltrate into the loan sharks operation ... the plus in this film is Dorothy Hart who is so beautiful you can't take your eyes off of her during any of her scenes ... will Raft's sister and girl friend see through his plans to bring the entire baddies to justice in this outstanding Lippert Production ... Paul Stewart as usual gives and outstanding performance, very much under rated actor, but he shines in this role ... great job by Cinematographer Joseph Biroc, who gives this film life beyond belief with every set shot ... if you're a fan of George Raft this outing is a winner and definitely for you --- first time on DVD!
1. George Raft (aka: George Ranft)
Date of birth: 26 September 1895 - New York City, New York
Date of death: 24 November 1980 - Los Angeles, California
2. Dorothy Hart
Date of birth: 4 April 1922 - Cleveland, Ohio
Date of death: 11 July 2004 - Arden, North Carolina
3. Paul Stewart (aka: Paul Sternberg)
Date of birth: 13 March 1908 - New York, New York
Date of death: 17 February 1986 - Los Angeles, California,
4. Robert L. Lippert (Producer)
Date of birth: 31 March 1909 - Alameda, California, USA
Date of death: 16 November 1976 - Unknown City & State
5. Seymour Friedman (Director)
Date of birth: 17 August 1917 - Detroit, Michigan
Date of death: April 2003 - Los Angeles, California
1. Loan Shark Commentary
2. Photo Gallery
3. Movie Trivia
4. "FBI Girl" (1951) (trailer) featuring Cesar Romero, George Brent, Audrey Totter, Tom Drake and Raymond Burr.
5. "Deadly Game" (1951) (trailer) (aka: Third Party Risk) featuring Lloyd Bridges and Simone Silva
Second on the double bill is a Robert L. Lippert Picture and Screen Guild release "ARSON, INC" (1949) (64 min/B/W) --- Under William A. Berke (Director),William Stephens (Producer), Art Caesar (Screenwriter), Maurice Tombragel (Screenwriter), Carl Berger(Cinematographer), Edward Mann (Editor) ----- the cast includes Robert Lowery (Joe Martin), Anne Gwynne (Jane), Marcia Mae Jones (Bella), Douglas Fowley (Fender), Edward S. Brophy (Pete), Byron Foulger (Peyson), Gaylord "Steve" Pendleton (Murph), Maude Eburne (Grandma), Lelah Tyler (Mrs. Peyson), William Forrest (Firechief), John Maxwell (Detective), Emmett Vogan (Night Watchman) . . . . . the director and screenplay give this plot line plenty of fast action with Robert Lowery in the title role and hero ... Lowery is an investigator of fires and goes deep into the trenches to find who's been setting the fires ... enters one of my favorite character actors Douglas Fowley and his menaces is right in there pitching all the way ... many real life fire equipment scenes incompass this tightly directed film by Wlliam Berke, totally blows you away and you forget this is on a film noir budget ... will Lowery unmask the culprits in time before the end credits, don't leave the theater you're about to find out in the last reel --- from the Original 35MM Negative First Time on Video or DVD! . . . . . all courtesy of VCI Entertainment, who in my humble opinion is the best there is in restoring early serials and film noir features like this one.
1. Robert Lowery
Date of birth: 17 October 1913 - Kansas City, Missouri
Date of death: 26 December 1971 - Hollywood, California,
2. Anne Gwynne (aka: Marguerite Gwynne Trice)
Date of birth: 10 December 1918 - Waco, Texas
Date of death: 31 March 2003 - Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
3. Douglas Fowley (aka: Daniel Vincent Fowley)
Date of birth: 30 May 1911 - The Bronx, New York
Date of death: 21 May 1998 - Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
4. William A. Berke (Director)
Date of birth: 3 October 1903 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Date of death: 15 February 1958 - Los Angeles, California
1. "Inside Lippert" (part one)
2. Photo Gallery
3. "The Man From Cairo" (1953) (trailer) featuring George Raft and Irene Papas
4. "Portland Expose" (1957) (trailer) featuring Ed Binns, Carolyn Craig and Frank Gorshin
Great job by VCI Entertainment for releasing the "FORGOTTEN NOIR 2" (Loan Shark (1952) & Arson Inc (1949), digital transfere with a clean, clear and crisp print ... .looking forward to more of the same from the '40s and '50s vintage ... order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment, stay tuned once again for "Forgotten Classic Film Noir" that only VCI Entertainment (King of the Serials) can deliver--- All My Heroes have been Gumshoe Detectives!
Total Time: 137 mins on DVD ~ VCI Home Video KPF-548 ~ (9/26/2006)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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"Forgotten Noir, Volume 2" includes two crime films from Lippert Pictures, Inc., the distribution and production company of the estimable Robert L. Lippert, who pioneered drive-in movies, multiplexes, and produced 246 films in 20 years. Both films involve undercover agents who infiltrate criminal operations. "Loan Shark" (1952) stars George Raft as a stoic tough guy determined to bring down the local loan shark who was responsible for his brother-in-law's murder. "Arson, Inc." (1949) is an inferior "police procedural" about a firefighter who infiltrates an arson ring to expose an insurance scam. My 3-star rating is an average of the two films. "Loan Shark" alone is very worthwhile for fans of post-war crime thrillers.
"Loan Shark" is an entertaining "crime thriller", as they were called, with both noir-ish and social conscience overtones. Made in 1952 but closer to the 1940s in style, it warns working class Americans against predatory loan sharks. After a stint in prison, Joe Gargen (George Raft) is living with his sister Martha (Helen Westcott) and her husband Ed. Joe turns down a job offer at the tire factory where everyone seems to work, because the General Manager asks him to use his street savvy to find out who is behind the heavy debts and beatings that employees are incurring at the hands of a loan shark. But when Ed is killed for trying to organize witnesses against the loan sharks, Joe decides to take up the challenge. He's so good at infiltrating the crooks that his family, and the audience, question his motives. A 56-year-old George Raft romancing young Ann (Dorothy Hart) is conspicuously odd, but Raft does a great sharp, laconic working man. 4 stars. (1 hour 20 minutes)
"Arson, Inc." is a mundane procedural that emulates many superior post-War docudramas in assuring the public that the authorities are working hard to maintain order and nab the bad guys, and showing us exactly how it's done. Los Angeles Fire Chief (William Forrest) introduces the story of a heroic young fireman, Joe Martin (Robert Lowery) of the Arson Squad. Joe investigates cases of suspected arson which are connected by an insurance underwriter named Fender (Douglas Fowley). Confident that Fender uses arson in complex insurance scams, Joe gains the confidence of a hood named Pete Prudy (Edward Brophs) to infiltrate the operation. There is nothing really wrong with "Arson, Inc." except that it is dull, cliched, one-dimensional, and nothing else. But a film has very little going for it if it can't keep my attention for one hour. 2 stars. (1 hour)
The DVD (VCI 2006): The prints are good. Bonus features for "Loan Shark" are: a Photo Gallery of 18 posters and stills, 5 pieces of Movie Trivia (text), bios and filmographies for George Raft and director Seymour Friedman (text), trailers for "FBI Girl" (2 min) and "Deadly Game" (1 min). There is supposed to be an audio commentary by Richard M. Roberts, but I couldn't get it to work on my disc. Bonus features for "Arson, Inc" are: "Inside Lippert, Part I" interview with Robert L. Lippert, Jr. about his father's life 1909-1949 (text), a Photo Gallery of 6 images, bios and filmographies of Robert Lowery, Anne Gwynne, and director William Berke (text), trailers of "Man from Cairo" (2 min) and "Portland Expose" (2 min). A major frustration with these features is that the photos and text are all very slow slide shows that cannot be sped up, so reading them is nerve-wracking.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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Director William Berke specialized in cheapo jungle adventures but he worked in a variety of genres, churning out in 1949 alone 3 crime/noir films, a Jungle Jim adventure with Johnny Weissmuller, another jungle pic, and a western. Whew! It's amazing that this film is as good as it is given the necessarily brief shooting schedule, budget and no-name cast. Robert Lowery plays Joe Martin, a firefighter who in the opening scenes is promoted to a position as an undercover investigator in the arson department after he finds some suspicious evidence while fighting a fire at a fur warehouse. Turns out there's an insurance scam in the making, and Martin's investigation leads him both to a job with the insurance company exec - really a mobster who takes over businesses when the heat gets too tough for his clients - and a romance with a babysitter who he meets while waiting for the first people in the chain that will lead him to the mobster.
This is tautly and efficiently put together at 63 minutes and the acting is serviceable, though only character actor Edward Brophy as oily and garrulous henchman Pete, and Maude Eburne as the love interest's Grandma stand out. Nicely lit and shot by Carl Berger with some location work blending pretty well with the studio sets. Nothing to write home about but effective enough.
Rather better than the previous film is "Loan Shark" which benefits from an obviously larger budget and something of a name cast, though it's still clearly a b-picture at heart. George Raft, a little long in the tooth, and perhaps a bit miscast at 57 and too stiff and humorless, is Joe Gargan, out of prison after a few years for assault and battery, trying to make a new life by getting a straight job at the tire factor his brother-in-law works for. But we know right away it ain't gonna be easy as the film opens with one of the most awesome quick, violent scenes in noir as an unknown man leaves his apartment and is quickly followed to an alley and brutally beaten within an inch of his life.
The beatings it turns out come courtesy of a loan shark ring that has much of the plant, and much of the unnamed city in thrall. The young workers get in debt, wanting to buy their wives nice things or betting on the horses, and they're led to the ring by an unknown stooge. Gargan comes to just get a simple job, but is recruited instead by the tire company president to investigate the goings-on and find out who is the stooge, and as much as he can about the operation. At first Gargan resists the notion, wanting nothing to do with this, but after his brother-in-law is killed he goes all in, even going so far as to infiltrate the loan shark operation by becoming the protégé of the group's leader at the tire factory, Donelli (the always wonderfully slimy Paul Stewart) and eventually working his way into starting a new operation with a dummy laundry service. By this point he's on the same page as Donelli, with only the big boss Phillips (John Hoyt, enormously charming and catlike dangerous) above him. Or is there someone else...we and he don't get to find that out until the nicely staged finale which culminates in a shootout in a theater.
Along the way Gargan starts a romance with a young lady who lives on the same floor as his sister, but loses her when he goes deeply into the mobsters' racket, even going so far as to beat up her brother for non-payment of loans. The romantic scenes are obvious reminders of one of the few problems this tough and exciting little picture has - Raft, who is definitely old enough to make his job prospects at the plant rather unbelievable and his romance with Ann (Dorothy Hart, about half his age) a little creepy. But beyond that, he's wooden and monotonal in a way that reminded me more of Charles Bronson 30 years later than Raft's own much better work 20 years earlier. Oh well, he does get the job done and he's still tough and mean-looking enough that he doesn't really detract from a nice little slightly off-the-beaten track entry in the cycle. A noir set in a tire factory? Who'da thought.
Not a lot in the way of extras on this VCI disc, but the transfers are good enough and for those of us old enough to remember the bad old VHS days when we were excited to get even the really well-known stuff, there's no reason to complain. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the cheap and seedy byways of the noir style.
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I liked the double feature loan shark with george raft and arson inc.Arson inc was about a fire investigation agent who goes undercover to capture a ruthless arson ring. the film was low budget and no name stars but it was pretty good. arson inc had some corny parts but it worked for me and was good enough overall.
Now the better movie was george raft in loan shark. george raft is good in these tough guys movies. raft plays a man just out of prison assigned to nail a ruthless loan shark ring. it goes on the premise you need bad guys to capture other bad guys.the movie even has the man who played the professor in gilligans island in a straight serious role. he does a good job working with the loan sharks. And like was said before the actor paul stewart made a slimy good villian in this movie and the actor john hoyt was a good villian too.playing the mobster who tries to look like a respectable businessman. he even has a sexy ditsy,dancing girlfriend in his rich penthouse apartment, this blonde bombshell is really far toooo young for him but it works in a picture like this. I would of loved to see one more big gorilla like henchmen in this movie like a mike mazurki type from the movie "murder my sweet" with dick powell but it was fine as it was.raft has a good looking gal too but as was mentioned he was a bit too old for her and a bit too old for this role.I think a younger more muscular Robert mitchum may of been a better choice for this movie. even though I am glad raft got the part.So If you like tough guy, film noir movies like I certainly do.... loan shark and arson inc wont dissapoint you . I was happy with both flicks, especially loan shark with george raft. Both films are recommended!
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image quality on these titles is good. Loan Shark is a surprisingly good picture with a great cast. It's one of Lippert's better pictures. If it weren't for Kit Parker and VCI it wouild have fallen into oblivion.