If you’re new to my monthly Film Noir Releases posts, welcome! My goal is to cover all the first-time releases to Blu-ray and DVD, usually passing over reissues unless there’s a good reason to include them. (I also tend to leave out “newer” films from the last several years.) Unless otherwise noted, the following are all North American Region A Blu-ray discs. I often use the terms “film noir” and “neo-noir” rather loosely, so while you may quibble with some of my choices, I hope these are films you’ll at least consider. As always, if you know of any film noir or neo-noir films I’ve left out, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for reading.
February is a pretty light month, yet it contains at least one must-own film right off the bat. If you own it on DVD, it’s probably time for an upgrade. If you’ve been waiting for a Blu-ray (like me), wait no longer. Plus I’ll have a few other temptations for you. Let’s get started:
The Post (2017)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by Steven Spielberg, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Amy Pascal
Written by Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Music by John Williams
Cinematography by Janusz Kamiński
Edited by Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar
DreamWorks Pictures, 20th Century Fox
Annapolis Bow Tie Harbour 9 (1:58)
One should never learn one’s history from the cinema, at least that’s what we’ve heard over and over ever since cameras first began documenting any era other than our own. Accurate historical narratives and pure entertainment simply have a difficult time co-existing. In most cases (unless we’re talking about documentaries – another discussion for another time), something’s got to give. Not only does Steven Spielberg’s The Post both entertain and give us a history lesson, it also invites (if not demands) us to examine our own times and situations in light of it. I’m not sure any film could tackle all three of those aspects and come out a winner in each category, but Spielberg gives it his best shot. The question is, is that shot good enough?
The Sea Wolf (1941)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner, Henry Blanke
Screenplay by Robert Rossen, based on the novel by Jack London
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography by Sol Polito
Warner Archive Blu-ray (1:40)
The recent Blu-ray release of The Sea Wolf deserves at the very least a parade down the streets of Hollywood, or the 21st century equivalent: a potpourri of tweets, shares, postings, and good old fashioned word-of-mouth praise. Not only have the fine folks at Warner Archive given us a beautiful 4K scan of the film, they’ve also restored 14 minutes of missing footage cut from the film’s 1947 re-release. And let’s not forget that this release also provides us with yet another example of the greatness of director Michael Curtiz.
Once again I’m honored to be one of the contributors to the most recent issue of The Dark Pages: The Newsletter for Film Noir Lovers, edited by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry. The November/December 2017 issue is a GIANT edition focused primarily on the 1946 film The Postman Always Rings Twice. This giant-sized themed issue is always an exciting annual event and I am so fortunate to be included with some fantastic writers including Raquel Stecher from Out of the Past: A Classic Film Blog, Patricia Nolan-Hall at Caftan Woman, Amanda Garrett at Old Hollywood Films, Kristina Dijan at Speakeasy, and Karen Burroughs Hannsberry at Shadows and Satin. I hope you’ll explore these and the other great writers in the issue.
This November/December 2017 edition includes my article, “How MGM Went from Glamorous to Salacious with The Postman Always Rings Twice” as well as articles on the film’s adaptation from the James M. Cain novel, examinations of the film’s characters and actors, the film’s costume design, original reviews of the film, an impressive photo gallery, and much more. It’s a real treasure trove for film noir fans.
So if you love film noir and aren’t already subscribed to The Dark Pages, you’re really missing out. You can request a sample issue and subscribe here. You can also follow The Dark Pages Facebook page and Twitter feed @TheDarkPages. Embrace and enjoy the darkness!
What’s 2018 look like for you?
Happy New Year to you all! I hope it’s off to a good, safe start. As we say goodbye to 2017, I’d like to list a few movies I’ve seen since I completed my Best of 2017 lists, a way of finalizing the year and preparing for 2018. Like everyone else, I’ve made a few new goals, some of which might manifest themselves on the blog. Hopefully this will translate to more (and better) writing about individual movies.
So allow me to dump on you everything I’ve seen since late November with my first-time-to-watch favorites in bold:
The Shape of Water (2017)
Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro
Produced by Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale
Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography by Dan Laustsen
Edited by Sidney Wolinsky
Production design by Paul D. Austerberry
Art Direction by Nigel Churcher
Set Decoration by Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau
Annapolis Bow Tie Harbor 9 (2:03)
Like Guillermo del Toro, I was too young to have seen the original release of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), but I imagine that something of the magic those audiences felt translated to the emotions I experienced watching The Shape of Water, a film obviously influenced by the Jack Arnold monster/horror classic. Arnold touches on the concept of “otherness” in the 1954 original, but del Toro – with the advantage of having more freedom to explore such themes in 2017 – takes the viewer on a journey not just through the “otherness” of a human/monster relationship, but other journeys that venture out to far-reaching areas of – and perhaps beyond – humanity.
It’s such a simple idea, yet it’s a stroke of genius: pair up an “A” picture from the classic film noir era (1941 to 1953 in this case) with a “B” picture for an unbeatable noir double feature for each day of Noir City 16 at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre Jan. 26-Feb. 4, 2018. At last night’s Noir City Christmas at the Castro Theatre, which featured a double feature of Manhandled (1949) and Alias Boston Blackie (1942), Eddie Muller unveiled the full Noir City 16 schedule, which you can find here.