Beef up your wallets now: May looks to be the biggest month for film noir Blu-ray releases so far this year. Get ready to dig deep…
A Kiss Before Dying (1956) Kino Lorber
This color film noir is based on Ira Levin’s novel of the same name, the 1954 Edgar Award winner for Best First Novel. Bud (Robert Wagner, in only his second film role) is a college student who runs after a young woman named Dorothy (Joanne Woodward, also in her second screen appearance), but only for her dad’s money. Problems arise when Dorothy turns up pregnant and Bud fears she’ll be disinherited by her father. Bud promises to take care of her, but…. I’ve never seen this one, but by all accounts, it’s worth picking up. (The 1991 remake, however, is not worth picking up.)
In a Lonely Place (1950) Criterion
Noir fans have been groaning for this release for a long, long time. Before this new Criterion release, it was hard (and expensive) to see this cornerstone film in any format. (I had to buy a DVD from the UK to see it for the first time.) Even if you’ve never seen this one, it’s a film you can buy with confidence. Powerful stuff and arguably Bogart’s finest hour. (Well, hour-and-a-half, if you want to get technical.)
Woman on the Run (1950) Flicker Alley
Too Late for Tears (1949) Flicker Alley
A standing ovation goes to the Film Noir Foundation and Flicker Alley for restoring and creating such wonderful releases for two film noir titles that have been unjustly neglected for decades. The fact that Woman on the Run exists at all is nothing short of miraculous and Too Late for Tears (also known by the unfortunate title Killer Bait) has been kicked around in awful transfers that are simply painful to watch. You can read my thoughts on Woman on the Run as well as excellent posts by other writers on both films on the Flicker Alley blog. Buy these with confidence. In fact, you can pre-order Woman on the Run and Too Late for Tears right now.
Dark Passage (1947) Warner Archive
Although not one of my favorite film noir movies (and probably the weakest of the four Bogart/Bacall movies), I’m going to snatch this one up from Warner Archive, who has been nailing the Bogart Blu-rays this year. You can read my thoughts on Dark Passage here. Now all we need is a Blu-ray release of To Have and Have Not (followed, of course, by a Bogart/Bacall Blu-ray boxed set).
Somewhere in the Night (1946) Rimini Editions (France, Region B)
Although this film is available on DVD in the U.S., this appears to be its first Blu-ray release anywhere. It looks like this edition is dubbed in French and the Blu-ray.com entry shows no subtitles. This is certainly a film noir worth discovering, one that should get talked about more than it does. It also features one of John Hodiak’s best performances in his brief career. I watched and discussed this film back in Noirvember 2015.
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema – Kino Lorber
This boxed set from Kino Lorber contains films that have already been released individually. I’ve only seen He Ran All the Way (1951) and Storm Fear (1955), and liked them both, so I may just pick up this set if the price drops low enough. The set also includes Big House U.S.A. (1955), A Bullet for Joey (1955), and Witness to Murder (1954).
The Chase (1946) Kino Lorber Classics
Robert Cummings plays a WWII vet (doesn’t he always?) who lands a job with two shady characters (Steve Cochran and Peter Lorre). I’ve never seen this one, but I’m definitely sold on the cast.
In his excellent book A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir: The Essential Reference Guide (2013), John Grant states that no good print of this film exists, but it appears the UCLA Film & Television Archive did the best job they could with the print they had. (You can check out the DVD Beaver review of the disc here.) There are still several problems as noted in the review, but the new restoration seems miles beyond the previous DVD edition. The screenshots of the Blu-ray look pretty good, but I wonder if some of Franz Planer’s expressionistic shadows were lightened too much. I plan to find out by purchasing the disc.
Atlantic City (1980) Gaumont (France, Region B)
Viewers might not think of Atlantic City as your typical film noir, and it’s certainly not typical, but I believe it earns a noir designation. The film certainly deals with how places and people change over time, but it does so much more. I haven’t seen the film in probably 20+ years and I’m eager to revisit it, however this edition – like Somewhere in the Night mentioned above – appears to be French dubbed with no subtitles. As far as I can tell, this is the only Blu-ray edition of the film, but I think I’m going to hold out for a domestic release. Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon are both good, Lancaster near the end of his career, and Sarandon near the beginning of hers.
As always, if there are any May film noir releases (on Blu-ray or DVD) that I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments below. Enjoy!