Just a quick word or two about these new releases. I hope you find these monthly lists helpful. If you’ve been following these posts for awhile, you know that some months are pretty slim and others are exploding (like this month). Although I could include releases from many other countries, I’m going to limit myself primarily to those released in the U.S., UK, and France. I know the European discs will (usually) only work for those with a region-free player, but I hope some of these releases will cause you to consider a region-free device. If you know of any releases of interest outside of these three countries, please feel free to add them in the comments section. Thanks, and thanks for reading.
Now, gear yourself up for an amazing June:
John Huston Collection – Warner Bros. (France, Region B locked)
This set includes The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Key Largo, and Reflections in a Golden Eye. I’m not sure why Warner Brothers is releasing this in France first or whether they have plans for a U.S. release, but I hope they do. I’d probably buy it just to have Reflections in a Golden Eye, a film which some have hailed a masterpiece and others have confined to the trash heap. I’m assuming that all the supplements will be ported over from previous releases. I’m also wondering if Warner Bros. is going to eventually have a Bogart/Bacall box set, since all of their films are already on Blu-ray except To Have and Have Not. We shall see…
Voici le temps des assassins (Deadlier Than the Male) (1956) Pathe Distribution (France, Region B locked)
The final collaboration between director Julien Duvivier and actor Jean Gabin chronicles a deadly love triangle that’s got noir written all over it. There’s a Spanish Blu-ray of the film showing up on Amazon, but other than that, this seems to be your only Blu-ray choice. As with most French releases, the Pathe edition includes no subtitles of any kind. Merde…
Justin de Marseille (1935) Pathe Distribution (France, Region B locked)
Possibly more of a gangster picture than a film noir, I’d still like to check out this film by Maurice Tourneur (father of Jacques Tourneur). Currently only available (at highly inflated prices) as part of a French boxed set including five of the elder Tourneur’s films. Again, this Pathe edition includes no subtitles.
Beat the Devil (1953) Rimini Editions (France, Region B locked)
This John Huston comedic noir farce has gotten kicked around so long it’s just barely limping, but it’s worth checking out if you’ve never seen it. (This cover, however, is not very representative of the film, suggesting it might be a romance, which it most certainly is not.) You’ll find lots of cheap editions including a recent Blu-ray release from The Film Detective that got pretty lousy reviews. I just don’t think this film is ever going to look very good, but you should see it. Maybe this new Rimini edition looks better, but I doubt it.
Crime Wave: 50 Movie MegaPack – Mill Creek (DVD)
Many of my friends have asked me the best “crash course” of film noir on DVD. This set might just be the best, most affordable way to dive into film noir. Mill Creek has practically cornered the market on budget movie collections over the years. They’ve produced several such sets in the past, but this one includes The Chase (1946), D.O.A. (1950), Detour (1945), He Walked by Night (1948), The Naked Kiss (1964), The Red House (1947), Scarlet Street (1945), The Stranger (1946), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), and many, many more. The picture and sound quality will certainly be questionable, but if you don’t already own a lot of noir and want to get a good starter set, this is the way to go.
Mill Creek is also releasing a couple of other sets that look like they’re pulled from the Crime Wave set:
Murder in the Night: 25 Movie Collection – Mill Creek (DVD)
Streets of Fear: 20 Movie Collection – Mill Creek (DVD)
I haven’t done a close comparison, but I’d venture that Crime Wave probably includes everything in the other two sets.
Too Late for Tears (1949) Arrow Academy (UK, Region B locked)
Woman on the Run (1950) Arrow Academy (UK, Region B locked)
From what I’ve gathered, these UK releases are identical to the recent Flicker Alley releases of both films. Regardless of your format, you must pick up these two titles if you’re a film noir fan. These could very well be the releases of the year. Highly recommended.
99 River Street (1953) Kino Lorber
Since I’ve dedicated much of my movie-watching to film noir these past few years, I’ve come to appreciate some of its unsung heroes such as John Payne, an name most people outside of noir probably think is a typo. Payne was great at playing an Everyman as he does here: a cab driver just trying to make an honest living when his wife turns up murdered and he’s the only suspect. Director Phil Karlson’s style is aggressive and relentless and Evelyn Keyes has one of her best roles. You can read more about the film here, but this is one you don’t want to miss.
Cape Fear (1962) Fabulous Films (UK, Region B locked)
Classic J. Lee Thompson film with Robert Mitchum terrorizing Gregory Peck and his family. A must-see, but you can also find this in very affordable domestic Blu-ray editions from Universal including a 1960s Best of the Decade release.
Suture (1993) Arrow
Black-and-white neo-noir about a man who fakes his own death and decides to assume the identity of his half-brother. The reviews on this one are certainly mixed, so you might want to read a few spoiler-free reviews to see if this release is right for you. (Arrow is also releasing a UK edition on June 20.)
Shield for Murder (1954) Kino Lorber
A crooked police lieutenant played by Edmond O’Brien kills a bookie and steals $25,000. But his problems are just beginning. I’m a big O’Brien fan and since he also co-directed this one (with Howard W. Koch), I’m in.
Hidden Fear (1957) Kino Lorber
Here he is again: John Payne! Although John Grant in his Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir calls this one “a dull outing” about an American cop (Payne) traveling to Denmark looking for his younger sister, I still might be onboard.
Appointment with Crime (1946) Olive Films
A British noir about an ex-con just released from prison seeking revenge on his pals who made off with the goods from a jewelry theft. Looks interesting.
Gilda (1946) Criterion (UK, Region B locked)
Folks in the UK will definitely want to pick up this classic, yet unique noir, previously released in the U.S. by Criterion.
That’s it for June. Hope your wallets are ready… If I’ve missed any noir releases, please let me know in the comments below.