While there aren’t a lot of film noir Blu-ray releases in February, you’ll no doubt find at least a couple of things to get excited about. As always, these titles are North American Region A releases on Blu-ray unless otherwise noted.
Charley Varrick (1973) Wild Side Video (Region B, France)
This smart bank-robbery-gone-wrong film from Don Siegel and starring Walter Matthau has been on my re-watch list for a long time. Unfortunately I’ll miss seeing it at Noir City 15 next week, but I’ll get to it eventually, possibly via this French Blu-ray release.
As of this writing, the only Blu-ray available of Charley Varrick comes from Germany. I really don’t know anything about that release or this new French release from Wild Side Video. Since the film is showing at Noir City, I can only hope a domestic Blu-ray is in the works.
The Sicilian Clan (1968) Kino Lorber (Blu-ray + DVD)
Jean Gabin plays a crime boss who aids escaped killer Alain Delon with a diamond heist. Delon is eager to carry out a plan he heard about in prison but this is a heist film, so problems are bound to happen… (Unfortunately I’ll also miss seeing this one at Noir City 15 as my flight back home is the same day.)
This release from Kino Lorber essentially amounts to a boxed set: two cuts of the film on two Blu-rays and two DVDs. I’m not sure if this is the same scan used for the French Blu-ray from 2013, but it’s a bit hard to understand why we need two Blu-rays, unless the supplements are extraordinarily stacked.
The Yakuza (1974) Warner Archive
American detective Robert Mitchum returns to Japan, where he was stationed in World War II, to track down a friend’s daughter who was abducted by a yakuza boss. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this one for years, so this is a definite must-buy. (Anything with Mitchum is.) Unless I’ve missed something, this marks the film’s first Blu-ray release.
Kiss of Death (1947) Twilight Time
Hey, just in time for Valentine’s Day, right? After his wife commits suicide over his incarceration and his kids are sent to an orphanage, holdup man Victor Mature decides to play ball with the law. Kiss of Death launched Richard Widmark’s career as the ultimate film noir bad boy. Twilight Time releases are limited to 3000 units, so pick this one up fast. I know they’ll do their usual bang-up superior job. Good stuff.
Mildred Pierce (1945) Criterion Collection
Classic noir starring Joan Crawford in her Oscar-winning performance as a working class woman who turns herself into a financial powerhouse while keeping a close eye on her selfish manipulating daughter Ann Blyth. This one should be in every film noir lover’s collection and you know Criterion is going to give it the tender loving care it deserves.
Framed (1975) Kino Lorber
By all accounts, director Phil Karlson’s final film is far from his best, but it’s still probably worth a look. Joe Don Baker – who famously appeared in Karlson’s previous film Walking Tall (1973) – accidentally kills a sheriff (I’m not sure how you accidentally kill a sheriff, but I guess we’ll find out) and has a hard time convincing anyone that it was an accident. Hmmm… Proceed with caution unless you’re a hardcore Karlson fan.
Le cynique l’infâme, le violent (The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist) (1977) The Ecstasy of Films (Region B, France)
The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist is probably more of a police crime action thriller than a straight up film noir (as well as a sequel to Umberto Lenzi’s 1976 film The Tough Ones), but it looks promising. Tomas Milian plays a prison escapee who hires two thugs to murder the inspector whose testimony put him in prison. The inspector (Maurizio Merli), left for dead, actually survives and seeks to put the criminal back in stir. The film also stars the unstoppable John Saxon.
You’d probably be better off picking up the UK Blu-ray of this Italian film from 88 Films since it includes English subtitles and the Ecstasy of Films edition includes only French subtitles, but hey, if you can understand the Italian or read the French (or both), go for it.
As always, if you know of other February film noir releases I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments below. Happy viewing!