Unfortunately you’ll find very few Blu-ray or DVD releases in May from the “classic” era of film noir, but next month does offer some nice neo-noir titles and a couple of complete TV series sets. Let’s get started:
Heat (1995) 20th Century Fox
One of director Michael Mann’s most successful and popular films gets a Director’s Definitive Edition from 20th Century Fox. If you haven’t seen this crime epic about a professional thief (Robert De Niro) and an LAPD robbery-homicide detective (Al Pacino), you’re in for a real treat. This edition is sourced from a new 4K remaster of the film, supervised by Mann, and will include supplements available on previous editions as well as two new features: an Academy Panel moderated by Christopher Nolan reuniting Mann, Pacino and De Niro (no information on when this was filmed) and a Toronto International Film Festival Q&A with Mann (again, no date indicated). More details here.
Chinatown (1974) Paramount
You really can’t call yourself a true noir fan without seeing (and owning) the film that many consider the best neo-noir of the 70s and perhaps of all time. If you’re not familiar with the film, you can read more about it here. This release seems to be a repackaging of previous releases. (I prefer the earlier original cover, but if you’re a fan of Nicholson and his non-bandaged nose, go for it.)
Next, a couple of DVD-only crime/detective TV shows I watched growing up. I’m eager to see how they hold up today. Both are complete series sets:
Mannix: The Complete Series (1967-1975) Paramount Pictures, 48-disc DVD set
Mannix (a less raunchy, old-school version of the animated show Archer, if you will) stars Mike Connors as Joe Mannix, a detective for a huge detective agency called Intertect run by Lew Wickersham (Joseph Campanella). As you might guess from its name, Intertect uses computers in solving crimes, which was a fairly innovative move in the late 60s. Mannix himself is a loose cannon, always getting in trouble with Wickersham but getting the job done. (I already own the first season of Mannix and am enjoying it quite a bit.)
The Streets of San Francisco: The Complete Series (1972-1977) Paramount Pictures, 32-disc DVD set
The Streets of San Francisco was a police procedural filmed on location featuring Karl Malden and Michael Douglas. After 20+ years of experience on the police force, Lieutenant Michael Stone (Malden) is assigned to the SFPD’s Homicide Detail with an young, inexperienced go-get-‘em detective named Steve Keller (Douglas). I haven’t seen this show in decades and although I probably won’t spring for the entire set, I plan on picking up at least the first season. (Both shows are currently available per individual season on DVD.)
The Stone Killer (1973) Twilight Time (not the actual cover art)
Director Michael Winner’s next project with Charles Bronson (Death Wish ) would prove to be an enormous blockbuster, but previous to that film, they made this one, The Stone Killer. Bronson plays a NYPD detective who gets the boot for police brutality, ending up in LA where he tracks down a mob boss who’s wreaking havoc. This 2017 Sony HD transfer edition will include a commentary by Bronson expert Paul Talbot. Remember that Twilight Time releases are limited to 3000 units, so if you want this one, act fact.
Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978) Twilight Time
Another Twilight Time release, Who’ll Stop the Rain is probably more war story than noir, but two guys (Nick Nolte and Michael Moriarty) trying to smuggle a large shipment of heroin from Vietnam into the U.S. sounds pretty noir-stained to me. The film includes an amazing additional cast: Tuesday Weld, Anthony Zerbe, Richard Masur, Ray Sharkey, David Opatoshu and more.
Man Hunt (1941) Signal One Entertainment (UK – Region B) Blu-ray + DVD
Man Hunt is a very good Fritz Lang espionage thriller I reviewed last year. The film has also had a previous Blu-ray release from Twilight Time. If you have a region-free Blu-ray player and don’t own the Twilight Time edition, consider the Signal One UK edition.
Barton Fink (1991) Kino Lorber (not the actual cover art)
This Coen Brothers story of a scriptwriter (John Turturro) in Hollywood hell has been available on Blu-ray in just about every other county except the U.S. until now. No news on supplements yet, unfortunately, but at least we’re getting the film on Blu-ray domestically.
The Paradine Case (1947) Kino Lorber
Although this is not one of my favorite Hitchcock films, I’ll probably pick up this Gregory Peck courtroom drama since it features an audio commentary with Hitchcock authors Stephen Rebello and Bill Krohn, a (partial?) Hitchcock/Truffaut audio interview, a 1949 radio play with Joseph Cotten, Alida Vallli and Louis Jordan, a Hitchcock/Peter Bogdanovich audio interview, and the usual trailers.
That’s it for May as far as I know. If I’ve missed something, please let me know.