If you’re new to my monthly film noir releases post, 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. Unless otherwise noted, these 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!
It should come as no surprise that October is ruled by horror releases, but there are still some nice noir titles to be had including a motherlode box set that will excite most any noir fan provided they can speak and understand French (and own a region-free Blu-ray player). Let’s see what October holds…
City of Industry (1997) Kino Lorber
This picture gives us a heist trope we’ve seen time and again: the career criminal retired from a life of crime being drawn back in for one more big score. In this case it’s Roy Egan (Harvey Keitel) being cajoled into a diamond heist by his little brother Lee (Timothy Hutton) and a couple of his pals. Although this is familiar territory, the performances are reportedly quite good. The film also stars Lucy Liu and Elliott Gould. I’m certainly tempted to check it out. No information on supplements.
The Suspense & Polar: Don Angelo est mort / Le flic se rebiffe / The Hit (1974, 1973, 1984) Movinside (Region B, France)
Each of these films saw an individual release from Movinside back in June but are now collected in a box set. Click on each title for more information. I’ve actually seen none of them, but the Stephen Frears film The Hit intrigues me most.
The Midnight Man (1974)
The Don is Dead (1973)
The Hit (1984)
T-Men (1947) ClassicFlix
Excitement over this release is very high and deservedly so. Told in semi-documentary style, this Anthony Mann directed noir follows two U.S. Treasury Dept. agents (Dennis O’Keefe and Alfred Ryder) as they seek to infiltrate a counterfeiting gang responsible for killing one of their own T-men. This is a gripping, taut noir that you really don’t want to miss. Shall I entice you further by mentioning that this new restoration also stars June Lockhart, Wallace Ford and Charles McGraw? (You don’t want to disappoint Charles McGraw, do you?) Need more convincing? How about an audio commentary by biographer and noir expert Alan K. Rode, two featurettes: “Into the Darkness: Mann, Alton and T-Men” with cinematographer Richard Crudo, author and critic Todd McCarthy, film historian Julie Kirgo, film historian and director Courtney Joyner, and Alan K. Rode as well as “A Director’s Daughter: Nina Mann Remembers.” The package also includes a 24-page booklet with an essay by Max Alvarez, the author of The Crime Films of Anthony Mann and cover art by the multi-talented Michael Kronenberg. Absolutely a must-own.
Baby Driver (2017) Sony Pictures (Blu-ray + UltraViolet)
I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t yet seen Baby Driver, so I’m not really sure how noir or neo-noir it is, but I’m putting it on the list anyway.
Amores Perros (2000) Lionsgate Films (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)
Amores Perros is sometimes translated “Love’s a Bitch,” which may be relevant to the fact that part of the film deals with dogfighting. The film, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Biutiful, Birdman, The Revenant), weaves three different stories of life in Mexico City together, all of them revolving around a car accident. I haven’t seen it, but it is apparently brutal and unflinching.
Amores Perros was previously released in a Region B UK disc from Optimum Home Entertainment in 2010. That transfer from a dated source apparently presents some visual limitations, but overall the disc generally gets good reviews. This new edition is probably the same transfer. If it isn’t, wouldn’t Lionsgate have said so? Plus the pre-order price of $9.69 seems to indicate it’s the same transfer. For ten bucks I’m willing to take the risk.
Miracle Mile (1989) Arrow (UK, Region B – Bluray + DVD)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) Criterion
Okay, let me confess right here that I stalled out watching the David Lynch TV show Twin Peaks. I watched the first season and got about a dozen episodes into the second before hitting a wall. Currently I’m working my way through the rest of Season Two, mainly to catch up with the new 2017 show’s December 5 Blu-ray release. So while I’ve never seen Fire Walk with Me, I’ve heard a lot from those who both love and hate the film. Some claim you need no prior knowledge of the show to enjoy Fire Walk with Me. Others insist it’s critical that you see the entire show first. From what I’ve gathered, this edition (as well as an edition included in one of the previous Twin Peaks box sets) contains 90 minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes, but they’re separate and not integrated into the film (which was already 135 minutes long). My question to those who have seen the film and the extra 90 minutes: Do you gain much from the extra footage? Is it necessary or was it cut for a reason? After I finish Season Two, I’ll definitely want to check out this release.
Quai des Orfèvres (1947) Studio Canal (Region B, France)
I don’t know much about this Henri-Georges Clouzot-directed film other than it won an Edgar Award for Best Foreign Film in 1948. Suzy Delair plays a dance hall singer in postwar Paris. Her husband and accompanist Maurice (Bernard Blier) notices that she’s spending a little too much time flirting with a local businessman. Following the businessman to his house, Maurice discovers the man has already been killed by someone else. Sounds like a good noirish detective drama, plus it’s Clouzot. Count me in.
Melville – Studio Canal (Region B, France) 12-disc set (10 Blu-ray discs, 2 DVDs)
Okay, there’s a lot to talk about here… First of all, several film lovers had speculated that we’d see a box set in 2017 celebrating the 100th anniversary of Melville’s birth and here it (or at least one of them) is. Second, before we get too carried away, understand that this particular set is Region B and includes no English subtitles, so if you don’t speak/understand French, you’ll probably be frustrated with this set. (Or maybe not.)
Also Studio Canal is releasing a smaller UK Region B set with fewer films on December 4, but including English subtitles. Melville: The Essential Collection includes six movies on six Blu-rays and one DVD of special features. Those films are: Le Doulos, Bob le flambeur, Léon Morin, Priest, Le Cercle Rouge, Army of Shadows, and Un Flic. The DVD includes a documentary on Melville and the short film 24 Heures de la vie d’un clown. You can read more about this release here.
Studio Canal is releasing both of these sets, but I’ve heard nothing to indicate that a second UK box set is on the way. The UK release says nothing about it being a Volume 1 set, but you have to think that a second will be forthcoming to include all the other films from the French set. We shall see. Unless everything I learned my French classes (which wasn’t all that much) from 30 years ago suddenly comes back to me, I’m going to wait for the UK set with the English subtitles. But if you do pick up the French release, here’s what you’ll get:
24 Heures de la vie d’un clown (DVD)
The Silence of the Sea
Les Enfants terribles (DVD)
Two Men in Manhattan
Army of Shadows
Le Cercle Rouge
When You Read This Letter
Bob le flambeur
Léon Morin, Priest
You’ll also get over 9 hours of supplements (presumably in French) and a 96-page book (definitely in French). If anyone reading this post decides to purchase this edition, please let me know your thoughts.
Fragment of Fear (1970) Indicator Series (Region B, UK)
A bestselling author Tim Brett (David Hemmings) is finally getting his life together when his aunt is found strangled in Pompeii. Investigating the murder himself, Brett begins to receive strange phone calls and is handed notes from someone clearly using Brett’s own typewriter. This sounds like it may be more thriller than noir. If anyone’s seen it, please fill us in.
Fear in the Night (1972) Studio Canal (Region B, UK)
Not to be confused with the 1947 film of the same title, this British Hammer Studios film seems an awful lot like the 1954 French classic Diabolique – Judy Geeson stars as a young woman at a rural boarding school who’s recovering from a nervous breakdown. She’s also attacked by a man no one else can see. The film also stars Peter Cushing, Joan Collins, and Ralph Bates. I haven’t seen it, but from all reports you should probably stick to Diabolique.
Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) Warner Archive
This CinemaScope color picture (shot on location in San Francisco) finds Alan Ladd as an ex-cop and an ex-con, released from prison and ready to exact revenge on the man who framed him for a murder rap. Ladd is just part of a top-notch cast which also includes Edward G. Robinson, Fay Wray, and one of my noir favorites Paul Stewart. (Also look for cameos from Rod Taylor and an uncredited Jayne Mansfield.) Warner Archive continues to deliver some excellent film noir titles in 2017. Let’s hope that continues well into 2018.
Blood Simple (1984) Studio Canal (Region B, UK)
Although this debut film from the Coen brothers has been available on Blu-ray in the U.S. in at least two editions (including the Criterion edition from 2016), this appears to be the first UK edition.
He Walked by Night (1948) ClassicFlix
ClassicFlix has really emerged as a label that’s very friendly to film noir. He Walked by Night is one of my favorite lesser-seen noir titles and hopefully this release will bring some very deserved attention to the film. When an L.A. cop is murdered, the entire city begins a manhunt for a killer who seems totally elusive and unstoppable. The film is a showcase not only for John Alton’s brilliant cinematography, but also an excellent performance by Richard Basehart as the cold-blooded murderer. Although the film credits Alfred L. Werker as the director, most noir scholars recognize that Anthony Mann directed significant portions of the film. This outstanding procedural/thriller should be in every noir fan’s collection. The release also includes a commentary by biographer Alan K. Rode and writer/historian Julie Kirgo as well as the featurette “Below the Surface: He Walked by Night,” an image gallery, and a 24-page booklet featuring an essay by Max Alvarez. The release also features artwork by Michael Kronenberg. In fact you should really pick up He Walked by Night and ClassicFlix’s other release this month T-Men. Trust me, you won’t regret either purchase.
So take that, horror releases! Film noir’s not gonna take the month of October lying down. I hope everyone finds something of interest on this list. Let me know what intrigues and tempts you. Thanks for reading.