If you’re new to my monthly Film Noir Releases posts, 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. (I also tend – with one exception this month – to leave out films released in theaters from the last several years.) Unless otherwise noted, the following 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.
2018 may not start with a plethora of film noir releases on Blu-ray, but January’s line-up is rock solid with several must-own titles. Let’s get started:
Deadfall (1968) Signal One Entertainment (Blu-ray + DVD; UK, Region B)
Michael Caine plays Henry, a burglar who enters a rehab facility in order to get closer to a patient he seeks to rob. (Seems like an awful lot of trouble…) No matter. Henry gets lured into a heist scheme with Giovanna Ralli and Eric Portman. By all accounts, the film moves from a heist film to a psychological sexual thriller. If you’ve seen it, please let me know your (spoiler-free) thoughts.
You may remember that this one was originally scheduled for a November 20 release, so I’m not sure what happened (or didn’t happen, as the case may be). Extras include an interview with film expert Chris Poggiali, the featurette “The John Barry Touch: The Music of a Master,” isolated score and soundtrack, a still gallery, trailer, and a booklet by Michael Cain (I’m assuming this is not a misspelling) and Christopher Bray.
Raw Deal (1948) ClassicFlix
ClassicFlix shows no signs of slowing down with great film noir releases in 2018, this time with Raw Deal, another Anthony Mann/John Alton collaboration to stand alongside the 2017 releases of T-Men (1947) and He Walked by Night (1948), which was actually directed largely by Alfred L. Welker.
The good news is that Joe Sullivan (Dennis O’Keefe) is about to be sprung from prison after taking the rap for a robbery he didn’t commit. The man who’s going to bust Joe out of prison? Rick Coyle (Raymond Burr), the guy who did commit the crime. The bad news is the plan seems too good to be true and is. Joe might’ve done better remaining in stir. The film features a great cast which also includes Claire Trevor, Marsha Hunt and John Ireland.
Raw Deal was originally intended for a December 2017 release, but don’t worry, it’ll be worth the wait. The disc features an audio commentary by author and film historian Jeremy Arnold, the featurette “Deadly is the Male: The Making of Raw Deal” (with film historian Julie Kirgo, film historian and director Courtney Joyner, and biographer and producer Alan K. Rode), another featurette called “Dennis O’Keefe: An Extraordinary Ordinary Guy” (with O’Keefe’s son Jim O’Keefe, as well as Courtney Joyner and Alan K. Rode), an image gallery, and a 24-page booklet featuring an essay by Max Alvarez and design work by Michael Kronenberg.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Warner Bros. (Blu-ray + DVD, Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy, also available in 4K and 3D)
As I stated in my intro, I rarely include recent films in these lists, but I’m almost obligated to highlight the multiple-format release of Blade Runner 2049. Regardless of your opinion of the film, it’s a continuation of one of the most pivotal science fiction/noir movies of all time. So choose your format and enjoy! (It seems the special features appear on all formats, listed here.)
Charley Varrick (1973) Indicator Series (UK, Region B)
Blue Collar (1978) Indicator Series (UK, Region B)
The Border (1982) Indicator Series (UK, Region B)
If you talk to the experts, many will tell you that the most exciting label for Blu-ray releases in 2017 was Indicator. Not only have they given fans stellar releases of several film noir titles, they’ve also produced several great non-noir titles and stunning box sets including three (so far) Ray Harryhausen sets and two Hammer sets. While those sets are all region-free, these three January titles are Region-B locked.
The first two titles played at Noir City in 2017 and many fans were hoping for Blu-ray releases to arrive soon. Well, wait no longer. All three have been previously released in Germany, but as far as I can tell, this marks the first time they’ve been available on Blu-ray in the UK.
In the first film, Charley Varrick is the leader of a trio of robbers who think they’ve hit it big with their recent bank job until Charley (Walter Matthau) realizes they’ve made off with mob money. Blue Collar (in screenwriter Paul Schrader’s directorial debut) finds Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto as disgruntled workers at a Detroit car factory, three guys who plan to steal money from their local union. In The Border, Jack Nicholson gives one of his most interesting and underrated performances as a driven yet corrupt Mexican border guard who discovers a human smuggling operation. Although two other films (Blue Thunder and Tough Enough) were released after his death, The Border was the last film appearance by Warren Oates.
You can find the supplements for each of these films here.
Twilight Time closes things out releasing two interesting period film noir titles:
Dragonwyck (1946) Twilight Time
Dragonwyck is certainly a period drama, but it also contains elements of film noir. It’s the first directorial effort for Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who directed other noir and noir-related films such as Somewhere in the Night (1946), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), House of Strangers (1949), No Way Out (1950), and more. In Dragonwyck, set in 1844, Gene Tierney plays Miranda, a young woman who moves from a Connecticut farm to Dragonwyck Manor, the home of her wealthy cousin Nicholas (Vincent Price). Hired as a governess for Nicholas’s young daughter (Connie Marshall), Miranda’s life soon turns into a nightmare when she learns of her cousin’s increasing mental deterioration. No supplement information so far (see My Cousin Rachel below).
My Cousin Rachel (1952) Twilight Time
Another period noir (this time set in 1835 Cornwall and Florence), My Cousin Rachel finds orphan Philip Ashley (Richard Burton) coming into his inheritance from his wealthy cousin Ambrose (John Sutton), who has just married a woman named Rachel (Olivia de Havilland), yet Ambrose dies under mysterious circumstances. Was Rachel responsible? Can Ashley exact revenge or will he fall for Rachel himself? The film was based on a Daphne du Maurier novel and was nominated for four Oscars including Best Cinematography. As with Dragonwyck, there’s no information yet on supplements, but you can usually count on Twilight Time for good audio commentaries and isolated score tracks.
That’s all I have for January 2018. If you know of other noir or noir-related titles I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments section below. Happy New Year!