July turns out to be a pretty good month for film noir, especially neo-noir. You’ll find some updates from last month and plenty of new temptations as well. Unless indicated otherwise, all releases are U.S. Region A Blu-ray discs. For the UK Region B discs, you will need a region-free Blu-ray player, which – if you love movies – you should invest in.
I’m taking a brief break from Noirvember to talk a bit about which version of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Dekalog to buy. I saw two of the ten episodes years ago and have wanted to watch the entire set ever since. We have two choices (actually there are more than two, but these are no doubt the two best choices): The Criterion Collection release and the Arrow release.
DVD Beaver has a comparison of all the available editions, but again, the Criterion and Arrow Blu-ray releases are the main ones I’m interested in. I’ll get into some of the more obvious differences, but the primary question for most viewers will no doubt be which version is the most true to the original films as they were originally broadcast on Polish television?
I usually wait until the end of the month to tell you about the next month’s film noir releases on Blu-ray, but I thought I’d get this out a couple of weeks early to better prepare you financially. Hang on: there’s a lot to cover. (All releases are Blu-ray and U.S. Region A discs unless otherwise noted.)
While July seems a pretty light month, this might be a good time to catch your breath and recover from June, which is turning out to be quite a month for film noir. Unless indicated otherwise, the following releases are Blu-ray, Region A.
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:
Brute Force (1947) Jules Dassin
Arrow Blu-ray (UK)
(Also available as a Criterion Collection DVD)
The plot of Jules Dassin’s Brute Force is about as simple as it gets: Joe Collins (Burt Lancaster, above right) and a group of his fellow prisoners seek to escape from Westgate Prison, and especially from the sadistic head of security Captain Munsey (Hume Cronyn, above left), who uses inmates as stool pigeons, enabling him to have eyes everywhere. Although a very effective prison story, Dassin swims in the noir pool by engaging us with flashbacks from several of the characters, showing us not only how they wound up in prison, but also the women they long to return to. And of course there’s revenge, deceit, a chance for redemption… all the things that make film noir film noir.
Last week the guys over at Criterion Cast reported that the Vincent Price Collection Blu-ray Volume I from Shout Factory was rapidly going out of print and now is out of print. That set stirred my interest when it was released in 2013, but I never picked it up, waiting for the price to drop just a little lower… And now you can’t get it for under $150 or so. The Criterion Cast also reported that Shout Factory has lost the rights to distribute the films as a set, although individual title releases may be a possibility. (The second volume of Vincent Price films, however, seems to be available for the near future.)