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 to leave out more recent films 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.
As was the case last month, many of June’s must-have film noir releases come from Europe. I know many of you are resistant to purchase a region-free Blu-ray player, but I’ve had at least four people contact me this year about such players. Three of them have made purchases (I think the fourth will take the plunge soon) and have been very satisfied. With all of these great European (especially UK) releases cropping up each month, it’s hard to resist having a player that gives you access to such wonderful films.
Enough of my pitch! Although June is a light month for new releases, we still have plenty of temptations, including several films making their Blu-ray debut. Let’s take a look:
We hear all the time of the demise of physical media, causing anxiety and dread from movie collectors like myself. A couple of months ago I was in a Costco and saw only two titles on Blu-ray: Dunkirk and a season of A Game of Thrones. Just last week I went to another Costco and saw no DVDs or Blu-rays. I’ve heard reports that some theatrical releases will only be offered streaming or on a non-physical digital platform. I’m hoping there are enough of us physical media lovers out there for these products to continue, even if that means only the boutique labels will release them.
So while I’m glad to have any new DVD and Blu-ray releases on the horizon, I always have a list of titles I hope to one day see on Blu-ray. Some of these titles have never been released on any format, others are currently available on DVD transfers that are less than adequate. With that in mind, here are the movies I’d most like to see on Blu-ray soon in order of my personal sense of urgency. As far as I know, none of these films have ever had a North American or UK release.
I recently revisited George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, a movie I first saw in 1971 when I was nine years old. Was I too young for such a movie? Maybe. After reading this reminiscence, you might be able to tell me what you think about how it shaped me as a movie-goer. (It’s difficult for me to evaluate that with any objectivity.) In later years I saw bits and pieces (no pun intended) of the movie on cable TV, but didn’t really give it much thought until I bought the Criterion Blu-ray on a whim. So 50 years after the release of the film – and 47 since I saw it – here are my thoughts, starting with three observations:
The Sea Wolf (1941)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner, Henry Blanke
Screenplay by Robert Rossen, based on the novel by Jack London
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography by Sol Polito
Warner Archive Blu-ray (1:40)
The recent Blu-ray release of The Sea Wolf deserves at the very least a parade down the streets of Hollywood, or the 21st century equivalent: a potpourri of tweets, shares, postings, and good old fashioned word-of-mouth praise. Not only have the fine folks at Warner Archive given us a beautiful 4K scan of the film, they’ve also restored 14 minutes of missing footage cut from the film’s 1947 re-release. And let’s not forget that this release also provides us with yet another example of the greatness of director Michael Curtiz.
Experiment in Terror (1962) Blake Edwards
Indicator Blu-ray (2:03)
I’m stepping outside my prescribed classic film noir timeline (roughly 1940-1959) to bring you a nail-biter from 1962, but once you see it, I don’t think you’ll mind my bending the rules a bit.
White Heat (1949) Raoul Walsh
Ultimate Gangsters Collection Blu-ray (1:54)
James Cagney stars as Cody Jarrett, psychotic leader of a gang of robbers, but there’s much more to the role and the film. Jarrett is vicious, murdering people without thinking twice, even discarding his own people if they’re injured and unable to help themselves.
My previous bonus episode covered T-Men (1947), a recent Blu-ray from ClassicFlix. Now comes another release from the same company, one that may be even more impressive than T-Men: Alfred L. Werker’s He Walked by Night (1948) with directorial contributions by Anthony Mann.