Search - Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics, Vol. 1 (The Big Heat / 5 Against the House / The Lineup / Murder by Contract / The Sniper) on DVD

Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics, Vol. 1 (The Big Heat / 5 Against the House / The Lineup / Murder by Contract / The Sniper)
Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Vol 1
The Big Heat / 5 Against the House / The Lineup / Murder by Contract / The Sniper
Actors: Guy Madison, Kim Novak, Brian Keith, Arthur Franz, Adolphe Menjou
Directors: Don Siegel, Edward Dmytryk, Fritz Lang, Irving Lerner, Phil Karlson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2009     7hr 8min

In the 1940s, a new genre - film noir - emerged from the world of "hard - boiled" pulp magazines, paperback thrillers, and sensational crime movies. These films - tough and unsentimental - depicted a black-and-white univer...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Guy Madison, Kim Novak, Brian Keith, Arthur Franz, Adolphe Menjou
Directors: Don Siegel, Edward Dmytryk, Fritz Lang, Irving Lerner, Phil Karlson
Creators: Ben Maddow, Ben Simcoe, Edna Anhalt
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 11/03/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 7hr 8min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 5
SwapaDVD Credits: 5
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 21
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Sony releases a spartan collection of top drawer noirs
calvinnme | 05/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This set contains 5 films and no extra features have been announced. The set is due to go on sale November 3 along with a volume 2 of film noir from Sony on the same day. Sony continues to hit it out of the park with classic sets being announced rather regularly this year. The films in volume one are as follows:

The Sniper (1952) - directed by Edward Dmytrik and starring Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz, and Gerald Mohr. A San Francisco detective traces a series of seemingly random killings to a sharp-eyed loner who uses his rifle as a means to exact deadly revenge on the women who have rejected him.

5 Against the House (1955) - directed by Phil Karlson and starring Brian Keith, Guy Madison, Alvy Moore, and Kim Novak. Four college pals plot to rob a casino in Reno just to prove it can be done, but their plan to return the money is threatened when one of them intends to keep it for himself. Probably the weakest film of the lot.

The Lineup (1958) directed by Don Siegel and starring Eli Wallach and Robert Keith. When a mother and her young daughter unknowingly destroy a stash of heroin, a pair of hit men must keep them alive long enough to explain it to their boss. Eli Wallach makes a great villain and the scenes of San Francisco 50 years ago are interesting too.

Murder by Contract (1958) directed by Irving Lerner and starring Vince Edwards as a well-mannered college-educated young man who just figures that being a hitman is a good way to make a living. Claude is usually philisophical yet mechanical about his hits, but when he is hired to kill a woman who is about to turn in evidence against the seedy mobster he works for everything starts to go wrong for him.

The Big Heat (1953) directed by Fritz Lang and starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame,and Lee Marvin. Ford is a cop trying to clean up mob violence in his town, but when he gets too close to success a car bomb meant for him kills his wife. This puts Ford on an unstoppable quest for justice since this has now become personal. Grahame stars as a good-hearted moll and Marvin as a mobster with an unpredictable temper. This is the best film in the bunch.

Part of the above information is directly from the press release and part of it is from my own memory of the films. Rumor has it that Martin Scorsese picked the films that went in this and volume two of Sony's film noir sets. I have no idea what Scorsese's relationship to Sony would put him in this capacity."
Solid Extras for Forgotten Noir Gems
Cubist | United States | 11/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Sniper features an audio commentary by author Eddie Muller. He starts off talking about the origins of the film - a husband and wife writing team. He mentions that it was a very controversial film at the time because of its subject matter. Muller provides all kinds of fascinating production details, like how much of the film was shot on location in San Francisco. He explains that The Sniper is a landmark film because it was one of the first to prominently feature a serial killer.

"Martin Scorsese Presents The Sniper" features the legendary filmmaker talking about the documentary feel of the film thanks to the use of authentic locations.

Also included is an original theatrical trailer.

The Big Heat starts off with "Michael Mann on The Big Heat." He speaks admiringly about the prominent female characters in the film. The director talks about the ethnic aspect of the film as well as the uncompromising nature of Glenn Ford's character.

"Martin Scorsese on The Big Heat" features the director talking about how Ford's character becomes what he's fighting against. Scorsese draws particular attention to the flat look of the film and how director Fritz Lang directs us to the behaviour of the characters.

Also included is the original theatrical trailer.

The only extra for 5 Against the House is the original theatrical trailer.

The Lineup includes an audio commentary by author Eddie Muller and James Ellroy. Muller says that this film started off as a television show cut from the same cloth as Dragnet. He plays the straight man on this track, rattling off facts, while Ellroy is his usual colourful and profane self offering his bizarro opinions on this film. He sings the praises of Don Siegel's more than capable direction. Fans of Ellroy will love this track as he gets to cut loose have some fun commenting on The Lineup.

"The Influence of Noir with Christopher Nolan" sees this respected director citing noir as an influence on his own work, most notably the psychological states of the characters, the atmosphere and the style in relation to the substance and how they all interact with one another.

Also included is the original theatrical trailer.

Murder by Contract features "Martin Scorsese on Murder by Contract." He reminisces about when he first saw the film as a teenager and how it would later influence aspects of Taxi Driver. The director speaks admiringly of the "economy of means" - how Irving Lerner depicted the passing of time. Scorsese gives us a brief background to Lerner and talks about how he got to know and even work with him.

Finally, there is the original theatrical trailer."
Three Excellent Films, One Pretty Good One and One Turkey!
Cuthbert J. Twiddle | Sacramento, CA USA | 01/28/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I'd seen and enjoyed 4 out 5 of these Columbia films and considered them good enough to add to my library when Amazon put this set on sale for $32.00. "The Sniper", "The Big Heat" and especially "The Lineup" are excellent. "Five Against the House" is not quite as good but more than watchable thanks to an excellent cast, Phil Karlson's capable direction and on location (Reno) filming. The only film I hadn't previously seen, "Murder by Contract" was a big disappointment. I totally fail to see why Martin Scorcese admires this one so much. To me it looked like something directed by Ed Wood, almost (but not quite!) so bad that it is good! Wood's "Jail Bait" comes to mind, not only because of the Godawful musical score of both of them!. In his Classic Movie Guide Leonard Maltin gives "Murder by Contract" only 2 stars, says it is "ultimately sabotaged by pretentious dialogue and posturing". I couldn't agree more! Four out of five ain't bad though and I do recommend this package. Excellent transfers (three of them anamorphic widescreen). Several commentaries and featurettes and theatrical trailers are bonus treats."
Essential viewing for any film noir lover
Addison de Witt | Paris, France | 12/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Anyone who's interested in film noir will consider this first volume of Columbia classics a "must". Besides "Big Heat" (arguably Fritz Lang's best film of the fifties), this remarkable package is a very rare opportunity to have a look at "The Sniper" in pristine condition and, above all, to discover the rarest of noir gems : Irving Lerner's "Murder by Contract", one of the coolest thrillers ever made. Highly recommended, although "Five Against the House" should have been replaced by a worthier title."