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The Ultimate Film Noir Collection (5 DVD Set)
The Ultimate Film Noir Collection
5 DVD Set
Actors: Edmond O'Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, Neville Brand
Director: Rudolph Maté
Genres: Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2006     15hr 9min

Film noir - literally "black film" - is Hollywood's moody vision of a dark, shadowy, smoky underworld populated by beautiful-but-deadly dames and the regular Joes who fall for them. These films are literally black in that ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Edmond O'Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, Neville Brand
Director: Rudolph Maté
Genres: Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Classics, Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Passport
Format: DVD
DVD Release Date: 05/02/2006
Original Release Date: 11/30/1945
Theatrical Release Date: 11/30/1945
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 15hr 9min
Number of Discs: 5
SwapaDVD Credits: 5
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
Edition: Collector's Edition
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Spanish
See Also:

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Movie Reviews

Not a bad set for the price
Kathy Hendrix | Dallas, Georgia USA | 06/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a pretty good set of some standard and less-standard B film noir. First, the movies themselves rated best to worst, not counting picture and sound quality:

1. DOA (10/10) Very good example of film noir with a lot of the best elements of the genre. A very complex story with great characters that make it worth watching over and over again.
2. Scarlet Street (10/10) The most dark and bleak film here, a very close tie with DOA Probably the most emotionally powerful film in this set, if you like gloomy endings, watch this one first!
3. Detour (9.5/10) One of the best film noirs, even compared to the movies made on a better budget. Also, like the two movies above, ends with a very dark mood.
4. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (8.5/10) A pretty great movie all around, from the point of view of noir or not. Some great acting from everyone involved, can seem to be more melodrama than noir at times, but much darker.
5. Whistle Stop (8.5/10) I might be partial to this one because its one of the first film noirs I ever saw. Has a pretty dark vision of the world overall despite the ending.
6. The Hitchhiker (8/10) A very dark and tense noir about two army buddies picking up a hitchhiker who holds a gun on them for days and makes them do his bidding. Unlike most film noir, this one takes place in the desert, not the city.
7. Quicksand (7.5/10) A decent little movie about a likable guy who gets wrapped up in one crime after another to cover his earlier crimes.
8. He Walked By Night (7/10) More of a straight up crime/detective movie, but plenty of noir-ish elements.
9. Trapped (7/10) Similar to "He Walked By Night" in that it is a crime/detective movie. Just about everyone's a fairly seedy character, no happy endings here.
10. Impact (4/10) Might be a melodrama, a suspense film or a bad court drama, but lacks noir-ish atmosphere almost entirely. Very predictable overall.

The picture and sound quality on these films is always at least watchable, often close to perfect in a few of them. Some films (He Walked By Night, Quicksand) have better quality than others (Whistle Stop, Detour). Keep in mind many of these were made on a fairly low can only restore so much.

The ones I can see myself watching again are DOA, Scarlet Street, Detour, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and Whistle Stop. The Hitchhiker and Quicksand were both good films as well, but not in the class of those mentioned above. He Walked By Night and Trapped are both decent films, but not really my brand of noir. Impact was the one complete dud for me.

Also I will mention that in all the films there is a small logo in the bottom right corner of the screen which reads "The Ultimate Film Noir Collection." It can be slightly distracting at times, but I did not find it as distracting as I thought I would at first. Still one must ask...Is it necessary to have?"
You get what you pay for
Steven Musil | Oakland, California | 04/26/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)

"These movies are wonderful examples of the genre, but the worst transfers I have ever seen. If you want to be reminded of what these movies looked like on late-night TV in the 1970s, this is the collection for you. The movies look like they were duped off a VCR/DVD combo. Images are grainy and washed out. Sound is scratchy and subpar. And to top it off, there is a logo in the bottom right corner of every frame of every movie that resembles a cable TV channel logo. Very disappointing."
Good Films At A Great Price!
Kurt Harding | Boerne TX | 09/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My interest in film noir is longstanding. I liked the genre even before I knew its name. Now that so many old noir films are being released on DVD, I've been having a field day on my home screen. And though I had neither heard of nor seen 99 percent of the noir films I've obtained, I have enjoyed nearly every one.
With my purchase of the Ultimate Film Noir Collection, I have scored another batch of winners. And I have been lucky in that in the four box sets of noir films I have bought to date, there isn't a duplicate in the bunch.
Here I will comment on each film in the order presented:
1)Scarlet Street--Edward G Robinson plays a good-hearted but hangdog chump of a man who is clearly a loser in life. He has a lowly job, a nagging and unloving wife, and is an unappreciated amateur painter. He longs for the love of a younger and glamourous woman like his boss enjoys and sees his chance to get it when he saves such a woman from a beating on the street by a man he does not know is her boyfriend. She (Joan Bennett) can read him instantly and conspires to take advantage of him. Her boyfriend, played with a smirking and evil glee by Dan Duryea, is ever in need of money and hatches a scheme to get ever more from him. And Robinson is too clueless to realize or to ever admit he's been duped.
There is an ongoing comedic cinematic slap at modern art and self-important art critics that is a bit of a diversion from the grim reality of the emotional abyss into which Robinson is sinking. And there are a number of "morals to the story". 4 stars.
2)Detour--Tom Neal hitch-hikes to California to meet up with his girlfriend. What happens to him along the way and once he meets Ann Savage puts him on a detour that becomes permanent. 3 stars.
3)The Strange Love of Martha Ivers---The story begins with a young Martha Ivers trying to escape her wealthy but overbearing mother by jumping a train with a restless boyfriend from the other side of the tracks. She is caught, returned home, and accidentally kills her mother while mom is beating her pet. She (and the son of her mother's footman who is also present)thinks the boyfriend saw her, and that mistaken belief drives the story. When the boyfriend Van Heflin returns many years later and asks Martha(Barbara Stanwyk) and the successful (now district attorney) but unmanly son of the footman she wed (Kirk Douglas)for help getting his girl out of jail, they fear blackmail. That leads to a dramatic denouement. 5 stars.
4)Whistle Stop--A glamourous but hardened Ava Gardner returns to her hometown after multiple setbacks in the big city. Ne'er-do-well ex-boyfriend George Raft tries to hook back up with her but can't compete with the wealthy and corrupt local nightclub owner Tom Conway who despises him. Gardner remains torn between her old feelings for Raft and her attraction to the high life that Conway can provide her. Bartender Victor McLaglen schemes with Raft to get some of Conway's money but it comes to naught. See how it ends...4 stars.
5)He Walked By Night--Richard Basehart plays a brutal and very clever small-time crook and cop-killer. Jack Webb and Scott Brady play a pair of cops working doggedly to discover his identity and bring him to justice. The chase at the end through the LA storm drains is electrifying, but it is never explained why Basehart's character killed the cop in the first place. 4 stars.
6)Trapped--Forger Lloyd Bridges is "allowed" to escape from an armed escort so that he might lead police to the location of the master plates for counterfeit bills which had once again begun to appear on the streets. Bridges thinks he has escaped, and that they won't look for him in Los Angeles which is far from his former base of operations in Missouri. But he is mistaken. See how it plays out. Loaded with great action scenes. 4 stars.
7)Impact--Ella Raines ruthlessly schemes to have her wealthy husband killed so that she can run off with her boyfriend. But it doesn't work out as she planned. The husband (Brian Donlevy) returns home to San Francisco with a new love interest he met after he turned up alive in Idaho and is determined to seek justice. But the wheels of justice nearly crush him! Raines is excellent as a scheming, cold and ruthless adultress. You'll want to kill her yourself! 5 stars.
8)DOA--Edmond O'Brien stars as a small-time businessman who goes to San Francisco on vacation only to find himself fatally poisoned by someone he didn't know for reasons he can't fathom and has but a short time to find out why before the poison kills him. Pamela Britton stars as his loyal, loving and under-appreciated secretary. This film is full of twists and turns. It features a number of very sleazy and unlikeable characters and even some Armenian gangsters. I had my choice as the chief suspect in O'Brien's poisoning nailed upon his introduction to the story. He is a decidedly unpleasant character who stands out among many of them.
There are some comic scenes that take place in a San Francisco nightclub before O'Brien is poisoned. One features a cartoonish and stereotypical bunch of black musicians playing a type of music referred to a "jive" which is really just a style of jazz. As funny and goofy as they are, its the stereotyped reaction of some of the beatniks in the audience that will really provoke a broad grin. 5 stars.
9)Quicksand--Mickey Rooney plays a young punk who meets a beautiful girl who is out of his league and tries to impress her by playing the bigshot. His need for money gets him in one fix after another and he gets in deeper and deeper until a way out seems impossible, hence the title. Jeanne Cagney is excellent as the beautiful, street-smart, and money grubbing object of his interest and Peter Lorre is excellent as the shady, greasy arcade owner who is her on again/off again boyfriend.
Although the ending is corny, there is a "moral to the story". 4 stars.
10)The Hitch-Hiker--Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy star as two buddies who drive to Baja on a fishing trip. When they stop to help a seemingly stranded motorist who is hitch-hiking, their trip turns into a nightmare. William Talman is the hitch-hiker who is riveting in his performance as an amoral mass-murderer on the run who is trying to escape to mainland Mexico via the rugged and mostly undeveloped eastern side of Baja. O'Brien and Lovejoy have the misfortune of meeting him. What happens will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The desert scenery, primitive roads, and the Spanish dialogue when apt involving authentic-appearing locals (without subtitles) lend authenticity to the setting. Hitch-Hiker is the best film in this set and rightfully saved for last. 5 stars plus.
Although there may be transfer issues with the films, the viewer has to remember that many of these were originally low-budget productions and so there was a low priority in trying to preserve them for posterity. We're lucky to be able to see them at all! Overall, this set rates 5 stars on the noir scale. These are ten mostly great films at an almost giveaway price. If you like the genre, but are unfamiliar with these films, you can't go wrong adding The Ultimate Film Noir Collection to your collection."
Some good examples of the genre, but with poor video quality
calvinnme | 12/07/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Of all of the film noir DVD collections out right now, this probably has the best selection. Unlike the other collections that only give you five or so movies, this one includes ten. Also, it includes four of my favorites of the genre - DOA, Scarlet Street, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, and He Walked by Night.

"DOA" is, of course, the definitive film noir classic. "Scarlet Street" shows Edward G. Robinson in an unusual role as a love-sick patsy who ultimately turns deadly. Likewise, we are all so accustomed to seeing Barbara Stanwyck as the strong in-control woman. However, in "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers", she is somewhat the caged tiger. "He Walked By Night" is one of my personal favorite detective films with some film noir elements. The main character has few lines and most of his performance consists of changing facial expressions. As for the other six, they are OK films, but I would not have bought the DVD set if they had been the only ones featured. My least favorite movie in the set was "The Hitchhiker", since the main characters are being held at gunpoint for most of the film, and the character development does not make up for the lack of action making it a somewhat boring film.

Two great film noir movies I can't find in any box set include "Nora Prentiss" and "Mr. Denning Drives North". These two are classics. "Nora Prentiss" has a man, through a series of moral failings, ultimately being deformed via an auto accident and through a series of very strange events being convicted of his own murder. "Mr. Denning Drives North" is a British film noir classic murder/detective story from 1952. These last two films I can't even find individually on DVD or even VHS.

I'd give the set a higher rating if the video was better quality. I have several of these movies in individual DVD sets, and was much more satisfied with the video quality in those products than this box set."