Five more film noir classics lined up with genre stars such as Robert Mitchum, Robert Montgomery, Robert Ryan, and Jane Russell, are now available in Volume 3 of the Film Noir Classics Collection series. The new 6-Disc DVD... more » set is only available as a collection and includes a bonus documentary disc on the Noir genre.« less
An excellent value, especially for the superb documentary on
Rudolf Schmid | Kensington, CA | 07/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection released on 18 July, like volumes 1 and 2, has excellent remasters of five film-noir movies: "Lady in the lake" (1946); "Border incident" (1949); "His kind of woman" (1951); "The racket" (1951); "On dangerous ground" (1952). Each film has a commentary and English/French/Spanish subtitles; 3 films have trailers. Unlike volumes 1 and 2, volume 3 contains its DVDs in slim cases (the DVDs are hard to remove without undue bending) and sports a sixth bonus DVD, which the box touts as being "available only in this set."
This bonus DVD makes this collection particularly special: The documentary "Film noir: Bringing darkness to light," completed in 2006 and produced and directed by Gary Leva, is far superior to any of the film-noir documentaries available on public-domain collections of film noir for several reasons: (1) At 68 min., the subject is treated in depth. (2) The B&W clips from films as well as the interviews in color and color film posters are of excellent quality. (3) The clips, some from rarely seen films, are precise selections, unlike the fuzzy, often lengthy trailers included in previous noir documentaries. (4) While traditional noir themes (femmes fatales, lighting, cynicism, fatalism, etc.) receive full treatment, other generally neglected topics are detailed, notably the role of music. (5) Commentary is by a host of film-noir historians and players. The credits list some 45 interviewees, including actress Jane Greer (1924-2001). The diversity of opinions sometimes leads to conflicting interpretations, which is probably as it should be as film noir is a recognizable phenomenon that is hard to define. "Film noir: Bringing darkness to light," is an essential and insightful analysis of the film-noir phenomenon.
The 13 scenes comprising 68 min. in "Film noir: Bringing darkness to light" are: 1) intro; 2) into the darkness; 3) what it is. what it ain't; 4) birth of a bad dream; 5) life's cheap. then you die; 6) the guy pulling the strings; 7) masters of darkness and light; 8) cut to black; 9) lullaby for the damned; 10) method behind the madness; 11) caught in a web; 12) can't cheat fate; 13) final fade out.
Rounding out the bonus DVD are five shorts (19-22 min.) from the MGM film series "Crime does not pay": "Women in hiding" (1940) on unwed mothers; "You, the people" (1940) on a rigged election by a crime boss; "Forbidden passage" (1941) on illegal immigration; "A gun in his hand" (1945) on the murder of a policeman by a robber; "The luckiest guy in the world" (1947) on embezzlement. These are obviously message, didactic films. The bonus disc is remiss in providing neither dates for the films nor background information on the film (and radio) series "Crime does not pay," which apparently had some 40 film episodes 1935 ("Buried loot" the first) to 1947 (and probably later)."
Five Variations of Noir, from Two Studios!
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 08/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While "The Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 3" may lack the caliber of titles of the first two collections, this edition includes several of my personal favorite films...so forgive me if I brag about it!
Featuring two MGM productions, and three from RKO (which means Howard Hughes was heavily involved), the Noir elements vary significantly in each film (one could even question whether a couple 'qualify' as Noir)...but the choices made are fascinating!
"Lady in the Lake" (MGM, 1946, **1/2): Robert Montgomery's debut as a director, portraying Raymond Chandler's 'Philip Marlowe', probably gave MGM no END of grief, when he decided to film it nearly completely with a 'subjective' camera, barely appearing on screen! While the concept wasn't new (the first twenty minutes of the Bogie/Bacall "Dark Passage" were filmed in the same manner), the audacity of making an ENTIRE film this way, particularly from the biggest of Hollywood studios, was remarkable!
Sadly, the gimmick didn't work...
With an incongruous 'Christmas' motif to introduce the film, the camera work soon becomes annoying, allowing little character development for Marlowe/Montgomery (making him seem more cruel and petty than either Bogie or Dick Powell, in their 'takes' as Marlowe). While Audrey Totter, acting to the camera lens, is terrific, everyone else seems self-conscious (especially poor Lloyd Nolan). Add to this MGM's difficulty in creating Noir-style lighting and atmosphere, and what you end up with is, ultimately, a mess!
The only real 'misfire' in this collection!
"Border Incident" (MGM, 1949, ****): This FABULOUS Anthony Mann film, of a joint US/Mexico operation to break up an illegal alien racket is even more topical, today. Vastly underrated when released (and sadly, ignored by audiences), it is gritty, brutal, and totally involving, with a brilliant cast, including Ricardo Montalban and George Murphy (in their best screen work) as the agents, and Howard Da Silva, Charles McGraw, a clean-shaven Arthur Hunnicutt, and Sig Ruman as members of the gang.
Unflinching (the machine tiller murder scene is remarkably gruesome, for 1949), the film is only marred by a 'tacked-on' happy-ending narration, which stated that the illegal alien problem had been 'solved'.
Anthony Mann was WAY ahead of his time, and this film proves that his talents went far beyond Jimmy Stewart westerns!
"The Racket" (RKO, 1951, ***1/2): Remake of a 1928 Howard Hughes' film, this involving police drama, credited to John Cromwell (although Hughes would add scenes directed by others), was a hard-hitting, topical tale of corruption, both outside and within the system. Featuring a 'hard-as-nails' villainous turn by Robert Ryan, and Robert Mitchum's equally tough hero, the supporting cast really shines, particularly William Talman's straight-arrow cop, Ray Collins as a weak District Attorney, William Conrad as a detective who plays both sides, and Lizabeth Scott's pragmatic Noir heroine.
"On Dangerous Ground" (RKO, 1950-1952, ****1/2): Vastly underrated when released (the film was actually 'shelved' for two years, while Hughes 'tinkered' with it), Nicholas Ray's film of city cop Robert Ryan nearly "losing his soul", then finding redemption through blind Ida Lupino, during a rural murder investigation, is finally receiving the recognition it deserves! A rich, character-driven story, symphonic in style (with three 'movements'), the film benefits greatly from a powerful Bernard Herrmann score, the wonderful chemistry between Ryan and Lupino, and the added Hughes' "touches" (including a romantic finale that brings the film to a very satisfying conclusion).
While unsuccessful when released, the film is now regarded as a near-masterpiece of the genre!
"His Kind of Woman" (RKO, 1951, ****): I LOVE this movie!!! A combination Noir/Sophisticated Comedy/Farce, it nearly defies description, and really shouldn't work at all (particularly with the production history behind it), but it does, brilliantly, thanks to the Mitchum/Jane Russell chemistry (in their first film together), a wildly funny turn by Vincent Price, and the involvement of Howard Hughes, who, literally, reshot the final third of the film 3 times, with two different directors!
Directed, initially, by John Farrow, a straight-forward Noir tale of down-on-his-luck gambler Mitchum getting a "too good to be true" offer to go to Mexico quickly expands into a sometimes brutal, yet often comic adventure, as he gradually discovers that an exiled gangster (Raymond Burr, whose scenes were added AFTER the film was completed!), plans to kill him, and assume his identity to return to the States. While learning this, he stays at a swank resort, swapping one-liners (and romantic looks) with Russell, meeting her fiancé, hammy (and ALREADY married) movie star Price, beating sleazy Jim Backus at poker to save a girl's virtue (in a scene reminiscent of "Casablanca"), getting pushed around by hood Charles McGraw and the "facts of life" from agent Tim Holt...all leading to a spectacular finale, set on Burr's yacht, involving torture, and an insane rescue by Price, some misfit Mexican policemen, and over-aged resort guests!
Howard Hughes, dissatisfied with the Farrow 'cut', brought in Richard Fleischer to 'beef up' the finale (and increase Price's role), then decided, AFTER the second 'cut', to replace the film's villain with Burr...requiring yet ANOTHER major reshoot! Needless to say, this long, convoluted production would not be one of Mitchum or Russell's favorite films to make...
Yet the film is vastly entertaining, to this day, and was a big hit, when released!
A VERY interesting collection of films, to be sure!
ANOTHER WARNER WINNER-5 Tantalizing Noirs and a great new do
Eric | Columbus, OH | 07/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two years ago Warner Home Video broke ground by releasing their first set of Film Noir classics. Having the libraries of three major studios to draw from, including RKO, the king of all noir studios, the set was a smash. Other companies followed in panic, trying to mimic WB's success.
Warner didn't flood the market in response, though. They have kept to delivering one excellent set per year, and neatly bested the competition.
This year, they've added something extra. A brand-new, wonderful feature-length documentary that provocatively explores the world of Film Noir. Although many of Warner's documentaries are usually found on TV prior to the DVD release, this one is only available for viewing as part of this nifty box.
Sleekly packaged, with six discs in sturdy slim packaging, the films here are all ecxeptionally impressive and quite different. The quality of the transfers is very good, and the whole set is a sensational value here on Amazon.
"I like to think that reviews pertain to the films, meaning the contents. I find it odd to see the set getting disappointing ratings because of the size of the cases or the fact that the films sell as a set only. That certainly does not diminish the greatness of the films and of the set itself.
ON DANGEROUS GROUND is probably one of the finest noirs ever made and Robert Ryan gives a brilliant performance. Very moody, unusual film that rates high on any noir fan's list. HIS KIND OF WOMAN is another superb noir with a satirical edge and the unforgettable team of Mitchum and Russell. One of the most popular and best-loved noir films too. THE RACKET can only be a winner with that cast - Mitchum, Ryan and Lizabeth Scott - lots of great scenes and fun "bits". LADY IN THE LAKE is a genre-defining title, highly regarded for its unique narrative and an excellent portrayal of Philip Marlowe by Robert Montgomery. BORDER INCIDENT is a neglected gem starring a remarkably good Ricardo Montalban - its inclusion in the set will give it the exposure it probably never would have had, if titles had been sold separately. As if this was not enough, an entire documentary on Film Noir is included.
Considering all of this, I am not surprised that WB decided to sell this collection as a set only. The price is so reasonable that buying the whole set costs basically the same as it would to buy 2 individual titles. So anyone who wants only 1 or 2 titles really gets a fabulous deal and will surely be enthralled when they watch the other titles and the documentary."
The best thing about this collection IS the packaging!
bbnoir | Sydney, NSW Australia | 12/15/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Disappointing third installment in Warner's otherwise excellent noir series. It does seem like a 'rush job' as another reviewer pointed out, and the quality of the mastering is questionable, especially on HIS KIND OF WOMAN, where the sound and picture fluctuates in parts. Speaking of which, this film has been praised by some critics as an excellent example of the genre. I just don't see it. Despite some very good performances, especially from Vincent Price, (however it's glaringly obvious it doesn't belong in this film), the movie is disjointed, lacks suspense and loses steam way before its overlong 2 hour run time. THE RACKET stars Robert Ryan who gives us a great bad guy performance, elevating the interest of the film. Lizabeth Scott is wasted in a small supporting role while Mitchum's character is rather dull and pales in comparison to Ryan's. ON DANGEROUS GROUND starts out the way you want it to, dark-gritty-urban-violent, then falls into so-so melodrama where it wallows for most of the film. LADY IN THE LAKE is a failed experiment from the protagonist's P.O.V. Interesting for about 10 mintues until it becomes a chore to watch. Anthony Mann's BORDER INCIDENT isn't bad, but while it does contain some noirish elements, it's probably a stretch labelling it as one. FILM NOIR: BRINGING DARKNESS TO LIGHT is a 'coffee table' documentary intercut with some film clips from the Warner catalogue. Virtually 'every man and his dog' spouts their two cents worth of what film noir means to them. And Henry Rollins? Give me a break. Eddie Muller, who offers very informative and entertaining commentaries on many Fox and Warner noir titles, is the only saving grace here. You want the definitive documentary on film noir? Check out The American Cinema series on the subject, narrated by Richard Widmark with fantastic interviews by (now deceased) filmmakers - Edward Dmytryk, Joseph H Lewis, Edgar G Ulmer and more...
It's just been announced that the next Warners Film Noir Boxset 4 will feature 10 films! They are: ACT OF VIOLENCE, CORNERED, CRIMEWAVE, DECOY, ILLEGAL, MYSTERY STREET, SIDE STREET, TENSION, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT & WHERE DANGER LIVES. Now we're talking! I presume it'll be 5 discs, double-featured and in slimline packaging. Where shelf space is limited - this excellent packaging is a godsend! So, unless you're a completist, the third collection really isn't essential. Wait for the fourth installment or even grab Warner's latest TOUGH GUYS boxset, which is!"