Lory R. (melikedvd) from RICHMOND, CA Reviewed on 12/8/2018...
Not sure what set the other reviewers saw, but I just got done watching all 5 movies and all but one looked and sounded good to me. Yes, Sudden Fear is a little dark, muddy looking, & has low sound but is still very watchable. Some of the reviews make it sound like they all look like an Alpha or Passion Productions release(They often use VHS tapes as masters). All of these were clearly mastered from film originals.
Beware noir fans of this Kino rip-off!
Ron Wise | Cleveland, MS USA | 11/21/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Kino, which is supposed to have such a big reputation for respecting the art of cinema, has really pulled a fast one on the public with this DVD box set.
They took one of Joan Crawford's greatest noir films "Sudden Fear," plus a really great (and rare) Henry Fonda noir "The Long Night" and totally ruined them. And the other titles in this box set don't come out much better.
Both "Sudden Fear" and "The Long Night" are so inky black until most of the time you can only see the actors' eyes (and that's in bright sunshine). The sound is terrible. Dialogue is so low you have to turn up your TV to full volume to hear anything. Then when the soundtrack music starts, it's usually blasting. So you constantly have to adjust the sound all the way through each movie. And even at that, the dialogue is still flat and hard to understand.
I've bought public domain cheapy DVDs where more care was put into production values. The only thing first class about this Kino box set is the artwork. The rest of this set is pure junk.
I've been ripped off with other Kino titles with Kino's poor production values (and I'll get around to reviewing those soon), but this set wins the prize. Let the buyer beware."
5 classic NOIRS from the studio vaults
F. Tarzi | New York | 07/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow! Great deal! These films retail for $29.95 each. This collection includes great titles from great directors (Fritz Lang, Anthony Mann) and they star some of Hollywood's all time greats like Joan Crawford, Henry Fonda, Jack Palance and many more. Here's a little description for each film:
SUDDEN FEAR (1952) - STARRING JOAN CRAWFORD, JACK PALANCE & GLORIA GRAHAME - DIRECTED BY DAVID MILLER - NOMINATED FOR 4 ACADEMY AWARDS - SYNOPSIS: Joan Crawford turns in one of the most emotionally charged performances of her career as a playwright who must use her plotting skills to save her own life, in this beautifully crafted film noir thriller. On a train headed home to California, Myra Hudson (Crawford) falls in love with, and marries, actor Lester Blaine (Jack Palance) whom she has just fired from her most recent New York play. Back on her San Francisco estate, something evil appears to be lurking just beneath the surface of the couple's idyllic life. Enter Gloria Grahame as Palance's girlfriend (in a stunning performance the New York Times called "hard, brash and sexy."). Soon it is clear that they are after more than new scripts as they greedily scheme for Myra's money. Director David Miller (Lonely Are The Brave) guides the story with supreme confidence, assisted by gorgeous black and white cinematography and an excellent score by Elmer Bernstein, as Sudden Fear races towards its jolting climax. Nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Crawford) and Best Supporting Actor (Palance), Sudden Fear is the unbeatable combination of a lushly produced Joan Crawford melodrama and a drop-dead suspense thriller. They just don't make 'em like this anymore!
THE LONG NIGHT (1947) - STARRING HENRY FONDA, BARBARA BEL GEDDES & VINCENT PRICE - DIRECTED BY ANATOLE LITVAK - SYNOPSIS: An exciting rediscovery from the studio vaults, The Long Night is an emotionally gripping, visually dynamic film noir, in which Henry Fonda, at the peak of his career, delivers an unforgettable performance. Presented in an intricate web of flashbacks, The Long Night follows the fractured thoughts of Joe Adams (Henry Fonda), a factory worker pinned inside his third-floor apartment after gunning down a mysterious, dapper gentleman (Vincent Price). Joe's memories, often containing flashbacks within flashbacks, reconstruct the events leading up to the shooting, revealing his romance with a quiet young girl (Barbara Bel Geddes), his less-romantic involvement with a worn-out showgirl (Ann Dvorak) and the varied twists of fate which drove Joe to murder. In staging this remake of Marcel Carné's Le Jour Se Leve (France, 1939), the producers of The Long Night imported not only the story, but the look of poetic realism that made the original so haunting. At once dismal and magical, the world of The Long Night was unlike anything Hollywood had yet imagined, and laid the groundwork for the dark and gritty (but highly stylized) imagery that became the trademark of film noir.
HANGMEN ALSO DIE (1943) - STARRING BRIAN DONLEVY, ANNA LEE & WALTER BRENNAN - DIRECTED BY FRITZ LANG - NOMINATED FOR 2 ACADEMY AWARDS - SYNOPSIS: Pursued by the Germans after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Dr. Svobonda (Brian Donlevy) enlists the aid of a young woman (Anna Lee) who is oblivious to the lethal crosscurrents that surround her. As she learns more about the mysterious doctor, she grows aware of the involvement of her father (Walter Brennan) and fiance (Dennis O'Keefe) in the resistance, and soon finds herself entangled in the revolution's secret operations. Much of the nightmarish quality of Hangmen Also Die is attributable to playwright Bertolt Brecht, who co-scripted the film with Lang, and legendary cinematographer James Wong Howe (Hud), who cloaks every conrner in shadow and endows the film with an almost tangible sense of claustrophobia.
RAILROADED (1947) - STARRING JOHN IRELAND, SHEILA RYAN & HUGH BEAUMONT - DIRECTED BY ANTHONY MANN - SYNPOSIS: Anthony Mann, who took the suspense of film noir to dizzying heights with his movies T-Men and Raw Deal, brings his talents to the hard-boiled detective thriller with Railroaded. When a policeman is killed attempting to thwart a holdup, Detective Mickey Ferguson is assigned to the case. The case becomes personal, though, when the kid brother of Mickey's sweetheart is named as the gunman. Determined to find the truth, Mickey goes searching for clues and comes up with notorious gangster Duke Martin, played by John Ireland (Spartacus, Gunfight At The OK Corral). What follows is a blood-and-thunder extravaganza filled with betrayal and suspicions, handguns and hostages, and a climactic nightclub showdown. Mann directs Railroaded with a precision and elegance that betrays its low-budget production, and John Ireland's cold-blooded performance is backed up by a talented (if unknown) cast, including Hugh Beaumont (Ward of television's Leave It To Beaver) and Shelia Ryan
BEHIND LOCKED DOORS (1948) - STARRING RICHARD CARLSON, LUCILLE BREMER & TOR JOHNSON - DIRECTED BY BUDD BOETTICHER (SEVEN MEN FROM NOW) - SYNOPSIS: A shadowy sanitarium provides the claustrophobic stage for sadism, paranoia and murder in this classic film noir from director Budd Boetticher (Tall T, Comanche Station). In a plot that clearly foreshadowed Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor, private detective Ross Stewart (Richard Carlson) checks himself into a mental hospital in an attempt to locate a corrupt judge hiding from justice. But before Stewart can reveal the truth, his true identity is discovered and he becomes a victim of his own ruse. With the help of a deranged punch-drunk ex-prizefighter (Tor Johnson of Plan 9 From Outer Space), the doctors at La Siesta Sanitarium concoct a plan to make Stewart a permanent resident. And the only person who shares Stewart's secret, the only one who can rescue him from certain death, is the scheming woman who sent him there (Lucille Bremer). A bare-bones, low-budget B thriller from Hollywood's "Poverty Row," Behind Locked Doors cleverly compensates for its budgetary limitations by bathing its sets in darkness. This visual spareness is perfectly suited to Boetticher's terse, hard-edged style, making the film a nightmarish ride through the halls of insanity and an ingenious, effective example of American film noir."
Secreto | Honolulu,Hawaii | 09/09/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Has anyone heard if this collection from Kino Video,have all been Remastered with better picture & sound? It's a great collection,but not if Kino has done nothing to them...Aloha Craig"
mrliteral | 03/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The collection Film Noir - The Dark Side of Hollywood boasts on the box cover that it features "Five Classics from the Studio Vaults". It may be a little much to call these films "classics" (no one will ever mistake these movies for such greats as Out of the Past or The Asphalt Jungle), but they are all okay, or in some cases, even good.
The first in the bunch (chronologically speaking) is Hangmen Also Die, a World War II thriller directed by Fritz Lang and based on real events. Brian Donlevy plays a member of the Czech resistance who is responsible for the assassination of Heydrich. Anna Lee gets entangled with him, and soon both are in peril. The Nazis threaten to execute innocent people till the assassin comes forth, including Lee's father. This film is only borderline noir, but it is still good.
Railroaded is a rather standard innocent-man-accused mystery, probably most notable for featuring a pre-Leave It To Beaver Hugh Beaumont as the detective in love with Sheila Ryan even as her brother languishes in jail. John Ireland is effective as the villain in the piece.
The Long Night is the "big name" movie in the set. Directed by Anatole Litvak, it stars Henry Fonda, Barbara Bel Geddes, Vincent Price and a small role for Elisha Cook, Jr. Fonda is holed up in his apartment, surrounded by cops who want to take him in for a murder. The bulk of the movie is a long flashback as to how he got into this spot. Vincent Price is great as a slimy magician, and Bel Geddes is okay in what I believe is her first role (between this movie, Vertigo and 14 Hours - the three movies I've seen her in - I don't think she ever has a normal love relationship with any man). This film is a remake of a French movie and the only DVD with any sort of special features (a video essay on the making of the movie).
Behind Locked Doors is a short (62 minutes) little private eye story with Richard Carlson as a private detective who is recruited by a beautiful reporter to go undercover in a sanitarium where it is believed a crooked judge is hiding out. Of course, the doctor and his assistant are in cahoots with the judge and Carlson soon finds himself trapped "behind locked doors." Probably the most interesting thing about this movie is it has Tor Johnson (of Plan 9 From Outer Space fame) in a role that uses all of his limited acting talents.
Finally, there is Sudden Fear which I feel is the best in the bunch. Joan Crawford is a playwright and heiress who gets actor Jack Palance fired because he doesn't seem like a romantic leading man. When they meet by chance later, she falls for him and they marry, but it turns out he's a better romantic actor than she ever thought; he is actually scheming with an old girlfriend to kill her and get her money. When Crawford finds out by accident, she launches her own counter-scheme. Although this film owes more than a little to Hitchcock's Suspicion, it also goes off in its own direction and does a good job at leaving the viewer guessing about how it all turns out.
As mentioned earlier, there are hardly any extras in this set. Railroaded and Behind Locked Doors are three-star movies, while the others are four-star flicks. I will go with the majority and rate it four stars. These may not be classics, but this set does offer a chance to see some less well-known, decent movies."