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.) Unless otherwise noted, the following are all North American Region A Blu-ray discs. I often use the terms “film noir,” “neo-noir,” and “noir-stained” 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, neo-noir, or noir-stained titles I’ve left out, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for reading.
I also have a video version of my New Releases in Film Noir on my YouTube channel. I hope you’ll check it out:
If you decide you’re going to sleep through the month of April, you won’t miss all that much in new releases in film noir, but even though the releases are slim, there’s still some good stuff here to check out. Let’s get started:
Jigsaw (1962) Val Guest - Cohen Media Group Blu-ray
Jigsaw (not to be confused with the 1949 film of the same name starring Franchot Tone) borrows a documentary style used years earlier in The Naked City (1948), and some would say to better effect. When a woman (Moira Redmond) confesses to her married lover (whom we do not see) that she’s pregnant, the man murders and dismembers her, then vanishes. Two police inspectors (Jack Warner and Ronald Lewis) attempt to reconstruct the final hours of the woman’s life, hopefully leading to the identity of the killer. Jigsaw is a taut police procedural with two investigators: a veteran paired with a much younger assistant, which is also similar to The Naked City. The mystery element is also strong. This one was announced from Cohen years ago, and now it’s here. No word on extras.
Tavernier: The Essential Collection (1975-2010) Studio Canal, 9 BD (UK, Region B)
If you’re a fan of the films of French director Bertrand Tavernier, you’ll want to pick up this box set simply titled Tavernier: The Essential Collection from StudioCanal on April 18. This is a Region B set, and it includes eight films, two of which may be of interest to film noir fans.
First we have Coup de Torchon (Clean Slate, 1981), a crime film based on the Jim Thompson novel Pop. 1280, changing the novel’s setting in the American South to a small town in French West Africa, where a police chief (Philippe Noiret) is mocked by the locals and his blatantly unfaithful wife (Stéphane Audran), until one day, the chief has finally had enough.
Next L.627 (1992), which finds an anxious Parisian narcotics officer named Lucien (Didier Bezace) facing burnout from trying to put away the city’s slippery drug dealers.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only seen one Tavernier film, The Clockmaker of St. Paul, which is excellent, but I’m planning on picking this set up.
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema VI (1947-1951) Kino Lorber 3 BD box set
Kino Lorber is not slowing down in 2022, that's for sure. In fact, it's been announced that they plan to continue this series which will end with Volume 15! In the meantime, here's what you can look forward to in Volume VI:
Singapore (1947) John Brahm
Fred MacMurray plays Matt Gordon, a pearl smuggler in Singapore who falls for a woman named Linda (Ava Gardner). They fall in love and plan to marry, but when the Japanese attack, Gordon assumes Linda was killed while waiting for him at the church. Jump ahead five years after the war when Gordon returns to Singapore to find that Linda has not only married someone else, but she also doesn’t remember Gordon at all. Stolen pearls and some real nasty people are involved in a plot that resembles Casablanca in many ways. No word on extras.
Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949) William Castle
How many film noir pictures can boast settings in San Francisco, Vancouver, and a dude ranch in Tucson? In Johnny Stool Pigeon, treasury agent George Morton (Howard Duff) recruits his childhood friend and convict Johnny Evans (Dan Duryea) to help Morton infiltrate a Vancouver business suspected of acting as a front for smuggling drugs. Johnny hates cops, but figures outside the joint has to be better than inside, so he joins Morton. Their investigation leads them beyond Vancouver, all the way to a dude ranch owner and drug dealer named Nick Avery (John McIntire). Johnny Stool Pigeon is a solid, entertaining noir which also features Shelley Winters, Barry Kelley, and a young Tony Curtis as a mute hitman.
Raging Tide (1951) George Sherman
After bumping off one of his rivals, San Francisco mobster Bruno Felkin (Richard Conte) hides out on a fishing boat and is soon discovered by the ship’s skipper Hamil (Charles Bickford) and his son Carl (Alex Nicol). Somehow Bruno persuades young Carl to go ashore and collect Bruno’s protection money for him, while the gangster begins to strike a friendship with and appreciation for Hamil’s simple yet fulfilling life. Meanwhile, Carl starts making time with Bruno’s girl Connie (Shelley Winters). Stephen McNally stars as the cop looking for Bruno. An unusual noir for sure, but I’m glad Kino included this one.
Dementia (1955) John Parker - Cohen Media Group Blu-ray
The story behind Dementia is as fascinating as the movie itself. It’s the only film directed by John Parker (made with his mother’s money; Thanks, mom!), includes no dialogue, and was banned repeatedly by the New York State Film Board for being “inhuman, indecent, and the quintessence of gruesomeness.” Dementia follows a nameless woman (Adrienne Barrett), with knife in hand, as she journeys through the rougher parts of a city at night, witnessing a wide variety of crimes. Although it contains many elements of film noir, Dementia is usually considered a horror movie, especially when it was retitled and rereleased in 1957 as Daughter of Horror, which was trimmed down (from 60 minutes to 57) and added narration by Ed McMahon! Apparently the only extras on the Cohen disc include the Daughter of Horror cut and a theatrical trailer. The BFI Region B release from 2020 includes a new audio commentary by film critic and writer Kat Ellinger, and much more. I’m going to wait for a comparison of the two releases from DVD Beaver, but I’m leaning more toward the BFI.
That’s going to do it for April. Remember that release dates can change, and if any of them do, I’ll be sure to let you know. Thanks for reading.