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:
New release offerings in December are typically slim, since most companies limit production during the holidays, but we do have a few items to look at while you’re trying to escape the bombardment of holiday music, which could understandably lead you to a life of crime. So let’s embrace a little sanity and take a look at the new releases for December.
Champion (1949) Mark Robson - Eureka (UK, Region B)
We kick off December with a release from the UK company Eureka from their Masters of Cinema line, Champion, starring Kirk Douglas as boxing champ Midge Kelly. Told in flashback, we learn how Midge worked his way to the top, his relationship with his crippled brother (Arthur Kennedy), and his marriage to a woman named Emma (Ruth Roman). Now Midge is not an upright guy. He’s brash, ungrateful, and an egomaniac, stepping on anyone who stands in his way. But was he always like this? Douglas earned his first Oscar nomination for the film, which also stars Marilyn Maxwell and one of my favorite character actors, Paul Stewart. The new release is probably struck from the same Paramount remaster we saw on the 2013 Blu-ray from Olive. That Olive release contains no extras whatsoever, but this Eureka release contains a new audio commentary from Jason A. Ney, and a collector’s booklet with new writing from critic Richard Combs and a piece on boxing in cinema by author/screenwriter S. B. Cave. Once again, this is a Region B release.
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) Michael Curtiz - Warner Archive Blu-ray
This is the third Dead End Kids movie, which started with 1937’s Dead End, featuring a group of young actors from New York City playing tough street kids from the Lower East Side. Here, the kids spot a newcomer and quickly lift his wallet. What they don’t realize is they’ve tapped the notorious Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney), who just got out of prison. Soon the Kids are idolizing Rocky, which upsets Father Jerry Connolly (Pat O’Brien), who’s trying to put the Kids on the straight and narrow. Rocky meets up with his old pal James Frazier (Humphrey Bogart), but they have a falling out. Actually a “falling out” doesn’t even begin to describe what happens next. Angels with Dirty Faces also stars Ann Sheridan and features an ending that’s still talked about to this day. Although this is a gangster movie, and was made in 1938 before the recognized period of film noir, you must see Angels with Dirty Faces. No word on extras.
The Long Goodbye (1973) Robert Altman - Kino Lorber Blu-ray
If you haven’t seen it, Robert Altman’s take on Raymond Chandler’s famous detective Philip Marlowe may not be quite what you’d expect. Many film noir fans embrace Altman’s departure from the classic film noir mood and style, but just as many can’t stomach the picture. Elliott Gould is either terrific or awful, depending on how you look at it, but it’s also got Sterling Hayden, so there you go. The film has been available before, from Kino Lorber back in 2014 and a 2013 Region B release from Arrow. This new Kino 4K restoration release keeps the same extras from the 2014 disc, and adds a new audio commentary by critic Tim Lucas and featurettes on Altman, Chandler, and hardboiled fiction. This release is also struck from a new 4K restoration from an interpositive.
Number Seventeen (1932) Alfred Hitchcock - Kino Lorber Blu-ray
Okay, it may be a stretch to call this a film noir or even a pre-noir, but it is an Alfred Hitchcock film pointing to some of his more masterful work just a couple of years away. Number Seventeen is probably best described as a comedy thriller. During this period, Hitchcock based many of his films on plays, and this is one of them. After committing a jewel robbery, a group of thieves hide out in old house (thus the #17 of the title) near a railway stop. Only 63 minutes long, the film manages to cram in a missing necklace, mistaken or false identities, fighting, an escape attempt by train, an abundance of shadows, and much more. One critic at the time called it “highly entertaining but practically incomprehensible.” Hitchcock himself called it a disaster, but I’m still going to pick it up, as I’m sure many other Hitchcock fans will. This release comes from a new 4K restoration completed by the BFI and includes a new audio commentary by critic Peter Tonguette, an audio interview from Hitchcock/Truffaut, and the half hour documentary Hitchcock: The Early Years.
Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema V - Kino Lorber - 3 BD box set
Kino Lorber’s fifth film noir box set brings us three more Universal films, and in keeping with some of their previous box sets, this one contains movies that have some elements of film noir, but they’re mixed with other genres as well.
Because of You (1952) Joseph Pevney
Loretta Young plays Christine Carroll, a young blonde woman all set to marry her fiancé Mike (Alex Nicol). But Mike hides some stolen loot in Christine’s purse, making her an accessory. Both Mike and Christine get nabbed and wind up in prison. Christine changes her hair color, becomes a model prisoner, and finds useful work as a nurse’s aide in the prison infirmary, soon earning a quick release. Mike, however, is still in the joint. Now working in a legit hospital, Christine cares for and falls for a wounded combat flyer named Steve (Jeff Chandler). Steve doesn’t know about Christine’s past, much less that Mike is going to be out of prison soon, so look out. Because of You is less a noir thriller and more of a melodrama, but the noir element is certainly a big part of the film. The disc includes an audio commentary by critic Samm Deighan and a theatrical trailer.
Outside the Law (1956) Jack Arnold
Not to be confused with the 1930 Edward G. Robinson picture of the same name, this film’s premise is familiar to anyone who’s watched even a few ’50’s noir titles. Ex-con John Conrad (Ray Danton) is recruited by a US treasury agent to go undercover, infiltrating an international counterfeiting operation. Conrad is further enticed when the agent tells him these are the same people who murdered his buddy Harry (Stuart Wade). But, taking the job means Conrad will be working under the supervision of his father (Onslow Stevens), and they’ve got major issues. Maybe Harry’s widow (Leigh Snowden) knows something… There’s a lot going on in this movie, but there’s not a lot of extras: a trailer and a new audio commentary by critic Richard Harland Smith.
The Midnight Story (1957) Joseph Pevney
Tony Curtis plays Joe Martini, a San Francisco traffic cop who was practically raised by a local priest. When the priest is murdered, Joe wants to slide over to the Homicide Division to help with the investigation, but the division lieutenant (Ted de Corsia) says forget it. Undeterred, Joe goes undercover to infiltrate the family of the likeliest suspect of the crime. Interesting… Two Joseph Pevney movies, two movies that have some noir element, but could be more drama-based. We shall see. A new audio commentary from Jason A. Ney and a theatrical trailer sum up the extras on this one.
That’s going to do it for December. I hope you find something for yourself or the film noir lover in your life, and if you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll check out my Film Noir Holiday Gift Guide video, which I’ve linked to below. So Happy Holidays, everyone take care, be safe, and take in some great film noir.