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:
February is a strange month for film noir releases. There’s very little this month from the classic film noir era, but some interesting opportunities to expand your definition of noir. Let’s take a look:
The Big Clock (1948)/This Gun for Hire (1942) John Farrow/Frank Tuttle - Umbrella Entertainment (Australia, Region B), 2 BD
I usually don’t mention new international editions of films that have already been given North American releases, but I’m going to mention one now and another later. Although both of these next films have been released in individual U.S. and UK editions, Australia’s Umbrella Entertainment is releasing a noir double feature on February 2, The Big Clock and This Gun for Hire, as part of their Icons of the Silver Screen series. An interesting pairing for sure, and two movies you should own, but you probably already have these in individual editions with nice extras. This edition might be something you want to give someone who’s just dipping their toe into film noir. This is a Region B release and seems to have no extras.
Let’s move on to something that has also been released previously, but this time with some significant new extras.
Miller’s Crossing (1990) Joel Coen - Criterion Blu-ray
Miller’s Crossing has previously enjoyed Blu-ray releases in most major countries, but on February 8th, it’s getting the Criterion treatment with a 2K restoration and some new extras. One of the most popular titles in the Coen Bros. filmography, Miller’s Crossing is a Prohibition-era gangster film mixed with hardboiled film noir elements. You’re probably familiar with the story: Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) is the right-hand man of an Irish mob boss named Leo (Albert Finney). Not only does Reagan begin offering his services to a rival gang, he also shares other services, may we say, with Leo’s woman Verna (Marcia Gay Harden). But I’m just scratching the surface of how great this film is, and it’s only the Coens’ third picture! The 2K restoration was approved by the Coen brothers and director of photography Barry Sonnenfeld. New extras include a conversation between writer Megan Abbott and the Coens focusing on film noir and hardboiled crime fiction, new interviews with Sonnenfeld, composer Carter Burwell, music editor Todd Kasow, and production designer Dennis Gassner. We also get a combination of archival and new interviews with actors Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, the late Jon Polito, and John Turturro. Don’t miss this one.
Baja (1995)/Amnesia (1997) Kurt Voss - MVD Visual, 1 BD
February 8 brings us another double feature, this one on a single disc from MVD Visual, Baja (1995) and Amnesia (1997), both directed by Kurt Voss.
In Baja, Bebe (Molly Ringwald) and Alex (Donal Logue) find themselves not doing so well after their very first try at a drug deal. Hiding out in Baja California, Mexico, waiting for their forged passports, but what they don’t know is the Bebe’s father (Corbin Bernsen) has sent Bebe’s estranged husband Michael (Michael A. Nickles) to find her. Then things go very wrong.
1997’s Amnesia, named for the most commonly-occurring malady in film noir, presents Paul Keller (Nicholas Walker), a small town clergyman who’s having an affair with his son’s teacher Veronica (Dara Tomanovich). Paul knows all his shenanigans are eventually going to catch up with him, so he takes out a million-dollar insurance policy with the great idea of faking his own death and running off with Veronica. But, as the title promises, Paul has an accident and loses his memory. If this sounds like a joke, it… sort of is. It’s definitely a darkly comedic neo noir. It also stars Ally Sheedy, Sally Kirkland and John Savage.
I don’t expect very much from either of these films, but if the price is right, it might be worth a look. No extras other than trailers.
Nick of Time (1995) John Badham - Paramount Blu-ray
Coming to us on Blu-ray for the first time, here's Nick of Time from 1995 directed by John Badham. At Los Angeles’ Union Station, a meek widower named Gene Watson (Johnny Depp) and his daughter Lynn (Courtney Chase) are abducted by two mysterious strangers claiming to be police officers using the names Mr. Smith (Christopher Walken) and Ms. Jones (Roma Maffia). After being rushed into a van with his daughter, Watson soon realizes these are not police officers. Smith and Jones have something else in mind, telling Watson that if he doesn’t assassinate the governor by 1:30pm today, they will kill his daughter. I missed this one the first time around, and although it’s probably more thriller than noir, I’m definitely interested. Reviews are mixed, but this film does use the unity of time, which means the action on screen plays out in real time, as in movies like High Noon, 12 Angry Men, Rope, and Fail Safe. The film also stars Charles S. Dutton and Marsha Mason. No word on extras.
Although I own a 4K TV, I don’t own a 4K player, so I rarely mention 4K releases here, but I have to mention two releases of this next film, a true noir classic, Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil from 1959. If you’re a film noir fan, you probably already own some version of Touch of Evil, but you may want to take a look at these.
Kino Lorber is releasing a 3 disc Blu-ray set on February 15 including the theatrical cut, the reconstructed cut, and the preview cut, all in new 4K restorations. Two of these include new audio commentaries from Tim Lucas and Imogen Sara Smith, as well as archival commentaries from previous releases.
One month later, on March 15, Kino will also release the same cuts with the same features on 4K. You can find a list of extras for both releases here. Now again, you may already have an edition of the film that you’re satisfied with. I own the Eureka Region B release from 2011, which has a fantastic booklet, but this is a 2 disc set, and the new Kino is on 3 discs. I absolutely love the Eureka, but confound it, I just don’t think I can say no to that Imogen Sara Smith commentary. Decisions, decisions… So lots to think about. DVD Beaver will no doubt do an expert comparison of all these releases, so check out their website.
February 21 UK (Feb. 22 in the US)
Lies and Deceit: Five Films by Claude Chabrol - Arrow box set, 5 BD Region B (US Region A)
In last month’s video, I talked about a new set from Arrow, Lies and Deceit: Five Films by Claude Chabrol. That release - both in the UK and the US - has now been moved to February 21 and 22 respectively. Please check out the January video for the full run-down on that set.
February 21 UK (Feb. 22 in the US)
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1982) Christopher Petit - Indicator Blu-ray (UK, Region Free)
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1982) is a film you may not remember ever hearing about. It’s certainly new to me. Like the Claude Chabrol set, this is getting a release on February 21 in the UK and February 22 in the US, but this one comes to us from Indicator. (PLEASE NOTE: This is the 1982 feature film and not the British TV series from 1995-1997.) The film is based on a crime novel by P. D. James and stars actors you’ve probably seen in other films from that era, but these actors weren’t headliners: Billie Whitelaw from The Omen, Paul Freeman from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Pippa Guard, whom you possibly never saw if you live in the U.S., since most of her work is in British theatre and television.
Here’s the set-up: Cordelia Gray (Guard), a partner in a detective agency, walks into work to find her boss dead in his office. Cordelia takes over his duties, and her first case involves an apparent suicide of a young man, whose family contains a tangle of secrets that may prove deadly if Cordelia continues to dig deeper into the case. This has been called a powerful and unconventional crime thriller that seems to have been largely forgotten, but I’m very much intrigued. This disc is struck from a new 4K restoration from the original separation masters and includes brand new interviews with director Chris Petit, actor Dominic Guard, and producer Don Boyd. There’s also a limited edition booklet featuring a new essay by Claire Monks, an archival piece by Chris Petit, production notes, contemporary critical responses, and film credits. Most P. D. James adaptations I’ve seen have been worthwhile, so I’m going to pick this one up.
U-Turn (1997) Oliver Stone - Koch Media, (Germany, Region B Blu-ray + DVD se)
When his car breaks down in a small Arizona town, Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) finds himself stranded. This normally would be just a minor inconvenience, but Bobby happens to have a large amount of cash with him, money he owes to a powerful gangster. While he’s waiting for a local mechanic (Billy Bob Thornton) to fix his car, he’s approached by a married couple, Jake (Nick Nolte) and Grace McKenna (Jennifer Lopez), each of whom offer Bobby money to kill the other one. The cast also includes Powers Boothe, Joaquin Phoenix, and Claire Danes.
U-Turn was a Twilight Time release in 2015, but that’s long out of print. An Australian edition came out in 2019, and a French edition came out last year, so maybe we’ll see a North American release soon. I’ve never seen it, but I’m intrigued. Until it gets a North American release, you can see it for free on Crackle and Plex.
That’s going to do it for February. Not a bad month. If I missed anything, please let me know. Everyone take care, be safe, and watch some great film noir. Thanks for reading.