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:
A new year is always an exciting time. I’m always eager to discover movies that have never been released on Blu-ray or perhaps in any format. We may even have a few of these in today’s list, who knows? One thing you should know is that release dates often change, so what I have here is the most current information I have today. It never hurts to verify dates with a label’s website. So here we go.
All My Sons (1948) Irving Reis - Kino Lorber Blu-ray
Based on the 1946 Arthur Miller play, All My Sons is the post-WWII story of Joe Keller (Edward G. Robinson) who knowingly sold faulty airplane parts during the war, resulting in the deaths of 21 servicemen. Although he was responsible, Keller wasn’t convicted. Instead, his partner Herbert Deever (Frank Conroy) was found guilty. Now the truth has come out and both families know what really happened. The film also stars Burt Lancaster and Howard Duff. The disc includes an audio commentary from film historian Kat Ellinger and author/historian Lee Gambin.
Whispers in the Dark (1992) Christopher Crowe - Shout Factory Blu-ray
This one may be more thriller than neo-noir, and since I haven’t seen it, I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt. Psychiatrist Ann Hecker (Annabella Sciorra) is treating a woman named Eve (Deborah Kara Unger) for some sexual issues she’s having. But Ann begins to realize that she and Eve may have the same lover. The film also stars Alan Alda and Jamey Sheridan. I didn’t want to read too much about this one, since I haven’t seen it, but it appears the reviews are mixed, so proceed with caution. Also there’s no word on extras, and this close to a release date, that’s rarely a good sign.
The Capture (1950) John Sturges - The Film Detective Blu-ray
Lin Vanner, an oil company manager, discovers that the payroll has been stolen. Lin’s fiancée prompts him to go after the thief, hoping Lin might get a nice reward. Although he doesn’t have much to go on, Lin slips into Mexico and soon believes he has the right man trapped. Lin shoots and injures the man, a rancher named Sam Tevlin (Edwin Rand), who insists that he's innocent. But Tevlin dies and Lin still doesn’t hasn’t recovered the stolen money. Not knowing what to do, Lin wanders into Tevlin’s Mexican ranch. Is he going to apologize to Tevlin’s widow Ellen (Teresa Wright) and her son? No. Instead, he passes himself off as Lin Brown, a laborer looking for work. So here’s a man living with the broken remnants of a family he helped destroy.
I saw The Capture on Amazon Prime a few years ago and was somewhat disappointed. You can discover why by reading my review here. Approach this one with caution. The Film Detective website states this one’s got an audio commentary, but it doesn’t say who’s doing it. There’s also a full color booklet featuring an essay by… We don’t know that, either. Okay…
Stage Fright (1950) Alfred Hitchcock - Warner Archive Blu-ray
Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright has been called a misfire, a misstep, a mistake, you name it, but perhaps it was, in some ways, a film ahead of its time. Eve Gill (Jane Wyman) is a young actress with a major crush on Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd), and wants to help him out of a jam. It’s a big jam: Jonathan is accused of murdering the husband of his lover, a singer named Charlotte (Marlene Dietrich). The film makes good use of flashbacks, but Hitchcock uses another device - and I won’t disclose it here - that audiences didn’t really buy in 1950, but since then has become more common. I’m eager to revisit this one, so I plan to pick it up. This release comes from a new 4K restoration from the original nitrate negative and includes a featurette called Hitchcock and Stage Fright.
Repeat Performance (1947) Alfred L. Werker - Flicker Alley Blu-ray and DVD combo
Repeat Performance asks a question we’ve probably all asked at some point: What if I could live part of my life over and change the outcome? This happens to Sheila Page (Joan Leslie) on New Year’s Eve as she finds herself holding a gun, standing over her dead husband Barney (Louis Hayward). In a panic, she flees the scene and seeks out her friend, a poet named William Williams (Richard Basehart in his first film). During this frantic moment, Sheila wishes she could go back and live the past year all over again, but with a different outcome. The movie also features Tom Conway and a young Natalie Schafer, about 20 years before she embarked on a three-hour boat tour on Gilligan’s Island as Mrs. Howell. The film has been notoriously difficult to see unless you could see it at a film festival or on cable TV. Thankfully the Film Noir Foundation, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and Flicker Alley have brought this to Blu-ray and DVD.
This release includes an introduction by Eddie Muller, a video profile of Joan Leslie by author and film historian Farran Smith Nehme, a mini-documentary on the history of Eagle-Lion Pictures, written and narrated by film historian and author Alan K. Rode and produced by film director and author Steven C. Smith, an audio commentary by Nora Fiore (whom you may know as “The Nitrate Diva”), a digital press book, and a souvenir booklet featuring Brian Light’s book-to-film comparison of the original 1942 William O’Farrell novel with screenwriter Walter Bullock’s script, and a collection of original photos, lobby cards, and posters. And this one is region free.
The Cohen Media Group brings us another British noir double feature, kicking things off with Dancing the Crime, with Richard Attenborough as Ted, a London cabdriver who discovers his friend and army buddy murdered in the back of his cab. Unsatisfied with the lack of progress on the case by Scotland Yard, Ted decides to launch his own investigation into who killed his friend. Ted’s girlfriend Joy (Sheila Sim) also gets into the act, putting herself at risk. Look closely and you’ll see uncredited appearances from Dirk Bogarde and Diana Dors.
The Green Cockatoo certainly has an impressive pedigree: The picture is directed by William Cameron Menzies, based on a Graham Greene story, with a score by Miklós Rózsa. It’s also considered - by some - to be the first UK noir, or more accurately, the first forerunner to UK noir. A young starry-eyed woman named Eileen (René Ray) comes to London looking for work, but instead finds a man named Dave who’s just been stabbed by a gang. Just before he dies, Dave begs Eileen to go to The Green Cockatoo club and ask for Jim. Eileen finds Jim at the club, but the cops think she killed Dave. And what’s Jim’s connection? You’ll have to see the film to find out. This is definitely the lesser film in this double feature, filled with imitation hardboiled dialogue from American films of the time and an abundance of stock footage. It’s 63-minute running time may seem a bit longer. Maybe wait for a sale if you’re mainly interested in Dancing with Crime. No extras other than trailers.
That’s going to do it for January. If I missed anything, please let me know. Everyone take care, be safe, and watch some great film noir. Thanks for reading.