Film Noir New Releases for March 2022
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:
We’re got a lot to cover today, including two films from one of noir’s finest directors. Let’s get things kicked off:
The Gentle Gunman (1952) Basil Dearden - Studio Canal Vintage Classics Blu-ray (UK, Region B)
Brothers Terry (John Mills) and Matt Sullivan (Dirk Bogarde) are London-based members of the Irish Republican Army, but their ideologies could not be more different. Terry has become sick of all the organization’s violence, yet Matt feels Terry has gone soft and may even be considering betraying the group. Their leader, the fanatical and anti-British Shinto (Robert Beatty) keeps an eye on Terry, knowing his misgivings about the IRA’s methods. With the addition of a rescue operation and additional characters whose loyalties and motivations come into question, The Gentle Gunman quickly becomes an intense picture. Extras include “A Closer Look at The Gentle Gunman” with writers Matthew Sweet and Phoung Lee, and a stills gallery.
The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951) Robert Siodmak - Flicker Alley Blu-ray
Here’s one that I’d never heard of until recently, a film that’s rarely been seen since it was released in 1951. Directed by Robert Siodmak and produced by Louis de Rochemont, The Whistle at Eaton Falls stars Lloyd Bridges as Brad Adams, the new manager of a plastics factor in Eaton Falls, New Hampshire. When the economy takes a rough turn, Brad is forced to lay off several employees, including some of his friends. But Brad faces lots of opposition, and it gets ugly. The film also stars Ernest Borgnine, Murray Hamilton, and Dorothy Gish. Now this is part of Flicker Alley’s Flicker Fusion Series, so it’s a Blu-ray only release, but it contains some terrific features, including an audio commentary by author and film historian Alan K. Rode, a personal reminiscence of Louis de Rochemont from Rochemont’s grandson Pierre de Rochemont, insights into the film’s restoration, an isolated soundtrack, a booklet essay from writer Richard Koszarski, and more. Now we’re not done with Robert Siodmak just yet, so hang on.
Touch of Evil (1958) Orson Welles - Kino Lorber 3-disc 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray set;
The Blu-ray got pushed back to the same release date as the 4K. I mentioned both releases last month, so please check out that post.
The Accused (1988) Jonathan Kaplan - Paramount Blu-ray
It’s hard to believe that The Accused from 1988 - not the 1949 noir with the same title starring Loretta Young - is just now getting a Blu-ray release. This was a high-profile film in 1988 and an Oscar winner, now finally coming to Blu-ray. The film revolves around a woman named Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster) who is brutally gang-raped by three men on a bar’s pool table while other people watch and cheer. Due to Sarah’s history of drinking and drugs, District Attorney Kathryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis) believes the best she’ll be able to do is get some jail time for the rapists. But Sarah wants Murphy to also go after the onlookers who cheered the rapists on. This is an intense film that’s difficult to watch, but it’s one of those films you must watch. Apparently Paramount offered the role of Sarah to several actresses, all of whom turned it down. Jodie Foster took the role, despite the Paramount execs thinking that Foster was “not sexy enough.” Foster showed them, winning an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Actress. Unfortunately Paramount didn’t consider this film worthy enough for a Paramount Presents release, since its only extra is a theatrical trailer.
Nightmare Alley (2021) Guillermo del Toro - Disney/Buena Vista Blu-ray (sold separately on 4K)
Some of you will remember the days when you had to wait a year for a theatrical release to arrive on home video. Guillermo del Toro’s remake of Nightmare Alley is still in some theaters as I write this, but then again, it is nominated for four Oscars, so there’s that. It’s fine with me, no complaints here. Of course this is the remake of the 1947 version starring Tyrone Power, which was released on Blu-ray last year from Criterion. If you haven’t seen that version, you should see it and read the original source novel by William Lindsay Gresham.
I could give you the plot, but you can find that anywhere. Extras include a featurette called "Del Toro’s Neo Noir," with the director and cast delving into the complex world of the film and its noir roots, “Beneath the Tarp,” featuring production designer Tamara Deverell taking us through the set design and more, “What Exists in the Fringe,” with costume designer Luis Sequeira, and maybe more, who knows?
Magnum P.I.: The Complete Series (1980-1988) Mill Creek Entertainment, 30-disc Blu-ray set
The good news is this is the first time this complete series has been released on Blu-ray in North America. The bad news - It’s coming from Mill Creek, whose releases are usually barebones and often contain image quality problems. Right now the Amazon price is $120, with a list price of $179. The complete series has been available on Blu-ray in the UK since 2016. The price on that set comes out to about $150 dollars, not counting international shipping. If you’re not sure the show is for you, you can get the complete series on DVD for about $60. Or you can watch the complete series on the Roku Channel or the first two seasons on IMDb TV.
Twisting the Knife: Four Films by Claude Chabrol (1997-2003) Arrow 4 BD set (also available in a Region B UK set)
Last month I talked about a Claude Chabrol box set from Arrow, a collection with five films, four of them I would consider at least noir-stained. This set is called Lies and Deceit, and on March 28, Arrow will release a follow-up set of four films called Twisting the Knife. So here’s a very quick look at those films:
We start, in order of original release, with The Swindle (1997), a somewhat lighthearted crime comedy featuring a confidence couple played by Michel Serrault, Isabelle Huppert who are strictly small-time, but find themselves getting a little out of their element when they try to swindle the wrong guy.
The Color of Lies (1999) a psychological whodunit, something out of the ordinary for Chabrol, with a failed artist (Jacques Gamblin) accused of raping and killing a young girl.
Merci pour le chocolat, or Nightcap (2000), another psychological thriller that focuses on dark family secrets, starring, once again, Isabel Huppert.
The set closes with The Flower of Evil (2003), Chabrol’s 50th film, with Nathalie Baye as a middle-aged woman who decides to run for the office of mayor in her town. But her unfaithful husband is certainly not helping her campaign. Neither is the person or persons distributing leaflets accusing her family of collaboration with the Nazis.
All of these films come from new 4K restorations with new and archival features, including new commentaries for each film. Here's a list of the special features. Bottom line: If you’re already a fan of Chabrol, you’ll want to pick up this set. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend La Cérémonie (1995) or The Butcher (1970).
The Devil Strikes at Night (1957) Robert Siodmak - Kino Lorber Blu-ray
Here’s a very interesting release from the man who gave us Phantom Lady, The Killers, Criss Cross, and many other film noir classics, Robert Siodmak. After a tremendous career in Hollywood, Siodmak returned home to Germany in the 1950s where he directed several films including The Devil Strikes at Night (1957). In 1944 Hamburg, a barmaid is strangled to death, and it seems an open-and-shut case until an injured Nazi soldier named Alex Kersten (Claus Holm) is reassigned to the local police force. Kersten is convinced the girl’s death is the work of a serial killer and that this killer is an Aryan, not a Jew, a gypsy, or a foreigner, as the Nazis would prefer. Based on a true story, The Devil Strikes at Night for a Best Foreign Language Oscar and won many awards at the Berlin Film Festival in 1958. There’s only one special feature here, and it’s bound to be a good one, an audio commentary by Imogen Sara Smith. I’m definitely picking this one up.
Shakedown (1950) Joseph Pevney - Kino Lorber Blu-ray
Here’s a film I saw at Noir City DC several months back and thought, “Man, I wish this was on Blu-ray.” And now it is! I’m talking about Shakedown from 1950, not to be confused with The Shakedown from 1960, a very different movie. (Eddie Muller has a great story about programming this film. You can find it on the Ask Eddie episode below from December 9, 2021, just after the 13-minute mark or so.)
Newspaper photographer Jack Early (Howard Duff) will do anything to grab front-page-worthy pictures, even if he has to ignore the rules or abandon his scruples - if he has any. After a few encounters with (and jobs for) racketeers, Early finds himself in big trouble. The film also stars Brian Donlevy, Peggy Dow, and Lawrence Tierney. This release is taken from a new 2K restoration and features an audio commentary by film scholar Jason A. Ney. This is a good one. Don’t hesitate.
I'm pretty excited about these March releases, although my wallet certainly won't be... I hope you find some titles to check out from this list. Remember that release dates often change, but I'll update you with any news I come across. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy some great film noir.