Since today is December 1, I’m already behind the eight ball here, so be warned: this will be a whirlwind look at what’s new in film noir releases for December. Here we go!
Perry Mason: The Complete First Season - Warner Bros. (UK Dec. 7) 2 Blu-ray discs
Depending on who you ask, the new incarnation of Perry Mason is either pure genius or a wasted opportunity. It’s pretty light on extras, but that’s okay. If Santa doesn’t bring me this one, I’m going to pick it up.
Inner Sanctum Mysteries (1943-1945) Eureka (UK Region B) 2 Blu-ray discs
Update: This release has been pushed back to January 2021.
House of Bamboo (1955) Samuel Fuller - Eureka (UK Region B)
From the Eureka copy: Japan, 1954. A military train is robbed of its cargo by a ruthless gang of professionals led by the sadistic, but brilliant, Sandy Dawson (the incomparable Robert Ryan). Weeks later, one of the thieves lies dying in a Tokyo hospital, shot by his own accomplices. Recently released convict Eddie Spanier (Robert Stack) arrives in Tokyo, and joins up with the gang, impressing Sandy so much he quickly becomes his “ichiban” (number one man), greatly displeasing the former favourite, Griff (Cameron Mitchell). But is Eddie all he seems?
Previously released in the U.S. from Twilight Time, now long out of print, you may find it easier to grab the 20th Century Fox DVD. In the UK, you can find the film on the Fuller at Fox box set, also from Eureka, which I believe, is out of print, which explains why Eureka seems to be releasing the films in that set individually. The extras appear to be the same as the Twilight Time release.
Devil in a Blue Dress (1955) Carl Franklin - Indicator (UK Region B)
Another Twilight Time release that’s out of print, but thanks to Indicator, it’s available once again. Walter Mosley’s novel featuring private eye Easy Rawlins (Denzel Washington) gets a wonderful adaptation in a terrific film noir that should’ve been a movie series. Highly recommended. More information here.
Guncrazy (1992) Tamra Davis - MVD Blu-ray and DVD (released separately)
Although not a direct remake of the 1950 classic Gun Crazy, the 1992 version treads similar territory. This time, 16-year-old Anita Minteer (Drew Barrymore), tired of the abuse (most of it sexual) from her mom’s boyfriend Rooney (Joe Dallesandro), decides to do something about it, permanently, if you know what I mean. Anita has also formed a pen-pal relationship with a convict named Howard Hickock (James LeGros), and we know these two are going to get together. Guncrazy may owe just as much to the 1973 movie Badlands as it does to the original Gun Crazy. The film also stars Michael Ironside and Ione Skye. No word on extras.
Keys to Tulsa (1997) Leslie Greif - Liberation Hall DVD
This Oklahoma noir finds Richter Boudreau (Eric Stoltz) working at a local newspaper, a job his controlling mother (Mary Tyler Moore) arranged for him. That’s just the beginning for Richter. He owes money to his drug dealer (James Spader) and he’s sleeping with the dealer’s wife Vicki (Deborah Kara Unger). I haven’t seen this one, but by most accounts, this is a pretty awful film, yet one with good performances from Spader, Unger, and Michael Rooker as Vicki’s boozehound brother. A reissue from 2002. No word on extras.
Young Man with a Horn (1950) Michael Curtiz - Warner Bros.
From Letterboxd: Legendary trumpeter Art Hazzard (Juano Hernandez) teaches young Rick Martin (Kirk Douglas) everything he knows about playing, so Rick becomes a star musician, but a troubled marriage and the desire to play pure jazz instead of commercial swing songs cause him problems. Although this film played at some Noir City film festivals a few years back, I’m not sure I’d call it a true film noir, but it is a terrific movie. No word on extras.
Nightmare Alley (1947) Edmund Goulding - Signal One Entertainment Blu-ray + DVD (UK Region B)
You’ve gotta be kidding me… This has become the Waiting for Godot of film noir releases, originally announced nearly three years ago. Don’t hold your breath… If you want to track the saga of this long-promised release, have at it.
Again, this was a whirlwind tour, and I know I've probably missed some stuff. I’ll update it when/if things slow down. In the meantime, keep an eye out for my Film Noir Holiday Gift Guide coming soon!