Updated: May 30
If you missed the new releases for May, you can find those right here.
Also you can find a video version of the June new releases on my YouTube channel. I hope you'll consider watching it and maybe even subscribing.
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.
There's not an awful lot coming out in June, but if you watch the YouTube version of the new releases for June, you'll find that I discuss a very important topic for physical media collectors, particular those of you who own region-free players. But let's get started!
The Blue Lamp (1950) Basil Dearden - Kino Lorber Blu-ray
The Blue Lamp was a huge hit in Britain, winning several awards, but it’s a fairly standard police procedural pairing a young rookie policeman (Jimmy Hanley) with a seasoned about-to-retire veteran (Jack Warner). Dirk Bogarde is quite good as the young criminal whose shenanigans are responsible for most of the action in this movie. The script was written by T.E.B. Clarke, who was a former policeman, and the picture is shot in a pseudo-documentary style that works well. It also presents ordinary men returning from WWII who’ve been hardened by the war, which results in them turning to crime. A good film, maybe not the type of noir that’s going to wow you, but still good and a fine example of the “social realism” factor that was then coming into play in British noir film. Far from Dearden’s best work, but worth considering, especially for fans of Brit noir.
This Kino release contains an audio commentary by writer Bryan Reesman, and other than a trailer, that’s it for the extras. If you own the Studio Canal Region B Blu-ray from 2016, that has a different commentary from Jan Read, a contributor to the film, and a professor named Charles Barr. That Studio Canal release also contains a locations featurette with film historian Richard Dacre, and a BBC Radio essay called British Cinema of the ‘40s. I’m sticking with the Studio Canal disc, but if you pick up the Kino, let me know what you think.
I know a lot of people have an issue with the term “Western noir,” but this one is the real deal: clearly set in the west, but just as clearly noir. I’m talking about Lust for Gold from 1949 starring Glenn Ford and Ida Lupino. Now if you’ve been a subscriber to the Criterion Channel, you’ve probably already seen this movie and enjoyed it.
The opening of Lust for Gold (aka Bonanza) finds us in modern times with Barry Storm (William Prince), a young man who believes he has a claim to a lost gold mine somewhere in the Superstition Mountains. And here’s our flashback: Barry learns the story of how his grandfather Jacob “Dutchy” Walz (Glenn Ford) discovered the mine and fell in love with a woman named Julia (Ida Lupino). Julia is already married, but withholds this information from Walz. Lust for Gold is filled with greed, deception, and some really nasty moments (especially for 1949) that are quite brutal, making it a truly western noir.
Now since we’re talking about a Western, let’s take a little side trail. if you’re new to my blog, this is something we run across from time to time, and you need to be aware of it. This is the first time Lust for Gold has ever been released on Blu-ray anywhere. It happens to be on a French, Region B Blu-ray. (Actually this is a Blu-ray/DVD combo.) I discuss this situation more in my video, so I urge you to watch to find out more by watching.
After Dark, My Sweet (1990) James Foley - Carlotta Films (France, Region B Blu-ray)
Jason Patric plays Kevin “Kid” Collins, a former boxer, now a drifter, who gets picked up by a young widow named Fay (Rachel Ward). Kid is really hot for Fay, who lures him into a kidnapping scheme concocted by Fay and a shifty character named “Uncle Bud”, played by Bruce Dern. The plan is to kidnap a local rich kid and hold him for ransom, but we know there’s going to be problems because (1) this is film noir, and (2) the film is based on a Jim Thompson novel, and nothing ever works out well for anyone in a Jim Thompson story. Now while I’ve read the novel, I’ve never seen this movie. It’s on Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list, which is impressive, but the film has never been released on Blu-ray until now. As I mentioned in the video about Lust for Gold, you could hold out for a domestic release, but if you’re a huge fan of this one, you might want to grab it. No word on extras. I’m going to wait, but if you pick this one up, let me know what you think.
Pickup on South Street (1953) Samuel Fuller - Criterion Blu-ray
In one of his greatest roles, Richard Widmark plays Skip McCoy, a petty criminal who’s always on the lookout for a big score. When he picks the purse of a young woman named Candy (Jean Peters), he finds the big score he’s been looking for: not money, but a packet of top secret microfilm. By lifting the microfilm, McCoy creates quite a stir, and no one’s going to be safe until the microfilm is recovered. McCoy’s very good at evading the cops, but now he’s also going up against some big time operators. As she usually does, Thelma Ritter nearly steals the show as a professional snitch who may have gotten herself into something out of her league. Pickup on South Street is directed by Sam Fuller, and it’s one of his best.
Like me, some of you may already own the Eureka Region B Blu-ray, which is fantastic. That edition contains an interview with critic Kent Jones, another with writer and film historian Francois Guerif, and a program from French television with Fuller. But it does not contain an audio commentary.
The new Criterion Blu-ray features a new 4K restoration of the film plus a new interview with writer Imogen Sara Smith - which is always a bonus - a 1989 interview with Fuller, the French program previously mentioned, and a printed essay from critic Angelica Jade Bastién, and a chapter from Fuller’s posthumously published 2002 autobiography A Third Face. (UPDATE: Thanks to my friend Chris for pointing out that the Bastién essay has been replaced with essays by Luc Sante. More info here.) But once again, this edition does not contain an audio commentary. Criterion, you’re killin’ me here… The Imogen Smith interview and the restoration are enough to make me consider a double dip purchase, but we’ll see.
That’s going to do it for June. I hope I’ve given you some titles to consider, and if I’ve left any new releases out, please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading and watching!