Updated: Dec 24, 2019
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” and “neo-noir” 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 or “noir-stained” titles I’ve left out, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for reading.
As has been the case in years past, December seems to be a real hibernation period for new releases after the joys of Noirvember, so don’t look for much next month. But there’s hope: January usually rebounds with a pretty good slate of titles. So here we go for a very short ride through the new titles on Blu-ray and DVD for December:
The Story of Temple Drake (1933) Stephen Roberts - Criterion
Based on William Faulkner’s 1931 novel Sanctuary, The Story of Temple Drake is often cited (or blamed) for the introduction of the Production Code in 1934. Miriam Hopkins stars in the title role as a wealthy judge’s daughter who gets involved with some nasty bootleggers. Temple suffers rape, life in a brothel, and more. Although a forerunner of film noir, no fan of noir pictures will want to miss this release or Hopkins’s performance, or the Karl Struss cinematography. Extras include a conversation between cinematographer John Bailey and Matt Severson, director of the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, about the film's visual style, along with archival materials relating to its production; a featurette with film historian Imogen Sara Smith on the complexity of the film and Hopkins’s performance, an interview with critic Mick LaSalle on the film, censorship, and the Production Code, and an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien.
Blue Collar (1978) Paul Schrader - Kino Lorber
Blue Collar, screenwriter Paul Schrader’s directorial debut, finds Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto as disgruntled workers at a Detroit auto factory, three guys who plan to steal money from their local union. But things go wrong. Very, very wrong. If you haven’t seen it, this is a spectacular, powerful film (which generated quite a discussion when I screened it at my “What Were the ‘70s Trying to Tell Us?” series earlier this year). The only real extra here (other than a trailer) is an archival audio commentary from director and co-writer Paul Schrader and journalist Maitland McDonagh. If you purchased last year’s Region B Blu-ray from Indicator, there’s really no need to get this one from Kino, since it has far fewer extras. But it’s nice to finally have Blue Collar on a Region A release.
Nightmare Alley (1947) Edmund Goulding - Signal One, Blu-ray/DVD combo (UK, Region B)
Signal One claims this release is really going to happen this time, but I have my doubts. The release has been delayed at least twice already. The original announcement for this title goes way back to March 2018. You can read my original post for this one while you wait. And wait. And wait. However, if this date is indeed legit, this will be a great way to ring in the New Year.
Trapped (1949) Richard Fleischer - Flicker Alley Blu-ray/DVD combo
The latest restoration project from the Film Noir Foundation and the UCLA Film & Television Archive is the rarely-seen Trapped, a film featured at many Noir City festivals in 2019. Lloyd Bridges stars as Tris Stewart, a counterfeiter doing time in prison until treasury agents approach him for help in tracking down the maker of the fake plates responsible for a current flood of phony bills. Eager to do anything to get himself out of the joint, Stewart agrees to cooperate, but soon double-crosses the Feds, planning instead to meet up with his girl (Barbara Payton), lift the plates, and flee the country. Extras include “Freeing Trapped,” a mini-documentary on the film’s history, including interviews with Eddie Muller, Donna Lethal, and others, “A Sedulous Cinderella: Richard Fleischer Remembered,” a remembrance of the director by his son, Mark Fleischer, an audio commentary with author Alan K. Rode and film historian Julie Kirgo, and a 24-page booklet featuring poster art, rare photos, and a commentary by Eddie Muller.
So barring any upcoming announcements during the next 10 days, I’m afraid that’s it for December… Hopefully Santa will be nice and bestow upon you some of those discs you’ve had your eye on throughout the year while you’re waiting on more film noir goodies in 2020. See you soon.