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 from the last several years.) 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 neo-noir films I’ve left out, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for reading.
If you’re not already planning on it, July might be a great month to go on vacation. July might prove to be the slimmest month for new film noir Blu-ray releases since I’ve been covering them. Still, I’ve found a few things that might be worth your time. Let’s take a look…
One Good Cop (1991) Kino Lorber
Michael Keaton plays Artie Lewis, a NYPD detective whose widowed partner Stevie Diroma (Anthony LaPaglia) is killed, leaving behind three young daughters. Artie and his wife Rita (Rene Russo) want to adopt the girls, but the Child Welfare Service determines that their apartment is too small. Artie’s solution? Stealing money from a drug kingpin (Tony Plana). One Good Cop contains tenuous noir connections at best, but it may be worth a look for some noir fans. The script is written by Heywood Gould, who also wrote screenplays for Rolling Thunder (1977) and The Boys from Brazil (1978). Gould also appears on the audio commentary, moderated by filmmaker Heather Buckley.
Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) Second Sight (UK, Region B, 5 Blu-ray discs)
This title has been bumped around since its originally announced release date of March 12, so I’m not sure what the hold-up has been. Criterion released Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 14-part German television mini-series (covering over 15 hours) on DVD in 2007, and while the film has had Blu-ray releases in Germany, France and Japan, we still do not have a North American release. But thanks to Second Sight, more people will be able to enjoy this work (if you have a region-free player, that is). Fassbinder’s epic certainly expands on the 1931 film by Phil Jutzi (based on the Alfred Döblin novel) chronicling the story of Franz Biberkopf (Günter Lamprecht), a man released from four years of prison for killing his girlfriend. The lumbering, childlike Biberkopf only wants to start a new life, but he finds the straight-and-narrow difficult in Weimar-era Germany. Considered Fassbinder’s crowning achievement (which is saying quite a lot since he’d made 40 films by the time he was 34), Berlin Alexanderplatz is clearly a mini-series that will tempt (and probably challenge) any film noir fan. Be sure to check out the special features (including a 50-page booklet) here.
Footsteps in the Fog (1955) Indicator (UK, Region B)
It may seem a bit odd that a period noir set in Victorian London would be filmed in Technicolor, especially in 1955, but when you’ve got Christopher Challis as your cinematographer, you’re bound to get a terrific-looking film. Stewart Granger stars as Stephen Lowry, a London businessman who poisons his wife only to find himself blackmailed by his Cockney maid (Jean Simmons, who became Granger’s real-life wife soon after the filming). Although the maid is clearly pursuing love from Lowry, he has his sights set on the lovely Elizabeth Travers (Belinda Lee). Finlay Currie, one of my favorite character actors, appears as a Scotland Yard inspector.
The release contains a high definition remaster, original mono audio, BFI curator and film expert Josephine Botting on “Footsteps in the Fog”: an exploration of Hollywood’s fascination with Victorian England, Steve Chibnall (film expert and author of British Horror Cinema) with a new appreciation of Belinda Lee, Kat Ellinger (editor-in-chief of Diabolique magazine) on the Gothic origins of the film, an original trailer, and a limited edition booklet containing a new essay by Chibnall, archival interviews, historic articles, contemporary critical responses, and more. Indicator always does a fine job with their releases, so if you’re a fan of Victorian noir, this seems like a good candidate for a blind buy.
I Walk Alone (1948) Kino Lorber (also released separately on DVD)
Bootlegger Frankie Madison (Burt Lancaster) has just been released from a long prison stay only to discover that his buddy and partner “Dink” Turner (Kirk Douglas) has been living it up as a nightclub owner. Even worse, Dink has no intention of giving Frankie his share of the nightclub’s profits. Dink also cares little for his girlfriend Kay (Lizabeth Scott), not after a rich widow (Kristine Miller) catches his eye. Yet Frankie has plans to use the spurned Kay to even things up with Dink.
This fine noir has been notoriously difficult to see, having no previous Blu-ray or DVD release (although you can rent the film streaming), so this Blu-ray from Kino Lorber is great news, easily the highlight of the month. The release features a new 4K remaster of the film struck from the 35mm safety duplicate negative by Paramount Archive. The disc’s only extra is an audio commentary by film historian Troy Howarth, but this is easily a must-own for classic film noir lovers.
A Strange Adventure (1956) Kino Lorber
A Strange Adventure seems a strange choice for a 4K restoration: a film noir almost no one has written about featuring no major stars, but I’m certainly going to give it a shot. After a successful heist, a trio of armored-car robbers force a young hot-rod driver (Ben Cooper) to help them make their getaway to the High Sierras, where they take over a mountain cabin and hold its inhabitants hostage. Includes an audio commentary by film historian Toby Roan and Jay Dee Whitney, the son of the film’s director William Witney, a director known primarily for his Roy Rogers westerns. I look forward to exploring this one.
And that’s going to do it for July. As always, if I’ve missed any other releases, please let me know in the comments section below. Happy watching!