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 neo-noir titles I’ve left out, please let me know in the comments below. And thanks for reading.
Things are looking up a bit for November with several interesting titles, including one classic box set and a not-so-classic (but still interesting) set. Let’s take a look:
Single White Female (1992) Shout Factory
After kicking out her boyfriend (Steven Weber), Allie Jones (Bridget Fonda) places an ad for a new roommate and gets more than she bargained for in Hedy Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a seemingly normal woman who slowly becomes unhinged. This marks the film’s first North American Blu-ray release and features several new extras: an audio commentary with director Barbet Schroeder, editor Lee Percy, and associate producer Susan Hoffman, and separate interviews with Schroeder, screenwriter Don Roos, and actors Peter Friedman and Steven Weber.
The Blue Dahlia (1946) Shout Factory
This excellent film noir stars Alan Ladd as Johnny Morrison, a returning GI coming home to surprise his wife Helen (Doris Dowling). It’s some surprise, all right; Helen has not only been partying and sleeping around, she also has an awful secret to tell her husband. And when a nasty murder happens, everything points to Johnny as the prime suspect. I recently rewatched the film at Noir City DC where I spoke with author and film historian Alan K. Rode, who debunked many of the myths about the movie, especially its controversial ending and the legendary stories surrounding Raymond Chandler’s script. Rode will be providing an audio commentary for this release, which is reason enough to pick it up, even if you already have the UK Blu-ray from Arrow. Other than the Rode commentary, I have no further information on supplements, but you can buy this one with confidence.
The Ice Harvest (2005) Kino Lorber
First time on Blu-ray. Based on the Scott Phillips novel of the same name, The Ice Harvest follows sleazeball attorney Charlie Arglist (John Cusack), who steals $2 million from his racketeer client Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). Arglist fights with his partner (Billy Bob Thornton) about what they should do with the money and perhaps more importantly, how they can avoid Guerrard. I enjoyed the novel, but haven’t seen the film, which I’ve heard relies heavily on dark comedy. (It is, after all, directed by Harold Ramis.) Extras (which appear to be ported over from the 2006 DVD release) are detailed here.
Bogart and Bacall: The Complete Collection (1944-1948) Warner Bros.; 4 BD set
If you’ve been waiting for the four Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall pairings to be collected in a box set, wait no longer. I wouldn’t look for any new extras, however. Each disc will probably contain only what was included on the individual releases, which varies quite a bit: Key Largo has only a trailer, while The Big Sleep boasts two cuts of the film and more. Dark Passage and To Have and Have Not contain limited extras. Right now the list price for this set is $40, which is a great deal. These films are a cornerstone of any film noir collection and even if you have them, they’d make a great gift for anyone even remotely interested in film noir.
The Last Seduction (1994) Scorpion Releasing
First North American Blu-ray release. Many have called The Last Seduction the ultimate in femme fatale movies. Bridget Gregory (Linda Fiorentino) has had enough of her prescription drug-dealing husband’s (Bill Pullman) abuse and grabs his latest cash haul, vanishing into a remote small town called Beston. There, she meets the perfect sucker (Peter Berg) for an outrageous scheme that just might work, if she can stay hidden from her vengeance-seeking husband. The DVD was originally released in 2002, so this new Blu-ray is long overdue. Extras include a new audio commentary with director John Dahl, moderated by film historian Nathaniel Thompson, and previous extras including behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes with optional commentary, an alternate ending with optional commentary, a stills gallery, and a trailer.
The Mamie Van Doren Film Noir Collection (1957-1958) Kino Lorber; 2 BD set
If you’re of a certain age, you’re probably looking at this release thinking, “Who the heck was Mamie Van Doren?” Who the heck is Mamie Van Doren would be more appropriate, since she’s still with us at age 87, but in the 1950s, she was one of the actresses who most successfully captured the look of Marilyn Monroe. Let’s take a look at each of these films in the order of their original release:
The Girl in Black Stockings (1957) Van Doren actually has a fairly small part in this film about the murder of a party girl in a Utah motel. John Dehner plays a vacationing sheriff who suspects everyone, including motel employee Beth Dixon (Anne Bancroft), motel owner Edmund Parry (Ron Randell) and his sister Julia (Marie Windsor). 73 min.
Guns, Girls and Gangsters (1959) Criminals Chuck (Gerald Mohr) and Mike (Lee Van Cleef) plan an armored car heist in Las Vegas, recruiting club owner Joe (Grant Richards) and petty hood Lou (Paul Fix) to complete their team. Trouble brews when Mike learns that his wife (Van Doren) has been two-timing with Joe. 70 min.
Vice Raid (1959) Van Doren plays a hooker hired by criminal Vince Malone (Brad Dexter) to entrap the police officer (Richard Coogan) who’s been breathing down Malone’s neck. 71 min.
All three films have 2K restorations and vintage trailers. According to its entry on Blu-ray.com, the three films are spread out over two Blu-ray discs, so I'm not sure which two are paired together. The set also includes an interview with Van Doren (running time unknown). I’m probably not going to rush right out and pick this up, but if I find a good deal on it somewhere, I’ll take a look. It’s hard to say no to any set that includes Marie Windsor and Lee Van Cleef.
The Grissom Gang (1971) Kino Lorber
Robert Aldrich’s The Grissom Gang is a remake of the 1948 film noir No Orchids for Miss Blandish (which got a Blu-ray release back in March 2018) and is regarded by most as a far better film than the original. The 1948 version suffered from placing a mostly British cast in a New York City setting, but Aldrich sets his story in Depression-era Kansas, where the daughter (Kim Darby) of a wealthy businessman is kidnapped by a group of amateur thugs. A more professional cadre of criminals, the notorious Grissom Gang, steal the heiress away. The film co-stars Scott Wilson, Tony Musante, Robert Lansing, Connie Stevens, and Ralph Waite. The Grissom Gang is often referred to as a very sweaty film, something of a combination of Bonnie and Clyde and Bloody Mama. I was too young to see this when it first came out, but I look forward to discovering it now. This release comes from a new 4K remaster from the camera negative and includes an audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell, and Nathaniel Thompson, plus an interview with Scott Wilson.
That’s going to do it for November. I hope you’ll find something of interest and perhaps a gift idea or two. As always, let me know of any releases that I might’ve missed. And don't forget Noirvember starts in just a few days. You can check back here for my 30-movies-in-30-days Noirvember report, but please check out the work of other noir bloggers as well. See you soon.