Between 2005 and 2008 entertainment conglomerate Twentieth-Century Fox released 26 DVDs in its so-called Film Noir Series. I bought a bunch of these over the years. And while DVDs may be old hat now, I still love them like I love actual books!
The titles and original dates of the films in this interesting series are given below, in the the order they were issued.
I guess you can't blame FOX for starting as its big #1 entry with the classic mystery film Laura, based on the Vera Caspary novel, but ironically it's one of the least "noiry" ones in the bunch! Sure, Gene Tierney's Laura is suspected of murder (after the cops realize she isn't the victim) and Dana Andrews plays a great tough, deadpan police detective smitten by love, but the film is a sophisticated manners mystery in essence, rather resembling the better work of the more tony British Crime Queens. Noir--dark, dismal, doom-laden--it ain't, sorry.
I've recently been trying to track down all my DVDs in this series to evaluate just how noir the films in it really are. (Below I have starred the ones I found.) I was inspired in this effort by recently writing the introduction for Stark House's coming reissue of lady noirish mystery writer Marty Holland's novel Fallen Angel, the 1945 film adaptation of which was included in the FOX series. I'll be doing intros to additional novels with film noir connections this coming year, 2023.
Over the next few weeks I will try to review as many of these films as I can and assess them on a noir scale of one to five--what?--heartbreaks, backstabs, broken dreams?
*1. Laura 1944
*2. Call Northside 777 1948
*3. Panic in the Streets 1950
4. House of Bamboo 1955
5. The Street with No Name 1948
6. Nightmare Alley 1947
*7. The House on 92nd Street 1945
*8. Somewhere in the Night 1946
*9. Whirlpool 1950
*10. The Dark Corner 1946
*11. Kiss of Death 1947
*12. Where the Sidewalk Ends 1950
13. No Way Out 1950
*14. Fallen Angel 1945
*15. The House on Telegraph Hill 1951
*16. Boomerang! 1947
*17. House of Strangers 1949
*18. I Wake up Screaming 1941
19. Vicki 1953
20. Shock 1946
*21. Fourteen Hours 1951
*22. Black Widow 1954
*23. Daisy Kenyon 1947
*24. Dangerous Crossing 1953
25. Moontide 1942
*26. Road House 1948
How many of these have you seen?
It's interesting to compare the 1947 version of Nightmare Alley with the one released last year. For all the freedoms and technical advances since then, the earlier verson is much more effectively noir.ReplyDelete
Call Northside 777 I'd say is truly a noir police procedural. James Stewart is a police detective investigating an older murder case in this fairly gritty (for the time) film. Maybe a breakthrough for him, playing an ultra-serious cop.ReplyDelete
I remember I quite liked that one, reminded me of Hitchcock's Wrong Man. Love films with good serious jimmy Stewart roles.Delete
Have seen 21.ReplyDelete
Best: the six directed by Otto Preminger.
Then the two by Joseph Manckiwicz.
The Street With No Name is a poetic gem.
Haven't seen that one yet!Delete
Easy to misspell that one!Delete
I find Fallen Angel a wonderfully atmospheric noir set mostly in small town California of the '40s. Standout performances by Linda Darnell and Dana Andrews, inhabiting the unsavory underbelly of a place whose placid surface hides greed and sexual hypocrisy.ReplyDelete
I wrote the intro to the new Stark House edition of the book. I agree, it's quite a good film.Delete
Don't forget Charles Bickford, playing a rotten, brutal cop with maestria.Delete
Police corruption and/or violence were a big taboo in the Hays era and I wonder how Preminger and Zanuck managed to escape the censors on this one.
It's very much in the book too. Yes, Bickford was very good. Very well cast film all round, even Pa Kettle as Pop!Delete
Seen 23… I think. Some titles are so vague they don’t ring a bell and it’s possible I have seen the movie but forget the title. My faves are: Laura, Nightmare Alley, Somewhere in the Night (another amnesia flick!), The Dark Corner (with Lucille Ball as the private eye’s wisecracking secretary), Where the Sidewalk Ends, Fallen Angel (one of Linda Darnell’s best roles), and Moontide. Some these, like Whirlpool (Gene Tierney is wasted), are ridden with tiresome cliches and are easily skipped.ReplyDelete
I think my faves are Laura, Kiss of Death and I Wake Up Screaming. Predictable! But a lot of these are quite good, though not all noir by a long shot.Delete
All but Moontide (no fan of Jean Gabin) and liked most of them. There is a strong case to be made for Fox being the best studio in the Forties - of course having some of the greatest directors and cinematographers at hand surely more than helped.ReplyDelete