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Film Noir DVD recommendations

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Film Noir DVD recommendations

Old 11-07-04, 03:13 PM
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Film Noir DVD recommendations

Ok, it's getting near Christmastime and it seems like a great time to beef up my film noir collection some. I'm going to list what I've got already (to avoid people posting those) as well as a bunch that I'm considering getting but don't know much about, but honestly go ahead and discuss anything so it benefits other people than just myself. Now, I don't mind public domain transfers (and I know some of them I'm going to mention are just that) as long as its still watchable. I would really appreciate it if you could comment both on the quality of the DVD (special features are a nice bonus but not as essential as audio/video quality) as well as of the film. I haven't seen many noirs beyond what I own so I'm not sure of which are best or essential, etc. Anyway, I hope that's not too confusing to have a good discussion in here.

What I own:

5 Film Noir Killer Classics (D.O.A., Detour, The Stranger, Scarlet Street, Killer Bait aka Too Late For Tears)
The Big Sleep
Criss Cross
Film Noir Classic Collection (The Asphalt Jungle, Gun Crazy, Murder My Sweet, Out of the Past, The Set-Up)
Force of Evil
The Killing
Kiss Me Deadly
The Maltese Falcon
Night of the Hunter
Notorious
Pickup On South Street
The Postman Always Rings Twice
Shadow of a Doubt
Sorry, Wrong Number
Spellbound
Sunset Boulevard
Sweet Smell of Success
The Third Man
This Gun For Hire
Touch of Evil

What I'm interested in but don't know much about the films or the DVDs:

The Big Clock (Universal Noir Collection)
The Big Combo
The Big Heat
Black Angel (Universal Noir Collection)
The Blue Gardenia
Body and Soul
The Chase/Bury Me Dead (Classic Film Noir Double Feature)
Dark Passage
Dead Reckoning
The Enforcer
Gilda
High Sierra
The Hitch-Hiker
In a Lonely Place
Kansas City Confidential
Key Largo
The Killers (Criterion Collection)
The Lady From Shanghai
Mildred Pierce
The Naked City
Niagara
The Scar/The Limping Man (Classic Film Noir Double Feature)
Suddenly

At the top of my list right now are The Killers and the Lady From Shanghai, but those are the only ones I know for sure that I really want. Thanks in advance for any help, all of you noir experts out there. It's quickly become my favorite genre and I can't wait to dig even deeper.
Old 11-07-04, 04:22 PM
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Get the Killers for sure...


what about neo-noirs such as L.A. COnfidential and The Devil in a Blue Dress?
Old 11-07-04, 04:45 PM
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Big fan of these three, particularly the middle one--although it's less noir than '50s melodrama:

-The Big Heat
-In a Lonely Place
-The Lady From Shanghai

Steer clear of NIAGARA, imho. Not because it's in colour, but because the alleged good guys, a couple played by Jean Peters and Casey Adams (whose character lights up when he gets to Niagara Falls and sees...the Shredded Wheat Factory), are so insipid that it's a chore to watch them be heroic.

Bill C
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Old 11-07-04, 05:06 PM
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i like Niagara.
great film? no. but i do like seeing color images of that area from the 50s, and i like Joe Cotton, Monroe, and even the (nominal) leads.
its nowhere near the most entertaining film i own, but it is a guilty pleasure for me.
ymmv of course.

of your list,
The Killers (Criterion) is the most indispensible one you are without, imo.
for me it's the quintessential Film Noir, much like Out of The Past.
although after seeing Criss Cross, you may not find it as unique.
the disc and extras are exemplary w/ the remake being a very interesting alternative take on the material.

another one you should put towards the top of the list is Gilda.
filled with memorable and witty dialogue and with one of the slinkiest, sexiest performances ever from a leading lady.
Glenn Ford is miscast, but other than that its a must see.
a/v is somewhat grainy, but black levels are deep and there isn't much, if anything, in the way of print damage.
no real extras, but the movie is worth a purchase all by itself.

Mildred Pierce is another Film Noir library cornerstone.
Lowry went a little overboard and scrubbed all of the grain off this, making it loo a little too smooth and silky for its own good, which is a bit disappointing, but most people will think it loos great.
still a solid purchase.

as are,
Key Largo
High Sierra.
both look great.

another title to pick up is Impact.
this is a budget title from Alpha but is actually quite a nice looking disc.
not up to the level of the warner titles, but easily up to the a/v level of Lady From Shanghi.
you can find it for about $6 and its a terrific little vintage noir yarn.

Orson Wells The Stranger is another title i would recommend.
its been put out by several public domain houses, but i do know Roan put out a decent looking disc of it (on a double feature with another noir Cause For Alarm).

can't say the same for Roan Hitch-Hiker.
a great film but a disappointing looking disc.
DVDBeaver compared the Roan and the Kino version (which was more than twice the price with no extras) and concluded the Roan was superior, so i can't imagine how disappointing the Kino would be.
shame too, cause its a good thriller


the Big Clock and Black Angel are both solid little movies, but i would recommend the others listed above before these.

i have In A Lonely Place in my cheque at Netflix and am looking forward to seeing it
Old 11-07-04, 05:25 PM
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Thanks for all the replies thus far. I do appreciate it. To address a couple of specific points:

Originally posted by chowchris13

what about neo-noirs such as L.A. COnfidential and The Devil in a Blue Dress?
Well, I do have L.A. Confidential as well as a handful of other neo-noirs, which I enjoy a lot, but nothing beats a classic-period noir for me. I will check out the Devil in a Blue Dress though - I've not heard of it.

Originally posted by ckolchak
another title to pick up is Impact.
this is a budget title from Alpha but is actually quite a nice looking disc.
not up to the level of the warner titles, but easily up to the a/v level of Lady From Shanghi.
you can find it for about $6 and its a terrific little vintage noir yarn.

Orson Wells The Stranger is another title i would recommend.
its been put out by several public domain houses, but i do know Roan put out a decent looking disc of it (on a double feature with another noir Cause For Alarm).
Thanks for the info on Impact. I see that Image has also released a version of this film. Is the Alpha version up to par with that one or should I get the Image disc? I'm always wary of discs from companies like Alpha, but if it is pretty good quality, I'm all about that. As for the Stranger, I own that film on the "5 Film Noir Killer Classics" box set, which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in any of those films.
Old 11-07-04, 05:42 PM
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Another one I forgot to mention that I'm interested in is Image's version of "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers". I know there's also a copy out there from Gotham, but I am assuming it's crap.
Old 11-07-04, 07:24 PM
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My suggestions would be the Warner Brothers Film Noir Box Set(Asphault Jungle, Out of the Past, Set-Up, Gun Crazy and Murder, My Sweet). I also strongly recommend Rififi from Criterion. This is a great French film noir.

I must be blind. I completely missed the fact that you already have the Warner set. I still recommend Rififi though.
Old 11-07-04, 10:02 PM
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Please submit genre recommendations to the Movies Forum.

Moving thread.

- David Stein
Old 11-07-04, 11:02 PM
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Old 11-08-04, 12:44 AM
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<image src=http://images.amazon.com/images/P/6305077517.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg>

this is the ultimate in film noir. if you dont know what it is, all you have to do is watch this film. one of my all time favorites
Old 11-08-04, 11:31 AM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
Please submit genre recommendations to the Movies Forum.

Moving thread.

- David Stein
I'm not sure why you moved this thread, but I don't think it was justified at all. There has been plenty of discussion about the quality of the DVD's and that is what I was asking about anyway. I'm not interested in all noirs, but the ones on DVD. I'd appreciate if you moved the thread back instead of letting it die in this forum, because it shouldn't have been moved.
Old 11-08-04, 11:57 AM
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Originally posted by kingtopher
I'm not sure why you moved this thread, but I don't think it was justified at all. There has been plenty of discussion about the quality of the DVD's and that is what I was asking about anyway.
The purpose of the DVD Reviews forum is for discussions of specific discs, primarily for making purchasing decisions. Our goal is to compile an archive of discussions about these discs that is easily searchable by title.

As a result, almost every thread discusses one DVD - and not just the movie, but all aspects of the disc. We also allow discussions of different releases of the same film, and on occasion discussions of the comparative strengths and weaknesses of two different discs.

Genre requests are different. If you're asking for recommendations in a particular movie genre, then virtually all responses will center first and foremost on the movies that fit that genre. Notice that most of the responses you've received here are recommendations of movies, not necessarily particular discs. It's unlikely that an extended discussion of the overall quality of any particular disc will occur.

Thus, this appears to be a request for good film noir movies. Even if you didn't intend it that way, most of your responses are likely to be of that kind. Those discussions belong here in Movie Talk, where other people interested in film noir (as a genre) can find it. You're also likely to get many more responses to this question in this forum than in Reviews.

So let me suggest the following: You can follow up a recommendation of a particular movies with a request for a disc review in the Reviews Forum.

- David Stein
Old 11-15-04, 12:36 PM
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Any more thoughts on this or recommendations? The DDD sale makes this even more of interest for me.
Old 11-15-04, 12:53 PM
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The Lady from Shanghai is a great Orson Welles movie.
Old 11-16-04, 08:34 AM
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saw In A Lonely Place over the weekend and hated it.
very glad i didn't buy it (especially at Columbias inflated msrp for it).
i also watched Pickup On South Street, and that was flawed, but much, much better than IALP.
i'll spare you an elaborate critique other than to say that the character Bogart plays comes off like a joke. his behaviour and the reaction to it from the other characters should invite MST3K worthy mocking.


kingtopher,
the universal titles like Big Clock come in at $7.50 with the coupon code.
i would definitely pick those up- every film in that wave was a strong one

as far as which version of Impact- i'd say go for the Alpha.
i'm watching these on a front projector on a big screen. i have seen plenty of discs from 'reputable' big labels like MGM that don't look as good as that one.
so pick up the alpha and save some money (at these prices, its like tossing in a candy bar in the checkout lane of the supermarket)

with this sale you should definitely be getting the Criterion Killers.
Riffifi is another good noir you might want to check out (unless you hate subtitles)
Old 11-16-04, 01:40 PM
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Originally posted by ckolchak
saw In A Lonely Place over the weekend and hated it.
very glad i didn't buy it (especially at Columbias inflated msrp for it).
i also watched Pickup On South Street, and that was flawed, but much, much better than IALP.
i'll spare you an elaborate critique other than to say that the character Bogart plays comes off like a joke. his behaviour and the reaction to it from the other characters should invite MST3K worthy mocking.


kingtopher,
the universal titles like Big Clock come in at $7.50 with the coupon code.
i would definitely pick those up- every film in that wave was a strong one

as far as which version of Impact- i'd say go for the Alpha.
i'm watching these on a front projector on a big screen. i have seen plenty of discs from 'reputable' big labels like MGM that don't look as good as that one.
so pick up the alpha and save some money (at these prices, its like tossing in a candy bar in the checkout lane of the supermarket)

with this sale you should definitely be getting the Criterion Killers.
Riffifi is another good noir you might want to check out (unless you hate subtitles)
Thanks for getting back to me again. I really appreciate your advice. I went ahead and ordered the two Universal noirs that I didn't have already (Big Clock and Black Angel) since I enjoyed the other two quite a bit (especially Criss Cross). I also went ahead and got the Alpha Impact. Thanks for recommending that one. I'm always hesitant to buy some of Image's older noir discs since they're usually not very good quality and have no bonus features and are relatively expensive. I'm glad that for at least this one there's another option! As for the Killers, I will get it sometime soon, but I simply can't afford it right now unfortunately. I'll probably pick it up with Christmas money. Criss Cross is now one of my favorite film noirs so I am sure I'll love the Killers as well.
Old 11-17-04, 05:48 PM
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Re: Film Noir DVD recommendations

Well, you're off to a great start with the titles that you already own. And you can always look for more titles to add to your collection by looking at this thread, which I really should update.
http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/showthr...hreadid=260301

You'll find a pretty complete list of film noir on DVD, an introduction to the noir movement, recommended reading, and link to some good noir sites.

Here's my take on the movies that you're interested in. I've added comments about the DVDs, if I have seen them.

The Big Clock - A pretty good drama/thriller in my book. Not the best example of noir, but definitely entertaining. Successfully remade (with substantial changes)as "No Way Out", with Kevin Costner

The Big Combo - One of the biggest arguments in favor as film noir as a movement rather than a genre. John Alton's cinematography will help you to overlook problems with the story. The DVD transfer looks better than any other prints I've seen, but it's not without its share of flaws. No bonus features.

The Big Heat - Fritz Lang made several noirs. This is easily the best of the bunch.

The Blue Gardenia - Probably the least of Fritz Lang's noirs. Decent if you don't know it's made by Fritz Lang. Disappointing if you are aware of this. The DVD features a mediocre transfer of a mediocre movie. No bonus features, except maybe a trailer.

Body and Soul - More of a boxing film than a true noir, in my opinion, but it's a good boxing film.

The Chase - A decent film that is spoiled by one very ridiculous polt element. I have the Alpha DVD release, and the transfer is pretty bad.

Dark Passage - The least of the Bogie and Baby movies. Some good moments, but the use of first person camera work gets quite iriitating.

Dead Reckoning - Probably my least favorite Bogart noir. Why? I'm not sure. I don't remember much of it. But that's not a very good sign, is it?

The Enforcer - Underrated noir by director Raoul Walsh. Worth it for one scene in particular, but I won't elaborate so I don't spoil it.

Gilda - I'll go against popular opinion and say that I've always found "Gilda" to be a terribly overrated film. However, it is worth at least a rental for the lovely Rita Hayworth.

High Sierra - Humphrey Bogat and Ida Lupino in a film directed by Raoul Walsh with a screenplay by John Huston. 'Nuff said!

The Hitch-Hiker - Again with Ida Lupino, but this time she's the director. An excellent, economical suspense yarn. The transfer isn't the greatest, but considering the age and obscurity of the film, it's the best we'll get. No DVD extras.

In a Lonely Place - A movie that divides noir fans. Some find it overly melodramatic. Others (myself included) find it a brilliants bitter noir love story. One of Bogart's finest performances.

Kansas City Confidential - Far from a classic, but you can pick up a copy of the Alpha release for about $5.00. It's worth that, but not much more.

Key Largo - Full of memorable performances, this tense thriller is never quite given its due. The transfer is pretty good given the film's age, but a little restoration work and cleaning would have made it much better.

The Killers (Criterion Collection) - A real no brainer, bright boy! The 1940's version is one of the greatest films of the noir movement. And that opening scene??? The greatest in film history! (As a general rule, I find that any noir directed by Robert Siodmak is worth owning.) I'm pretty indifferent towards the 1960's version, but I view it as a nice extra. The transfer isn't exactly reference quality, but it's the best that I've ever seen the film look.

The Lady From Shanghai - Orson Welles. Film noir. Get it! The DVD transfer is quite good. Extras include a featurette and audio commenatry by Peter Bogdonavich. They're a bit redundant, but still wortwhile.

Mildred Pierce - Noir classic or turgid melodrama? Sorry, but I go with the latter.

The Naked City- Never really been a fan of noirs that use a documentary tone and style (Think "Dragnet".), so this one just doesn't work for me. The DVD transfer is a typical Image release. In other words, the best trasnfer they had, but no restoration or repair. Also, no extras.

Niagara - I like my noir in black and white, so this film automatically has one strike against it. But Joseph Cotten couldn't give a bad performance if he tried. Worth a rental.

The Scar - Paul Henreid is miscast in what is, essentially, a noir version of Hitchcock's "Spellbound". That said, it is a very enjoyable film for anyone who can suspend their disbelief a bit. I've got the Alpha release. The transfer is lousy, but you get what you pay for.

Suddenly - Not great, but not too shabby, either. The performances range from bad (Sterling Hayden, who I usually like) to scene-stealing (James Gleason). There are several public domain releases available, and all are very affordable.

Here are a few more worth checking out...

The Big Knife - Kudos on owning "Sweet Smell Of Success" (in my opinion, not just the greatest film noir...but the greatest movie ever!). Now try "The Big Knife", a very bleak noir set in the motion picture industry. Not nearly as good as "SSoS", but there are some similarities. The performances can be way over the top (especially Rod Steiger), but in a good way. Directed by Robert Aldrich, I like it much more than "Kiss Me Deadly". Decent transfer. No real extras.

Brute Force - A surprisingly violent and sadistic film for its time, this prison film noir starts Burt Lancaster and Hume Cronyn. Directed by Jules Dassin ("Rififi", "Night And The City"). Again, it's an Image release, so no extras and an unremarkable transfer.

Cape Fear (1962) - Superior in every way to the remake. Good transfer and a nice documentary on the DVD.

D.O.A. (1950) - A slow start, but a brilliant premise. There are several releases, but the Image release seems to have the best transfer.

Detour - Ultra low budget noir that's a love it or hate it situation. Another Image release. There's no denying that this transfer does look bad, but it's a lot better than any other print that I've seen.

He Walked By Night - Any film teaming director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton is worthwhile. There are public domain releases, but there has been a reasonably priced studio release (by MGM, I believe) that actually has a very good transfer.

Sorry, Wrong Number - Burt Lancaster cast against type. It's the first film where you really see him developing as an actor. A great suspense film, also starring Barbara Stanwyck.

The Stranger - Very much a "studio film"...but it's a Welles studio film. Every transfer I've seen is lacking, but you can get it really cheap. The Roan release appears to be the best.

Hope this helps.
Old 11-17-04, 05:51 PM
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Originally posted by kingtopher


Well, I do have L.A. Confidential as well as a handful of other neo-noirs, which I enjoy a lot, but nothing beats a classic-period noir for me. I will check out the Devil in a Blue Dress though - I've not heard of it.
Ahhh...the dreaded "neo-noir"!

If you don't have it, yet, pick up "Miller's Crossing". Really just a remake of "The Glass Key", it is the best "neo-noir".
"Red Rock West" is also very entertaining.
Old 11-17-04, 10:53 PM
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Wow, thanks so much for that really detailed response. I'm going to save it (and the rest of this thread) for a reference for the future. That's so in-depth and was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again.

Oh, and I do already have Sorry, Wrong Number, as well as the Stranger, DOA and Detour (the latter three are in the first box I mentioned and are in pretty decent shape on it).

As for recent orders, I've now got the following coming to me from DDD: Impact, Big Clock, Black Angel, T-Men and I've asked for Mildred Pierce, Dark Passage (in the two-pack with To Have and Have Not which isn't really noir) and Gilda for Christmas. I'm sure a few more will follow with Christmas money and such (again, like I said, the Killers will probably be the first considering how much I enjoyed Criss Cross).

Oh, and you're absolutely right about Sweet Smell of Success. I'm not sure I'd call it my favorite noir, but it's certainly up there. Very underrated movie.
Old 11-18-04, 10:20 AM
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I'm a huge fan of The Salton Sea and pretty much recommend it in every thread like this.

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