Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics

While your faithful correspondent has been suffering with what appears to be either the H1N1 flu or whatever disease Evelyn Keyes had in The Killer That Stalked New York, the world has kept spinning by. The second annual Noir City DC festival rolled on while I lay hacking in bed. Happily, before I was sidelined, I was able to catch The Big Combo and Wicked As They Come on the big screen. I'd seen Combo before, years ago, but I'll admit that I somehow missed how incredibly good it is. That movie is amazing. More on that in the future. Wicked As They Come was new to me, and it was a terrific personal discovery. Beautifully shot, it has one of the most most complicated and interesting takes on gender I've seen in a film noir. There will also be more on that to come.

Now here's a terribly exciting piece of news: Columbia Pictures has finally releasing its first film noir box set. The set includes

The Big Heat-a damn good, if overrated, cop thriller. With two featurettes, one with Martin Scorsese, the other with Michael Mann

The Sniper-This disturbing and disturbingly groundbreaking film was directed by Edward Dmytryk and costars noir icon Marie Windsor. Has commentary by Eddie Muller. Also has a featurette with Scorsese.

The Lineup-Hard-ass Don Seigel directed this dope smuggling flick starring Eli Wallach. Featuring commentary by Muller and James Ellroy, this is the one to pop in first. Plus, as I've discussed elsewhere a commentary track with Muller&Ellroy is like a whole other movie. Muller gets a beat going and Ellory starts improvising. Also has a featurette with Christopher Nolan. Not a great film, but it's entertaining.

Murder By Contract-This might be the most philosophical hitman flick ever made. Expertly directed by Irving Lerner (Edge of Fury) and starring film noir pretty boy Vince Edwards at his best. Has a featurette with Scorsese.

5 Against the House-This one's the low man on the totem pole. It's a casino heist flick directed by the great Phil Karlson (99 River Street) and starring Kim Novak--though it's nowhere near as good as that description would suggest. As near as I can discern from press materials floating around, there's no added bonus features.

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