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Film Noir Classics 1 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Arthur Franz , Adolphe Menjou , Don Siegel , Edward Dmytryk    DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Actors: Arthur Franz, Adolphe Menjou, Eli Wallach, Robert Keith, Guy Madison
  • Directors: Don Siegel, Edward Dmytryk, Fritz Lang, Irving Lerner, Phil Karlson
  • Writers: Ben Maddow, Ben Simcoe, Edna Anhalt
  • Format: Box set, Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Nov 2009
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0024FAG80
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,187 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars B Movie Gems 1 Mar 2012
By Joseph
With the exception of The Big Heat the rest of films in this boxset are B-Movies filmed on a small budget and showed in double bills; but these classics are proof enough to justify the existence of the B movie These noires are real classics of the genre: The Big Heat stars Glen Ford as a cop out for revenge against a gangster who killed his wife; bristling with raw violence, A-star cast and a gripping story this Fritz Lang directed noir is classic and even stars Lee Marvin in a early yet vicious role. The Lineup is without doubt one of Don Seigel's finest films about two twisted hitmen who must track down a missing shipment of heroin, boasting a brilliant final car chase, vicious violence and a fast-paced plot this is another crime gem. The Sniper is an early example of the killer sniper about ten years before Peter Bogdanovich's disturbing "Targets" (1968) which follows a woman hating sniper who decides to viciously pick them off, although The Sniper is not as strong as The Lineup or The Big Heat it is still a enjoyable noir that boasts tension and suspense. Murder by Contract is my favourite in the boxset and feels more like a Bresson film than noir and is prototype hitman tale, about a hitman who must assassinate a mob witness; a brilliant surf-guitar track, thick atmosphere, compelling characters and powerful finale makes this an intelligent noir and star and crown jewel of the this boxset. Finally do not watch 5 against the House it is the only dud in the boxset and without doubt the worst, (it is a perfect example of inferior B-movie) but the other four classics drown it out. If you love film noirs, you should get this set which boasts pristine transfers and gripping films.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good thrillers but not all noir 20 Mar 2012
Maybe I'm a purist but I don't consider all of these Film Noir - good efficient B&W thrillers, but there's very little real exploration of the dark side of human nature except in the brilliant Murder By Contract, and possibly The Big Heat. The Lineup is a standard lantern jaw cop movie, all movement, no depth, and a bit insensitive to the plight of the woman and child at the end. I don't want to be too hard on it, because it's certainly watchable, but Five Against the House features the most irritating picture of student life I think I've ever seen - unfunny wisecracks, nobody actually possessing a book or showing any evidence they're read one, naff love story, daffy heist - but at least there's an attempt to recognise post-traumatic stress disorder and a creative avoidance of the usual bloodbath at the end. The Sniper goes further into human psychology with a picture of a woman-hating killer, but the rather lunkheaded police investigation undermines this narrative element. The Big Heat is a classic though, even for those who don't care for Glenn Ford, because of strong story, characters and execution, as well as a great performance by Gloria Grahame. Murder by Contract is almost impossible to find - a low, low budget thriller made in a few days but one that really grips the attention possibly owing to a fascinating performance by Vince Edwards and some very unusual incidental music. It's worth getting this set just for that.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Extras for Forgotten Noir Gems 4 Nov 2009
By Cubist - Published on
The Sniper features an audio commentary by author Eddie Muller. He starts off talking about the origins of the film - a husband and wife writing team. He mentions that it was a very controversial film at the time because of its subject matter. Muller provides all kinds of fascinating production details, like how much of the film was shot on location in San Francisco. He explains that The Sniper is a landmark film because it was one of the first to prominently feature a serial killer.

"Martin Scorsese Presents The Sniper" features the legendary filmmaker talking about the documentary feel of the film thanks to the use of authentic locations.

Also included is an original theatrical trailer.

The Big Heat starts off with "Michael Mann on The Big Heat." He speaks admiringly about the prominent female characters in the film. The director talks about the ethnic aspect of the film as well as the uncompromising nature of Glenn Ford's character.

"Martin Scorsese on The Big Heat" features the director talking about how Ford's character becomes what he's fighting against. Scorsese draws particular attention to the flat look of the film and how director Fritz Lang directs us to the behaviour of the characters.

Also included is the original theatrical trailer.

The only extra for 5 Against the House is the original theatrical trailer.

The Lineup includes an audio commentary by author Eddie Muller and James Ellroy. Muller says that this film started off as a television show cut from the same cloth as Dragnet. He plays the straight man on this track, rattling off facts, while Ellroy is his usual colourful and profane self offering his bizarro opinions on this film. He sings the praises of Don Siegel's more than capable direction. Fans of Ellroy will love this track as he gets to cut loose have some fun commenting on The Lineup.

"The Influence of Noir with Christopher Nolan" sees this respected director citing noir as an influence on his own work, most notably the psychological states of the characters, the atmosphere and the style in relation to the substance and how they all interact with one another.

Also included is the original theatrical trailer.

Murder by Contract features "Martin Scorsese on Murder by Contract." He reminisces about when he first saw the film as a teenager and how it would later influence aspects of Taxi Driver. The director speaks admiringly of the "economy of means" - how Irving Lerner depicted the passing of time. Scorsese gives us a brief background to Lerner and talks about how he got to know and even work with him.

Finally, there is the original theatrical trailer.
55 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony releases a spartan collection of top drawer noirs 25 May 2009
By calvinnme - Published on
This set contains 5 films and no extra features have been announced. The set is due to go on sale November 3 along with a volume 2 of film noir from Sony on the same day. Sony continues to hit it out of the park with classic sets being announced rather regularly this year. The films in volume one are as follows:

The Sniper (1952) - directed by Edward Dmytrik and starring Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz, and Gerald Mohr. A San Francisco detective traces a series of seemingly random killings to a sharp-eyed loner who uses his rifle as a means to exact deadly revenge on the women who have rejected him.

5 Against the House (1955) - directed by Phil Karlson and starring Brian Keith, Guy Madison, Alvy Moore, and Kim Novak. Four college pals plot to rob a casino in Reno just to prove it can be done, but their plan to return the money is threatened when one of them intends to keep it for himself. Probably the weakest film of the lot.

The Lineup (1958) directed by Don Siegel and starring Eli Wallach and Robert Keith. When a mother and her young daughter unknowingly destroy a stash of heroin, a pair of hit men must keep them alive long enough to explain it to their boss. Eli Wallach makes a great villain and the scenes of San Francisco 50 years ago are interesting too.

Murder by Contract (1958) directed by Irving Lerner and starring Vince Edwards as a well-mannered college-educated young man who just figures that being a hitman is a good way to make a living. Claude is usually philisophical yet mechanical about his hits, but when he is hired to kill a woman who is about to turn in evidence against the seedy mobster he works for everything starts to go wrong for him.

The Big Heat (1953) directed by Fritz Lang and starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame,and Lee Marvin. Ford is a cop trying to clean up mob violence in his town, but when he gets too close to success a car bomb meant for him kills his wife. This puts Ford on an unstoppable quest for justice since this has now become personal. Grahame stars as a good-hearted moll and Marvin as a mobster with an unpredictable temper. This is the best film in the bunch.

Part of the above information is directly from the press release and part of it is from my own memory of the films. Rumor has it that Martin Scorsese picked the films that went in this and volume two of Sony's film noir sets. I have no idea what Scorsese's relationship to Sony would put him in this capacity.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential viewing for any film noir lover 9 Dec 2009
By Addison de Witt - Published on
Verified Purchase
Anyone who's interested in film noir will consider this first volume of Columbia classics a "must". Besides "Big Heat" (arguably Fritz Lang's best film of the fifties), this remarkable package is a very rare opportunity to have a look at "The Sniper" in pristine condition and, above all, to discover the rarest of noir gems : Irving Lerner's "Murder by Contract", one of the coolest thrillers ever made. Highly recommended, although "Five Against the House" should have been replaced by a worthier title.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Excellent Films, One Pretty Good One and One Turkey! 28 Jan 2010
By Cuthbert J. Twiddle - Published on
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I'd seen and enjoyed 4 out 5 of these Columbia films and considered them good enough to add to my library when Amazon put this set on sale for $32.00. "The Sniper", "The Big Heat" and especially "The Lineup" are excellent. "Five Against the House" is not quite as good but more than watchable thanks to an excellent cast, Phil Karlson's capable direction and on location (Reno) filming. The only film I hadn't previously seen, "Murder by Contract" was a big disappointment. I totally fail to see why Martin Scorcese admires this one so much. To me it looked like something directed by Ed Wood, almost (but not quite!) so bad that it is good! Wood's "Jail Bait" comes to mind, not only because of the Godawful musical score of both of them!. In his Classic Movie Guide Leonard Maltin gives "Murder by Contract" only 2 stars, says it is "ultimately sabotaged by pretentious dialogue and posturing". I couldn't agree more! Four out of five ain't bad though and I do recommend this package. Excellent transfers (three of them anamorphic widescreen). Several commentaries and featurettes and theatrical trailers are bonus treats.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE FILM NOIR 3 Dec 2009
By L. Tauber - Published on
Verified Purchase
I remember seeing some of these films on TV years and years ago. I could not appreciate the artistry then but I do now. "The Sniper" was quite thrilling. "The Line-Up" had a bravura performance by Eli Wallach. "Murder By Contract" showed Vince Edwards could indeed act. Before there was "Ocean's Eleven" there was "Five Against the House." And as for "The Big Heat"....well it has Glenn Ford....enough said. Sony/Columbia has gone from the worst home video provider to the best. And thank goodness they have!
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