on 29 March 2008
This collection is great value for money, you truly do get a lot of bang for your buck. As someone pretty new to film noir, I'm glad I took the risk on this box, having never seen any of the films before. I was previously just a fan of Bogart (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep), now I'm in love with noir.
The films range from tragic tales of good people led astray (The Killers, Double Indemnity) to entertaining detective stories with plenty of laughs along the way (Murder My Sweet). It's a cliché to say so, but they really don't make 'em like this anymore.
The odd film out is definitely The Big Steal. Firstly, (as Amazon fails to mention) it's the colorized version - although I don't especially mind, I had never seen a colorized film before so it was educational in that respect. Secondly, it's less a true noir, more a comedic crime caper starring noir stalwarts Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and William Bendix. It's an entertaining film but it doesn't hold as much re-watch value as the rest of the collection.
My only other complaint is the packaging. The cigarette packet design is lovely, but the information on the back is misleading. For example, This Gun For Hire is dated 1947, when it was actually released five years earlier. It is just a small thing, but it was a bit confusing seeing "the first pairing of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake" is supposedly from 1947, when another of their films was dated 1946.
However, considering how much entertainment this collection has provided, it would be churlish to give it anything but the five stars it surely deserves.
on 21 December 2008
Inside the big black cigarette box (a fair indication of the dangerously addictive quality of its contents), each film comes in its own case; and there isn't much apart from the films on the disks. Fortunately, special features and other such padding are not required to make these films great value for money and excellent entertainment. There is no filler in this set. All the films included are superb, and make an ideal introduction to the genre, at an ideal price.
With top writers like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Grahame Greene and Ernest Hemingway, directors like Billy Wilder, Edward Dmytryk, and Don Siegel, and featuring early starring roles for Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster, Alan Ladd and top-notch femme-fatale turns by Veronica Lake, Ava Gardner, Barbara Stanwyck, and Gloria Grahame (among others), you will not be disappointed.
Personal favourites among the nine are The Glass Key (with Alan Ladd being somewhat of a psycho), This Gun For Hire (with Alan Ladd being a complete psycho and Veronica Lake doing a rather kinky dance number in fishing waders), Murder My Sweet (Dick Powell doing a very good Philip Marlowe, comfortably the equal of Bogart's in The Big Sleep), not to mention the unmatched tension of Double Indemnity.
If there are weak points, then perhaps The Blue Dahlia is let down a little by the studio-mandated ending, and Crossfire by the somewhat heavy-handed spelling out of the film's message at the end. But both are excellent films nevertheless. And The Big Steal, despite a cast of noir stalwarts, is not really a film noir, except at odd moments, especially in the colourised version included here - but this is an interesting novelty in itself, and one that probably does better justice to the sunlit outdoor Mexican locations of the film than the original black-and-white would have done.
on 8 October 2010
I recently ordered this boxset and was left with mixed feelings. There can be no doubt that OUT OF THE PAST, MURDER MY SWEET, THE KILLERS, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, CROSSFIRE and THIS GUN FOR HIRE are all masterpieces in their own right, and THE BIG STEAL comes close.
There are two downsides: 1. The quality of the copies. In most cases the transfer is poor; the actors' faces look contorted and seem to move in parts.
2. Unpardonably, THE BIG STEAL is colorised. I would recommend to any company thinking of colorising a film to include the original B&W version so the viewer can exercise the option to watch the version he/she prefers.
To have to watch a much beloved film reduced to fake colour was heart-breaking. Film noir colorised - nah, don't like it!
on 13 May 2009
Normally in box sets you get two or three worthwhile films and one that badly lets the standard down... but not here: nine films ranging from a very good watch to undeniable classic status and all made during 'noir's' American heyday between 1942 and 1949. My only disappointment with this set is that having made a commendable selection of movie choices the print of 'The Big Steal' is colourised; it's a decent picture and worthy of inclusion but this colour version rather negates its 'noirishness'.
on 11 January 2011
All nine of these movies are quite highly rated individually making this collection exceptional value at £15.99. (IMDB ratings range from 7.1 - 8.6)
Some titles fullfilled my expectations of the noir genre more than others and the films 'The Killers', 'This Gun For Hire', 'Murder My Sweet', 'Blue Dhalia' were the choice for me although I'm saving 'Double Indemnity' until last.
The most defining of the bunch was 'The Killers' with all the aspects of a noir that a you could wish for. The way that Burt Lancaster's charecter performs not only a lead role but also keeps a hazy background presance sustains the noirness as the story is realised. The opening scene is a treat; two mean fellas walk into a diner with an ice cold banter to thicken the atmosphere. Its like Scorcese or Tarantino.
'Murder my sweet' is good old private eye telling us his own story in classic Marlowe style - "She was a charming middle aged lady with a face like a bucket of mud. I gave her a drink...". Its got a scary dope a nice girl, a nasty one and plenty tight spots for the detectvive.
If you like gritty 40's movies I'm sure you'll get a few evenings of satisfaction from this set.
I have derived so much pleasure from this set that any quibbles I may have (is The Big Steal strictly Noir, should it have been colourised?) fade into insignificance before the sheer bounty on offer.
The genre we call Film Noir - basically, forties b&w films concerning bad guys, bullets and broads - is my favourite kind of movie, and here are nine of the best. Most of them are classics, one or two, such as Double Indemnity and Out Of The Past, being truly great films in the own right.
Certain actors of the era suited Noir, fitting the genre like an old trenchcoat. Mitchum, Ladd, Robert Ryan, Stanwyck, Veronica Lake, glorious Gloria Grahame, and the peerless Jane Greer, all shine in one or more of these films. There`s also one of the finest performances by one of the 20th century`s greatest actors, Edward G Robinson, as lanky, up-to-no-good Fred MacMurray`s boss in Double Indemnity, a film I could happily watch once every six months or so until I die (in a hail of bullets, naturally).
Instead of picking out particular films - hey, they`re all good or great - here are a few moments to treasure.
Mitchum and Greer`s backchat in The Big Steal, a comic thriller directed by a young Don Siegel, with the sweatily flustered William Bendix (an often unsung hero of the era and the genre) in hot pursuit.
The always deliciously watchable Laird Cregar in This Gun For Hire (from Graham Greene`s novel A Gun For Sale) squeamishly pleading with a henchman not to describe to him the deaths he himself has ordered. "Ugh, it`s disgusting!" It`s the most subtly hilarious performance of delicate, reluctant thuggery in cinema. Cregar was never less than good value. (What a name - like a Victorian blood-and-thunder thespian. See him as a looming, cheerfully suave Satan in Lubitsch`s Heaven Can Wait, munificently allowing Don Ameche to ascend "above".) He should be remembered and celebrated, his few films sought out. This huge yet fastidious actor died aged only 31, though looking much older.
Raymond Chandler`s typically acid script for Double Indemnity, which MacMurray and Stanwyck deliver with a kind of tensely languid aplomb, and which Robinson savours like rare art - which is exactly what it was, though it would be all the more rare these days.
Threateningly hulking Mike Mazurki`s single-minded search for "Little Velma", played by the endlessly duplicitous Claire Trevor, in Murder My Sweet - aka Farewell My Lovely, Chandler`s original and far more evocative title. There`s some great dialogue from Dick Powell`s excellent, if puppyish, Philip Marlowe, coming down from an involuntary drug stupor, which is lifted straight from the novel. I`ll let you discover it for yourself, but it begins with Marlowe saying to a nervous doctor in the pay of the villain: "Remarks want you to make `em...!"
Ladd & Lake like two shy toy lovebirds in the marvellous thriller The Blue Dahlia, with Bendix this time as a good guy, who can`t think straight for the sound of the
"monkey music" in his war-addled head.
And finally, the magnificent Out Of The Past - sometimes known by its other, rather too portentous title Build My Gallows High (it`s not a Western, for God`s sake). This is one of the great American movies, no question. Mitchum, in the pay of the dangerously smiling Kirk Douglas, confidently cocky in only his second film, tracks down Kirk`s girl to a Mexican bar. Her slinky, innate sexiness is something most of today`s actresses couldn`t even attempt, even if they knew how. When she offers to meet Mitch elsewhere on another evening, she merely tempts him with a vague half-promise: "I sometimes go there". Jane Greer died in 2001 at the age of 77. She was one of the secret weapons of forties Hollywood film, with the unfortunate accent on `secret`. If you haven`t already, discover her here, twice over.
There`s more, much more. We could all pick our favourite set of nine Noirs, and sit watching them on a loop till a man in a grimy hat tracks us down in our flyblown lair, confiscates the tapes, and points a loaded gun at our head...
For now, these will do nicely.
As the taxi driver says to Mitchum - surely, along with Robert Ryan, the epitome of Noir Man - in Out Of The Past:
"You look like you`re in trouble."
You can bet on it.
on 27 February 2009
This box set contains 9 classic film noirs 100%. I purchased this item when it was released some time ago, but did not have time to write a review to it.
If you have a thing for film noir or if you don't have anything you must chose this item for your collection due to several reasons which follow:
1. It contains some of the most influencial film noir ever created in the US: Double Indemnity, The Killers, The Big Steal (which has been altered being colourized), Out of the Past, Black Dahlia, Murder my sweet, This Gun is for Hire, The Glass Key, Cross Fire.
2. Film noir was a current created long before it has been translated to screen in the US by European directors back in France and Germany in the 30's. This dark sided part of film still exists even today especially in the films made by Coen Brothers. It is a style, which can not be equalled today by anybody producing movies. The approach, the characters, the way the action is described and the filming method make this genre unforgetable once you've seen one of these movies.
3. The screenplays of this movies have been written by some of the best crime Amercian writers such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet.
4. This box set will be only the beginning once you see what is inside this box. You will fall in love with this movie genre
on 27 February 2009
Film Noir Collection [DVD]
I remember seeing some of these films when I was a teenager back in the 1960s and really did not appreciate them at the time. The selection in this box set is worth every penny of the ticket price. From the surreal bleached out California portrayed in 'Out of the Past' to the in-your-face violence of 'The Killers' and the controversial examination of anti semitism in Crossfire, this is a real winner. The only criticism is that the aspect ratio is such that they only work properly on certain DVD players - although this seems to be a problem with a lot of older DVDs.
on 8 October 2012
I was very excited when I came across this product and immediately ordered it. While these films are all incredible (and a fitting starter pack to the Film Noir genre), some of the transfers are a let down. While most are incredible well-preserved and show excellent sharpness, clarity and grain- there are a few that are more difficult to stomach.
The poor transfers on this set are (from worst to best);
The transfer is incredibly dark, even for a Film Noir. It also lacks in grain and clarity. While it is watchable, it is quite difficult on the eyes.
"The Big Steal"
Putting aside the horrendous colorized transfer (which all classic film fans should be apposed to), the transfer is dark and lacks contrast. I watched this with the Saturation down so I could see it in it's original B&W and it was still lacked definition.
"Out of the Past"
There is a spectacular transfer of this film on the market- unfortunately this is not it. It is still very watchable, just lacks grain and clarity.
"The Blue Dahlia"
This wasn't too bad, but compared to the other perfect transfers (such as "Double Indemnity"- which is, by far, the most outstanding addition quality-wise) it is a let down. Just lacks in contrast and sharpness.
Unfortunately, because of the years these films were made, finding perfect clarity on every single disc is a big ask. I feel, considering there are better transfers out there of some of these films, more effort could've been made to present these films with high quality transfers.
I would still recommend this pack, as 60% of the films are exceptional in quality (and more than account for the price you pay. "Double Indemnity" and "The Killers" alone are worth the amount you pay for this entire DVD set), just a little disappointing that the others aren't quite as good.
on 4 June 2009
Walk down some dark alleyways, tussle with some tough guys and get tangled up with a double crossing dame! This is a good introduction to the film noir genre, full of classic pairings and razor sharp dialogue. There are some true classics here from the RKO back catalogue and if you only get one film noir collection it should be this bargain boxset. If you like these films I would also recommend one of the Humphrey Bogart boxsets. He starred in many of the film noir classics which like these seem to get better each time you watch them.