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Excellent Value but Law of Diminshing Returns Applies,
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This review is from: Film Noir Classics Collection 4 [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Vol 4 of Warners Excellent noir series has it's moments but Warners are stretching their definition of noir as Mystery Street(Police procedural)IllegaL (courtroom drama)The Big Steal(crime melodrama)and Crimewave(hardboiled cop thriller)cannot be considered real noir.
Act Of Violence(1949)Tough noir(atypical of director Fred Zinnemann's later career)has Van Heflin as wartime coward pursued by crippled ex-comrade Robert Ryan who has a score to settle.Both stars are fine and the ending is excellent.
Mystery Street(1950)John Sturges directed this striking forensics based murder mystery with Boston Detective Ricardo Montalban on his first murder case struggling to make headway.Superior plotting,excellent script by Sidney Boehm and Richard Brooks and a subtle but unhinged performance by Elsa Lanchester highlight this sleeper.
Crime Wave(1954)Low budgeter from Andre De Toth has Sterling Hayden as tough street cop determined to steer ex-con Gene Nelson from trouble as well as get the bad guys.Okay as far as it goes with some great exterior work.
Decoy(1946)Long heralded shoestring noir features British actress Jean Gillie in a flamboyant performance as the femme fatale to end them all who arranges for her longtime lover to be resusitated after he gets the gas chamber so as to lead her to his hidden loot.However he won't play ball and....well you will have to watch the rest.Over-rated but undeniably(for a noir)great fun.
Illegal(1955)Edward G is the whole show as crusading D A who sends an innocent man to the chair,can't live with the guilt and ends up a defense attorney eventually defending his protege from the Da's office on a murder charge.Okay time filler.
The Big Steal(1949)Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum are reteamed for this Don Siegel thriller set down Mexico way with ex-pal of Mitchum's on the lam with a suitcase of money that he does not wish to share either with Mitchum or with his gal Greer.Fast moving and Greer and Mitchum are well matched as always.
They Live by Night(1949)Held over by 2 years by looney tunes RKO owner Howard Hughes,Nicholas Ray's shadowy youngsters on the lam noir is really a love story.Escaped con Farley Granger(never better)and Cathy O'Donnell try to evade police capture while remaining in the hold of two fellow escapees.Beautiful lighting,innovative camerawork and good performances highlight this stylish film.Foretaste of Ray's subsequent anti Hollywood and brilliant career(In a Lonely Place,Rebel Without A Cause,Bitter Victory etc).
Side Street(1949)Granger and O'donnell again this time as young marrieds who find their lives turned upside after Granger steals what he thinks are a few hundred dollars only to find it is $30 000 of mob money.When he tries to return it,that's when their troubles really begin.Okay but director Anthony Mann has made far better.
Where Danger Lives(1950)Robert Mitchum plays a doctor(!!!)who falls under the spell of grasping socialite Faith Domergue and after her husband is killed the pair go on the run.Unconvincing but watchable throughout but Domergue looks better than she acts and Mitchum lends the film a gravitas it scarcely deserves(as does Claude Rains in his one scene as the husband).
Tension(1949)Audrey Totter is superb as a two timing bucket of slime poured in a dress whose treatment of mild mannered husband Richard Basehart sends the poor fellow into Plan b mode(kill wife).However things don't go according to plan(do they ever)in this slightly overlong but well plotted noir from John Berry.
Good solid fare but no heavyweight standouts.Usual extras.