Film Noir Classic Collection: 5 Timeless Suspense Thrillers (5 Discs) (S) product details page

Film Noir Classic Collection: 5 Timeless Suspense Thrillers (5 Discs) (S)

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While often compared to Bonnie and Clyde, which it preceded by nearly 20 years, Gun Crazy is in many ways a more daring and disturbing film; while the leads lack the skill and charisma of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and the picture is sometimes betrayed by its obvious low budget, director Joseph H. Lewis gives his story a subversive sexual economy that's more provocative than that of Arthur Penn's later (and bolder) variation, and his bluntly energetic and inventive visual storytelling helped make Gun Crazy one of the most fabled low-budget crime pictures of the 1940s. The doomed romance between weak-willed sharpshooter Bart Tare (John Dall), who loves guns but lacks the courage to kill, and Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), who is the aggressor in the relationship but can't shoot with the same grace and elan as Bart, can be read on several different levels, none of them especially healthy. While the film satisfied the edicts of 1940s film censorship, lust has rarely seemed more vivid than between Bart and Annie; their relationship is based less on love than on pure animal instinct, and Lewis makes it seem both compelling and unwholesome. Within moments of meeting each other, Bart and Annie seem bound for life and on the fast track to damnation, with no repentance possible or requested; Jim Thompson never imagined a couple as doomed and damaged as these two. And Lewis takes visual chances that one would hardly expect from a 1940s B-movie -- especially the justifiably famous robbery sequence, shot in one take from the back seat of a car -- giving the picture an inventive style that makes the material all the more effective. If Gun Crazy's ambitions sometimes outstrip its means, Lewis got enough of his ideas on the screen to make this one of the most fascinating and thought-provoking crime films of its era. Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Much imitated, The Asphalt Jungle was one of the first caper films to show a crime and its consequences from the criminals' point of view. It's one of director John Huston's most gritty and suspenseful films, centering on a recently paroled criminal's scheme to make one last big hit. The cast of reliable character actors includes Sterling Hayden, James Whitmore and Sam Jaffe, and a little-known seductress named Marilyn Monroe, who had a small part. Based on a novel by W.R. Burnett, The Asphalt Jungle was innovative for 1950, as Huston told a crime-doesn't-pay story without the usual distancing and moralizing. It is more of a character study than an action film, and countless films that came later, all the way to Pulp Fiction, have paid it homage, some unknowingly. Some of the more direct remakes of the same plot include Cairo, A Cool Breeze, and The Badlanders. Michael Betzold, All Movie Guide

Robert Wise's blistering tour de force on the fight game, a key influence on Martin Scorsese's seminal Raging Bull (1980), remains one of the best films on that world. An undefeated boxing champion while at Dartmouth, Robert Ryan gives what's likely his best performance as the over-the-hill pug who balks when ordered by his manager to throw a fight. Wise throws the harshest possible light not only on the well-known corruption of game, on the seediness of the milieu, and the grueling punishment absorbed by the fighters, but also on the febrile bloodlust of the fans, for whom the director reserves his greatest revulsion. As the film unfolds in "real" time, it touches briefly on the range of boxers on that night's card, and from the nervous young kid to the washed-up middle-weight, all are equally mesmerized by the mythology of their craft. In the main event, Ryan absorbs perhaps the worst pre-Scorsese battering on celluloid. Noir icon Audrey Totter evinces an unexpected tenderness as Ryan's concerned wife, and James Edwards is poignant as a fighter on the slide. Michael Costello, All Movie Guide

While often compared to Bonnie and Clyde, which it preceded by nearly 20 years, Gun Crazy is in many ways a more daring and disturbing film; while the leads lack the skill and charisma of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and the picture is sometimes betrayed by its obvious low budget, director Joseph H. Lewis gives his story a subversive ****** economy that's more provocative than that of Arthur Penn's later (and bolder) variation, and his bluntly energetic and inventive visual storytelling helped make Gun Crazy one of the most fabled low-budget crime pictures of the 1940s. The doomed romance between weak-willed sharpshooter Bart Tare (John Dall), who loves guns but lacks the courage to kill, and Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), who is the aggressor in the relationship but can't shoot with the same grace and elan as Bart, can be read on several different levels, none of them especially healthy. While the film satisfied the edicts of 1940s film censorship, lust has rarely seemed more vivid than between Bart and Annie; their relationship is based less on love than on pure animal instinct, and Lewis makes it seem both compelling and unwholesome. Within moments of meeting each other, Bart and Annie seem bound for life and on the fast track to damnation, with no repentance possible or requested; Jim Thompson never imagined a couple as doomed and damaged as these two. And Lewis takes visual chances that one would hardly expect from a 1940s B-movie -- especially the justifiably famous robbery sequence, shot in one take from the back seat of a car -- giving the picture an inventive style that makes the material all the more effective. If Gun Crazy's ambitions sometimes outstrip its means, Lewis got enough of his ideas on the screen to make this one of the most fascinating and thought-provoking crime films of its era. Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

With its doomed anti-hero, conniving villain, sardonic script, moody black-and-white photography, and icy femme fatale, Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past (1947) is essential film noir. Opening in an idyllic small town, the movie literalizes down-and-out detective Jeff Bailey's confrontation with his past through an extended flashback depicting his moral downfall. Jeff's past exists in cities and exotic hideouts swathed in expressionistic shadows; Kathie (Jane Greer) may first appear as a beautiful vision in white, but, as she steps through a darkened doorway, momentarily blacking out her face, Jeff knows she's bad news. The past becomes the present as Jeff is inexorably drawn into a violent series of double-crossings that exemplify the noir universe's tangled amorality. The bad may be punished, but Out of the Past's downbeat ending draws the ultra-pessimistic conclusion that past mistakes are impossible to overcome, and redemption is not available even to those who want it. Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas were praised for their early starring turns as Jeff and Whit, as was Jane Greer for her lethal femme fatale. The film was remade in 1984 as Against All Odds.44684 Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

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