Noir Archive Volume 1: 1944-1954 9 Movie Collection | Buy the Blu-Ray Now that almost all the classics, near-classics and almost everything thing else tangentially noir has been released and re-released, here are a few more. Address Unknown (1944); Escape in the Fog (1945); The Guilt of Janet James (1947); The Black Book (aka The Reign of Terror) (1949); Johnny Allegro (1949); 711 Ocean Drive (1950); The Killer That Stalked New York (1950); Assignment Paris (1952) and The Miami Story (1954) are all presented in their original aspect ratios and high-def, but honestly? I’ve never heard of any of them. Some of the directors and cast sound intriguing (Paul Lukas, Budd Boetticher, Rosalind Russell, Melvyn Douglas, Anthony Mann, Edmond O’Brien, Otto Kruger,George Sanders) and others just puzzling (Sid Caesar? Really?), but at less than three bucks a pop, how far are you willing to stretch the definition of noir?
Detour | Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray After years of cheap, cut-rate, blurry, scratchy public domain versions, we’ve finally got a beautifully restored and remastered rendition of what is for many the ultimate noir: Edgar G. Ulmer’s nasty little masterpiece of bad choices and bad luck, as hapless sap Tom Neal decides to hitchhike to California to see his gal. He doesn’t make it. This new 4K restoration from Criterion, finally does it right, not only with the film itself, but with a slew of bonus features, including a 2004 documentary on Ulmer, featuring interviews with Ann Savage, Roger Corman, Joe Dante and Wim Wenders, a new interview with film scholar Noah Isenberg, trailers and an essay by critic and poet Robert Polito.
The Phantom Lady | Buy the Blu-Ray
Special high-def Blu-Ray edition, jam-packed with bonus features, of the noir classic directed by Robert Siodmak, based on the Cornell Woolrich novel and starring Alan Curtis, Franchot Tone and Ella Raines. After a fight with his wife, an angry husband flees to a bar to drown his sorrows, and hooks up with a woman. But when he arrives home, his wife has been murdered and hubby’s the prime suspect. The “phantom lady” is his alibi, but he has no idea how to find her…
The Girl in the Spider’s Web | Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray Disappointing adaptation of the first non-Stieg Larsson novel, with additional scenes added, thus accomplishing the neat trick of dis-respecting not just the original but also David Lagerkrantz, the writer hired to continued the series.
The Lady in the Lake | Buy the DVD| Watch it now! Doughy Robert Montgomery is arguably the worst big screen Marlowe of them all, and his case isn’t helped by his use (he also directed) of subjective camera work. Kiss my lens, baby!
The Midnight Man |Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray Burt Lancaster stars as Jim Slade, a former Chicago cop just released from prison for shooting his wife’s lover, who takes a job as a night watchman at a small Midwestern college. But when a co-ed is murdered and the night janitor is arrested, Slade decides to poke around.
Jack Irish: Season Two | Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray Guy Pearce shambles through the streets of Melbourne and beyond as Jack Irish, the amiable hard-luck P.I., watching his world crumble: his girlfriend Linda’s left him, his pal Sid’s out of the racing game, a good friend has just passed away, and possibly worst of all, his favourite pub may soon be sold. But when a long-lost, undelivered package arrives, one that might once have changed his life, Jack is drawn into a case that soon reaches deep into every niche of his life; a case involving foreign exchange students, illegal drugs, corrupt government agencies and the murder of a friend. Sharp and surprisingly poignant, possibly the best season yet.
The Last Seduction | Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray Long-awaited re-release of 1994 neo-noir, with Linda Fiorentino as the femme fatale to end all femme fatales. Stupid? Don’t worry — Bridget likes that in a man.
The Night Strangler | Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray Newly remastered second made-for-TV flick that following newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak hot on the trail of a 200 hundred year-old serial killer. Plus a ton of bonus features and new cover art by Sean Phillips.
Private Eyes | Buy the DVD | Watch it now! No big shakes, but this light-hearted Canadian show about a Porsche-driving, ex-NHL player (Jason Priestley) and his demanding P.I. boss (Cindy Sampson) is a nice diversion from all the frothing-at-the-mouth crime shows out there. Think of it as private eye comfort food.
C.B. Strike | Buy the DVD The first truly satisfying P.I. thing on television in a long while. Smart, literate, and adult. And all from books written by that Harry Potter dame? You’re good, J.K., you’re very, very good. Contains all three adaptations.
Mr. Mercedes: Season One |Buy the DVD Contains the entire season one adaptation of Stephen King’s bestseller about a burned-out former cop going down for the last time, who finds a new lease on life when “the one that got away” decides to torment him. Amazing performances all around, but special props to Brendan Gleeson as Bill Hodges and Harry Treadaway as the disturbed young homicidal sicko.
The Frankie Drake Mysteries: Season One| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray Fans of Miss Fisher ought to enjoy this plucky Canadian period piece featuring Toronto’s first all-female detective agency. Frankie Drake is the hard-charging, motorcycle-riding private jane tearing through a twenties Toronto full of flappers, suffragettes, rum-runners and gangsters, with the aid of her partner/associate Trudy Clarke. The sets and the costumes are to die for… and people frequently do. Adding to the “world classiness” is some annoying reporter for The Toronto Star called Ernest Hemingway.
Trouble is My Business |Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray | Watch it now! A straight-to-streaming would-be B flick that hits the vanity project hattrick, written directed and starring Tom Konkle as Roland Drake, a down-on-his-luck 1940s private eye caught between the two hot-to-trot Montemar sisters. Problem is, one’s dead and the other possibly killed her.
Archer: Season 8: Dreamland| Buy the DVD| Watch it now! To sleep, perchance to dream… When the ego-that-walks-like-a-man ends up in a coma, he dreams — for a whole season — that he’s a hard-boiled private eye in 1947 Los Angeles, out to nail the killer of his partner.
Small Town Crime| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! John Hawkes shines as an ex-cop drunk trying to redeem himself by solving the murder of a woman whose body he discovered. Super strong cast includes Robert Forster, Anthony Anderson, Octavia Spencer, Anthony Anderson, Clifton Collins, Jr. But it’s Hawke you have to keep an eye on — he’s the antithesis of everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be, and he doesn’t care who knows it. Recommended.
Harper| Buy the DVD| Buy this Blu-ray| Watch it now! The Drowning Pool| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! At long last BOTH films featuring Paul Newman as Ross Macdonald’s SoCal private eye Lew Archer (here rechristened “Harper”) are available on DVD, Blu-Ray and to stream. Harper gets all the acclaim and most of the attention, but personally I prefer The Drowning Pool for the slam bang locked-room escape and the way Newman stands tall in a nuanced verbal showdown against a powerful opponent, refusing to even turn his head. Toss in Robert Benton’s Twilight, as loving a rip-off of Macdonald as you can get without being sued, if you want to make it a hattrick. There Newman plays SoCal P.I. Harry Ross, but I defy anyone to tell me how he’s not just Archer/Harper under another name.
Ray Donovan: Season 5 | Buy on DVD Ray’s back, and he’s mourning the loss of his beloved wife Abby, whom he’s treated like shit for the first four seasons. Yet the show remains compelling, like a slow-mo trainwreck.