P.J.| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray Finally, this hard-to-find P.I. flick from 1968, starring a surprisingly boyish, pre-Bancek George Peppard, and directed by John Guillermin (The Blue Max, The Bridge at Remagen, Skyjacked, The Towering Inferno, Death on the Nile, etc.) is available. Peppard plays down-on-his-luck New York private eye P.J. Detweiler who’s roped into bodyguarding the mistress of a not-quite-right millionaire (Raymond Burr).
Perry Mason: The Complete Series| Buy the DVD Can’t get HBO’s gloomy, doomy, misguided noir “re-imagining” of Perry Mason out of your head? Now might be the time to invest in this massive, 72 disk collection, which collects all 271 episodes of the classic, Emmy-winning TV legal drama starring Raymond Burr as Erle Stanley Gardner’s cocky, tricky criminal defense layer; the man who not only never lost a case, and never had a client who was guilty, but also shaved and bathed regularly? John Grisham? Scott Turow? Nice guys, but they tremble when the Big Man (and let’s face it—Burr was a Big Man) approaches the bench.
Scoob! | Watch it now! This sure ain’t your daddy’s Scooby-Doo! Or mine either–Scooby doesn’t “almost” talk–he yacks his herad off. And Velma’s a babe. Still, this star-packed animated film has Scooby and the gang running into various characters, from Hanna-Barbera’s Saturday morning roster, including appearances from Dick Dastardly and Muttley, Captain Caveman, and The Blue Falcon & Dynomutt, among others. There’s even a shout-out to Magilla Gorilla!
Charlie’s Angels| Watch it now! The Townshend Agency is now a global security conglomerate with offices (and Bosley’s) all over the world, and there’s a new slew of babes (Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska) to strap on the fuck-me heels, but the thongs remain the same. Or something.
Knives Out| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! Yes, the detective here, played by Daniel Craig, is a private investigator, but no, he’s not hard-boiled at all. But he does star in one of the most enjoyable mysteries I’ve seen in a while–a zany, wit spoof of about a million Agatha Christie movies, complete with a stately manor of suspects and one very dead old man.
Motherless Brooklyn| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! Ed Norton wrote the screenplay (based on Jonathan Lethem’s novel) directed it and starred in it– which meant it should have been one turd of an egofest. But if it’s not quite Chinatown, it’s still some pretty primo private eye stuff, with a solid cast (Bruce Willis! Gugu Mbatha-Raw! Alec Baldwin! Willem Dafoe! Michael Kenneth Williams!), some timely finger-pointing about shifty New York City real estate developers and some timeless finger-pointing about greed, corruption and human weakness.
My Life is Murder| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! Lucy Lawless, sans fur bikini, stars as retired cop turned P.I. Alexa Crowe in this Murder-She-Wrote-ish Australian mystery series, who seemingly can’t say “No” when her old boss comes asking for help with some tricky case or another. Not exactly hard-boiled, but Alexa displays admirable chops as a detective, and her dogged determination, dry wit and brash style go down easy.
The Complete PRC Michael Shayne Mystery Collection| Buy the DVD Remember all those goofy Mike Shayner movies starring Lloyd Nolan? Well, these ain’t them. After Nolan, PRC got it into their head to continue the series, after 20th Century-Fox dropped the series–with Hugh Beaumont stepping into Nolan’s gumshoes for five “fun, action-packed whodunnits.” Includes Murder Is My Business (1946), Larceny in Her Heart (1946), Blonde for a Day (1946), Three on a Ticket (1947) and Too Many Winners (1947).
Naked Alibi | Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray No P.I. here, but plenty of film noir shenanigans, as a murder suspect on the run, a determined cop out for blood and a femme fatale to-die-for all circle each other. With Gene Barry, Sterling Hayden and Gloria Grahame. Guess which role Gloria plays…
Veronica Mars 2019: The Complete First Season| Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray It’s a calculated bit of a misnomer — but any measure, this is really the fourth season (not counting the movie), although, technically it IS the first season on Hulu. Still, however you number it, it’s a good one, for those wondering when Veronica would finally embrace — or at least come to terms — with the fact she couldn’t be a “girl detective” forever. The writers took a chance, and a lot of fans were pissed at the conclusion of this series. But not all of them. I’m anxious to see what’ll happen in the fifth (or second?) series.
Noir Archive Volume 3: 1957-1960 9 Movie Collection | Buy the Blu-Ray Third (and final) budget priced Blu-Ray collection of lesser known noirs, chronologically presented, includingThe Crimson Kimono (1959), The Lineup (1958), Man on a String (1960), The Shadow in the Window (1956), The Tijuana Story (1957), The Long Haul (1957), Pickup Alley (1957), The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) and She Played with Fire (1957).
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: The Complete Series 50th Anniversary Mystery Mansion |Buy the 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray Set
For those of you yearning for something you can watch with the kids, what could be better than this four Blu-ray disc, limited-edition release, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the the Saturday morning cartoon world’s most lovable, mystery-solving dog, along with his best friend Shaggy (who may just have inhaled a time or two during commercial breaks), Thelma, Daphne and Fred? Handsomely packaged in a suitably haunted house, this special editioncomes with all forty-one episodes of the original Scooby-Doo Where Are You, a Scooby-Doo series, plus a Scooby-Doo Encyclopedia and a Scooby-Doo keychain, plus a slew of new bonus features, including My Life with Scooby, Frank Welker’s Animated Journey, A Scooby-Doo for Everyone, 50 Years of Scooby Snacks and a live-stage trailer for Scooby-Doo and the Lost City of Gold. Nostalgia? You’re soaking in it.
Shaft| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! With every new addition to the canon, Shaft in Africa looks better and better. Even three generations of Shaft can’t save this offensively stupid bit of filmmaking. Sorry, I can’t dig it.
True Detective: Season Three | Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! I’ve always had an uneasy affection for True Detective’s ambitious but occasionally overwrought pretensions, but third time’s the charm, more than making up for its two predecessors. It’s a slow-burn mediation on identity and memory and the dark crossroads where they meet, and what it means to be a true detective when the biggest mystery of all may be life itself, and it’s just so damn right on target it hurts. The strained but abiding friendship between the two Arkansas State detectives (played with straight-to-the-gut precision by Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff), as they work (and re-work) a case involving the disappearance of a two missing kids over the course of thirty-five years, is not just gripping but far more touching than I’d expected. Kudos to creator and showrunner Nic Pizzolatto for bringing it all home.
Mr. Mercedes Season Two| Buy the DVD Season two of the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s award-winning trilogy, featuring ex-cop Bill Hodges still trying to nail a young psycho known as “Mr. Mercedes,” even though he’s in a hospital bed in a coma. Or is he?
Noir Archive Volume 2: 1954-1956 9 Movie Collection | Buy the Blu-Ray Where are they finding this stuff? Bait (1954), The Crooked Web (1955), The Night Holds Terror (1955), Footsteps in the Fog (1955), Cell 2455, Death Row (1955), 5 Against the House (1955), New Orleans Uncensored (1955), Spin a Dark Web (1955) and Rumble on the Docks (1956) are all present and accounted for, although calling them “classics” may be a little optimistic.
The Thin Man| Buy this Blu-Ray| Watch it now!
The 1934 classic, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett, with a screenplay by the husband-and-wife team of Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, and directed by W.S. Van Dyke, finally comes to Blu-Ray. Starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as the ultimate high-living married detective duo, they’re on the hunt for a missing scientist in Depression-era New York City, swapping wisecracks and knocking down the cocktails along the way. Prohibition be damned!
The Shaft Collection| Buy the Blu-Ray Collects the first three films: the two good ones, and Shaft in Africa.
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.