Thursday, March 23, 2006

Noir Town

According to DVD Beaver, the contents of the next Warner Brothers Film Noir box are:

- On Dangerous Ground (1952) - Nicholas Ray directs noir A-lister Robert Ryan as a rogue cop who falls for the sister (Ida Lupino) of the murderer he's trying to catch. Bernard Herrmann wrote the score.
- His Kind of Woman (1951) - A nutty but incredibly enjoyable Howard Hughes production, from the period where he was basically running RKO into the ground. It's got Mr. noir himself, Robert Mitchum, and Hughes favorite Jane Russell shimmying around, and Vincent Price in a movie-stealing performance as an actor trying to be a tough guy in real life. (Mitchum: "I'm too young to die. You?" Price: "Too well-known.")
- The Racket (1951) - I don't know how noir this is; it's more of a straightforward crime-fighting story, with honest cops taking down the titular racket. However, it's an RKO film that has Robert Ryan and Robert Mitchum and Lizabeth Scott, so it's noir even if it isn't.
- Border Incident (1949) - One of a surprisingly large number of tough, gritty movies MGM made in the late '40s and early '50s -- after Louis B. Mayer started losing power at the studio, its reputation as a home of family-friendly escapism wasn't really operative any more -- this is about a Mexican federal agent (Ricardo Montalban) who teams up with an American fed (George Murphy) to stop corrupt businessmen who smuggle illegal workers into California and then exploit them for no money. Great location photography by John Alton; the director, Anthony Mann, would the following year become one of the top directors of Westerns.
- Lady in the Lake (1947), also known as "The one where director/star Robert Montgomery shot the whole thing from the point of view of the unseen Philip Marlowe," or "Robert Montgomery's bizarre experiment," or "What was Robert Montgomery thinking?" Something must have been in the air in the late '40s, since the following year Alfred Hitchcock would pull off an almost equally bizarre experiment (shooting Rope in what looked like one uninterrupted take). As for Lady in the Lake, I would have liked to have seen what the underrated Montgomery could have done as an on-screen Philip Marlowe.

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