Title: The Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 5
Silent or Talkie: Talkie
In the last few years, the Film Noir subculture has been springing to life via DVD. Though these cynical movies have been around for decades, it seems as though they are being rediscovered and appreciated by today’s generation. Since 2004, Warner Brothers has been releasing noir films through their Film Noir Classic Collection line. The fifth installment of that series was released on July 13, 2010 and includes a few popular crime films as well as some lesser-known dark stories.
Instead of focusing on the individual films (Cornered, Desperate, The Phenix City Story, Deadline at Dawn, Armored Car Robbery, Crime in the Streets, Dial 1119, and Backfire), I think the major draw here is the diversity of the set. Much of film noir is based in postwar America, that is, the years which directly followed the end of World War II. However, it’s been argued by many that noir stretched far into the 1950s, past the popularization of television as a medium. Both periods are represented here in Volume 5, from 1945’s Cornered to 1956’s Crime in the Streets. The first Film Noir set in Warner’s line boasted more widely-celebrated films (Out of the Past and Murder My Sweet, among others), but as time goes on and more sets are released, it seems as though the “B-noir” is taking precedence. Some noir enthusiasts prefer the B-film, as the facelessness of the cast often lends itself to the grittiness of the plot. There are others who want big names attached to everything, and for that crowd, the lower-budget films strike out.
Another thing to be said about these sets, especially Volume 5, is that they include no bonus features (except the obligatory trailers – and even those are not included for every film), which certainly serves as a detriment to those who enjoy comprehensive film releases. The main focus is, of course, the films themselves, and whether or not any time or effort was spent restoring them. In that regard, these eight movies look as good as can be expected. You can expect to see unknown actors in addition to a few noir veterans like Dick Powell and Charles McGraw.
The bottom line is straightforward. If you love Film Noir, you’ll love this set. As a completist, it’s a must-have. I’m not sure about the selection process as far as which films are slated for inclusion, but one thing I can say is that there are enough noir films to keep these sets coming for a number of years.
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