Film Noir Classics, Vol. 4 (TCM Vault)
So Dark the Night (1946), Johnny O'Clock (1947), Walk a Crooked Mile (1948), Between Midnight and Dawn (1950), Walk East on Beacon! (1952)
Sony's Film Noir Classics sets continue with Film Noir Classics, Vol. 4 due on August 6th.
Released via the TCM Vault line, all five films are new to DVD. Bonus features abound like previous Vault releases. Available exclusively for purchase at TCM.com, this set will be available for rent here at ClassicFlix and nowhere else!
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, The Film Foundation and Turner Classic Movies again partner to present the fourth collection in this series, Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV.
These five films, all fully restored and remastered and never before released on DVD, showcase the work of directors Joseph H. Lewis, Robert Rossen, Gordon Douglas and Alfred L. Werker—all of them masters at creating taut and atmospheric visions from morally-strained hard-boiled stories.
The collection also highlights the genre-defining cinematography of Burnett Guffey and George E. Diskant, and iconic performances by film noir mainstays Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, Lee J. Cobb, Dennis O'Keefe and Edmond O'Brien, who excelled at revealing the raw heart that beat beneath noir's tough exteriors.
So Dark the Night (1946)
Director Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy, 1950) established his reputation as a talented stylist by wrangling a complicated story—of a Parisian detective (Steven Geray) who falls in love while on vacation, only to see the woman murdered—into a taut and atmospheric film noir.
Overcoming the challenges of recreating the French countryside in Canoga Park, California, and working with a cast of virtual unknowns, Lewis and noir cinematographer extraordinaire Burnett Guffey craft one of the great surprise endings in all of noir, which would inspire such films as Possessed (1948) and Memento (2000).
Johnny O'Clock (1947)
Johnny O'Clock (Dick Powell) is a junior partner in a posh casino with Guido Marchettis (Thomas Gomez), but is senior in the eyes of Nelle (Ellen Drew)—Guido's wife and Johnny's ex. This love triangle leads to a web of complications, leaving Police Inspector Koch (Lee J. Cobb) to unravel the threads of deceit and a murdered casino employee's sister (Evelyn Keyes) to tug on Johnny's heartstrings before it's too late.
Applying Raymond Chandler's dictum that a good plot is an excuse for a series of exciting scenes, rookie director Robert Rossen strings together tense vignettes—brought vividly to life by cinematographer Burnett Guffey.
Walk a Crooked Mile (1948)
Director Gordon Douglas drew on mounting anti-Communist fervor to create one of the first Cold War films—the tale of an FBI agent (Dennis O'Keefe) and a Scotland Yard detective (Louis Hayward) who must bust a spy ring led by a ruthless agent (Raymond Burr) working to infiltrate an atomic research facility.
Producer Eddie Small stood tall in a battle against FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to produce the film without interference, arguing the Bureau was fair game for fictionalization. But Hoover had the last word, writing The New York Times to say the FBI had not sanctioned the film.
Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)
Dan Purvis (Edmund O'Brien) and Rocky Barnes (Mark Stevens) are lifelong pals who survived WWII and continue their armed service as uniformed prowl car boys on the night shift in LA. But their friendship is tested by their ongoing battle with a ruthless racketeer (Donald Buka), the love they share for a beautiful radio announcer (Gale Storm) and Dan's uncompromising and exaggerated sense of justice.
Often seen as the first example of the now commonplace buddy cop movie, this film demonstrates that the genre has always been rife with tension.
Walk East on Beacon! (1952)
Director Alfred L. Werker (He Walked by Night) adapted this tale of Communist spies stealing secrets about the Manhattan Project. The source material was a Reader's Digest article by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and the movie shares Hoover's obsession with surveillance, creating an atypical noir focused on technology rather than obsessed with character psychology.
However, the film did make abundant use of the mean streets with over 14 weeks of location shooting throughout the northeast, thus providing a rare snapshot of an era in American life—its physical locations and its mental state.
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