Forgotten Noir, Vol. 1

Portland Expose             They Were So Young

Comments:

Described as 'This Forgotten Film Noir includes Portland Expose and They Were So Young. In the 1950's LIFE Magazine printed a blistering expose on the rampant sin, crime and Teamsters-controlled corruption that at the time had a stronghold on Portland, Oregon. Producer Lindsley Parsons seized upon the considerable publicity and assembled a cast of great character actors for the starring roles. Although the film crew was threatened with physical violence, the result is a dark and gritty filmed-on-location crime drama that contains considerable violence for a 1950's movie, most notably a violent rape scene with the Frank Gorshin character and a teenage girl. The second feature, They Were So Young: Five European models arrive in Rio de Janeiro and become trapped in a white slavery ring. An exciting crime melodrama with Raymond Burr at his villainous best!'

Lots to debate here - whether both features fit snugly into the Noir style and were they both shown widescreen theatrically? I'd say VCI are being somewhat liberal with their claims but those in the know will not be expecting much from one of these cheapo Double Featured discs. I've made my individual assessments below.  

Gary W. Tooze

 

 

Directed by Harold D. Schuster
USA 1957

 

  This easily slides into the Noir style with gangsters, corruption, a protection racket and back bar room gambling/arcade machines (seedy underbelly of society). Nice to see Frank Gorshin and the steady Ed Binns. The film has some moments - well meaning in its expose of Teamsters strongholds (and the commentary can bear this out). For the 50's it has some exceptional realism and a kind of gritty edge that elevates the narrative to a certain degree. Now, this is no masterpiece but its a good film, and peering under the surface it is quite fascinating. I think Noir fans will enjoy it and the clandestine appeal is another bonus.

Gary W. Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 11th, 1957

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DVD Review: VCI Video - Region 0 - NTSC

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The Forgotten Noir Collector's Set (Vol 1-3) contains Portland Exposé, Arson, Inc., Loan Shark, Shoot To Kill, They Were So Young and The Shadow Man. It is a substantial savings but we are unsure of the packaging.

             

Distribution VCI Video - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:12:03 
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.52 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: VCI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Assistant Director Lindsley Parsons Jr.
• Original Theatrical Trailers
• Original Advertising Material
• Bios - Photo Gallery

DVD Release Date: April 25th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

The transfer is quite weak - only tube acceptable - it is very dirty at times and has visible 'combing' in every 3rd frame during all horizontal movement (indicating it is not from an HD source). It is not very sharp but viewing via CRT (cathode ray tube) shouldn't deter enjoyment of the film. The captures below are a good representation. Audio is relatively consistent and there are no optional subtitles. The commentary is quite interesting and its inclusion a surprising and very positive effort. Incidents of skirting real life 'gangsters' or Teamsters leaning on them during production give a great background to appreciating the film and its intent. This film is worthy of being restored or transferred by a superior production house. As it stand the price is the final word and it's far too reasonably priced to pass up on this dual layered DVD shared with They Were So Young and some relevant extras.

NOTE: As for being widescreen (1.85) - I'm still unsure - it seems unlikely but not totally unrealistic - composition shows some tight head shots, but, as I said, I am not 100% sure either way.

Gary W. Tooze

 





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(aka 'Mannequins für Rio')

 

Directed by Kurt Neumann
USA 1954

 

 It might be a bit of a stretch to stick the Noir  moniker on it, but its such a nebulous label that it might be quibbling as it is definitely a low budget piece with a focus of crime/mystery. Scott Brady and Raymond Burr fill their characters shoes adeptly and the plot - a salaciously marketed melodrama about a German girl lured to Brazil for "modeling" who is eventually trapped in a white slavery racket - has some definite merits. Although initially financed as German film, I see no evidence of weak dubs - its possible director Kurt Neumann, having already done English cinema as well, was flexible enough to make the determination (of international versions) just prior wrapping up the production ends for an American release. There are some real political overtones that reveal themselves after the main plot appears complete. A good but not a great film - just interesting viewing for those keen on the era and pulpy/adventurous feel. I always like seeing Burr and he is quite a dastardly chap here.

Gary W. Tooze

Poster

Theatrical Release: October 20th, 1954

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Review: VCI Video - Region 0 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

The Forgotten Noir Collector's Set (Vol 1-3) contains Portland Exposé, Arson, Inc., Loan Shark, Shoot To Kill, They Were So Young and The Shadow Man. It is a substantial savings but we are unsure of the packaging.

             

Distribution VCI Video - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:17:39 
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.52 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles  None
Features Release Information:
Studio: VCI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Original Theatrical Trailers
• Original Advertising Material
• Bios - Photo Gallery

DVD Release Date: April 25th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

This transfer is a little better than Portland Expose (the film it shares the dual layered DVD with) - it is sharper but still is not progressive (from HD) and hence exhibits the same 'combing' effect. It is cleaner but still has a few marks. It apparently was shown theatrically at 1.85 so the anamorphisizing to 1.78 is not unwarranted. The image is not perfect by any standard but it is certainly tube acceptable. No commentary for this one but it has some star bios and production marketing mixed in with those for Portland Expose. Heck, even as a near Noir you can't beat the price.

Gary W. Tooze

 





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Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

 


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Distribution VCI Video - Region 0 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

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