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Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 5

Cornered (1945)         Deadline at Dawn (1946)        Desperate (1947)

Backfire (1950)        Armored Car Robbery (1950)         Dial 1119 (1950)

The Phenix City Story (1955)        Crime in the Streets (1956)



Out of the vaults and into the light: a fascinating 4-Disc Set showcasing 8 genre gems rich with the intensity and diversity of noir! Disc 1 wreaks revenge, with Dick Powell on the hunt in Cornered and Steve Brodie on the lam in Desperate. Caught-in-the-act immediacy highlights Disc 2’s corruption exposé The Phenix City Story and the hostage drama Dial 1119. Disc 3 turns procedural with noir ace Charles McGraw bulldogging the perps of an Armored Car Robbery then turns to social-conscience filmmaking with Crime in the Streets (John Cassavetes and Sal Mineo star). An unfatale femme is rare in noir but invaluable when strong dames help their men out of jams, as do Disc 4’s Susan Hayward in Deadline at Dawn and Virginia Mayo in Backfire. Step into the shadows and suspense.





Cornered (1945):
From England to continental Europe to Buenos Aires, ex-RCAF pilot Dick Powell stalks the Nazi collaborator who murdered his bride. But one fact constantly surfaces during his quest: no one can describe the mysterious man. Joining Powell in the film shadows are the director and other key talent behind Murder, My Sweet of the year before.

Deadline At Dawn (1946):
A gangster's sister lies dead. All clues point to sailor Bill Williams as the murderer. Slated to depart for duty at dawn, the swabbie, aided by good-hearted dime-a-dancer Susan Hayward and affable cabbie Paul Lukas, has mere hours to prove his innocence. The tangy Clifford Odets script is based on a novel by William Irish (pseudonym of Cornell Woolrich).

Desperate (1947):
Desperate is the first of seven atmospheric noirs directed by Anthony Mann. Steve Brodie is a postwar every man who accepts what he thinks is an honest trucking job, only to find he's the driver in a botched heist that puts Brodie and his bride (Audrey Long) on the run from the cops and the cons who planned the job (including chief thug Raymond Burr).

Backfire (1950):
Vincent Sherman directs this gripping yarn about recovering war veteran Gordon MacRae's quest to prove pal Edmond O'Brien innocent of murder. Aiding him is his resourceful nurse Virginia Mayo. And a secretive doctor, a lively undertaker, a desperate gambler, a dying witness and a haunting Viennese melody all lead them to a shocking climax.

Armored Car Robbery (1950):
Richard Fleischer directs this brute-force milestone about a deadly heist and the battle of wits and firepower between a fugitive gangster (William Talman) and his stripper moll (Adele Jergens) and a bulldog cop (Charles McGraw), out to avenge his partner's death, who uses hidden microphones, lab work and his own well-honed instincts to close the net.

Dial 1119 (1950):
An asylum inmate escapes to the city, where he takes hostages at a local dive, guns down a bar employee and warns authorities his captives will be next if the doctor whose testimony first put him away doesn't arrive within the hour. A bit of casting irony goes with the movie's then-novel use of TV news coverage: actors Marshall Thompson, William Conrad, Keefe Brasselle and Leon Ames would have significant career ventures in television.

The Phenix City Story (1955):
Corruption, brutality and vice plagued Phenix City, Alabama, for 100 years, so who would dare to change it? Based on real-life events and filmed on location in what was called Sin City USA, director Phil Karlson's semi-documentary tells the jolting tale of those who risked their lives to bring the burg's syndicate of thugs and murderers to justice.

Crime in the Streets (1956):
Following a turf rumble with a rival group, a street gang leader (John Cassavetes) tells his gang to do what they've never done before: kill a snitch. Reginald Rose wrote and Don Siegel directs a jazz-riffing screen version of a tale first seen on TV and co-starring James Whitmore and Sal Mineo.


Theatrical Releases: 1945 - 1956

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Warner (4-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC


DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Warner - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:42:21, 1:13:09, 1:40:06, 1:14:51, 1:31:00, 1:07:21, 1:30:39 + 1:22:54
Bitrate: Cornered + Desperate
Bitrate: The Phenix City Story + Dial 1119
Bitrate: Crime in the Streets + Armored Car Robbery
Bitrate: Backfire + Deadline at Dawn
Audio English (original mono)
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
1.85 aspect ratio: Crime in the Streets, The Phenix City Story
1.33 aspect ratio: Armored Car Robbery, Backfire, Cornered, Deadline at Dawn, Desperate, Dial 1119

Edition Details:
• Cornered (2:21) and Dial 1119 (2:36) trailers

DVD Release Date:
July 13th, 2010
Custom case (see image above)
Chapters: 12 X 8


DVDBeaver recommends all 7 Noir Collections from Warner and Sony (43 films and counting!):




For starters this is an incredible set - outside the Warner Archive we've gone through a long drought with that studio on vintage and Noir titles but this eight film collection - on pressed DVDs - seems to make up for it. What a grand selection of quintessential 'dark cinema' films. Summer 2010 seems like a real bonanza for Noir fans starting with VCI's New York Confidential followed by the 5 film Sony The Film Noir Collection: Volume 2 being released the week prior to this and at the end of the month Olive films have Lewis Allen's Appointment With Danger, William Dieterle's Dark City and Rudolph Mate's Union Station. This isn't the debatable dregs of the style either - this is the crème de la crème with all of the films represented by this Film Noir Classics Collection 5 being highly both rated and seemingly essential to the cycle.

The eight feature films of this boxset are all filmed in black and white and share, two per disc, on individual, progressively rendered, dual-layered DVD discs essentially making each transfer considered single-layered. They are all in the original aspect ratios - 1:85, 16X9, anamorphically, enhanced for Crime in the Streets and The Phenix City StoryArmored Car Robbery, Backfire, Cornered, Deadline at Dawn, Desperate and Dial 1119 are in their original 1.33:1.Each disc is coded for Regions 1 in the NTSC standard. They have original mono audio (or 2.0 channel stereo) and each offer optional English, French or Spanish subtitles in an off-white font with black border.

NOTE: The Phenix City Story has the, approximately 12-minute long, newsreel-documentary style prologue before the title credits.

The package (image above) is a four tiered Digi-pak housed inside a handsome cardboard slipcase.  

Image quality:  Like previous Warner vintage film offerings their transfer method is adept. Aside from some very minor speckles the image quality of all eight films is clean and consistent. Contrast is strong and detail at the standard that many have come to expect. It is all very positive on the visuals front - my least approving response might be too Crime in the Streets that looks a little heavier and softer than the rest and The Phenix City Story may be a shade green. Generally greytones and shadow detail are excellent - especially taking into consideration that the 2 films are shared on a dual-layered disc. I came across no extensive damage or distracting noise. Warner shines in this area - I wouldn't expect anyone would be unhappy with the image presentations. Hopefully the below screen captures will give a decent representation of what you may find on your own system.

NOTE: the Warner edition of Desperate far outshines the European version compared HERE. We don't need to compare any captures to identify this...

Audio was acceptable with all dialogue discernable and without major faux-pas like devastating dropouts, pops or background hiss. It was consistent and clear enough and is supported with clear, readable optional subtitles.


Unlike the previous Warner Noir boxsets number 5 doesn't offer any commentaries. Perhaps we were spoilt with excellent discussions from the likes of Eddie Muller, Dana Polan, Alain Silver or James Ursini. Personally these discussions dramatically escalated the value of the collections. We only get two trailers here - one from Cornered (2:21) and another from Dial 1119 (2:36). That is all this time.


This is golden despite the lack of supplements. The films are top-shelf Noir and I can't see any true fan of the style not indulging. We are talking of less than $5 a film - and these are GREAT films! An easy recommendation - let's hope this is the start of a new run on Noir by Warner for pressed disc collections.

Gary W. Tooze



Sample DVD Menus



Cornered (1945)


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Deadline at Dawn (1946)


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Desperate (1947)


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Backfire (1950)


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Armored Car Robbery (1950)
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Dial 1119 (1950)


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The Phenix City Story (1955)


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Crime in the Streets (1956)


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:




Distribution Warner - Region 1 - NTSC




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Gary Tooze

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