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So Dark the Night (1946)                Johnny O'Clock (1947)                  Walk a Crooked Mile (1948)

Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)                     Walk East on Beacon (1952)

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 hysteria 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)
The Red Scare had reached a fever pitch when 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. But 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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The world of noir is cold and unforgiving, but after many twists and turns of the plot, sometimes there is a bittersweet happy end. After waiting for over a year, Sony Pictures and TCM brings us volume IV of their Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Collection - Volume 1 - - Volume 2 - - Volume 3.

The set includes 4 top-notch noir classics - So Dark the Night (1946), Johnny O'Clock (1947), Walk a Crooked Mile (1948), Between Midnight and Dawn (1950) - plus a fifth near-noir misfire Walk East on Beacon (1952).
I'll start with bad news about the presentation on the discs - looks like the transfers were incorrectly authored, as first reported at Home Theater Forum and explained in this topic. There is certain judder for all five films, although I did not notice this issue when viewing on a laptop. The issue became more evident on a large monitor, when I was specifically looking for it. Besides that, the transfers look nice with good contrast and no damage on the print.

The mono audio is adequate and there are some extras included in the set - an intro by Martin Scorsese, picture galleries and theatrical trailer for 3 of the films (both Walks are without one). Walk a Crooked Mile Publicity Still gallery is actually for Johnny O'Clock. A curious extra is a pdf of a Comic Book Adaptation of Walk East on Beacon. The set is sold exclusively at TCM shop and Movies Unlimited. The films are highly recommended (at least four of them,) but we hope the authoring problem gets fixed soon.

  - Gregory Meshman

 

directed by Joseph H. Lewis
USA 1946

 

So Dark The Night poses a tough challenge: It's very hard to write about it in any detail without ruining it for those who haven't yet seen it. Since it remains quite obscure, that includes just about everybody. The movie will strike those familiar with its director Joseph H. Lewis' better known titles in the noir cycle – Gun Crazy, The Big Combo, even My Name Is Julia Ross, which in its brevity it resembles – as an odd choice.

For starters, the bucolic French countryside serves as its setting. Steven Geray, a middle-aged detective with the Surété in Paris, sets out for a vacation in the village of Ste. Margot (or maybe Margaux). Quite unexpectedly, he finds himself falling in love with the inkeepers' daughter (Micheline Cheirel), even though she's betrothed to a rough-hewn local farmer. But the siren song of life in Paris is hard to resist, so she agrees to marry him, despite the disparity in their ages, which inevitably becomes the talk of the town.

But on the night of their engagement party, she fails to return to the inn. Soon, a hunchback finds her body by the river. Her jealous, jilted lover is the logical suspect, but he, too, is found dead. Then anonymous notes threaten more deaths, which come to pass. For the first time in his career, the bereaved Geray finds himself stumped....

Excerpt of review from Bill McVicar for imdb.com located HERE

Theatrical Release: 12 September 1946 (premiere)

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DVD Review: Sony Pictures / TCM (Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:10:09
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.5 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 Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures / TCM

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Martin Scorsese Introduction (3:35)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:35)
• Galleries (stills, photos, posters, lobby cards)
• TCMDb Article

DVD Release Date: September 16th, 2013
5 discs in a digipack

Chapters 8

 

 


 


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directed by Robert Rossen
USA 1947

 

At the centre of Rossen's film noir debut feature is Dick Powell's hard bitten Johnny, a casino manager and junior partner in a gambling club who has a selfish streak a mile wide. O'Clock gets up late, always looks after number one, and has enjoyed a twenty year partnership with club owner Pete Marchettis. To him - as he confesses to Nancy - a new roulette wheel is just as attractive as a woman. But there are cracks in his icy façade. He's had an affair with Marchetti's wife and she still wants him back. O'Clock's weakness (if one can see it like that) is the underlying humanity in his makeup, an eventual need for affection in the arms of a woman. Although resolutely cold to Mrs Marchetti, the death of the Hobbs sister and his growing distaste for the cop Blaydon (elegantly conveyed in the discarded-sandwich scene they share close to the start of the film) gradually reveal his emotional feet of clay. In fact Blaydon reflects many of the unpleasant aspects of O'Clock's character, ones which could so easily come to dominate his personality: total greed and emotional coldness. The resolute Inspector Koch (Lee J. Cobb in an excellent cigar-chomping heavy performance) is hounding them both and, despite his casual coolness, we feel that inside O'Clock is secretly nettled by a feeling of oncoming nemesis.

Excerpt of review from FilmFlaneur for imdb.com located HERE

Theatrical Release: 23 January 1947 (USA)

Reviews        More Reviews

DVD Review: Sony Pictures / TCM (Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:35:33
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.5 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 Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures / TCM

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (1:37)
• Galleries (stills, photos, posters, lobby cards, pressbook)

DVD Release Date:
5 discs in a digipack

Chapters 11


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


 

directed by Gordon Douglas
USA 1948

 

Walk a Crooked Mile was filmed almost entirely on location. FBI agent Dan O'Hara (Dennis O'Keefe) and Scotland Yard operative Philip Grayson (Louis Hayward) team up to investigate a security leak at a Southern California atomic plant. The investigation takes place in San Francisco, where a communist spy ring flourishes. Actors as Raymond Burr and Philip Van Zandt play the communist agents.

The documentary technique gives a factual gloss to the melodramatic format. Action moves back and forth between San Francisco and the atomic plant in southern California. Gordon Douglas' knowledgeable directing keeps the film moving forward. He manages to build suspense through misdirection. The method used to take information out of the atomic plant is well protected thus keeping you guessing.

Excerpt of review from gene-86 for imdb.com located HERE

Theatrical Release: 2 September 1948 (USA)

Reviews        More Reviews  

DVD Review: Sony Pictures / TCM (Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:31:03
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.24 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 Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures / TCM

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Galleries (stills, posters, lobby cards)

DVD Release Date:
5 discs in a digipack

Chapters 10


Screen Captures

 

 


 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


(aka "Prowl Car" )

 

directed by Gordon Douglas
USA 1950

 

Optimism and pessimism fight it out Between Midnight and Dawn, an entertaining and well-crafted crime melodrama from 1950. These competing worldviews are embodied in the characters of prowl-car officers Rocky Barnes (Mark Stevens) and Dan “Pappy” Purvis (Edmond O’Brien). After having bonded as Marines on Guadalcanal, the pair returned to Los Angeles and a continued partnership as cops. The laid-back and gregarious Rocky came through his war in better shape than Dan, who in typical Edmond O’Brien fashion is bitter, cynical, and brooding. Dan has trouble seeing the world in anything other than black and white — people are either all good or all bad, as he says to Rocky in a telling early exchange, “Wait until you’ve had your fill of the scum. Slugging, knifing, shooting holes in decent people. You’ll toughen up, junior.”

The film opens with an especially noirish sequence where Rocky and Dan respond to a report of suspicious activity at a warehouse. They discover two young women in a parked car on the lonely street outside the run down building, doing a piss-poor job looking out for their beaus up to no good inside. Rocky and Dan put the bracelets on the girls and make for the warehouse. Inside, they corner the suspects and short gunfight ensues — Rocky grazes one of the youths with a shot from his service piece. Back at the station, the delinquents put on a tough act, but one of the girls falls apart, pleading and “blubbering” (per Dan) to be let go. Though Rocky wonders about justice for a wayward teenager, it’s plain that age and gender don’t carry any water with Dan — stone-faced as the hysterical girl is taken into custody, screaming over and over “I don’t want to go to jail!” as she’s dragged away.

The scene does much to establish the competing personalities of the two partners, as well as the noir milieu of Between Midnight and Dawn. Although the dark visual framework of the picture is thoroughly realized by noir stalwart George Diskant (The Narrow Margin, On Dangerous Ground), the narrative is just as distinctive. Rocky and Dan live in an uncertain world of deteriorating values in which people are not what they appear to be. Two innocent-looking girls in a parked car are engaged in larceny, shop owners live in fear of all-powerful criminals, and children in the street are as prone to violence as hardened felons. Even the most innocent character in the film, love interest Kate Mallory (Gale Storm), initially deceives the pair — though her fib is understandable: as the daughter of an old-guard Irish cop who was gunned down in the line of duty, Kate, who works as a dispatcher, is reluctant to begin a relationship with the infatuated Rocky, who has quietly fallen in love with her sultry voice, which he hears each night through the prowl car’s radio.

Excerpt of review from Mark Fertig at Where Danger Lives located HERE

Theatrical Release: 28 September 1950 (premiere)

Reviews        More Reviews 

DVD Review: Sony Pictures / TCM (Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:28:57
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.5 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 Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures / TCM

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (2:19)
• Galleries (stills, posters, lobby cards)

DVD Release Date:
5 discs in a digipack

Chapters 10

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


(aka "The Crime of the Century" )

 

directed by Alfred L. Werker
USA 1952

 

The Red Scare had reached a fever pitch when 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. But 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.

Theatrical Release: 29 April 1952 (premiere)

Reviews        More Reviews  

DVD Review: Sony Pictures / TCM (Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:37:30
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.5 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 Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures / TCM

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Galleries (stills, photos, posters, lobby cards, comic book)
• PDF file of a Comic Book Adaptation of the film

DVD Release Date:
5 discs in a digipack

Chapters 11


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Sony Pictures / TCM

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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