Review: Four Film Noir Classics Vol 2
Blu-ray: Four Film Noir Classics Vol 2
- The Suspect (1944)
- The Sleeping City (1950)
- Thunder on the Hill (1951)
- Six Bridges to Cross (1955)
Following on from Vol 1, Arrow release another bundle of 4 great movies, each of them accompanied by the usual high quality special features that we’ve come to love and expect from Arrow.
Without giving too much away about each movie (as they all have their own particular narrative twists and turns), The Suspect stars Charles Laughton in top form (is he ever anything but!?) as a henpecked husband who finds companionship with a younger woman, and when his wife mysteriously dies by falling down the stairs, his drunken next door neighbour is given an opportunity to make some money by a determined detective who suspects foul play.
Laughton is superb as Philip Marshall; a man whose appetite for life has been stifled by the scraps of affection shown by his wife, while Rosalind Ivan as his overbearing wife Cora certainly elicits a feeling of growing annoyance as she continually acts in a negative way to everything before her.
Ella Raines is great as the young Mary Gary who befriends Marshall, bringing a sweet playful charm to the proceedings, despite the dogged efforts of Inspector Huxley (Stanley Ridges) who refuses to accept everything at face value and is sure that Marshall is hiding something.
Filmed on location at the hospital and utilising many of the staff as extra’s, director George Sherman brings an almost documentary feel to proceedings, never afraid to let the architecture and atmosphere of the rooms become a character themselves within the movie.
Thunder on the Hill is more confined with its sets, taking place mostly in a convent hospital, where Sister Mary Bonaventure (Claudette Colbert) becomes convinced that a convicted female murderer who is on her way to be hanged, before becoming trapped at the convent for a few days because of a flood, is indeed innocent of the crime she has been convicted off.
With an ending that can be guessed from the very beginning, Thunder on the Hill nevertheless keeps the viewer interested with a great performance by Colbert and a scene chewing performance by Ann Blyth as Valerie Carns, the woman who is travelling to her death.
Completing the set is Six Bridges to Cross (probably my favourite of all 4…though each of them is very good, which says a lot about the strength of the selection here), which has a stellar performance by Tony Curtis as Jerry Florea, a man whose life we witness from a young boy through to adulthood.
Jerry is streetwise and runs his mouth off at every opportunity. Unluckily for him though his legs don’t run quite as fast, and while fleeing from the cops he is shot and wounded by rookie cop Eddie Gallagher (George Nader) who then takes Jerry under his wing and tries to guide him in the right direction in life.
Unfortunately, Jerry is predetermined to live life on the edge and take chances on making money whether they be legal or not, which ultimately leaves Gallagher wondering if Jerry is a lost cause.
Spanning a good portion of both their lives, Six Bridges to Cross tells a compelling tale, keeping you interested and invested in everything playing out before you, all of it heightened by the cinematography of William H. Daniels who brings the streets of Boston alive in much the same way as he did with New York in The Naked City, creating a gritty realism that draws you ever deeper into the lives of the characters.
Featuring 4 great movies, a slew of special features (both digital and physical), along with eye-catching packaging that’ll look good on anyone’s shelves, this is another highly recommended box set to pick up ASAP.
- High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of all four films
- Original lossless mono audio on all films
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all films
- Audio commentaries by leading scholars and critics Farran Smith-Nehme (The Suspect), Imogen Sara Smith (The Sleeping City), Josh Nelson (Thunder on the Hill) and Samm Deighan (Six Bridges to Cross)
- It Had to be Done, a new interview in which author and scholar Alan K. Rode takes a detailed look at the life and work of Robert Siodmak director of The Suspect and other classic noirs
- The Real Deal, a new visual essay by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas looking at realism and reality in The Sleeping City
- José Arroyo on Thunder on the Hill, a new appreciation by the esteemed film scholar and critic
- Style and Place, a new visual essay by film critic Jon Towlson examining the work of celebrated cinematographer William H. Daniels
- Vintage radio play versions of The Suspect and Thunder on the Hill starring Charles Laughton, Ella Raines, Claudette Colbert and Barbara Rush
- Theatrical Trailers
- Poster and stills galleries
- Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
- Double-sided fold-out posters for each film featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
- Hardback collector’s book featuring new writing on the films by film critics Kat Ellinger, Philip Kemp and Jon Towlson [Limited Edition Exclusive]
Released 20th March 2023.
Review by Dave from discs kindly supplied by Arrow Films via Fetch Publicity.