Four Film Noir Classics
Film noir has had many influences. Long before the term was even coined, we had atmospheric studio-shot detective thrillers, whose characters gradually became more ambiguous, and whose locations started to take in the world outside (notably New York City). This collection showcases some classic examples. In The Dark Mirror (1946), directed by Robert Siodmak (The Killers), a man is murdered and there s an obvious suspect, but she has an identical twin sister (both played by Olivia de Havilland, Gone with the Wind), and one of them has a cast-iron alibi. The perfect crime? A psychologist with a specialist interest in twin psychology delves into the heart of the mystery, at considerable risk to himself. In Secret Beyond the Door (1947), Fritz Lang (The Big Heat) adapts the Bluebeard legend with a dash of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. Shortly after their marriage, Celia (Joan Bennett, Suspiria) begins to suspect her architect husband Mark (Michael Redgrave, Dead of Night) of having a secret past, and wonders about the reason behind multiple rooms in his self-designed home, one of which is kept permanently locked. In Abraham Polonsky's Force of Evil (1948), an unscrupulous lawyer (John Garfield, The Postman Always Rings Twice) scents a personal fortune when he concocts a plan to merge New York City's numbers rackets into a single powerful and unbreakable operation, but reckons without his brother, who d rather stay independent. And in Joseph H. Lewis ultra-stylish The Big Combo (1955), Lieutenant Diamond (Cornel Wilde, The Naked Prey) is determined to bring down mob boss Mr Brown (Richard Conte, Thieves Highway). But Brown feels the same way, and is far less constrained by the law, leading to some wince-inducing set pieces (some involving a pre-stardom Lee Van Cleef). This box set is loaded with bonus features.