New This Week
Australia has long produced high quality Blu-rays of Hollywood films unavailable in the U.S., but those Blu-rays were not playable on U.S. Region 1 players and available only as imports. Earlier this year, Australia’s Imprint label from ViaVision began releasing Hollywood films on region-free Blu-rays that will play on U.S. Region 1 players. While still available only as imports, they are, however, more widely distributed.
They have now released Essential Film Noir: Collection 1 consisting of four films that stretch the boundaries of what we commonly think of as film noir, all with commentary from well-known U.S. film noir experts.
Alan K. Rode handles the commentary on three of them: the classic Detective Story from 1951 as well as the lesser known Framed from 1947 and The Garment Jungle from 1957.
Detective Story was one of William Wyler’s best films. The three-time Oscar winner for Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Ben-Hur, received one of his nine other nominations for this adaptation of Sidney Kingsley’s 1949 Broadway hit. The film was also nominated for Best Actress (Eleanor Parker), Supporting Actress (Lee Grant), and Screenplay (Philip Yordan and Robert Walden), a reworking of the play that starred Ralph Bellamy and Meg Mundy in the roles played on screen by Kirk Douglas and Parker.
William Bendix shares over-the-title billing with Douglas and Parker as Douglas’ fellow detective in the story that takes place in one day in the life of a busy precinct. Lee Grant, in her film debut, reprises her role of the shoplifter from the play.
Douglas’ character is a hard-knuckled by-the-rules cop whose moral certainty is upended when his wife (Parker) is implicated in one of the cases he is investigating. The original storyline involved abortion, but that wouldn’t have been allowed at the time in which the film was made so the story is changed to a potential illegal adoption that ends in the death of the baby. Parker is devastating in this role, perhaps the finest of her career. Douglas and Bendix are riveting and the entire ensemble cast is equally strong, with Grant basically providing the film’s comic relief.
The Paramount film has never looked better.