CULVER CITY, CALIF. (September 9, 2009) - Photographed in an unmistakable visual style characterized by deep shadows and a foreboding atmosphere, film noir depicted a morally bankrupt universe of crime distinguished by violence, corruption and sexual tension. On November 3, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) and The Film Foundation will present five noir classics, together for the first time in one collection, Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume I. Restored and digitally re-mastered, this collection marks the fourth release under the creative partnership between SPHE and Martin Scorsese’s non-profit film preservation organization, The Film Foundation. The must-have Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume I features brilliant performances by Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin, Kim Novak, Eli Wallach and Gloria Grahame; the genre-defining cinematography of Burnett Guffey, (From Here to Eternity, Bonnie and Clyde), Hal Mohr (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Phantom of the Opera), and Lucien Ballard (The Devil is a Woman, The Killing, and The Wild Bunch); and focused, taut direction by celebrated directors including Fritz Lang (M, Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street), Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Killers), and Phil Karlson (Tight Spot, The Brothers Rico, and Kansas City Confidential). Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume I includes the critically-acclaimed masterpiece The Big Heat (1953), along with four films available on DVD for the first time: The Sniper (1952), 5 Against the House (1955), Murder By Contract (1958), and The Lineup (1958).
In addition, the bonus materials include special introductions by acclaimed directors including Academy Award® winning director Martin Scorsese (Best Director, The Departed, 2007), Academy Award-nominees Michael Mann (The Insider, Public Enemies) and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento). Acclaimed novelist James Ellroy (LA Confidential, Black Dahlia) and Film Noir Foundation founder Eddie Muller also provide commentaries. Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume I will be available as a five-disc set for $59.95 SRP.
About Film Noir
In the 1940's, a new genre - film noir - emerged from the world of “hard-boiled” pulp magazines, paperback thrillers and sensational crime movies. These films—tough, unsentimental—depicted a black-and-white universe at once brutal, erotic and morally ambiguous. The term film noir was coined by French film critics: the word ‘noir’ is French for ‘black,’ and refers as much to the films’ fatalistic world view as it does to the dark, shadowy cinematography. Noir films were heavily influenced by German Expressionist cinema of the 1920’s, but also by the social and cultural changes brought about after World War II. Returning GIs found their world changed, not only by their experience in the war, but also by a difficult re-adjustment to civilian life. Frank and aggressive portrayals of sexuality and criminality in the urban world lent noir films a very modern sophistication utterly different from the pre-war era of filmmaking.
The Sniper (1952):
Filmed in San Francisco, this Stanley Kramer production is one of the earliest studies of a murderous psychopath who kills randomly and without motive, making it almost impossible for the police to track him down. This noir pits the rationalism of law and psychiatry against the irrationality of post-traumatic stress and compulsive homicide. Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz and Marie Windsor star under the taut direction of Edward Dmytryk. The Sniper has a running time of 87 minutes and is not rated.
The Big Heat (1953):
Fritz Lang’s policier stars Glenn Ford as a loving husband and father driven by grief to conduct a relentless vendetta against mobster Alexander Scourby and his brutal henchman, Lee Marvin. Once dedicated to protect and serve, Ford sacrifices everything—principles, career, and even the woman who comes to him for protection—in a rage to destroy his gangland foes. With Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando and a young Carolyn Jones. The Big Heat has a running time of 90 minutes and is not rated.
5 Against the House (1955):
A quartet of Korean war vets—aided by a sizzling Kim Novak—plan a “perfect” crime - robbing a casino in Reno, Nevada. What starts out as a prank becomes deadly serious, especially for the one vet with psychopathic tendencies. Noir specialist Phil Karlson directs Novak, Guy Madison, Brian Keith, Kerwin Matthews, Alvy Moore and William Conrad. 5 Against the House has a running time of 84 minutes and is not rated.
Murder by Contract (1958):
Vince Edwards stars as a hired assassin whose latest “assignment” (Caprice Toriel) is about to testify against the mob. But this particular target is not so easy to get at. So he waits…and waiting gives the assassin what he needs least: time to think. The lean, efficient direction by Irving Lerner (City of Fear) is complimented by the stark black and white cinematography of Lucien Ballard (The Wild Bunch). Murder by Contract has a running time of 81 minutes and is not rated.
The Lineup (1958):
This double narrative follows two criminals involved in a dope smuggling scheme and the police who follow their trail of violence and death across the city of San Francisco. Making brilliant use of space and architecture, the film features a wildly disorienting car chase that culminates on the then-unfinished Embarcadero Freeway – literally, a road going nowhere. Don Siegel directs Eli Wallach as the cold-blooded hit man, with Warner Anderson and Emile Meyer as the cops hunting him down. Richard Jaeckel and Robert Keith co-star. The Lineup has a running time of 86 minutes and is not rated.
Special Features Include:
- Digitally Remastered Audio and Video
- Commentary with Authors Eddie Muller and James Ellroy on The Lineup
- Commentary with Author Eddie Muller on The Sniper
- Featurette: “Martin Scorsese on Murder by Contract”
- Featurette: “Martin Scorsese on The Sniper”
- Featurette: “Martin Scorsese on The Big Heat”
- Featurette: “Michael Mann on The Big Heat”
- Featurette: “The Influence of Noir with Christopher Nolan (The Lineup)”
Press release issued by and image courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.