Immersed in DVD: Dark Crimes

Three hard-boiled film noir treasures from the ’40s  — The Glass Key, Phantom Lady, and The Blue Dahlia — are now available for the first time in a three-disc DVD collection, Dark Crimes: Film Noir Thrillers from the TCM Vault Collection and Universal Studios Home Ent. (exclusively through TCM’s online store).

The Glass Key (1942) is a noteworthy Dashiell Hammett adaptation directed by Stuart Heisler and starring Brian Donlevy, Alan Ladd, and Veronica Lake. It’s stylish and brutal depiction of political corruption and organized crime was not only the inspiration for Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo but also the Coen brothers’ Miller’s Crossing. Ladd’s stoic coolness helped propel him to stardom. The masochism of his beating by William Bendix, however, is the highlight of the movie.

Phantom Lady (1944), adapted from Cornell Woolrich, brought director Robert Siodmak to the forefront with his elegant depiction of psychopathic artistry and sexual fervor set in sweltering New York City. With Ella Raines, Franchot Tone, and Elisha Cook Jr. (unforgettable in a frenzied jazz drumming solo that climaxes with orgiastic heat).

The Blue Dahlia (1946) re-teams Ladd, Lake, and Bendix in a polished post-war murder mystery fueled by infidelity and amnesia directed by George Marshall, produced by John Houseman, and scripted by Raymond Chandler (who earned an Oscar nomination). Here Ladd is a far more likable hero and Bendix more sympathetic as a war victim.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Home Entertainment, Movies

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