Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has added five film noir classics to its June 9 DVD release calendar. Collectors, film fans and film noir affectionados will be very pleased with this line-up of film vault treasures!
Leading the way, chronologically-speaking, is director Anthony Mann’s wartime mystery, Two O'Clock Courage, teaming Tom Conway and Ann Rutherford in a film noir whodunit that has more twists and turns than a bag of pretzels.
He appears to be a man of means and she is just a cab driver, but their lives become intertwined when he staggers in front of her cab and is knocked cold … he can’t remember who he is and so she agrees to help him. But they soon discover that there is murder afoot and he is at the center of it!!!
Next up is director Edwin L. Martin’s 1945 film release of Johnny Angel, starring George Raft in the title role. The mystery of a ship adrift, a deadly stowaway, a fortune in gold, a mysterious woman and the foggy streets of New Orleans drive this film noir entry. Signe Hasso, Claire Trevor, Hoagy Carmichael, Marvin Miller and Margaret Wycherly are Raft’s co-stars.
It was during the Thanksgiving period of 1946 that future Oscar-winning director Robert Wise (1961, West Side Story; 1965, The Sound of Music) delivered one of his early directorial efforts, Criminal Court.
This RKO programmer, running a crisp 60-minutes, also starred Tom Conway, but this time as a top criminal defense attorney on the fast track to becoming the DA. He soon finds himself hip-deep in an accidental death that police promply spin into a murder and have a prime suspect with gun in hand!
There’s blackmail, double-dealing and his girlfriend (Martha O'Driscoll) is on the hook for the murder! Just when all seems lost — in a denouement that would make Perry Mason proud — Conway, cracks the case with a surprise witness and saves the love of his life!
The year 1947 brings us director Ted Tetzlaff’s Riff-Raff (aka: Riffraff), the next entry in this five-film promotion from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
The film begins with murder as an airplane passenger is pushed to his death by a fellow passenger (played by veteran character actor Marc Krah in his film debut) and his briefcase is taken.
Once in Panama, the mysterious killer contacts Dan Hammer (Pat O’Brien), an American ex-pat with a “cloudy” reputation and hires him as a bodyguard … and soon thereafter ends up dead. A mysterious map is at the center of it and everyone after it suspects that our boy Hammer is holding out on them. Anne Jeffreys, Walter Slezak, Percy Kilbride (best known as Pa Kettle) and Jason Robards Sr. co-star.
Lastly, we have — from 1949 — director Richard Fleischer’s The Clay Pigeon, starring Bill Williams (perhaps best knows as Kit Carson in the 1950s television series, The Adventures of Kit Carson) as former POW on trial for treason, who takes it on the lam to prove his innocence. With the help of the future Della Street — Barbara Hale — he not only clears his name, but exposes a vast post-war counterfeiting ring in the process!!!