Chris Hicks: Film noir thrillers lead the latest batch of vintage movies to arrive on DVD
The latest manufactured-on-demand titles available online are mostly film noir thrillers, along with a true-story TV movie, a soap opera and a pirate action picture. (All films listed here are available at warnerarchive.com)
“Affair in Trinidad” (Sony Choice, 1952, b/w, $18.95). Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford have crackling chemistry, which explains why they were cast together in five films, most famously "Gilda." This one isn't quite up to that level, but it's good. Hayworth's husband is killed, and she's recruited by Trinidad police to find out who did it and why. Then Ford, as her clueless brother-in-law, shows up to do some investigating of his own.
“Bill Elliott Detective Mysteries” (Warner Archive, 1955-57, b/w, two discs, $29.95, five movies). Elliott was a B-Western star at Columbia, Republic and finally Monogram, which switched to Allied Artists in the mid-1950s and abandoned Westerns. So Elliott finished out his contract — and, as it happened, his movie career — with five modern-day thrillers as police detective Andy Doyle (“Andy Flynn” in the first film). And they’re pretty good: “Dial Red ‘0,’ ” “Sudden Danger,” “Calling Homicide,” “Chain of Evidence” and “Footsteps in the Night.”
“Firefighter” (Sony Choice, 1986, $18.95). Nancy McKeon, best known for the sitcom “The Facts of Life,” here plays real-life Cindy Fralick, showing the difficulties she faced in her goal to become the first woman firefighter on the Los Angeles force. McKeon is quite good, and this TV film is engaging.
“Lady By Choice” (Sony Choice, 1934, b/w, $18.95). Carole Lombard is a fan dancer fighting a morals charge, so she “adopts” an elderly woman (May Robson) at a nursing home to play her mother, hoping to turn around her image. Turns out, Robson is a homeless alcoholic sent to the facility by a judge. But, of course, she sees the error of her ways and helps Lombard clean up her own act. No relation to Frank Capra’s “Lady For a Day,” which earned Robson an Oscar nomination, though it was sold as such.
“The Miami Story” (Sony Choice, 1954, b/w, $18.95). Ex-con Barry Sullivan goes undercover for police to bring down a crime boss (Luther Adler) who had him framed for murder. Beverly Garland co-stars.
“The Pirates of Blood River” (Sony Choice, 1962, $18.95). Colorful but familiar pirate tale bolstered by an attractive cast led by Kerwin Mathews, Glenn Corbett, Christopher Lee and Oliver Reed.
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