BECK Various directors/Arrow Blu-Ray Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s Martin Beck is one of Nordic Noir’s most iconic detectives enshrining the good-cop/bad-cop dichotomy with his unvarnished partner, Gunvald Larsson. Based on the characters more than the novels of the groundbreaking Beck detective series of novels by the Swedish Marxist duo, Beck sees the saturnine sleuth transferred to the TV screen with (generally speaking) some success. Beck is in fact the market leader for the Noir genre. This box of five feature-length films (four from the latest season and one from the previous, the latter receiving a theatrical release in Sweden) finds Beck looking into death of a young woman found strangled in a hotel room, a gangster kingpin executed by a sniper in front of his family, a terrorist attack and a suspicious hospital death which sourly turns out to be premeditated murder. Starring Peter Haber (notable in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) as Beck and Mikael Persbrandt as Larsson, the drama’s combination of complex woven details of police detection and strongly realised characters combined with convoluted storylines has ensured that the award-winning series won viewers. Originally written for the screen by Rolf Börjlind (now known as a novelist in the UK), the series was created by Jörgen Bergmark and began in 1997. While all 10 novels have been adapted for film over the years, this later series of feature-length films transposes the main characters to new stories set in modern-day Sweden. The series has stretched to 30 episodes so far.
THE OTTO PREMINGER FILM NOIR COLLECTION, Otto Preminger, director/BFI Limited Edition Blu-ray box set: Fallen Angel, Whirlpool, Where the Sidewalk Ends This is a very welcome collection of classic film noir titles from one of the world’s most acclaimed directors, Otto Preminger. This cherishable BFI set delivers that invigorating noir meld of dark psychology and vivid black and white imagery. The films are Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger, 1945), with Dana Andrews as an up-against-it press agent in thrall to the seductive, soon-to-be-dead Stella (Linda Darnell). Preminger also directed Whirlpool (1949) with Gene Tierney married to upscale psychoanalyst (Richard Conte) and involved with a malevolent hypnotist (José Ferrer) and the moody Where the Sidewalk Ends. This Limited Edition box set brings together three of Preminger’s greatest films for the first time on Blu-ray. Presented with essential extras, including audio commentaries, these classic films deliver a unique combination of intrigue, moral ambiguity and stylish photography which truly define the influential film noir genre. All three films are presented in High Definition, with audio commentaries for Fallen Angel, Whirlpool and Where the Sidewalk Ends by film scholar and critic Adrian Martin, along with The Guardian Lecture: Otto Preminger interviewed by Joan Bakewell (1972, 80 mins, audio with stills): the director talks about his career in film in this discussion with the English journalist
THIEVES’ HIGHWAY Jules Dassin, director/Arrow Blu-Ray Arrow Films’ commitment to Jules Dassin’s films noir (following Rififi, Brute Force and The Naked City)) continues apace with his tough 1949 classic Thieves’ Highway, released on dual-format Blu-ray and DVD and sporting both a slew of extras and a brand-new 4K restoration. Genre specialist Frank Krutnik (author of In a Lonely Street) supplies commentaries and a thorough examination of the genesis, production, reception and politics of Thieves’ Highway, while the documentary portrait The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides offers up rare interview material with the late author and screenwriter as well as insights from Dassin and crime writers Barry Gifford, George P. Pelecanos and Mickey Spillane. Coming back from the war to find his father has been crippled in a clash with a thuggish mob-connected kingpin, Nick Garcos finds himself best on revenge. He purchases an old army surplus truck and hits the road – a 36-hour non-stop to San Francisco and justice. With Richard Conte as Garcos and Lee J. Cobb as his nemesis, the film is cast from strength.
NIGHT AND THE CITY, Jules Dassin, director/Arrow Blu-Ray More Dassin. The director’ss classic Night and the City (1950) is the definitive film of Gerald Kersh’s celebrated London underworld novel, with Richard Widmark as a low-rent tout at the edges of the wrestling rackets of post-war London. Night and the City is a British film noir classic which presents a fevered and paranoid vision of London by night – a city still shattered and skeletal from wartime bombing. Released on Blu-ray by the BFI for the first time in the UK, the film is presented in two versions – the US and British cuts – and accompanied by a comprehensive selection of special features. Richard Widmark stars as Harry Fabian, a small-time spiv with big dreams who worms his way into the dangerous world of wrestling rackets, and who comes into conflict with a vengeful club owner (Francis Sullivan) and a tough gangster (Herbert Lom). Harry’s long-suffering girlfriend (Gene Tierney) tries to save him – but can Harry outrun his fate? Compellingly directed by Academy Award nominee Jules Dassin (at the time under suspicion in Hollywood for his political beliefs), Night and the City has been celebrated for its uncompromising, bleak portrayal of urban life, its array of unsympathetic characters and its expressionist visual style.
EYEWITNESS, Jarl Emsell Larsen, director/ Simply Media More Nordic Noir: Eyewitness (Øyevitne), is a multi-layered crime drama from Norway, initially seen through the eyes of two 15-year-old boys. Two school friends, one of whom is fighting the fact that he is gay, are caught up in a grim scenario after witnessing a crime involving multiple murder. Produced by NRK drama, the six-part series is written and directed by Jarl Emsell Larsen (Dirty Money, White Lies). Helen (Anneke von der Lippe), the Fargo-style local sheriff investigating the murders, steals the show