FOUR FILM NOIR CLASSICS, Various directors/Arrow  A highly collectable box set that assembles crystal clear high definition prints of a quartet of the finest entries in the Film Noir genre: The Dark Mirror (1946), directed by Robert Siodmak (The Killers), starring Olivia de Havilland; Secret Beyond the Door (1947) directed by Fritz Lang (The Big Heat), starring Joan Bennett and Michael Redgrave; Force of Evil (1948), directed by Abraham Polonsky, and starring the legendary John Garfield; and Joseph H. Lewis’ brutal and brilliant The Big Combo (1955), with Cornel Wilde and Richard Conte. Limited to 2000 copies and packed with superb extras, the Dual Format box set also comes with a highly-collectable hardback book on all the films.

THE WAGES OF FEAR, Henri-Georges Clouzot, director/BFI Dual Format Edition (Blu-ray/DVD) Starring an impeccably cast (and sweaty) Yves Montand, Charles Vanel and Vera Clouzot, this most celebrated of French thrillers is based on the 1950 French novel Le Salaire de la peur, and has acquired a reputation – fully justified – as the great arthouse/action film, and has enjoyed not only a remake by William Friedkin (Sorcerer), but a sort-of-rejigging in Cy Enfield’s exemplary Hell Drivers. Looking at the splendid new BFI Blu-ray in 2017, it is remarkable just how well Henri-Georges Clouzot’s film stands up to the rigours of time, exerting an iron grip throughout its considerable length. The Wages of Fear was critically hailed upon its original release, propelling its director (whose other most celebrated film is Les Diaboliques) to international fame, and is now newly restored in 4K, and released by the BFI in a Dual Format Edition packed with special features. In a squalid South American village, four desperate men are hired by a US oil company to embark on a treacherous journey, transporting a volatile cargo of nitro-glycerine to a massive oil well fire. Friendships and courage are pushed to the limit in this nail-biting thriller by a director would go on to be dubbed the ‘French Hitchcock’.

STRIKE – THE CUCKOO’S CALLING, Micheal Keillor, director/Warner  Now that the secret is out – and we know it is Harry Potter’s only begetter JK Rowling behind the masculine sobriquet “Robert Galbraith” – we were all obliged to play catch-up with a book that created barely a ripple on its first appearance. In fact, the book was an accomplished piece that deserved its retrospective success — as does the solid TV adaption. As the beleaguered military policeman-turned-private eye Cormoran Strike investigates the apparent suicide of a supermodel, we are granted a measured but subtly involving reworking of crime l mechanisms as the detective moves across a variety of class divides, finding that the police have got things wrong. Strike himself is a distinctive addition to the overcrowded ranks of literary private eyes, perfectly incarnated by Tom Burke as Strike with Holliday Grainger as Robin Ellacott, leading a cast of acclaimed British character actors.

 

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