I’m running out of interesting intros to my Columbia Noir boxset reviews, so I should get right to it. Indicator are following up their excellent Columbia Noir #1 & #2 sets with, you guessed it, Columbia Noir #3. I can’t get enough of film noir, so I eagerly snapped up a set of screeners to see if the latest set kept up the fine standard of its predecessors.

Columbia Noir #3 includes Johnny O’clock, The Dark Past, Convicted, Between Midnight and Dawn, The Sniper and City of Fear. My brief reviews of all the titles are below, as well as my thoughts on the transfers and special features.

Johnny O’Clock

Director: Robert Rossen
Screenplay: Robert Rossen
Based on a Story by: Milton Holmes
Starring: Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, Lee J. Cobb, Ellen Drew, Nina Foch, Thomas Gomez, John Kellogg
Country: USA
Running Time: 96 min
Year: 1947

Dick Powell plays the titular Johnny O’Clock, a wealthy junior partner in a casino who tries to keep out of the less savoury affairs of his senior partner Guido Marchettis (Thomas Gomez). Their relationship is strained, however, due to Guido’s wife Nelle (Ellen Drew) being in love with Johnny. The two of them used to be an item, before Guido entered the scene.

Life becomes even more difficult for Johnny after the hat-check girl at his casino, Harriet Hobson (Nina Foch), who he was a father figure for, is found dead in her apartment. The incident initially seems like suicide but is eventually found to be murder. Harriet had recently been spurned by crooked cop Chuck Blayden (Jim Bannon), who also turns up dead. Harriet was in possession of an engraved pocket watch and rejection note from Johnny that was meant to be passed on to Nelle, so he becomes a suspect in the murder of Blayden.

Heading up the investigation is Inspector Koch (Lee J. Cobb), who has his eye on Johnny. He also becomes interested in Harriet’s sister Nancy (Evelyn Keyes), who arrives after the incident and soon falls for Johnny.

Johnny, however, is concerned about what he and Nancy are getting embroiled in. He attempts to investigate the murders himself.

The set opens then with a fairly classic example of film noir. You’ve got a femme fatale, an innocent-ish protagonist getting out of his depth and a dark world of criminals and corruption. It’s not top tier noir, with a few flaws holding it back from the greats, but it’s nevertheless an enjoyable thriller.

Most impressive is the script. It’s full of sharp dialogue and the relatively complicated story is handled well. I could have done without Johnny O’Clock’s full name being used constantly though. It’s an unusual and catchy name, but it resonates a little too closely with the neat, calculated character, so feels silly and overused.

The cast is mostly great. Cobb is his ever-reliable self, coming across as tough but reasonable. His character often gets the wrong end of the stick in the story, so it makes his interactions with Powell very interesting. Speaking of Powell, I found him to be the weak link in the cast. There are some fabulous stock actors who create wonderful side-characters, such as Mabel Paige as a nosey neighbour and Phil Brown as a snooty hotel clerk, but Powell is rather bland. His performance isn’t bad, but he doesn’t have the charisma of many of the era’s other leading men.

I found Robert Rossen’s direction a little lacking too. It was his directorial debut, after working solely as a writer since the 30s, and I don’t think he’d quite found his eye for the camera yet. There are a few nice compositions, but the film lacks the rich atmosphere and stylish cinematography of some classic noir titles.

Overall then, Johnny O’Clock is a solid, entertaining potboiler. Uninspiring direction and a rather cold lead set the film back a touch, but a witty script and an enjoyable supporting cast do enough legwork to make this a decent start to the set.

The Dark Past

Director: Rudolph Maté
Screenplay: Malvin Wald, Oscar Saul, Philip MacDonald, Michael Blankfort, Albert Duffy
Based on a Play by: James Warwick
Starring: Lee J. Cobb, William Holden, Nina Foch, Adele Jergens, Stephen Dunne, Lois Maxwell, Berry Kroeger
Country: USA
Running Time: 73 min
Year: 1948

The Dark Past sees Lee J. Cobb play criminal psychologist Dr. Andrew Collins. When the film opens, he’s working for the police and believes he can reform a young man who’s been brought in on a charge. A colleague isn’t convinced, so Collins relates to him the story of when he came face to face with a notorious murderer, Al Walker (William Holden).

We flashback a year or two prior to this introduction, when Walker escaped from prison and was headed on the run. He and his goons, including girlfriend Betty (Nina Foch), need to hide out whilst they wait for their boat to freedom to arrive. They muscle their way into Collins’ house, taking him, his family and weekend guests hostage for the night.

During the evening, however, Collins notes Walker’s psychological issues and attempts to settle them. Walker is initially reticent but, with the help of Betty, who describes her boyfriend’s recurring dream, Collins is gradually able to piece together the criminal’s shadowy past and learn why he feels the need to kill.

The question is, will Collins be able to make a breakthrough before the police close in or will his intimate questioning prove too much for the unhinged Walker?

I enjoyed The Dark Past quite a bit but, unfortunately, like a lot of films from the era that tackle psychoanalysis head-on, it over-simplifies the issues and ‘cures’. Most notably, it seems to be suggesting a psychopathic killer can be turned around in one night, through a bit of dream analysis. It’s pretty preposterous in this sense, so can be hard to swallow.

However, if you can accept the fact the psychological aspects are simplified and condensed for the sake of the story, it’s an engaging chamber piece.

Helping keep it all afloat a great deal are the two leads. Holden and Cobb are excellent, with the former coiled tight with pent-up rage and the latter playing everything as cool as a cucumber. The sparks between them on-screen are a pleasure to behold. Foch is an effective bridge between the pair too, though I did think she seemed a little too soft-hearted for a criminal’s ‘moll’ and her character’s motherly treatment of Walker pushes the Freudian aspects of the script a little too far.

The film is quite stagey (and was in fact based on a play), but director Rudolph Maté, who previously worked as a cinematographer on classics like Gilda, Foreign Correspondent and To Be Or Not To Be, makes the most of the minimal locations.

As a psychological drama then, The Dark Past is overly simplistic and heavy-handed. The cast helps the material work though and keep you engrossed, even if, overall, the film is far-fetched.


Director: Henry Levin
Screenplay: William Bowers, Fred Niblo Jr, Seton I. Miller
Based on a Play by: Martin Flavin
Starring: Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford, Millard Mitchell, Dorothy Malone, Carl Benton Reid, Frank Faylen, Will Geer
Country: USA
Running Time: 91 min
Year: 1950

If you think Hollywood is bad for remakes these days, it wasn’t much better back in its Golden years. Convicted was Columbia’s third adaptation of Martin Flavin’s 1929 stage play ‘The Criminal Code’ and the fifth version overall (a Spanish-language adaptation was shot at night using the sets of Howard Hawks’ The Criminal Code during its production, and a French version was also produced).

The story sees Joe Hufford (Glenn Ford) convicted of manslaughter after a man he punches at a nightclub falls badly and dies. D.A. George Knowland (Broderick Crawford) feels sorry for the man and tries to make sure his inevitable punishment is kept to a minimum. However, Hufford’s defence in court is poor and not helping matters is the fact the man he killed was the son of a rich and influential figure in the city.

So, Hufford ends up in prison on a 5-year sentence. During this time, his beloved father (Griff Barnett) dies, making Hufford even more frustrated with his situation.

Help comes though, when Knowland becomes the prison’s new warden. Still feeling sorry for Hufford, he tries to make the time easier for him, giving Hufford a cushy job as his driver and working on a strong parole recommendation. During his time working for Knowland, Hufford spends a lot of time with the warden’s daughter, Kay (Dorothy Malone) and the pair fall in love.

Throwing a spanner in the works, however, are some goings-on among the prisoners. A stool-pigeon called Ponti (Frank Faylen), who causes the death of a couple of inmates who attempt to escape, is murdered and Hufford is the only person found on the scene. Knowland is certain Hufford didn’t do it, but needs him to tell him who did, or Hufford’s chances of freedom will be shattered. Hufford can’t break the unspoken code between prisoners though, so refuses to name names.

Convicted is another solid crime (or rather prison) drama in the collection, but it falls a little short of the stronger films here. My main issue with it is one of personal taste over anything else. I found it too sentimental and soft-hearted for a prison movie. Other than one of the guards, everyone in the film is pretty likeable and pleasant, to a degree. Even the killers among the inmates seem like decent guys and the one murder in the film is of a pseudo-villain. There’s even a love story in Hufford and Kay’s relationship, which is rare in a prison movie.

That’s not to say the film makes prison life out to be a walk in the park. There are some montages that effectively demonstrate the monotony and restrictive uniformity of time behind bars. The seemingly unfair sentencing and treatment of Hufford makes some marked attacks on the legal and penal system too. These aren’t over-played though, preventing the film from making sanctimonious political statements.

Once again, the cast help gloss over any issues with the film’s content. I’ve championed Ford a few times in previous Columbia Noir reviews and he’s as solid as always here. It’s perhaps not his or Crawford’s finest hour, but in the final act the pair get some extra meat to chew on and they share a strong dynamic together on screen. There are some wonderful character actors hanging around the sidelines too.

Convicted then, is more soft-hearted than its title and poster suggest, but it’s highly engaging, aided by a great cast and solid direction. It doesn’t hammer home its criticisms of the legal and penal systems either, making enough of a point without letting any messages get in the way of the drama.

Between Midnight and Dawn

Director: Gordon Douglas
Screenplay: Eugene Ling
Based on a Story by: Gerald Drayson Adams, Leo Katcher
Starring: Mark Stevens, Edmond O’Brien, Gale Storm, Donald Buka, Gale Robbins, Anthony Ross
Country: USA
Running Time: 89 min
Year: 1950

Between Midnight and Dawn, made in 1950, is Hollywood’s answer to Basil Dearden’s successful British police thriller The Blue Lamp, released earlier the same year. It follows two L.A. patrol car cops, Rocky Barnes (Mark Stevens) and Dan Purvis (Edmond O’Brien), as they do the rounds, catching thieves and keeping gangsters in check.

Kate Mallory (Gale Storm) joins their precinct as a radio communicator and assistant to Lt. Masterson (Anthony Ross), and Rocky falls head over heels for her. Dan is keen on her too, but it’s his old friend that eventually wins her over, after the pair move into Kate’s mother’s spare room.

However, whilst the trio play house, there’s trouble brewing in the city. Local gangster Ritchie Garris (Donald Buka) is approached by a bigger rival boss who wants to buy out his territory. Garris is too proud and headstrong to cave in and sell up though, so wages war, gunning down a couple of his rivals one night. Dan and Rocky arrest Garris in the ensuing chase and the gangster swears vengeance, as the pair had been on his case for a while.

Garris escapes from police custody soon after, so on top of working for the force in trying to find the criminal, Dan and Rocky need to watch their backs in case he makes true his promise of getting them back for arresting him.

Between Midnight and Dawn works a treat for the most part. I especially appreciated the opening act, when we simply follow the pair of policemen on their beat. It has an unfussy, fairly authentic approach, showing some of the smaller details of their work. For instance, we see them calling for another car to support rather than storming straight into one situation. We also see them dealing with kids fighting and a young woman only slightly involved in a crime who is distraught when she’s arrested.

The film becomes focused on a more straightforward narrative after that. The gangster story is fairly bog-standard but well-executed. It offers a couple of impressive action sequences, including a car chase that seems a touch ahead of its time with its in-car shots and slick driving. The shoot-outs are pretty violent and bloody for the era too.

Alongside this action-thriller aspect of the film, there’s the character drama. The love story is pretty corny but cute enough, even if Dan and Rocky’s persistence early on would be called harassment these days. The dynamic between the central trio is enjoyable but the lighthearted scenes in the mid-section are stretched out a little too far perhaps. The humorous nature of much of the banter between the leads also suggests this might be one of the first buddy cop movies. This breezy character development does lead to a surprisingly tragic twist that ups the ante in the final act though.

Despite the syrupy lull in the middle then, Between Midnight and Dawn is an entertaining cop thriller that effectively blends the ‘day in the life’ nitty-gritty of beat cops with a generic but exciting gangster yarn. It has a tough edge too, and enough twists and turns to stand apart from many similar stories.

The Sniper

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Screenplay: Harry Brown
Based on a Story by: Edna Anhalt, Edward Anhalt
Starring: Arthur Franz, Adolphe Menjou, Gerald Mohr, Marie Windsor, Frank Faylen, Richard Kiley
Country: USA
Running Time: 88 min
Year: 1952

The Sniper sees Arthur Franz play Edward Miller, a mentally unstable young man that is driven by an urge to shoot beautiful young women with his sniper rifle. He’s particularly driven to kill those that spurn him, even in the slightest way, but begins to pick targets at random as he goes on.

The police force, led by Lt. Frank Kafka (Adolphe Menjou), are clueless as to how to find Miller, who appears to kill without motive in his spree across the city of San Francisco. The only man who appears to have an idea of how the murderer might be acting is Dr. James Kent (Richard Kiley). This criminal psychologist believes ‘sex criminals’ like Miller should be treated as mental patients rather than locked up in jail to be let out in future to attack again, but most of the rest of the police department and public think otherwise.

After four decent but flawed titles, the set finally delivered a gem with The Sniper. Film noirs are always pretty dark but this pushed the envelope even further than usual for the time. Serial killer thrillers are commonplace these days, but they were few and far between back then. In his commentary, Eddie Muller calls the film the first serial killer movie but later lists some earlier examples. It is, as he discusses, one of the first to tackle the subject matter in a serious, naturalistic fashion though.

Also setting The Sniper apart from the crowd is how it portrays the killer. He is our chief protagonist (though we do spend a fair amount of time with the police too) and the film actually manages to have the audience sympathise with him, in a sense. His actions, of course, are abhorrent, but we see him desperately try to fight his urges. We see him try to get psychological help to begin with too but he’s fobbed off each time. He’s also eager to get caught as the film goes on, leaving the police notes and clues. He knows what he’s doing is wrong and wants to stop, but can’t help himself.

This deeper, humane stance fits with the central message about the need to properly treat such disturbed individuals, rather than simply lock them up for a few years. It was likely a very controversial approach back in the day and, even now, I imagine a lot of people would be screaming about bringing back the death penalty or other such barbaric practices.

Speaking of public opinion, the film also makes a statement about the callous nature of the press and public with regards to criminals. Every crime scene is littered with rubber-necking passers-by who are keen to see the aftermath rather than being worried about their own safety.

The Sniper also delivers the required thrills to keep you watching. The murders are brutally portrayed, using a motif of shattered glass to give the kills impact without showing blood (the Production Code was still in force).

Some of the most disturbing scenes don’t even involve anyone getting killed though. The opening, for instance, just has Miller aim his gun and pull the trigger. It turns out not to be loaded, but the moment is deeply troubling, nonetheless. Another standout scene sees Miller throwing baseballs at a target to knock a woman into a pool of water at a funfair. When she begins badmouthing him he continues to pitch ball after ball at the target, hitting it every time before next aiming them directly at her. She’s behind a caged barrier but his violent rage and intent are still enough to shock.

The film is tautly directed by Dmytryk too and attractively shot without looking overly stylised. He makes great use of real San Francisco locations, avoiding too many picture-postcard shots but utilising its unique layout and architecture to an effective degree.

All-in-all, it’s a groundbreaking, admirably rich and occasionally sensitive psychological thriller that’s mightily dark for the era but not overly exploitative. Its call for reform over incarceration may not be all that subtly delivered (and a couple of plot details don’t bear scrutiny) but it’s brave, given the subject matter. The film is grimly compelling too and confidently handled by Dmytryk. Excellent stuff.

City of Fear

Director: Irving Lerner
Screenplay: Steven Ritch, Robert Dillon
Starring: Vince Edwards, Lyle Talbot, John Archer, Steven Ritch, Patricia Blair, Kelly Thordsen
Country: USA
Running Time: 75 min
Year: 1959

The final film in the set, City of Fear, opens in a dramatic fashion, with Vince Ryker (Vince Edwards) and his bloodily injured associate racing down the road in a stolen ambulance on their way from breaking out of prison. During the escape, Ryker had stolen what he believed to be a large quantity of heroin, stored in a metal canister.

However, when we later cut away to the police set out to find him, we discover the container is actually filled with the deadly radioactive substance, Cobalt-60. If opened, the powder could poison the entire city. Even kept in the canister, the substance is dangerous and whilst the police battle against the mayor’s deadline for when he will make the incident public, Ryker unknowingly battles for his life as radioactive poisoning eats through his body.

Reteaming director Irving Lerner with star Vince Edwards after the superb Murder by Contract (which I reviewed as part of Columbia Noir #2), I had high hopes for City of Fear. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations, though it’s a very different film. Whereas Murder by Contract was a unique, off-beat oddity, City of Fear is a relatively conventional crime thriller. The nuclear threat angle is a nice twist to the typical escaped convict storyline, but it’s still a common theme for the era.

However, as unimaginative as the film might be, City of Fear is still a lot of fun. It’s tautly directed and edited, running at a lean 75 minutes (IMDB lists it as 81 mins, interestingly), though there are a couple of not-entirely necessary montages that recycle some shots.

Helping drive the film forward is a typically bombastic early score from Jerry Goldsmith. His rhythmic music also helps remind the audience that the clock is constantly ticking.

The film is frighteningly relevant to the current climate too. With a deadly force that is unknowingly and invisibly spreading across the city, causing its victims to get extreme cold and flu-like symptoms, you can’t help but think of the COVID-19 pandemic whilst watching City of Fear. The final shot of Ryker is also quite chilling.

Overall then, City of Fear may be more narratively and psychologically straightforward than a lot of the best examples of the genre, but as a no-nonsense race-against-time thriller with a nuclear age twist, it’s an exciting ride.

Columbia Noir #3 is out on 17th May on Region B encoded Blu-ray in the UK, released by Indicator. The transfers are all very good. Convicted shows slight signs of wear in a few brief moments, but overall the films look remarkably crisp and detailed. The stills used in this review are all screengrabs from the discs, to give you an idea of quality, though they have been slightly compressed. Audio is excellent across the board too.


– 2K restoration
– Original mono soundtrack
– Audio commentary with filmmaker and film historian Jim Hemphill (2021)
– Not One Shall Die (1957, 30 mins): short film by the United Jewish Appeal, directed by David Lowell Rich and starring Guy Madison, Felicia Farr and Agnes Moorehead, made by the core crew of many Columbia noirs, including cinematographer Burnett Guffey, art director Cary Odell, editor Al Clark, set decorator Frank Tuttle, and composer Morris Stoloff
– Whoops, I’m an Indian! (1936, 18 mins): the casino business spells trouble for the Three Stooges
– Original theatrical trailer
– Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
– New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– World premiere on Blu-ray

– High Definition remaster
– Original mono audio
– Audio commentary with academic and curator Eloise Ross (2021)
– The Poised Performance (2021, 14 mins): critic and film historian Pamela Hutchinson assesses the career of actor Nina Foch
– The Gulf Screen Guild Theater: ‘Blind Alley’ (1940, 23 mins): radio adaptation of the James Warwick play upon which The Dark Past is based, starring Edward G Robinson, Joseph Calleia and Isabel Jewell
– Shivering Sherlocks (1948, 18 mins): the Three Stooges get mixed up with a dangerous gang of criminals hiding out at an isolated mansion
– Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
– New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– World premiere on Blu-ray

– High Definition remaster
– Original mono audio
– Audio commentary with film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson (2021)
– Codes and Convictions (2021, 30 mins): video essay by Jonathan Bygraves which examines Convicted in relation to Columbia Pictures’ other screen adaptations of Martin Flavin’s play The Criminal Code
– So Long Mr. Chumps (1941, 18 mins): comedy short starring the Three Stooges in which the trio discover that prison life is a complicated business
– Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
– New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– World premiere on Blu-ray

– High Definition remaster
– Original mono audio
– Audio commentary with author and entertainment journalist Bryan Reesman (2021)
– Categorically Dependable (2021, 16 mins): writer and critic Kim Newman assesses the long, eclectic career of director Gordon Douglas
– Dizzy Detectives (1943, 19 mins): comedy short starring the Three Stooges in which the trio play police officers on the trail of a psychopath and a criminal mastermind
– Original theatrical trailer
– Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
– New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– World premiere on Blu-ray

– High Definition remaster
– Original mono audio
– Audio commentary with the Film Noir Foundation’s Eddie Muller (2009)
– Introduction by Martin Scorsese (2009, 4 mins)
– Three Lives (1953, 23 mins): short film made for the United Jewish Appeal, reuniting the main players behind The Sniper, writers Edna and Edward Anhalt, director Edward Dmytryk, and star Arthur Franz
– Three Pests in a Mess (1945, 16 mins): comedy short starring the Three Stooges in which the trio become involved in a deadly shooting incident, or so they think, causing panic
– Original theatrical trailer
– Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
– New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– World premiere on Blu-ray

– High Definition remaster
– Original mono audio
– Audio commentary with film critic and writer Adrian Martin (2021)
– Pulp Paranoia (2010, 7 mins): filmmaker Christopher Nolan discusses the influence of film noir
– The Autobiography of a “Jeep” (1943, 10 mins): light-hearted documentary produced and directed by Irving Lerner about the then-new, all-purpose vehicle
– The Autobiography of a “Jeep” audio commentary with film historian Jeremy Arnold (2021)
– Hymn of the Nations (1944, 29 mins): documentary produced and edited by Lerner, and directed by Alexander Hammid, featuring famed conductor Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra performing the music of Giuseppe Verdi, presented in its complete, uncut version.
– The Cummington Story (1945, 20 mins): documentary short, written and directed by Helen Grayson and Larry Madison, produced by Lerner, and featuring the music of Aaron Copland, re-enacting the stories of a group of refugees who relocated to a small American town during World War II
– Oil’s Well That Ends Well (1958, 17 mins): the Three Stooges are convinced they can make money from uranium
– Original theatrical trailer
– Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
– New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– World premiere on Blu-ray

– Limited edition exclusive 120-page book with new essays by Peter Stanfield, David Cairns, Michał Oleszczyk, Adam Scovell, Fintan McDonagh, Andrew Nette, Jeff Billington, and Ramsey Campbell, archival articles and interviews, and film credits
– Limited edition box set of 6,000 numbered units

Jim Hemphill’s commentary on Johnny O’Clock largely just talks about Rossen, his life and his career, though it takes brief diversions to talk about the various actors that appear. It’s a well researched, deeply informative track, though it offers little analysis of the film itself, if that’s what you want from the commentary.

Eloise Ross’ commentary on The Dark Past strikes a nice balance between analysing the film and giving background information about the cast and crew involved. I liked this one quite a lot.

Pamela Hutchinson’s piece on Nina Foch is very interesting, discussing the hugely talented and influential figure. She may not be a household name, but Foch was a great actress, a Broadway director, assistant film director and an important acting and filmmaking teacher.

Convicted’s Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson commentary is enjoyable too. Like the Johnny O’Clock track, it focuses largely on the lives and careers of the cast and crew but is highly engaging, aided by Howarth and Thompson’s chemistry and ability to bounce off each other.

The ‘Codes and Convictions’ piece on the Convicted disc previously showed up on Indicator’s The Criminal Code release, but is a little gem. In directly comparing the various versions of the play The Criminal Code, the essay provides a fascinating lesson in how much the director and cast can change a script quite notably. It shows the differences the introduction to the Production Code made to films too. The piece made me keen to check out Hawks’ The Criminal Code, as it looked more visually interesting than Convicted, which is largely quite flat in its cinematography. It sounds a little less sentimental too.

Bryan Reesman’s commentary on Between Midnight and Dawn is another well-rounded and well-researched affair and comes highly recommended.

Kim Newman makes an enjoyable case for Gordon Douglas, who is far from a household name but was a workhorse filmmaker that made some decent westerns and film noirs between the 40s and 60s. He was also responsible for the excellent giant-ant movie, Them!, as well as a couple of Sinatra’s first ‘serious’ films, including The Detective.

Eddie Muller’s commentary on The Sniper is excellent. He knows a lot about the city and locations, as well as the cast and crew. It’s an enjoyable track too, with Muller’s passion for the film and genre rubbing off without ignoring any shortcomings.

Scorsese’s introduction is very short (3 minutes) so doesn’t offer much but he expresses his admiration for the film and gives a couple of reasons why he thinks it’s special.

‘Three Lives’ is a promotional piece, trying to convince people to donate to the United Jewish Appeal, so it’s rather overbaked but has some touching moments.

Adrian Martin’s commentary on City of Fear is another fine track. As usual, he offers some pretty deep analysis of the film, giving some background on the major players too.

Christopher Nolan’s interview talks about how noir is especially relevant now and how it reflected uncertainties of the time. It’s a short but affectionate piece.

‘The Autobiography of a “Jeep”’ is an entertaining promotional film for the versatile vehicle. It’s nothing special but does feature some great footage of the Jeep being put through its paces. You also get a commentary on this, surprisingly enough.

‘Hymn of the Nations’ is the legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini’s ode to his countrymen during WWII and a call to peace. The previously cut film has now been restored and it offers a rousing performance of Toscanini’s altered version of Verdi’s titular cantata. The film also highlights the conductor’s fight against fascism, as well as that of several other famous figures.

‘The Cummington Story’ is a film about refugee immigrants coming to America during the war. It’s rather sentimental and acts as propaganda of sorts (albeit with a positive aim) but admirably tackles the unease and distrust of locals to the newcomers.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous Columbia Noir reviews, I’m not a massive Three Stooges fan, but their films are entertaining enough and I think they’re a nice inclusion to each disc. They help replicate the sort of experience you’d have watching these films at the cinema back in the day (though they’d also have newsreels and possibly another feature).

As in previous sets, the booklet provides a balanced mix of essays on the films and interviews or period articles linked with the filmmakers. There are some fascinating pieces, including excerpts of Irving Lerner’s film criticism and pieces on noir cinematographer Burnett Guffey and composer George Duning.

So, ‘Columbia Noir #3’ is another fantastic set from Indicator with a solid set of films and a healthy amount of special features to enhance the experience. Keep ‘em coming please!


Columbia Noir #3 - Indicator
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