Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema XVI Blu-ray Review: A Worthy Entry to the Series

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema is an on-going series of boxed sets each containing three noir films from the 1940s and ’50s. They are produced by Kino Lorber for their KL Studio Classics line. The Dark Side of Cinema XVI contains The Mystery of Marie Roget, Chicago Deadline, and Iron Man.

Buy Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema XVI Blu-ray

The Mystery of Marie Roget (1942):

Based upon the short story by Edgar Allen Poe, The Mystery of Marie Roget has a great premise: Marie Roget (Maria Montez), a star of musical comedies, has disappeared for ten days and Dr. Paul Dupin (Patric Knowles) has been put on the case. A woman’s body is found in the water, she has no face, and people believe her to be Marie Roget, but then Marie reappears, healthy and happy and unwilling to say where she’s been. Unfortunately, this is one of those mysteries that relies on keeping information from the viewer in awkward ways. People walk out in the middle of a conversation simply to move the plot forward. Dupin constantly says things like, “I can’t explain now” even though there is no discernible reason why he cannot explain now except that it would ruin the mystery. On the whole, though, The Mystery of Marie Roget is solid noir that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Film Historians Tom Weever, Gary L. Prange and Tom Zimmerman, Author of The Queen of Technicolor
  • Audio Commentary by Novelist/Critic Kim Newman and Writer/Editor Stephen Jones
  • Trailer – The Mystery of Marie Roget
  • Trailer – Tangier
  • Trailer – Human Desire

Chicago Deadline (1949):

A young, beautiful woman, Rosita Jean D’ur (Donna Reed), is found dead supposedly of tuberculosis in a seedy hotel room. This time, it is not the cops, but newspaper reporter Ed Adams (Alan Ladd) who is the lead detective. Ed has Rosita’s address book and meticulously goes through it entry by entry, making this a police procedural as much as a film noir. The film is nearly all Alan Ladd going to new locations, meeting new people, and triggering new flashbacks to fill in the blanks of the mystery. Donna Reed and Alan Ladd are very charismatic in their roles; it is to the viewer’s loss that they do not have any scenes together.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Author/Film Historian Alan K. Rode
  • Trailer – Chicago Deadline
  • Trailer – Lucky Jordan
  • Trailer – China
  • Trailer – Calcutta
  • Trailer – O.S.S.
  • Trailer – Desert Fury
  • Trailer – So Evil My Love
  • Trailer – A Bullet for Joey

Iron Man (1951): 

Of the three movies included in this set, Joseph Pevney’s Iron Man is the least likely to be called “noir.”  In Iron Man, Coke Mason (Jeff Chandler) was a coal miner whose gambling-addicted brother, George Mason (Stephen McNally), has convinced him to turn professional boxer. But Coke goes into a murderous rage every time he enters the ring and is extremely unliked by the crowds who feel he fights dirty. Rock Hudson, in one of his earliest film roles, plays Speed, who goes from sparring partner to heavyweight competition. Jim Baccus is perfectly understated in his role as well-respected sports reporter Max Watkins. Iron Man isn’t as dark as Chicago Deadline or The Mystery of Marie Roget, but its strong characterization and moving story make it the best of the three.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian/Screenwriter Gary Gerani
  • Trailer – Female on the Beach
  • Trailer – Foxfire
  • Trailer – Man in the Shadow
  • Trailer – The Tattered Dress
  • Trailer – Raw Wind in Eden
  • Trailer – 99 River Street
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Greg Hammond

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