Blu-Ray Review: Four Film Noir Classics

Between the beginning of the 1940s and end of the 1950s, the most exciting genre in American cinema was undoubtedly film noir. With its mix of stylistic black and white (often experimental) visuals, hard-nosed protagonists and femme fatales, it still remains influential on modern cinema. The likes of D.O.A., The Big Heat, Double Indemnity, In a Lonely Place, Out of the Past and The Maltese Falcon are still considered masterpieces today. Arrow Academy brings together four classics in this news release and includes a raft of special features.

The Dark Mirror

Robert Siodmak’s psychological thriller marked Lew Ayres’ return to motion pictures after serving as a non-combat medic (due to being a conscientious objector) in World War II. Olivia de Havilland plays a pair of identical twins, one of whom is prime suspect in a murder case. Ayres plays a psychiatrist who is asked by Lieutenant Stevenson (Thomas Mitchell) for help. The Dark Mirror is a clever film which keeps you guessing until the very end.

Secret Beyond the Door

In Fritz Lang’s Secret Beyond the Door, Celia (Joan Bennett) and Mark (Michael Redgrave) are newlyweds. However, it’s not long before Celia starts to realise that her husband has kept many secrets from her, not least the fact he was previously married and has a son (Mark Dennis). She begins to suspect that he might have killed his former wife and becomes intrigued by the number of locked doors in his house. Secret Beyond the Door is a shrouded mystery and the tension builds to a chilling finale.

Force of Evil

Tucker (Roy Roberts) has a goal and that’s to control the numbers racket in New York. Whilst he’s already a big fish, lawyer Joe Morse (John Garfield) is going to help him sweep up the smaller players, whether he likes it or not. When Joe’s brother Leo (Thomas Gomez) comes under Tucker’s eye he must choose between family and responsibility. Abraham Polonskys’s melodramatic thriller is laced with Biblical allegories and tense and gritty dialogue.

The Big Combo

A veritable classic, The Big Combo is the highlight of the set. Joseph H. Lewis’ crime drama is more than a little special. Police Lt. Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde) has a nemesis and that is Mr Brown (Richard Conte), a vicious gangster. He’s also unhealthily obsessed with Brown’s girlfriend (Jean Wallace). Diamond is determined to discover what role the mysterious ‘Alicia’ played in Brown’s past, but the closer he gets to the truth the more his life is in danger. The Big Combo is brilliant noir with an unforgettable ending.

Limited Edition Contents:

  • Limited Edition Dual Format Collection [2000 copies]
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of four film noir classics: The Dark Mirror (Robert Siodmak, 1946), Secret Beyond the Door (Fritz Lang, 1947), Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948), and The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955)
  • Commentaries on all films by leading scholars and critics Adrian Martin (on The Dark Mirror), Alan K. Rode (on Secret Beyond the Door), Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme (on Force of Evil), and Eddie Muller (on The Big Combo)
  • Noah Isenberg on The Dark Mirror, the author and scholar provides a detailed analysis of the film
  • Noah Isenberg on The Dark Mirror, the author and scholar provides a detailed analysis of the film
  • Barry Keith Grant on Secret Beyond the Door, the author and scholar introduces the film
  • The House of Lang: A visual essay on Fritz Lang s style by filmmaker David Cairns with a focus on his noir work
  • Introduction to Force of Evil by Martin Scorsese
  • An Autopsy on Capitalism: A visual essay on the production and reception of Force of Evil by Frank Krutnik, author of In a Lonely Street: Film noir, genre, masculinity
  • Commentary on selected Force of Evil themes by Krutnik
  • Geoff Andrew on The Big Combo, the critic and programmer offers an introduction to and analysis of the film
  • Wagon Wheel Joe: A visual essay on director Joseph H. Lewis by filmmaker David Cairns
  • The Big Combo original screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM content)
  • Four radio plays
  • Trailers
  • Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow for all films
  • Hardback book featuring new writing on all the films by noir experts and critics including Michael Brooke, Andrew Spicer, David Cairns and Tony Rayns and more [Limited Edition Exclusive]


Four Film Noir Classics is released on Dual Format (DVD and Blu-Ray) by Arrow Academy on 20 November.

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