Hammer Film Noir Collector’s Set One (Re-release by CVI US$29.99)
In the early 50s, Hollywood studios approached Hammer executives about making mini-budget noir dramas for the American market. The six black-and-white films in the Hammer Film Noir Collector’s Set have noir themes:
The Gambler and the Lady
The extras include trailers and World of Hammer featurettes.
Army of Shadows (L’Armee des Ombres) (1969) (New release by Criterion US$39.99)
A not-strictly-noir starring Lino Ventua and Simone Signoret, from noir director Jean-Pierre Melville, about the French Resistance in 1942. A Paris native, Melville’s noir credits include:
Quand Tu Liras Cette Lettre (1953)
Bob le Flambeur (1955)
Le Doulos (1962)
Le Samourai (1967)
Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
Army of Shadows is an atmospheric work where danger lurks around every corner and even the slightest security breach means instant death. The 145-minute film did not have a US theatrical release until last year. The Criterion label is renowned for painstaking restorations and re-mastered prints. A second disc is loaded with extras.
Jonathan Rosenbaum’s Chicago Reader review on the film’s theatrical release in the US in May 2006, places Arm of Shadows in the noir catalog:
I had trouble reconciling the realism of Army of Shadows with the mannerism of Melville’s noirs. But then I came across a review Dave Kehr wrote for the Reader in 1982 of The Silence of the Sea and Bob le Flambeur (1955), Melville’s first noir: Much of Melville’s work hangs on a paradox: in silent self-containment there is certainty, strength, and integrity, but also a kind of death; when the silence is broken, as it must be broken, life and emotion enter, only to destroy completely. Melville’s films are about the violation of closed worlds, a violation both necessary and fatal. Whether or not Kehr saw Army of Shadows before writing this, he perfectly captures what binds Melville’s noirs to his films about the war… More