By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
Amnesia, hypnosis and atomic paranoia compel the desperate actions of the characters in 20th Century Fox’s most recent film-noir DVD releases. Three lesser-known thrillers in the canon, Somewhere in the Night (1946), Whirlpool(1949) and The House on 92nd Street (1945), together offer a perfect distillation of post-WWII American anxieties. In Somewhere in the Night, director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve) transforms the identity crises of returning vets into a strikingly unhinged mystery that weaves, like a drunk on a binge, from Hollywood to San Pedro: After waking up with amnesia in a military hospital, a discharged soldier (John Hodiak) follows a trail of clues — including a scathing indictment of his former self in the form of an unsigned Dear John letter — to Los Angeles, where he finds his current self at the center of a deadly treasure hunt. It’s Dark Passage meets The Maltese Falcon, from Mankiewicz’s flirtations with first-person camera work to the devilish supporting cast (including Richard Conte, Lloyd Nolan and Fritz Kortner) that steps out of the shadows. Conte also appears in Otto Preminger’s Whirlpool, as a famous psychoanalyst (he wears a bow tie to take the edge off) married to Gene Tierney’s closet kleptomaniac. Preminger spikes the décor with a few atmospheric tricks from his previous Tierney-led noir, Laura — sinister porcelain masks, the looming portrait of a dead woman — but it’s José Ferrer, as a foreign-sounding hypnotist, who brings Tierney’s neurosis bubbling to the surface in this slate-gray melodrama of suburban discontent, blackmail and murder. The most standard film of the bunch, Henry Hathaway’s House on 92nd Street plays the police procedural straight in a nevertheless intriguing account of an FBI double agent working to bust a Nazi spy ring searching for plans for the nuclear bomb. Other recommended new releases:The Man Who Fell to Earth. Also released this week: Alone in the Dark; Bad Timing; Ben Hur: 4-Disc Collector’s Edition; Big Girls Don’t Cry... They Get Even; Black Torment; The Brady Bunch: The Complete Third Season; Cheers: The Complete Sixth Season; Da Ali G Show: The Complete Second Season; The Day My Parents Ran Away; Devil’s Island Lovers; Earthquake; Empire Falls; Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Fourth Season; Frasier: The Complete Sixth Season; George Lopez: Why You Crying?; Hero of Rome; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Latinologues 2; One Tree Hill: The Complete Second Season; Peep Show: Series One; Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie; Richard Lewis: Concerts From Hell — The Vintage Years; Smallville: The Complete Fourth Season; Taxi: The Complete Third Season; Twin Sisters; USC Football Complete History; Weebles: Sharing in the Fun; Winter Solstice; The Work of Directors Anton Corbijn, Jonathan Glazer, Mark Romanek, Stéphane Sednaoui.
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