Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema III (Blu-ray boxset)
This collection features three film noir classics. ABANDONED (1949) – Noir great Dennis O’Keefe (T-Men, Raw Deal, Cover Up) and Gale Storm (Between Midnight and Dawn) expose a baby-selling racket in the searing crime drama Abandoned, co-starring Jeff Chandler (Man in the Shadow) and Raymond Burr (Pitfall). When Paula Considine (Storm) arrives in Los Angeles to find her sister Mary, she soon learns the unwed mother is dead and her newborn infant is missing. Teaming up with a cynical reporter named Mark Sitko (O’Keefe), Paula discovers Mary was the victim of a black market adoption ring run by Mrs. Leona Donner (Marjorie Rambeau, Torch Song) and her sleazy assistant Kerric (Burr). Hoping to entrap the pair, Paula and Sitko devise a plan but the sting operation proves to have deadly consequences. This classic film noir was beautifully shot by William H. Daniels (Woman in Hiding) and wonderfully directed by Joseph M. Newman (711 Ocean Drive), with top-notch supporting performances by Jeanette Nolan (Macbeth) and Mike Mazurki (Murder, My Sweet).
THE LADY GAMBLES (1949) – From Michael Gordon, the outstanding director of The Web, An Act of Murder, Woman in Hiding, Cyrano de Bergerac, Pillow Talk and Portrait in Black, comes this classic film noir starring screen legend Barbara Stanwyck (Double Indemnity, Witness to Murder) as a once respectable and vibrant wife who has become a desperately out-of-control high-roller gambler. A chance visit into a Las Vegas casino introduces Joan Boothe (Stanwyck) to the seductive allure of poker and the craps table. All too soon, she ignores her devoted husband (Robert Preston, Wake Island, This Gun for Hire) and older sister (Edith Barrett, I Walked with a Zombie) as she compulsively chases after hard-hearted Lady Luck. Beautifully shot by Russell Metty (Touch of Evil) and featuring a stellar supporting cast that includes Stephen McNally (Diplomatic Courier), John Hoyt (O.S.S.), Leif Erickson (On the Waterfront) and Tony Curtis (6 Bridges to Cross).
THE SLEEPING CITY (1950) – Drug pushing and gambling set the stage for murder in The Sleeping City, a hardboiled film-noir thriller shot on the streets of New York. When a doctor is shot dead outside Bellevue Hospital, detective Fred Rowen (Richard Conte, Cry of the City, Thieves’ Highway) is assigned to find the killer. Posing as an intern, Rowen is befriended by the hospital’s elevator operator and a ward nurse (Coleen Gray, Kiss of Death, Nightmare Alley) he begins to date. As his investigation continues and potential witnesses wind up dead, Rowen finds himself next on the murderer’s list when he uncovers a narcotics ring. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect and he doesn’t know whom he can trust! Written by Jo Eisinger (Gilda, Night and the City) and directed by George Sherman (Larceny, Big Jake).