Tech Toys for AllSave on tech gifts for everyone on your list.Shop now ›

In the Shadows: 10 Classic Crime Dramas [3 Discs] [DVD]

Cardholder Offers

Overview

Synopsis

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
In The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, relationships formed in childhood lead to murder and obsessive love. The wealthy Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) is the prime mover of the small Pennsylvania town of Iverston. Martha lives in a huge mansion with her DA husband, Walter O'Neil (Kirk Douglas), an alcoholic weakling. No one knows just why Martha and Walter tolerate one another....but Sam Masterson (Van Heflin), an Iverstown boy who returns to town, may just have a clue. At least that's what Martha thinks when Sam asks Walter to intervene in the case of Toni Marachek (Lizabeth Scott), who has been unjustly imprisoned. It seems that, as a young boy, Sam was in the vicinity when Martha's rich aunt (Judith Anderson) met with her untimely demise. What does Sam know? And what dark, horrible secret binds Martha and Walter together? Directed by Lewis Milestone, and based on John Patrick's Oscar-nominated original story, Love Lies Bleeding, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers creates in Martha a unique and interesting, driven, obsessed, and spoiled character, but one not without sympathy. Barbara Stanwyck is outstanding as Martha, with her predatory smile and sharp, manicured nails. Kirk Douglas is surprisingly convincing as a lost, sad, weak man, who loves his wife, but is unable to gain her respect. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers eventually lapsed into public domain and became a ubiquitous presence on cable television. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

He Walked by Night
The "He" of the title is Richard Basehart, a clever but psychopathic burglar (based on real-life criminal Erwin Walker) Basehart stays one step ahead of the law by listening in to the police band on his radio. To avoid detection, he changes his M.O. on each crime, making it seem that the string of burglaries is the work of several thieves. But Basehart trips himself up when he kills a cop. His own personal Waterloo occurs in the Los Angeles sewer system--a stylish predecessor to the similar (and more widely praised) climax in Sir Carol Reed's The Third Man. Though the direction is credited to Hollywood old-timer Alfred Werker, most of He Walked By Night is the handiwork of an uncredited Anthony Mann. Featured in the film's cast is Jack Webb in the small role of a police lab technician. Impressed by first-hand experience with police procedure and by the semi-documentary quality of He Walked By Night Webb expanded on these elements for his own radio and TV project, Dragnet. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Detour
Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour begins when hitchhiker Al Roberts (Tom Neal) accepts a ride from affable gambler Charles Haskell Jr. (Edmund MacDonald). When Haskell suffers a fatal heart attack, Roberts, afraid that he'll be accused of murder, disposes of the body, takes the man's clothes and wallet, and begins driving the car himself. He picks up beautiful but sullen Vera (Ann Savage), who suddenly breaks the silence by asking, "What did you do with the body?" It turns out that Vera had earlier accepted a ride from Haskell and has immediately spotted Roberts as a ringer. Holding the threat of summoning the police over his head, Vera forces Roberts to continue his pose so that he can collect a legacy from Haskell's millionaire father, who hasn't seen his son in years. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Fear in the Night
One of several low-budget mellers directed by scriptwriter Maxwell Shane, Fear in the Night was based on the short story Nightmare by William Irish (pseudonym for Cornell Woolrich). In his first starring role, DeForest Kelley plays Vince Grayson, a young man who has a terrible nightmare wherein he sees himself killing someone. When he awakens, Vince finds a couple of pieces of evidence indicating that his dream was no dream. Detective Cliff Herlihy (Paul Kelly) doesn't believe that Vince has killed anyone, but agrees to investigate. While taking shelter from a storm in a remote mansion, the detective and the young man stumble upon a mirrored room -- just like the one in Vince's dream. The frenzied Vince is nearly driven to suicide, but Detective Herlihy deduces that his friend's nightmare was the handiwork of Lewis Belnap (Robert Emmett Keane), the mansion's owner, who is a dabbler in hypnosis. Fear in the Night was remade in 1956 as Nightmare, with Kevin McCarthy and Edward G. Robinson. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Too Late for Tears
When Lizabeth Scott's Jane Greer husband Arthur Kennedy accidentally gets his mitts on $60,000 in stolen money, she insists that he keep the dough rather than turn it over to the authorities. Two-bit private eye Dan Duryea catches on to Scott's subterfuge, and demands that she turn the cash over to him. Scott persuades Duryea to split the money with her--then, determining that Kennedy might be too honest for everyone's own good, she murders her husband. To cover her tracks, Scott reports her husband as missing. This brings in yet another fly in the ointment: Don DeFore, the brother of Scott's first husband, who died under mysterious circumstances. The already knotted webs of intrigue become even more tangled before Scott's ironic comeuppance. Too Late for Tears was scripted by Roy Huggins, who later produced such TV detective series as The Rockford Files. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Suddenly
Suddenly is the name of the small town invaded by professional assassin Frank Sinatra and his henchmen. Taking a local family hostage, Sinatra sets up a vigil at the second-story window of the family's home. From here, he intends to kill the President of the United States when the latter makes a whistle-stop visit. The film's tension level is enough to induce goose pimples from first scene to last. Sinatra is outstanding as the disgruntled war vet who hopes to become a "somebody" by killing the president. The parallels between his character and Lee Harvey Oswald's are too close for comfort, so much so that Suddenly was withdrawn from local TV packages for several years after the JFK assassination. Sinatra would claim in later years that he himself engineered the removal of Suddenly from general distribution, though in fact he'd lost whatever rights he'd held on the film when it lapsed into public domain. Be sure and miss the notorious colorized version of this black-and-white thriller, wherein Sinatra is transformed into Ol' Brown Eyes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Woman on the Run
Frank Johnson (Ross Elliott), a window-dresser and struggling artist, accidentally witnesses a mob-related rub-out of a witness (Thomas P. Dillon), while out walking his dog one night -- after being shot at for his trouble, he's approached by the police, who want to put him into protective custody. But before they can do that, he runs out, and it's up to Inspector Ferris (Robert Keith) to find him before the killer does. He approaches Johnson's wife, Eleanor (Ann Sheridan), only to discover that not only were they the most distant -- nearly estranged -- couple he's ever encountered, but that she doesn't want to help find him, or care if he is found. Then she learns that he has a potentially serious heart condition that he never told her about, and that he has no medication -- she decides to try and find him to give him help, dodging the police with help from a pushy reporter named Leggett (Dennis O'Keefe), covering his job and all of his old haunts; and in the process, she discovers a man that she never really bothered to know or understand, one who not only wanted to love her but does love her, despite the way their marriage has gone, and discovers that there may still be a marriage worth saving. But to do that she's got to find him to head off not only a potentially fatal heart seizure but also save him from the killer who, unbeknownst to her, is just a step behind her and has already started covering her trail and murdering potential witnesses. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Trapped
When nearly perfect counterfeit 20-dollar bills start turning up, the Treasury Department recognizes them as the work of Tris Stewart (Lloyd Bridges), a man already doing a long prison stretch. They offer Stewart a break on his sentence if he'll help them find out who got hold of his old plates, but he initially refuses. Some weeks later, while being transferred to another prison, Stewart escapes from custody -- it turns out that this is a set-up to free Stewart to search for the plates with a treasury agent keeping tabs on him; then he turns on the T-man as well, escaping for real. What Stewart doesn't know is that the agents expected and desired this move, believing that he would only go for the plates if he thought he could make some money from the bills and get out of the country with his girlfriend Laurie (Barbara Payton). They've got her apartment bugged, and one of their own men, Downey (John Hoyt), has been put in place as a customer at the nightclub where she works, quietly establishing himself as a man with some angles of his own and a yen to know her better. Stewart follows the trail to one of his ex-distributors, now in business for himself with the plates. But the man needs money, and Stewart thinks he can get it with help from Downey -- he doesn't like him trying to impress her, but does like it that he is a grifter with some money. They become partners, putting up Downey's cash to get the 250,000 dollars in counterfeit twenties, which Stewart will spend at face value where he and Laurie are going, in countries where they need U.S. currency and there are no treasury agents around to help identify counterfeit bills. Before the deal can be closed (and the arrest made), a new round of possible double-crosses starts between the hoods, and Downey's cover is suddenly blown by accident -- Stewart tries to kill him but is captured instead. Downey's superiors want to pull him out, but the agent thinks he can still salvage the operation if he can get to the plates before Laurie can talk to anyone. That leads to the denouement, an extended series of split-second plot developments with several lives at risk. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Scarlet Street
Masterfully directed by Fritz Lang, Scarlet Street is a bleak film in which an ordinary man succumbs first to vice and then to murder. Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson) is a lonely man married to a nagging wife. Painting is the only thing that brings him joy. Cross meets Kitty (Joan Bennett) who, believing him to be a famous painter, begins an affair with him. Encouraged by her lover, con man Johnny Prince (Dan Duryea) Kitty persuades Cross to embezzle money from his employer in order to pay for her lavish apartment. In that apartment, happy for the first time in his life, Cross paints Kitty's picture. Johnny then pretends that Kitty painted to portrait, which has won great critical acclaim. Finally realizing he has been manipulated, Cross kills Kitty, loses his job, and because his name has been stolen by Kitty, is unable to paint. He suffers a mental breakdown as the film ends, haunted by guilt. Kitty and Johnny are two of the most amoral and casual villains in the history of film noir, both like predatory animals completely without conscience. Milton Krasner's photography is excellent in its use of stark black-and-white to convey psychological states. Fritz Lang is unparalleled in his ability to convey the desperation of hapless, naïve victims in a cruelly realistic world. ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi

Please Murder Me
In this thriller, an amorous attorney is appalled to realize that the lovely client (with whom he was smitten) he acquitted is indeed guilty of killing her husband. Now he too feels guilty for being so gullible and so arranges for the woman to murder him so she will get caught. The woman, now interested in a young artist, is more than happy to oblige him. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.