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Murder & Mayhem Collection [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Bonu feature: Film noir poster gallery

Synopsis

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

The Man With the Golden Arm
When Otto Preminger was willing to release his drug-addiction drama Man With the Golden Arm without the sanction of a Production Code seal, it proved to be yet another nail in the coffin of that censorial dinosaur. Based on the novel by Nelson Algren, the film stars Frank Sinatra as Frankie Machine, expert card dealer (hence the title). Recently released from prison, Frankie is determined to set his life in order -- and that means divesting himself of his drug habit. He dreams of becoming a jazz drummer, but his greedy wife Eleanor Parker wants him to continue his lucrative gambling activities. Since Parker is confined to a wheelchair as a result of a car accident caused by Frankie, he's in no position to refuse. Only the audience knows that Parker is not crippled, but is faking her invalid status to keep Frankie under her thumb. Gambling boss Robert Strauss wants Frankie to deal at a high-stakes poker game; terrified that he's lost his touch, Frankie asks dope pusher Darren McGavin to supply him with narcotics. When McGavin discovers that Parker is not an invalid, she kills him, and Frankie (who is elsewhere at the time) is accused of the murder. He is willing to go to the cops, but he doesn't want to show up with drugs in his system. So with the help of sympathetic B-girl Kim Novak, Sinatra locks himself up and goes "cold turkey"-a still-harrowing sequence, despite the glut of "doper" films that followed in the wake of this picture. After Parker herself is killed in a suicidal fall, the path is cleared for Frankie to pursue a clean new life with Novak. ~ 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

Impact
Though he doesn't know it at first, industrialist Walter Williams (Brian Donlevy) shouldn't trust his wife Irene (Helen Walker) any farther than he can throw her. Irene schemes with her lover Jim Torrance (Tony Barrett) to kill Walter in an "accidental" car crash. The plan fails, and it is Jim who is killed. When it develops that he is assumed to have also died in the accident, Walter changes his name and heads to a small town where no one knows him. Here he starts life all over again as a humble garage mechanic, falling in love with his boss Marsha Peters (Ella Raines) in the process. Disaster looms when detective Quincy (Charles Coburn) comes sniffing around; it seems that Lt. Quincy suspects the incognito Williams of murdering Torrance. To reveal any more would be giving the game away. Impact co-stars longtime favorite Anna May Wong, making her first screen appearance since 1942. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Amazing Mr. X
Also known as The Amazing Mr. X, The Spiritualist stars Turhan Bey as the title character, a mysterious mystic named Alexis. Making a comfortable living by fleecing the gullible wealthy, Alexis' latest target is grieving young widow Christine Faber (Lynn Bari). Hoping to communicate with her husband, who supposedly died in a car crash two years earlier, Christine submits to Alexis' crystal-ball act. Our hero finds out more than he bargained for when the "deceased" Mr. Faber (Donald Curtis) turns up very much alive as the central figure in an elaborate fraud scheme. ~ 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

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