Film Noir Collection, Vol. 1 [5 Discs] [DVD]

This package offers five features from the seamy, hard-boiled world of film noir. First on the bill is The Case Against Brooklyn (1958), with Darren McGavin as a cop who goes undercover to break up an illegal gambling ring. Next on the bill is the courtroom drama Criminal Lawyer (1951), with Pat O'Brien as a crooked attorney battling alcoholism. Nathan Juran's The Crooked Web (1955) stars Frank Lovejoy as an American G.I. hunted down for extradition to Europe after he accidentally kills a man in Germany. 1957's Escape from San Quentin stars Johnny Desmond as an ex-con who escapes from prison and begins an affair with his sister-in-law. Finally, 1957's The Shadow on the Window features Leave it to Beaver star Jerry Mathers as a little boy who witnesses three criminals commit a homicide and abduct his mother.
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Escape from San Quentin
If it worked for Frank Sinatra... Singing star Johnny Desmond goes dramatic in the low-budget Escape From San Quentin. Desmond plays escaped convict Mike Gilbert, who goes on the lam with fellow prisoners Gruber (Richard Devon) and Graham (Roy Engel). While hiding from the law, Gilbert comes to realize that he's fallen in love with Robbie (Merry Anders), the sister of his ex-wife (Peggy Maley). Through Robbie's influence, Gilbert decides to go straight, but his cohorts aren't quite so willing to reform. Like most Sam Katzman quickies of the era, Escape From San Quentin was loosely based on a true story. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Crooked Web
In this melodrama, an American soldier finds himself hired by two private eyes, who are working for the wealthy German father of the man the soldier wrongly killed eight years ago. The killer falls right into their trap when he returns to Germany and finds himself prosecuted for the murder. ~ Iotis Erlewine, Rovi

The Case Against Brooklyn
Case Against Brooklyn was based on an "expose" article by Ed Reid. Darren McGavin plays rookie cop Pete Harris, who goes undercover to help smash a Brooklyn bookie ring. The problem here as that the crooks have been bribing other cops to look the other way. As if Harris wasn't courting enough trouble by going up against his "own", he also falls in love with gambler's widow Lil Polombo (Maggie Hayes), even though he's already married to Jane Harris (Peggy McCay). Daniel B. Ullman's screenplay adheres to the facts as recorded by Ed Reid, right down to the semi-unhappy finale. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Criminal Lawyer
Though made in 1951, Criminal Lawyer has the feel of a 1930s film, right down to the casting of Pat O'Brien in the lead. The star plays attorney James Regan, whose unethical methods have earned him the disdain of the American Bar Association. Eventually, Regan is even disgusted with himself, and accordingly crawls into a liquor bottle. Redeemed by the love of girl-Friday Maggie Powell (Jane Wyatt), Regan tackles a difficult make-or-break case which comprises the film's tense denouement. Critics in 1951 were impressed by the subtle performance by brutish Mike Mazurki as Regan's bodyguard; few of them were aware that the college-educated Mazurki was a sensitive, highly intelligent performer who was not at all like the thugs and pluguglies he played on screen. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Shadow on the Window
Musical comedy star Betty Garrett goes dramatic big-time in the hostage drama Shadow on the Window. Betty plays Linda Atlas, the mother of seven-year-old Petey Atlas (portrayed by Jerry "The Beaver" Mathers). When Petey witnesses a murder committed by a trio of juvenile delinquents, he wanders off in a state of shock. The three punks (John Barrymore Jr., Corey Allen and Gerald Sarricini) kidnap Linda, who's also witnessed their crime, holding her prisoner to keep the boy from talking -- if and when he recovers. Meanwhile, the authorities launch a frenzied manhunt in search of the catatonic boy, led by Petey's dad, police officer Tony Atlas (Phil Carey). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Johnny Desmond
    Johnny Desmond - Mike Gilbert
  • Merry Anders
    Merry Anders - Robbie
  • Image coming soon
    Richard Devon - Mike Gilbert
  • Image coming soon
    Roy Engel - Hap Graham
  • Image coming soon
    William Bryant - Richie

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