DVD review: 'Film Noir Classic Collection Vol. 5'
With Volume 5 of “The Film Noir Classic Collection,” Warner Home Video seems to be scraping the bottom of the B-movie bin, at least in the case of three of the eight films offered in this boxed set.
For example, “Crime in the Streets” (1956) is a low-budget, second-rate “Blackboard Jungle,” trying to cash in on the juvenile delinquent craze of the day with John Cassavetes making his inauspicious screen debut as an angry, alienated teen. Considering its over-the-top melodramatics and a Hollywood ending that can be seen 10 slum blocks away, it’s surprising that it was written by Reginald Rose (“12 Angry Men”) and directed by Don Siegel (“Dirty Harry,” “The Shootist”), whose other works were usually top-shelf.
Phil Karlson’s “The Fenix City Story” (1955), a fact-based tale of corruption and murder in small-town Alabama, plays out like a lurid (for its time) semidocumentary, with real Southern citizens giving gawdawful performances alongside a respectable professional cast including John McIntire, Richard Kiley and Edward Andrews, who try but fail to elevate the quality of this forgettable, preachy programmer.
And Vincent Sherman’s “Backfire” (1950) is an aptly-titled dud with miscast Gordon MacRae as a man desperate to prove his pal (Edmond O’Brien) is innocent of murder.
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