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DVD reviews: Warner Bros. adds to film noir collection - ‘Scene of the Crime,' ‘Code Two,' ‘Death in Small Doses'

Gene Triplett Published: January 28, 2013

Warner Bros. Archive Collection adds three new titles to its film noir series, the best of which is “Scene of the Crime” (1949), with Van Johnson cast in the role of a hard-

boiled cop out to avenge the murder of his partner. Now, Johnson’s red-haired, wholesome, boy-next-door image landed him in lots of Technicolor musical comedies opposite June Allyson or Esther Williams, or in war pictures as the heroic, All-American Joe. But a tough detective? Sounds like criminal miscasting.

Not so. Van acquits himself impressively as Mike Conovan, a hard-nosed cop who’s torn between his badge and his beautiful bride (Arlene Dahl), who wants him to change careers before he becomes a bullet-riddled corpse. Directed by Roy Rowland (“Our Vines Have Tender Grapes”) from a script by Charles Schnee (“Red River”), the solid supporting cast features Gloria DeHaven, John McIntire and Alfred Hitchcock regular Norman Lloyd, who’s particularly good as a sleazy stool pigeon named “Sleeper.”

speed-addled truck drivers. Seriously.

Connors’ performance as “Mink” Reynolds, a hip-talking, finger-snapping, benny-popping trucker is worth watching if one is seeking a classroom example of truly bad, over-the-top acting. Otherwise, this Allied Artists cheapie from director Joseph Newman (“This Island Earth”) is a typical ’50s-style anti-drug message movie with nary a touch of noir artfulness.

— Gene Triplett

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