City Confidential (1952/HD Cinema Classics/Film Vault Blu-ray w/DVD vs.
MGM DVD) + No Orchids For Miss Blandish
(aka Black Dice/1948/VCI DVD) + The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947/Warner
(Blu-ray: B-) Sound: C+ Extras: C-/D/B-/C- Films: B/B-/B
PLEASE NOTE: The Two Mrs. Carrolls is only available from Warner Bros. in their
Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
Noir from the classic period (1941 – 1958) are rarely touched, especially in
recent attempts to imitate them, so looking at a new group to hit home video
can be very refreshing and reminds us how brutally honest the originals were in
ways the recent attempts have not been.
the best key independent productions has always been from the highly capable
director Phil Karlson (The Brothers Rico,
reviewed elsewhere on this site) and Kansas
City Confidential (1952) is remarkably well known to this day despite being
owned by no major studio. Many copies
have been issued over the years and we will look at the quality of two of the
best later. We have the HD Cinema
Classics/Film Vault Blu-ray version (the first time the film has made it to
High Definition) and compare it to MGM’s DVD version.
stars John Payne (Tennessee’s Partner)
as an ex-con trying to move on with his life, but pulled back into crime when a
bold (and cinematically classic) armed robbery is being pinned on him. The people trying to dump the crime on him
even want to get him killed to further have him out of the way so the money
stolen is harder to find. However, he is
able to dodge their plans and see revenge in a really solid, remarkable and
Gray is “the girl” and we get great performances by Jack Elam, an early
appearance from Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand and Preston Foster (Time Travelers). Produced by Edward Small, United Artists
originally distributed the film, which is why MGM had a print to issue on DVD
as they now own the older UA films (but not the old MGMs!) that have survived
in the vault.
the MGM DVD may have a little more detail, it is on the green side, while the
Film Vault version trades off definition for better Video White on the Blu-ray,
so I would get the Vault edition. You
can see more below.
No Orchids For Miss Blandish (1948) is a solid British Noir
about the rich title character (Linden Travers) kidnapped before she gets
married, a high society woman now in the hand of gangster hoodlums. Based on the popular book, the film was very
controversial for sticking too much to the violence in that book, while George
Orwell loved the film!
Blandish finds herself falling for one of her captors (Jack La Rue from Charlie Chan In Panama among many
others) and they decide they may run off together, no matter what the
danger. Sometimes the film is a hoot,
but it is otherwise very well done, well made and one of the more interesting
British Noirs. It did not stick with me
in the long term, but is very much worth seeing.
we have the Warner Bros. classic Noir The
Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947, directed by Peter Godfrey) which I thought would
get a regular DVD release, but is a surprise choice for the Warner Archive
program. The only pairing of Humphrey
Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck, two Noir icons, she is the latest wife of Mr.
Carroll, who turns out to be a psychotic painter who slowly poisons his wives
and then moves on the another victim. He
is using glasses of milk to hide the poison and slowly starts to realize what
is happening. They are in England and she
even has Nigel Bruce as a doctor to turn to, but he cannot find anything wrong
This is a
great Noir that is also smart, much fun and interesting with more twists and
different aspects than the usual U.S.-based Warner Noirs. The actors (also including a fine performance
from Alexis Smith) makes this a winner.
I had not seen it for a long time, but it remains very effective and
Franz Waxman’s score is another plus.
1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image on Kansas
is centered in a 1.78 X 1 frame and looks almost better than it ever has before
on Blu-ray. As I noted above, the 1.33 X
1 MGM DVD has a little more detail, but it is annoyingly green. Vault has also included a DVD version that
centers the 1.33 X 1 frame in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 frame, but it
is not as good as the Blu-ray. Unless a
better Blu-ray comes out, Vault’s Blu-ray is the best version yet.
Orchids is a good 1.33 X 1 transfer of a
film that is even more of an orphan film.
The Video Black and detail are pretty good and source on the clean side,
despite showing its age. That leaves Carrolls at 1.33 X 1 from a nice print
from the Warner vaults, but the fact that this is a DVD-R pressing holds back
some of the finer detail. All in all,
this is the performance I was expecting from all these releases, though I wish
Vault had a way to retain more of the detail in their Kansas
restoration, but I still recommend the Blu-ray nonetheless.
DVDs have Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and they sound cleaned up and about as good as
they could for their age, though lossless sound might help and the Blu-ray does
not have it. The Blu-ray and DVD of
Vault have the same Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and add Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes that
just edge out the Dolby Mono on the MGM DVD.
If someone else does a Blu-ray, could they produce a better soundtrack?
include trailers for each film on all versions here, save the MGM Kansas
DVD, which is sad and odd. The Vault
version manages to produce a vintage trailer and a restoration comparison that
shows the improvements and some slight detail loss. Orchids
adds trailers on both titles (on U.S.,
audio interview by Tom Weaver with Richard Gordon and video interview with
Richard Gordon and Richard Nielsen by Joel Blumberg.
discs are available everywhere, but to specifically order The Two Mrs. Carrolls, go to this link: