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Category:    Home > Reviews > Film Noir > Crime > Drama > Bank Robbery > Kidnapping > British > Kansas 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 Archive DVD)

Kansas 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 Archive DVD)


Picture: C+ (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.



Real Film 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.


One of 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.


The film 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 enduring Noir.


Colleen 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.


Though 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!


Soon, 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.


Finally 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 with her!


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.



The 1080p 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.


All the 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?


Extras 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., one U.K.), audio interview by Tom Weaver with Richard Gordon and video interview with Richard Gordon and Richard Nielsen by Joel Blumberg.


All the discs are available everywhere, but to specifically order The Two Mrs. Carrolls, go to this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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