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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Film Noir > Drama > Crime > Murder > Revenge > Mystery > Sex > France > Blood On The Moon (1948/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Limits Of Control (2019/Arrow*)/Noir Archive, Volume 1, 2 & 3 (1944 - 1960/Columbia/Mill Creek sets/*all MVD Blu-rays)/Serie Noire (1979/Film Moveme

Blood On The Moon (1948/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Limits Of Control (2019/Arrow*)/Noir Archive, Volume 1, 2 & 3 (1944 - 1960/Columbia/Mill Creek sets/*all MVD Blu-rays)/Serie Noire (1979/Film Movement Blu-ray)

Picture: B/B+/B/B Sound: C+/B+/C+/B- Extras: C-/B/D/C+ Films: B/C+/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Blood On The Moon Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Film Noir is a genre that is not totally a genre (its functions defy the usual descriptions) and was not invented by Hollywood or any other set of studios. Instead, it was a combinations of technological and political trends, led by Orson Welles. These set of films over 75 years show the influence and results...

Directed by editor-turned-filmmaker Robert Wise, it is better than many of his giant blockbuster productions (The Sound Of Music, Star and West Side Story only work so well for me) us the Western with a major sense of Noir, Blood On The Moon (1948). Robert Mitchum is a loner named Jim Garry, who finds himself nearly run over by a heard of cattle, but that's nothing as compared to the conflict and double-crossing he is about to go up against in a grab-counter-grab plot that is highly unusual (and unusually complex) for any Western. On the one hand is the Lufton Family who has to meet a government deadline on cattle or lose everything, while an old friend Tate Riling (Robert Preston) has hired him to help out against the Luftons, without knowing the whole situation.

Garry has an early bad brush with Lufton's daughter (Barbara Bel Geddes of Hitchcock's Vertigo and TV's Dallas) as well as men who turn out to be 'friends'/workers of Tate. The twists and turns continue throughout in what could have been a simple revenge western, but delivers much more. Thus, this is up there with The Andromeda Strain and The Hindenburg as one of Wise's best films. Helping is a solid supporting cast that includes Tom Tully, Walter Brennan, Charles McGraw, Phyllis Thaxter and Frank Faylen. It holds up very well and may just be a minor classic of both genres.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

Director Jim Jarmusch's films always have a haunting of Noir in them, even when they are comic, such as his remarkable Bill Murray 'road movie' Broken Flowers (originally titles Dead Flowers before the studio asked for a title change) and he is, in his own way, one of the few proponents of the genre today. Another one of his interesting yet odd films, Limits of Control (2009) gets a new release on Blu-ray for the first time courtesy of Arrow. The slow but visually alluring film is centered around a loner (the very picturesque Isaach De Bankole) who travels to Spain and is instructed to meet various strangers, each of which provide him a cryptic clue. At the center of the surreal and often times confusing plot is a unique view of a foreign city with a few familiar faces and Jarmusch's accomplished filmmaking style.

The film stars Paz De La Huerta, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, and John Hurt to name a few.

Special Features (per the press release):

An American in Europe, a new video interview with Geoff Andrew, author of Stranger Than Paradise: Maverick Film-Makers in Recent American Cinema

The Rituals of Control, a new video essay on the film by author and critic Amy Simmons

Behind Jim Jarmusch, an archival documentary on the making of the film

Untitled Landscapes, an archival featurette showcasing the film's locations

Theatrical trailer

and a reversible sleeve featuring two choices of artwork.

Next up are three sets of Film Noir films from Sony's Columbia Pictures archive you should know about and mostly see. The Noir Archive, Volume 1, 2 & 3 (1944 - 1960) are 9 films per Blu-ray set, giving some interesting films better treatment than they have ever had on home video before. Outside of a fine 35mm or 16mm film print, this is the best you are likely to see and hear these films. We'll identify the titles in each set by title / director / cast as follows...

Volume One

Address Unknown (1944) William Cameron Menzies Paul Lukas, Carl Esmond, Peter Van Eyck (one of the best on these sets)

Escape in the Fog (1945) Oscar (Budd) Boetticher Otto Kruger, Nina Foch, William Wright

The Guilt of Janet James (1947) Henry Levin Rosalind Russell, Melvyn Douglas, Sid Caesar

The Black Book (aka The Reign of Terror) (1949) Anthony Mann Robert Cummings, Richard Basehart, Arlene Dahl

Johnny Allegro (1949) Ted Tetzlaff George Raft, Nina Foch, George Macready

711 Ocean Drive (1950) Joseph M. Newman Edmond O'Brien, Joanne Dru, Otto Kruger

The Killer That Stalked New York (1950) Earl McEvoy Evelyn Keyes, Charles Korvin, William Bishop

Assignment Paris (1952) Earl McEvoy Dana Andrews, Marta Toren, George Sanders

The Miami Story (1954) Fred F. Sears Barry Sullivan, Luther Adler, John Baer

Volume Two

Bait (1954) Hugo Haas Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas, John Agar

The Crooked Web (1955) Nathan Juran Frank Lovejoy, Mari Blanchard, Richard Denning

The Night Holds Terror (1955) Andrew Stone Jack Kelly, Hildy Parks, Vince Edwards, John Cassavetes, David Cross

Footsteps in the Fog (1955) Arthur Lubin Bill Travers, Ronald Squire, Finlay Currie, Belinda Lee

Cell 2455, Death Row (1955) Fred F. Sears William Campbell, Robert Campbell, Marian Carr

5 Against the House (1955) Phil Karlson Alvy Moore, William Conrad, Kerwin Mathews

New Orleans Uncensored (1955) William Castle Arthur Franz, Beverly Garland, Helene Stanton (before Castle did his horror comedies)

Spin a Dark Web (1955) Vernon Sewell Faith Domergue, Lee Patterson, Rona Anderson, Martin Benson

Rumble on the Docks (1956) Fred F. Sears Laurie Carrol, James Darren, Michael Grange

Volume Three

The Crimson Kimono (1959) Samuel Fuller Victoria Shaw, Glenn Corbett, James Shigeta

The Lineup (1958) Don Siegel Eli Wallach, Robert Keith, Warner Anderson

Man on a String (1960) Andre DeToth Ernest Borgnine, Kerwins Mathews, Colleen Dewhurst, Alexander Scourby

The Shadow in the Window (1956) William Asher Phil Carey, Betty Garrett, John Barrymore, Jr.

The Long Haul (1957) Ken Hughes Victor Mature, Diana Dors, Patrick Allen (has its moments)

Pickup Alley (1957) John Gilling Victor Mature, Anita Ekberg, Trevor Howard (British and in Technicolor)

The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) Paul Wendkos Darren McGavin, Maggie Hayes, Bobby Helms (one of the best in these sets)

She Played with Fire (1957) Sidney Gilliat Jack Hawkins, Arlene Dahl, Dennis Price, Bernard Miles, Ian Hunter

If you are expecting sex, backstabbing and clever styling with no censorship, you're thinking of a more modern set of thrillers. These are crime dramas, usually where the main characters are in hopeless situations, some with voiceovers, some with hilariously, unintentionally funny dialogue and other flaws and campiness that show their age and the films as time capsules. It is also interesting how they handled otherwise censored-at-the-time subjects, et al. They are remarkable in that they got made with such low budgets and worked as well as they did and include some of the most famous filmmakers and actors in the business. All the studios made these films, big and small, but Columbia was a small company then and had a head start in doing so. Older viewers might recognize these from seeing them on the late show back in the day or even in movie theaters, depending on ones age or if a revival house was nearby they attended.

The result if the combined sets are a chance to enjoy just one studio's solid output of the genre in its classical, original (and some would say only authentic) form, giving you a clearer idea of what these films were all about, an early maturing of U.S. filmmaking. All the studios have more like this in their vaults, many of which are still not out on Blu-ray. Let's hope this collection encourages more such releases.

There are sadly no extras.

Finally, a sort of neo-noir from France. Jim Thompson is one of the greatest of all Noir novelists and has had his share of involvement in great movies, as well as many of his films adapted for the big screen. Besides writing for Stanley Kubrick on The Killing (1956) and war classic Paths Of Glory (1957, both reviewed on Criterion Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), his novels have been adapted often enough and often well, as in the cases of Coup De Torchon, The Getaway (both film versions) and The Grifters. Then there are the mixed results of After Dark My Sweet, both adaptations of The Killer Inside Me and the subject of this review, Alain Corneau's Serie Noire (1979).

Patrick Dewaere is door-to-door salesman Franck Poupart, who is always down on his luck, has all kinds of enemies, owes people here and there and tends to be a magnet for the most toxic, immature, dysfunctional people you can meet. Things get odder when he meets a sexy young woman named Mona (Marie Trintignant) who is a hooker, pimped out by no less than her rich aunt and attracting Franck, who has been betrayed by his wife, boss and everyone else, which included a stay in jail. The two plot to kill the aunt and get her money, but of course, things do not go as planned there either. Then things get worse.

Despite some good (if too limited) locations, good casting and good performances, the film just becomes too predictable after the first half-hour or so and never finds a way to do something different, varied, unpredictable or surprising, though it is in line with a style of realism in French cinema of the time that makes it more palpable and naturalistic, if that helps. It just gets stuck on itself too often and though that is not wallowing in anything or getting lazy, it does not propel the film like it could. I can understand the following for the film, but I felt it fell a bit short.

Myriam Boyer, Jeanne Herviale, Andreas Katsulas and Bernard Blier also star.

Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent essay by Nick Pinkerton, while the disc adds Serie Noire, The Darkness of the Soul featurette and an interview with Alain Corneau and Marie Trintignant.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image on Moon is another thankfully restored film from the RKO catalog that Warner Archive has been able to save and preserve. There are some great wide shots, obviously much of this is on sets, but it looks like a few shots were on location. This is a darker film than the usual Western and that goes with its unusually complex script. Compositions are interesting and the surprising depth and detail is a plus. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is also surprising good for the films age, but the limits of sonic fidelity of a film this age are still apparent, though I doubt this will ever sound better.

The 1080p black & white digital High Definition image transfers on the Noir sets tend to look best and sharpest when they are 1.33 X 1, though we also get 2.35 X 1 CinemaScope on Pickup Alley (with the usual distortions of the older scope format) and 1.85 X 1 framings (even if the films had slightly different ratios in a few cases) including Footsteps In The Fog, a 1955 British film in three-strip, dye-transfer technicolor that just qualifies as one of those rare color Noirs and could use some restoration work on it. The films can look great and rarely show their age, but these are mostly B-movies just the same, so flaws do show up in parts, yet the quality is cleaner, sharper and more impressive than expected with many looking like brand new transfers and the films looking younger than they actually are.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes sound as good as they can, but being low budget B-movies, you will get noticeable dubbing, mixing limits and other small flaws, some of which cannot ever be corrected because that is the way the films were made. Still, despite the limits, many are much cleaner and more open than you would expect for older productions and just be careful of volume switching and high playback levels until you get use to the chosen film when viewing.

Limits of Control is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85 X 1 and an audio mix in original lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo lossless soundtracks. The film has very interesting cinematography in Spain with landscapes that suits the interesting music with artists such as Bad Rabbit and The Black Angels among others.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Serie is a new 2K remaster from the original Fujicolor 35mm negative, making it a rare feature film shot in the film stick. More so since Fuji does not make motion picture film anymore, it is a nice change from Kodak (which I love) and especially most HD video (as any films shot in Agfa film always are) so it does make for a unique viewing experience that adds to the different look and feel the filmmakers were trying to accomplish. The PCM 2.0 Mono sound is the best-sounding monophonic theatrical film on the list as expected, the soundmaster holding up well, though it is mostly dialogue and sound effects based.

To order the Blood On The Moon Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Limits)



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