Though widely considered an American filmmaking style, film noir was first applied by French critics to the visual and thematic darkness of the flood of American films in the post-War period. Those films, often by European emigré filmmakers, were influenced by European filmmaking modes, notably French poetic realism and Weimar cinema. The American noirs that flourished in the 1940s and 1950s in turn influenced cinema around the world again. This ongoing box set series attempts to capture the trails of the noir influence across the globe, from the pre-War period to the emergence of neo-noir, expanding our understanding and availability of this rich filmmaking tradition.
In this first collection, World Noir Vol 1 focuses on the 1950s with three films exhibiting noir traits while still evoking their home genre trends and quirks. From 1957, in Koreyoshi Kurahara’s I Am Waiting a failed boxer and a waitress with a dark past run afoul of an underworld syndicate that seeks to exploit the woman to its own ends. With dreams of escaping to Brazil, he agrees to help. But neither the past nor the future turns out to be exactly what it seems. A foundational film from the pioneering studio of post-war Japanese noir Nikkatsu, I Am Waiting was directed by a master of the genre and stars Yujiro Ishihara and Mie Kitahara, the on-screen and real-life couple that ruled Japanese popular cinema of the 1950s.
In Edouard Molinaro’s 1959 Witness in the City, a wealthy industrialist murders his lover, throwing her from a train to look like suicide. Her husband, Ancelin (Lino Ventura, The Valachi Papers) seeks revenge but his endeavours leave a witness putting him in a cat-and-mouse game, thrillingly shot on the streets of Paris. An adaptation of the novel by celebrated writers Boileau and Narcejac (Vertigo, Les diaboliques) Molinaro wrings every ounce of tension from the narrative, focusing on evocative shadows and Parisian nightlife shot by Henri Decae (Le Samourai).
Finally, in Pietro Germi’s The Facts of Murder, Inspector Ingravallo has been called to a Roman apartment building to investigate a robbery. Once there he questions the tenants but soon realises something is amiss. As the investigation progresses a simple robbery leads to a murder case… Directed by and starring Germi (The Railroad Man) as the growling Inspector, The Facts of Murder was loosely adapted from celebrated author Carlo Emilio Gadda’s novel and is shot with inky shadows reminiscent of film noir, while the mystery element prefigures the giallo. Featuring a cast of wonderful supporting actors including Claudia Cardinale (The Day of the Owl) and Claudio Gora (Il sorpasso), the film won multiple awards at Italian institutions including the Golden Globe for Best Film
BLU-RAY LIMITED EDITION BOX SET SPECIAL FEATURES:
I AM WAITING
WITNESS IN THE CITY
THE FACTS OF MURDER