'Crime Wave - 50 Movie MegaPack' [DVD+Digital]
(Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Orson Welles, Kirk Douglas, Lloyd Bridges, Lon Chaney, Jr., Raymond Burr and more! / 10-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / 2016 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: There's a mystery afoot and this classic collection of crime dramas is packed with super sleuths, corrupt cops and damsels in distress. From strangers in the shadows to the allure of femme fatales, this 50 movie assortment of stylized, provocative pulp fiction will please Film Noir fans of all ages.
DVD Verdict: This stunning collection of 50 classic crime story movies spread over 10 discs is like Heaven on a stick for someone like me! A lover of old school crime stories, in general, and someone who, once settled on the couch, doesn't like to have to get up to change movies, these 50 movies have kept me couch-bound for well over a week - and I have loved every single second of it!
OK, well, as I can't go over every single title here, obviously, I will however discuss in detail my Top 5 from the collection. I'll start with 'A Scream In The Night' (1935), starring Lon Chaney Jr., Zarah Tazil, and John Ince, a colonial police detective in an Eastern seaport seeks a stolen gem, and infiltrates the underworld by posing as a look-alike wharfside bar owner.
Lon Chaney Jr has two roles as detective searching for a criminal mastermind and as the masterminds henchmen. Its good to see him in what would be an atypical role as a romantic leading man. Clearly the two roles was an effort to cash in on his fathers name and while it's not one of the tortured roles he was well known for later in his career, he does acquit himself nicely.
In 'Death From A Distance' (1935), starring Russell Hopton, Lola Lane, and George F. Marion, while a distinguished astronomer is giving a lecture in a planetarium, a shot rings out and one of the audience members is found dead. A tough detective and a brassy female reporter lock horns as they both try to break the case.
The performances, especially by Lola Lane as the cheeky, fresh young reporter, are not at all bad: quite convincing, and containing a good dose of humor! Not that the murder case isn't handled seriously: the police methods are portrayed in a realistic way - while, on the other 'side', the newsroom's atmosphere with all its male and female news hounds, who are sometimes nerve-racking, sometimes PRETTY helpful for the cops, is once again depicted in a wonderfully authentic way.
Next up is 'I Killed That Man' (1941), starring Ricardo Cortez, Joan Woodbury, and Pat Gleason. A condemned murderer on the eve of his execution decides to tell the authorities who hired him to commit the murder. However, he's killed by a poison dart in front of a roomful of officials and reporters before he can divulge the name. An assistant district attorney and a pretty newspaper reporter team up to discover the "mystery man" behind the murders.
Director Phil Rosen and his star, Mr. Cortez, were silent screen veterans (they'd worked together) who found less success after the advent of talking motion pictures; but, their skills are clearly evident, as they make the most of this quickly produced, low-budget film. Today, Mr. Rosen is not well-remembered; but, he worked on some of the most important Hollywood films of the teens and twenties (many are lost).
In 'The Devil's Party' (1938), starring Victor McLaglen, William Gargan, and Paul Kelly, adults who grew up as slum kids meet later in life, but murder disrupts their reunion. The parallels to the same year's 'Angels With Dirty Faces' is unmistakable, right down to the character of Father Jerry, portrayed in this picture by Paul Kelly. I'm a bit curious about the opening scene in which the street sign marking 35th Street and 11th Avenue also states Hell's Kitchen; I wonder if that was really the case.
Lastly, it has to be 'The Thirteenth Guest' (1932), starring the one, the only Ginger Rogers, Lyle Talbot, and J. Farrell MacDonald. 13 years before the movie opens, there was a dinner party, at which the 13th guest failed to show up. The master of the manner has died, and left the bulk of his estate to this 13th guest, but nobody knows who that is. Now someone is murdering the remaining guests, and placing their dead bodies at the table, in the same seat they had occupied 13 years before.
The best of the bunch, for me, clocking at little over an hour, this mystery has all the interesting trappings associated with pulp crime novels. The number of suspects and red herrings. The rising death toll as the race to solve the case becomes ever so important. Adding the clues up one by one and soon discovering (through a mistake by the killer who left the switch on with the result being another accidental murder) where the hiding place of the murderer is located.
The damsel in distress. The intelligent, wise detective with a knack for getting to the bottom of things no matter how complex they might seem. The identity of the thirteenth guest may not be that mind-blowing, but getting to that point is a lot of fun.
All 50 Films Included in this Collection:
A Life At Stake (1954) 75 Min.
A Scream In The Night (1935) 58 Min.
A Shot In The Dark (1935) 70 Min.
A Shriek In The Night (1933) 67 Min.
Baby Face Morgan (1942) 59 Min.
Bowery At Midnight (1942) 61 Min.
Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937) 64 Min.
Cause For Alarm! (1951) 73min.
City Of Missing Girls (1941) 74 Min.
D.O.A. (1950) 84 Min.
Death From A Distance (1935) 68 Min.
Detour (1945) 67 Min.
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947) 65 Min.
Doomed To Die (1940) 68 Min.
Dressed To Kill (1946) 108 Min.
Fear In The Night (1947) 72 Min.
Guest In The House (1944) 100 Min.
He Walked By Night (1948) 79 Min.
House Of Mystery (1934) 62 Min.
I Killed That Man (1941) 70 Min.
Inner Sanctum (1948) 62 Min.
Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1939) 71 Min.
Murder At The Baskervilles (1937) 71 Min.
Murder By Invitation (1941) 67 Min.
Please Murder Me! (1956) 75 Min.
Scarlet Street (1945) 103 Min.
Suddenly (1954) 75 Min.
The Black Raven (1943) 65 Min.
The Chase (1946) 82 Min.
The Dark Hour (1936) 64 Min.
The Death Kiss (1932) 74 Min.
The Devil's Party (1938) 66 Min.
The Great Flamarion (1945) 78 Min.
The Green Glove (1952) 88 Min.
The Lady Confesses (1945) 64 Min.
The Lady In Scarlet (1935) 65 Min.
The Limping Man (1953) 76 Min.
The Murder In The Museum (1934) 65 Min.
The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934) 60 Min.
The Mystery Of Mr. Wong (1939) 70 Min.
The Naked Kiss (1964) 90 Min.
The Red House (1947) 100 Min.
The Shop At Sly Corner (1947) 91 Min.
The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers (1946) 116 Min.
The Stranger (1946) 96 Min.
The Thirteenth Guest (1932) 69 Min.
Too Late For Tears (1949) 99 Min.
Trapped (1949) 79 Min.
Whistle Stop (1946) 81 Min.
Woman On The Run (1950) 77 Min.
These are all Full Screen Presentations (4:3) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.