VCI Home Video // 1952 // 457 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 18th, 2006
6 movies on 3 DVDs! From the shadows of Hammer!
In 1950 Hammer Films entered a deal with American producer Robbert L. Lippert to finance low-budget crime thrillers to be distributed in England and America. Lippert would supply Hammer with either rising talent or worn-out stars looking for time off, and they would head to London to make a quick project. The films were B-movie fare (often with different titles in each country), and people have forgotten about them over time. Well, noir fans can now look at some fine UK character actors taking on roles you'd usually see reserved for Yanks, such as vengeful blondes, ruthless gangsters, and shady business men. It's a fascinating collection of films you've never heard of, and the set is either available in pairs on a single disc or as a whole collection (the one reviewed here).
* Bad Blonde (1952) -- An innocent prize fighter (Tony Wright, Journey Into Nowhere) is seduced by a blonde vixen (Barbara Payton, Run for the Hills) to kill her fight manager husband.
* Man Bait (1952) -- A bookstore owner (George Brent, Bride for Sale) falls for his sexy blonde clerk (Diana Dors, Craze), and ends up on the wrong end of wrath.
* A Stolen Face (1952) -- A plastic surgeon (Paul Henreid, Dead Ringer) loses the love of his life (Lizabeth Scott, Scared Stiff), so he makes a criminal in her image.
* Blackout (1954) -- A beautiful blonde (Belinda Lee, Footsteps in the Fog) seduces an American in London (Dane Clark, Port of Hell), and soon he finds himself in a room with her dead father.
* The Gambler and the Lady (1952) -- A gambler (Dane Clark again) wants to marry a socialite (Naomi Chance, Blood Orange), but his nightclub singer ex (Kathleen Byron, Hell is Sold Out) won't let him go so easily.
* Heat Wave (1954) -- An American writer (Alex Nicol, The Screaming Skull) living in England is seduced by a blonde (Hillary Brooke, The Man Who Knew Too Much) who wants to kill her husband.
The films are interesting to a point, but none of them truly stand out as a classic by any definition. You've got competent actors and directors cranking out solid noir, but nothing you'd tear apart the shelves of Best Buy to find. As of this writing seems the individual sets are easier to find from Amazon if you want a new copy, and for under fifteen bucks you can get two noirs. The transfers are fullscreen, somewhat grainy, and sporting a few scratches and blemishes now and then. Over the photo gallery for each title we get commentary from film historian Richard M. Roberts who always has some interesting tidbits to share about the production and the stars. All in all these are great for fans of Diana Dors or Dane Clark. If your thirst for noir is unquenchable, it's a nice collection or three. If you're super picky, these might not be the ones for you. It's a "nice to have" title instead of a "must own."
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Scales of Justice
Studio: VCI Home Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 457 Minutes
Release Year: 1952
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Galleries With Commentary by Richard M. Roberts
* IMDb: Bad Blonde
* IMDb: Man Bait
* IMDb: A Stolen Face
* IMDb: Blackout
* IMDb: The Gambler and the Lady