Another New Year, another branch of marvelous DVDs being handed to movie mavens by Olive Films.
We pray each day that they just may release Tell me You Love Me, June Moon!
Until then, feast on these four . . .
World For Ransom (DVD and Blu-Ray)
An exotic film noir set against the backdrop of Cold War Shanghai, World for Ransom stars Dan Duryea, a roguish detective Mike Callahan, who is drawn into a plot to kidnap a nuclear scientist (Arthur Shields). But the deeper Callahan delves into the mystery, the more labyrinthine the conspiracy becomes, as military intelligence (led by Reginald Denny), a criminal mastermind (Gene Lockhart), and a cross-dressing femme fatale (Marian Carr) all vie to control his fate.
Directed (without credit) by Robert Aldrich, utilizing the resources of the TV series China Smith, World for Ransom was initially dismissed as a low-rent von Sternberg film (parallels to Macao and Shanghai Express are obvious). Since then, however, the film has earned a new appreciation, being considered a trial run for Aldrich’s influential Kiss Me Deadly, both films peeling back endless layers of deception and betrayal, while an atomic secret lies hiding at the core.
Woman They Almost Lynched (DVD and Blu-Ray)
In the waning years of the Civil War, the secluded Ozark community of Border City prides itself on its neutrality. But the town quickly becomes a convenient refuge for such violent renegades as Charles Quantrill (Brian Donlevy), Jesse and Frank James (Ben Cooper, James Brown), and Cole Younger (Jim Davis). Into this lawless town comes the innocent Sally Maris (Joan Leslie), whose brother (Reed Hadley) runs the local saloon. When her brother dies in a gunfight over Quantrill’s wife, Kate (Audrey Totter), Sally takes over the Lead Dollar Saloon and braces herself for a showdown. Meanwhile, the opposing armies converge on Border City, each seeking lead from the mines owned by the domineering mayor (Nina Varela). Caught in the middle of these warring factions, Sally is accused of being a Confederate spy, and is taken by Union soldiers to the hanging tree, where an unexpected fate awaits her.
Track The Man Down (DVD and Blu-Ray)
After the robbery of a dog-racing track goes awry, a hoodlum (George Rose, whose “bad” skin is so visible here) scrambles to evade the police and a gang of criminals, while maintaining control of a satchel of stolen funds. The loot falls into the hands of his girlfriend (Ursula Howells), then her sister (Petula Clark, yes that Pet Clark!)), who carries it on a long bus trip. Along the way, her path converges with that of an aging actress (Renee Houston), a snitch (Kenneth Griffith), and a story-hungry reporter (Kent Taylor). They end up confined in a deserted boathouse, where the fate of the money and the people pursuing it are resolved.
The Weapon (DVD and Blu-Ray)
When a young boy (Jon Whiteley) accidentally shoots a playmate with a pistol found in the rubble of a bombed-out building, he runs away from home and wanders the streets of postwar England. Ballistic analysis connects the weapon to the unsolved murder of a military officer ten years earlier. A gruff American captain, Mark Andrews (Steve Cochran), attempts to track down the missing gun, while trying to appease the boy’s anxious mother (Lizabeth Scott, starting to look a bit worn). The search for the missing boy (and the weapon he’s carrying) leads Andrews into the seedy London underworld, where a series of unsavory characters attempt to divert him from his quest. As depicted by director Val Guest the decayed urban setting resembles the Vienna of Carol Reed’s The Third Man, permeated by grime and shadow, and shot through with an oppressive sense of despair.