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Bad Girls of Film Noir

In the '40s and '50s, the juiciest roles for actresses in Hollywood were often in B-pictures that explored the dark side of life and offered them starring roles as cool, calculating gals who could stick a knife in a man's back and make him like it. On February 9, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment opens the doors to the Columbia vault to release two newly restored and remastered collections of classic films when Bad Girls of Film Noir: Volume 1 and Bad Girls of Film Noir: Volume 2 debut on DVD. 


Bad Girls of Film Noir: Volume 1 includes:
The Killer That Stalked New York
After helping to smuggle diamonds into the country and getting burned by her latest flame (and her sister!), Sheila Bennet (Evelyn Keyes, The Jolson Story, Johnny O'Clock) decides to get even. But she unwittingly puts herself and millions of others at risk, requiring an all-out manhunt for a killer. The deep shadows in Joseph F. Biroc's cinematography heighten the suspense, with excellent support from actors Charles Korvin (Sangaree), Academy Award® winner Dorothy Malone (Best Supporting Actress, Written on the Wind, 1957), Lola Albright (The Tender Trap), and William Bishop (Harriet Craig). The Killer That Stalked New York has a running time of approximately 79 minutes and is not rated.
Two of a Kind (1951)
Brandy Kirby (Lizabeth Scott, Dead Reckoning) is on a manhunt to locate a look-a-like for a missing heir imposter in an inheritance scam. She finds a willing participant in Lefty Farrell (Academy Award winner Edmond O'Brien, Best Supporting Actor, The Barefoot Contessa, 1954): raised in an orphanage and trained in small-time rackets. But will Brandy's partner (Academy Award nominee Alexander Knox, Best Actor, Wilson, 1944) cut in on Lefty's piece of the action or will the partners double-cross each other before they get their hands on the loot?  Photographed by two-time Academy Award winner and veteran Columbia cinematographer Burnett Guffey (Best Cinematography: From Here to Eternity, 1953; Bonnie and Clyde, 1967), the film co-stars Academy Award nominee Terry Moore (Best Supporting Actress, Come Back, Little Sheba, 1953).  Two of a Kind has a running time of 75 minutes and is not rated.
Bad for Each Other (1953)
Academy Award winner Charlton Heston (Best Actor, Ben-Hur, 1959) is a Korean War vet and surgeon whose return to his small coal-mining hometown offers him few possibilities, one of which is the intriguing socialite/divorcee Helen Curtis (Lizabeth Scott, The Racket). Helen's charms prove to be too much to resist, drawing the young doctor into a social circle and lifestyle that raises concern from the others in his life, including his mother and pretty young nurse (Dianne Foster, The Brothers Rico).  Bad for Each Other has a running time of approximately 83 minutes and is not rated.
The Glass Wall (1953)
Desperate to immigrate to America, Peter Kuban (Vittorio Gassman, Bitter Rice) stows away on a ship and jumps quarantine to try to find support for his petition for a visa on human rights grounds. Academy Award winner Gloria Grahame (Best Supporting Actress, The Bad and the Beautiful, 1952) is the down-on-her-luck easy mark who, in helping Kuban, finds more trouble for herself. Joseph Biroc's great location photography makes New York City the menacing femme fatale in this race-against-the-clock suspense story. The Glass Wall has a running time of approximately 82 minutes and is not rated.

Bad Girls of Film Noir: Volume 2 includes:
Night Editor
Jill Merrill (Janis Carter, Framed) may just be the coldest gal in town. Her extra-marital affair with a cop (Oscar® nominee William Gargan, Best Supporting Actor, They Knew What They Wanted, 1940) forces him to forsake his duty when they witness a murder. Even when an innocent man's life may be at stake, Jill's biggest concerns are no different than any other ice-blooded society gal in noirdom. This below-the-radar Columbia treat directed by Henry Levin (Jolson Sings Again) with photography by Burnett Guffey really packs the punches. Night Editor has a running time of approximately 68 minutes and is not rated.
One Girl's Confession
People think Mary Adams (Cleo Moore, Bait) is a bad girl because she's just too sexy to be good. So she decides to even the score, even if it means jail time. After stealing $10,000 and serving her time, Mary's determined to go straight...she just needs someone to help get the buried cash, and a good investment strategy. This efficient story, written, directed and co-starring Hugo Haas (Pickup), takes up his favorite themes of luck and fate. One Girl's Confession has a running time of approximately 74 minutes and is not rated.
Women's Prison (1955)
Where do the bad girls go when the law catches up with them? Some of noir's notorious femme fatales are locked up in prison with the sadistic Ida Lupino (High Sierra, On Dangerous Ground) as their warden. Strong performances from Lupino, Academy Award nominee Jan Sterling (Best Supporting Actress, The High and the Mighty, 1954), Audrey Totter (Tension), Cleo Moore (Strange Fascination), and Howard Duff (The Naked City, Shakedown) turn what otherwise might have been a melodramatic story into an entertaining twist on an age-old tale of institutionalized redemption. Women's Prison has a running time of approximately 79 minutes and is not rated.

Over-Exposed (1956)
Lewis Seiler (Women's Prison) directs Cleo Moore (Bait) and Richard Crenna (Wait Until Dark) in this story of an inexperienced, ambitious girl who, after being caught in a raid at a clip joint, has the chance to learn a trade as a photographer. Her new profession brings her closer to respectability and the opportunity to use her talent to extract blackmail. Moore was often the “bait” in movie publicity campaigns; in Over-Exposed, the exploitation was more explicit. Over-Exposed has a running time of approximately 80 minutes and is not rated.


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December 12, 2009
(ISSN 1094-3676).