Get ready to give yourself to the Dark Side — of cinema, that is — with the Film Noir Classic Collection, Volume 5, another in a line of excellent releases of classic crime dramas from Warner Home Video. Culled mostly from the RKO Pictures vaults, Film Noir Classic Collection, Volume 5 contains the following oft-forgotten gems (many of which have never been released on DVD in the U.S.): Cornered (1945), Desperate (1947), The Phenix City Story (1955), Deadline At Dawn (1946), Armored Car Robbery (1950), Crime In The Streets (1956), Dial 1119 (1950), and Backfire (1950). All eight films are housed on four single-sided, dual-layered discs.
Disc One begins with Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fave, Steve Brodie, as an innocent man who winds up on the run from both the good guys and the bad ones in Desperate (1947). Called in on the night of his wedding anniversary to deliver some “perishables,” truck driver Steve Randall (Brodie) discovers he’s been hired to transport some stolen goods instead. But when Steve’s botched attempt to alert a passing patrolman leaves the law officer dead and one of the thugs in the hospital, he takes it on the lam with his wife (Audrey Long), while the authorities (including Jason Robards, Sr.) and the brutal gangster that pulled him into the whole mess (Raymond Burr, in exceptionally fine form here) both search for him. Douglas Fowley, who has always epitomized the very look of a film noir heavy in my opinion, co-stars as a disgraced private eye who helps Burr hunt Brodie down.
Feature two of Disc One, Cornered (1945), was one of the first features to give Dick Powell a chance to escape from his tired old song-and-dance man image. Here, Powell plays Laurence Gerard, a former Canadian Royal Air Force pilot who is on the hunt for the Nazi-lovin’ bastard that murdered his bride. With the war over, Gerard travels from France to Switzerland and all the way down to Buenos Aires in an attempt to get his hands on a man known only as “Jarnac,” whom nobody seems to be able to describe efficiently enough for the poor guy to get a good description! Some truly atmospheric photography can be found in this rather anti-Fascist propaganda film from director Edward Dmytryk. Walter Slezak co-stars as the main bad guy (always a good choice) with the familiar mug of B-Movie heavy Jack La Rue also popping up as the hotel valet.