Border Incident (1949, 95 mins.):
U.S. Agent Jack Barnes lies in an open field, shot and beaten. A giant harrowing machine suddenly roars to life, its blades biting into the earth. Terrified, Barnes tries to crawl away. But the machine crawls faster.
As searing as a shot of tequila down a dust-parched throat, this steely thriller stars Ricardo Montalba and George Murphy as agents from each side of the Mexico-California border. Their job: catch the thieves, murderers and moneymen who prey on illegal aliens desperate to make a few Americana dollars sweating as farm laborers. Anthony Mann (Winchester '73, The Naked Spur) directs, turning his lens to the beauty and the terror of stark desert wastelands. Blending classic film noir with a surprisingly contemporary plot, Border Incident is a relentless, cutting-edge gem of the genre.
His Kind Of Woman (1951, 120 mins.): Hard-luck gambler Dan Milner is in sudden luck. He'll get $50,000 to hang out at a posh Mexican resort - $5,000 now and the big payoff when the reason he's been sent there is revealed. Of course, the gangsters making the offer don't expect him to live long enough to collect.
His Kind Of Woman is a film noir fan's kind of movie: dark, sassy, surprised-filled. Robert Mitchum plays Milner, who finds the romantic stakes raised when he meets a self-proclaimed heiress (Jane Russell, in the role that launched her devoted friendship with Mitchum). The mystery is twisted, the sets are astonishing, the cast is large and talented. But what makes this cult favorite stand apart is Vincent Price's hilarious turn as a self-absorbed, gun-collecting Hollywood star. Mitch gets the girl. But Price steals the movie.
Lady In The Lake (1946, 103 mins.): Robert Montgomery stars in and directs this snappy adaptation of Raymond Chandler's hardboiled detective mystery. Montgomery portrays Marlow, private eye. As director, he's also the film's private eyes, using a subjective camera presenting the action from Marlow's point of view. What Marlow sees, we see. When he gets slugged, we slip into blackness. The case begins when Marlow sets out to find the missing wife of a publishing magnate. Several smack-arounds, one dead gigolo, a few angry cops, a booze-soaked frame-up and one dame in the lake later, Marlow finds the killer...and he's looking at the business end of a gun. He's in deep now. So are we.
On Dangerous Ground (1952, 82 mins.): "Why do you make me do it?" New York cop Jim Wilson asks the hoodlum he's about to smash senseless. Jim has seen it all on the city's shadowy streets: killers, thugs, pimps, sadists. And the experience has cost him his soul. Ironically, his redemption may come in his next case, a brutal murder that brings him into the open sky and white light of the countryside...and into the arms of a beautiful blind woman.
Directed with intensity by Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without A Cause, They Live By Night) and featuring a haunting score by Bernard Herrmann (Psycho), On Dangerous Ground is a taut, rapid-paced manhunt with two fine stars at its tortured heart. Noir master Robert Ryan captures Jim's agonized self-hatred. And Ida Lupine burnishes the screen as the sightless angel whose compassion gives him one last chance at life.
The Racket (1951, 89 mins.): Nick Scanlon (Robert Ryan) is an old-fashioned kind of gangster. If someone crosses you, settle it with a fist or bullet. Tom McHugh (Robert Mitchum) is an old-fashioned kind of cop. Grab the bad guy, not the bribe. But they're both living in a corrupt new world of smooth operators on both sides of the law, efficient green-eyeshade types who run a crime ring like a corporation. They won't mind if Scanlon and McHugh square off...if they bring each other down.
Film Noir: Bringing Darkness To Light (2006, 68 mins.): Dazzling in its own right - and a vital companion piece that adds to your enjoyment of film noir. An exciting overview with clips, experts and style! Bonus: 5 vintage Crime Doesn't Pay shorts.