World Noir Vol. 1 (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film (I Am Waiting)
The Video (I Am Waiting)
The Audio (I Am Waiting)
The Film (Witness in the City)
The Video (Witness in the City)
The Audio (Witness in the City)
The Film (The Facts of Murder)
The Video (The Facts of Murder)
The Audio (The Facts of Murder)
The Supplements (Overall)
Overall

SUMMARY

Experience international film noir like never before with Radiance's World Noir Vol. 1, showcasing captivating classics with global flair.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

World Noir Vol. 1 from Radiance brings together three 1950s films in the noir style from outside of the United States. While they are categorized as ‘noir’ there are distinct differences from what we tend to think of as film noir from the United States. Fundamentally, however, the similarities are abundant enough to more than qualify each of these films as noir.

For instance, director Kurahara Koreyoshi’s I Am Waiting (Japanese: Ore wa matteru ze) (1957), is a film soaked in the crime underworld of Japan, as it focuses on a disgraced boxer who helps a female singer at a yakuza bar now on the run and planning a getaway to Brazil after rebuffing her gangster employer’s sexual advances. Clearly, there are many prototypical references in the film, such as a ‘femme fatale’ or damsel in distress, the prevalence of dangerous criminals, and the black and white cinematography, which is a little less angular than American noir.

In French filmmaker Édouard Molinaro’s Witness in the City (French: Un témoin dans la ville) adapted from the popular novel of writing duo Boileau and Narcejac (Vertigo, Les Diaboliques), there is a strong element of mystery and danger, with a familar shooting style to classic film noir. A man out for revenge after he learns his wife was thrown from a train by her wealthy lover has his revenge witnessed by a taxi driver and a cat-and-mouse game ensues between the two men. The husband goes from bent on revenge to becoming like an unhinged serial killer, stalking the witness to his deed. This film also has some classic visual elements of the genre.

The last film in the collection is the Italian noir The Facts of Murder from director
Pietro Germi (Divorce Italian Style). Germi, who also plays the lead Inspector Ingravallo, gives us a gritty and twist-fueled thriller. When called to investigate a robbery in an apartment building, Ingravallo questions the tenants and disbelieves them. He comes to the conclusion that there was more to the robbery and a murder had taken place. This film is one that sits across two genres in Italy. The cinematography is done with the same high contrast, black and white and inky shadows as the classic noir while the crime mystery has the feeling of being a proto-giallo. There are certainly some elements of Italian neorealism infused into the film.

World Noir Vol. 1 on Amazon UK
  • The Facts of Murder (1959)
  • The Facts of Murder (1959)
  • World Noir Vol. 1 (Radiance)
  • World Noir Vol. 1 (Radiance)
  • World Noir Vol. 1 (Radiance)

The Video

The picture quality in this World Noir Vol. 1 collection from Radiance varies based on the film. It is very dependent on the original source. For instance, I Am Waiting, the Japanese film, which has the most source damage, narrowest dynamic range, and black levels that stay mostly in the gray range. It is also the only film in this collection not listed as being from a new restoration, it is simply a HD digital transfer. The Facts of Murder, the Italian film, is from a new 4K restoration carried out by L’Immagine Ritrovata at the Cineteca di Bologna. It has the finest grain structure, crispy details, and stark black and white contrast. The second best for quality is Witness in the City, from a 2K restoration. The grain structure is not quite as fine, but overall, it is very organic and has little source damage to speak of.

The Audio

Each film is in its original language with the original mono soundtrack in LPCM 2.0. None of the films have outstanding sound, but the quality does improve one over the other, with I Am Waiting being the boxier and slightly noisier of the three. Least surprisingly, The Facts of Murder also sounds the best.

The Supplements

Radiance does not hold back with the supplements for this collection. There are numerous interviews, including one with Germi collaborator Mario Sesti, and an interview with the always interesting Tony Rayns.

Limited Edition Boxed Set Contents:

  • Newly designed artwork based on original posters
  • Limited edition 80-page perfect bound booklet featuring new writing on the films by critics and experts including Barry Forshaw on noir represented outside the US, William Carroll on post-war occupation in Japanese cinema, Hayley Scanlon on Japanese noir, an interview wit Edouard Molinaro, Roberto Curti on the hybrid nature of Italian cinema, and Sam Wigley on 50s world noir from other countries
  • Limited edition of 3000 copies, presented in a rigid box with full-height Scanavo cases for each film and removable OBI strip

I Am Waiting

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Jasper Sharp
  • Yujiro in Europe – A documentary produced by Nikkatsu Studios on star Yujiro Ishihara during location shooting in Europe. (1959, 41 mins., 1080p)
  • The Yujiro Effect – In this newly recorded visual essay, Mark Schilling looks at the monumental impact Yujiro Ishihara had on Japanese pop culture. Recorded exclusively for Radiance in September 2023. (1080p, 13 mins.)

Witness in the City

Bonus Features:

  • Tony Rayns (1080p; 00:17:13) – In this newly recorded interview, critic and programmer Tony Rayns discusses Witness in the City, its relationship to films of the period, Édouard Molinaro, and Lino Ventura. Shot exclusively for Radiance in September 2023.
  • Phillippe Durant (1080p; 00:10:56) – In this interview, Lino Ventura biographer Philippe Durant speaks about the actor, his role in the film, and the film’s depiction of Paris, among other subjects. Created by Gaumont in 2014.
  • Ginette Vincendeau (1080p; 00:22:42) – In this newly recorded interview, critic and author Ginette Vincendeau discusses French Noir and the place of Witness in the City within the tradition. Shot exclusively for Radiance in September 2023.

The Facts of Murder

Bonus Features:

  • Mario Sesti (1080p; 00:46:36) – In this newly filmed interview, critic Mario Sesti discusses The Facts of Murder and Pietro Germi. Shot exclusively for Radiance in August 2023.
  • The Man with a Cigar in His Mouth (720p; 00:38:51; 2005)– This archival documentary by Mario Sesti features interviews with Germi and collaborators.
  • Paul A. J. Lewis (1080p; 00:18:40) – This newly created visual essay by Paul A. J. Lewis looks at the presence of noir trends in Italian cinema and the evolution of the genre.

The Final Assessment

Radiance delivers a fantastic globetrotting noir collection that shows the similarities and differences in the genre as it moved around the world. Each film included in this collection is a treasure and one hopes that this “Vol. 1” is succeeded by further volumes.


World Noir Vol. 1 is out in the UK December 18, 2023 from Radiance

World Noir Vol. 1 on Amazon UK
  • Rating Certificate: UK:15
  • Studios & Distributors: Nikkatsu | Franco London Films | Paris Union Films | Société Nouvelle des Établissements Gaumont (SNEG) | Tempo Film | Zebra Films | Riama Film | Radiance
  • Directors: Kurahara Koreyoshi | Édouard Molinaro | Pietro Germi
  • Run Time: 294 Mins.
  • Street Date: 18 December 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 (I Am Waiting) | 1.37:1 (Witness in the City) | 1.66:1 (The Facts of Murder)
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Japanese LPCM 2.0 Mono (I Am Waiting) | French LPCM 2.0 Mono (Witness in the City) | Italian LPCM 2.0 Mono (The Facts of Murder)
  • Subtitles: English
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Experience international film noir like never before with Radiance's World Noir Vol. 1, showcasing captivating classics with global flair.World Noir Vol. 1 (Blu-ray Review)