An opportunity to see two lesser-known films noirs

An opportunity to see two lesser-known films noirs

Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs

WOMAN ON THE RUN (Acorn). A neat little film noir thriller, dating from 1950, directed by Norman Foster and set in San Francisco, starts with a murder. A witness (Ross Elliott), with a bad heart, fears for his life and goes on the run. His estranged wife (Ann Sheridan) goes in search of him, pursued by the police (Robert Keith) and a reporter (Dennis O’Keefe). The tension comes from the viewer knowing who the murderer is and the wife not knowing. The film deserves to be better known and is far superior to Too Late for Tears (see below).

OUR LITTLE SISTER (Artificial Eye). Three young women, sisters – a nurse, a bank employee and a shop assistant – attend the funeral of their father who had deserted them 15 years previously to live with another woman by whom he had a child. The three sisters invite their half-sister, a schoolgirl, to come and live with them. The expected friction never materialises. Director Hirokazu Kore-eda takes a slice of Japanese provincial life very slowly. It’s a very gentle woman’s movie. The heartbreak remains under the surface.

HEART OF A DOG (Fusion Media). With a famous title like that I initially thought it was going to be a film based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s great political satire on Russia in the 1920s. Instead it’s a documentary, a personal essay by Laurie Anderson on death, dying and the Bardo (the Buddhist afterlife 49-day waiting-room). She delivers the philosophical musings and tells two childhood stories: she saved her twin brother from drowning and she broke her back diving into a swimming pool. Anderson (who organises concerts for dogs) has more empathy for her dog than her mother. There is an interesting and quite separate Q&A session.

TOO LATE FOR TEARS (Acorn) is another long lost film noir, dating from 1949 and directed by Byron Hoskins. “Where did you stash my stash?” asks a peeved and surprisingly vulnerable Dan Duryea. (The ill-gotten money, 60,000 dollars, is in a bag.) It’s difficult to believe that Dan Duryea, the ultimate baddie, the baddie’s baddie, always ready to slap a woman’s face, would kowtow to anybody, least of all to a loathsome, unappealing, voracious, money-grabbing, murderous femme fatale. She is played by Lizabeth Scott, an actress who was never in the top league, and her performance is quite lifeless.

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