Monday 16 September 2019

On Blu-ray - David Hare uncovers Don Siegel's THE LINEUP (USA, 1958) in the latest volume of Columbia Noir

Eli Wallach (Dancer, above) and William Leslie (Larry Warner, below) in the steam room of the San Francisco Seaman's Club moments before Dancer rubs out his apparent pickup. 

From Don Siegel's amazing The Lineup for Columbia in 1958. The title makes its first appearance on Blu-ray in the third and best disc from Volume 3 of the Columbia/Mill Creek/Kit Parker Collection of Columbia Noirs from 1945 to 1960 in Volume three of this nine disc series. 
Three titles a disc, three discs a volume making 27 titles. Amongst the frequent and inescapable dross, some absolute doozies. 
This disc alone carries the Siegel which, if only for its multi cast gay texts, should be mandatory viewing. This presentation sadly doesn't include the hilarious commentary track Eddie Mueller recorded with "Tough Guy", James Ellroy for the now ten years old DVD boxset of Sony Noirs volume (I think) 2. 
Eddie tries - very hard - to bring the resolutely right wing macho Ellroy into a gay reading, not just of this sequence but the singular mobster heroin syndicate's fairy godmother role, played superbly by Robert Keith. During the Muller-Ellroy exchanges, Ellroy mutters, "here comes the swish" referring to Keith. Eddie seizes the opportunity to take this voyage into Ellroy's psyche even further thus, "So isn't Keith playing the old queen to the young blond talent, Richard Jaeckel." At this point Ellroy falls silent, and there's no more to be had of it.
Probably just as well as the movie itself is so ably carried by Siegel's very personal montage-based dynamic, a style he honed in his days as senior Editor at Warners through the 40s. 
On the same disc (3) from this volume, Fuller's terrific The Crimson Kimono, from the same fine source as that used for the excellent Twilight Time US Blu-ray from 2017.
Completing this disc a new, to me, de Toth, a very late entry in the cycle, Man on a String.
The set has its equal share of duds, notably Tijuana Story, directed by Laszlo Kardos and Sidney Gilliat's interestingly cast but lacklustre 1957 Fortune is a Woman. But even this disc lifts the game with the third title, Paul Wendkos's procedural non-Noir, The Case Against Brooklyn from 1958. 
At some point I need to report back on the preceding two Volumes of six discs and their collection of 18 more Noirs.

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