Network and the BFI deliver a potent mix of wartime propaganda and post-war crime in atmospheric black-and-white with Blu-ray releases of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) and Lewis Gilbert’s The Good Die Young (1954), and a massive 20-disk DVD set of B-movie thrillers from the early 1960s mostly adapted from the novels of Edgar Wallace.
A couple of things seen long ago have resurfaced on disk, tugging at vague memories: Network’s 11-disk set of all 52 episodes of the BBC’s classic series based on Georges Simenon’s novels about Superintendent Maigret (1960-63), and Brian Damude’s scrappy Canadian thriller Sudden Fury (1975) from Vinegar Syndrome reveal just how flawed my memory is.
Recent releases from Indicator have seemed oddly random – from an unexceptional genre movie (Kostas Karagiorgis’ The Devil’s Men ) to an arthouse war film (Clive Rees’ The Blockhouse ), a ghost story that comes across like a television play (Kevin Billington’s Voices ) to an interesting if unsuccessful literary adaptation (Anthony Friedmann’s Bartleby ) and a revisionist detective story which plays with the tropes of the English country house mystery (Chris Petit’s An Unsuitable Job for a Woman ).
Recent disks from England include Franco Parolini’s late spaghetti western Sabata Trilogy (1969-71), the classic Ray Harryhausen Sinbad fantasies (1958-77), Carl Franklin’s revisionist neo-noir Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), Tsui Hark’s influential martial arts fantasy Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983), and David Greene’s tense submarine disaster movie Gray Lady Down (1978).
Another eclectic selection of recently watched Blu-rays, from two atmospheric French mysteries starring Jean Gabin as Maigret (1958-59) to the nightmarish horrors of war in Eastern Europe in an adaptation of Jerzy Kosinski’s controversial novel The Painted Bird (2019), from violence tourism in near-future Brazil in Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles’s Bacurau (2019) to tenderness and violence on the American frontier in Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow (2020) and children faced with the threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War in Frank Perry’s Ladybug Ladybug (1965).
Universal’s series of minor B-movies based on Simon & Schuster’s line of fiction and NBC’s long-running radio show called Inner Sanctum gave third-string horror star Lon Chaney Jr. a brief opportunity to get away from the monsters he played in the 1940s. Despite a low critical reputation, these atmospheric little movies are quite entertaining and receive a nice showcase in Eureka’s two-disk Blu-ray set.
Indicator continue to release exemplary editions of a wide range of movies, from obscure genre titles to classics to exploitation and occasional failed experiments. Recent viewing ranges from Max Ophuls’ exquisite domestic noir The Reckless Moment (1949) to Blake Edwards’ taut thriller Experiment in Terror (1962) and Arthur Lubin’s surprisingly good Gothic romance Footsteps in the Fog (1955).
Unhappy with her career in Hollywood, actress Carroll Baker moved to Italy in the mid-’60s where she starred in a number of genre movies, including four erotic thrillers by Umberto Lenzi which bridge the gap between classic women-in-peril mysteries and the giallo. All four are collected together by Severin in their lavish The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection Blu-ray box set.
A couple of recent disappointments from Indicator – excellent editions of two mediocre movies (Guy Hamilton’s Force 10 From Navarone  and Paul Annett’s The Beast Must Die ) – are offset by the terrific French television series of adaptations from the Maigret novels and stories by Georges Simenon, fifty-four feature-length movies centred on a magisterial performance by Bruno Cremer as the famous detective.
Shameless is a British label dedicated to exploitation movies (with a mission statement emphasizing sleaze and outrage) which has been issuing mostly Italian genre titles for more than a decade with mixed results in terms of quality; thanks to a recent on-line sale, I just binged some of their releases which cover the spectrum in terms of quality (both technical and creative).