The Otto Preminger Film Noir Collection review

BFI celebrates a filmmaker who cast a long shadow over Hollywood crime films

While his name may not carry quite the same cachet as the likes of Billy Wilder or Howard Hawks these days, Otto Preminger stands alongside them as one of the most influential Hollywood directors of the 1940s and 1950s. And although he worked across various genres over the course of five decades, he remains famous for his pioneering crime dramas – three of which are collected together in this boxset.

Fallen Angel (1945) stars Dana Andrews as a destitute huckster who becomes romantically involved with two women, only to end up a prime suspect when one of them is murdered.

Whirlpool (1949) mixes together film noir, melodrama and 'dime-store Freud' with its story of a troubled socialite (Gene Tierney) whose kleptomania makes her a prime target for the machinations of a sinister hypnotist (José Ferrer).

Last, and best, is Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), which reunites Preminger with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. This brutish and atmospheric film tells the story of a weatherbeaten cop (Andrews) who accidentally kills a two-bit gambler during a scuffle, only to fall in love with a woman (Tierney) who is the daughter of the man the police think responsible.

Picture: While there's no indication that this set is based on new restorations rather than older off-the-shelf 2K masters, the upgrade from earlier DVD releases is still massive. The trio of 1.37:1 1080p encodes exhibit improved contrast, clarity and stability (resulting in much stronger blacks, whites and greyscale shades), as well as the expected increase in detailing.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: The films feature clean and clear LPCM 2.0 dual-mono soundtracks. While dialogue and Foley are easy to discern, the main beneficiaries of the 'lossless' upgrades are the terrific scores by David Raksin (Fallen Angel and Whirlpool) and Cyril J. Mockridge (Where the Sidewalk Ends).
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: Each film is accompanied by a chat-track from film critic Adrian Martin, plus the original trailer. Fallen Angel adds a 76-minute audio interview with Preminger recorded in 1972. The set comes bundled with a small but informative booklet about the films.
Extras rating: 2.5/5

We say: Not the most lavish boxset, but still a solid hi-def showing for these three criminally good films

The Otto Preminger Film Noir Collection, BFI, Region B BD, £60 Approx