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on September 9, 2008
This collector's set is a preview of the glory that was Hammer. All of the films were made in the early fifties before Hammer broke into the big time with THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955) and CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957), but they demonstrate the talent that made Hammer into the greatest horror filmmakers ever. None of these is a horror film, but the Gothic atmosphere is everywhere, as Hammer filmed all of their features at that time in the Bray manor house. Alert viewers will notice familiar fireplaces, staircases and doorways that made it into their classic horrors. Their best director, of course, was the great Terence Fisher, and check out THE UNHOLY FOUR in this set to see what the Master could do with very little money. Also showcased is the underrated director Montgomery Tully, who does a bang-up job with PAID TO KILL, a convoluted and gripping story expertly told. But somebody must tell Kit Parker Films that Fisher did NOT direct GORGO; they repeat this mistake in every bio on both the first and second Hammer Film Noir collections! Aside from that gaffe, though, these are wonderful films, beautifully packaged, that are finally receiving the audiences they deserve.
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VINE VOICEon April 27, 2008
I suppose I've always had an affection for semi-obscure films. Even if they're just average, there's something special about seeing a movie that few can even recall. Back before Hammer Films became famous for its horror movies, it had put out a slew of these "B" movies, working with American producer Robert Lippert. The Hammer Film Noir Collector's Set 2 is a boxed set of eight such movies, representing Volumes 4 through 7 in the series (the first three are in a separate collection).

In Volume 4, there is Terror Street and Wings of Danger. Terror Street has star Dan Duryea as an American Air Force pilot returning to London after months away, where he soon finds his wife leading a second life which will get her killed and him accused of the crime. Wings of Danger has Zachary Scott as a different pilot dealing with health issues and getting tangled up with murder and smuggling.

The big stars in Volume 5 are John Ireland and Dane Clark. Ireland runs a circus of sorts in The Glass Tomb, drawing people in to observe a man go without food for weeks. When an acquaintance of theirs is killed, Ireland must balance the need to find the killer against his opportunity to make a buck. Clark is in Paid to Kill, and the person he has paid to kill is himself in an attempt to provide for his wife as his business is on the brink of failure; when his fortunes turn around, he tries to stop the job, but the hired man has disappeared.

Volume 6 has The Black Glove and Deadly Game. The former has a trumpeter (Alex Nicol) implicated in the murder of a singer; tracking down this killer will involve getting in the world of musical piracy. Deadly Game has Lloyd Bridges as a vacationing music student left holding a mysterious envelope when the friend he was supposed to deliver it to has been killed.

Finally, Volume 7 has The Unholy Four, which opens with a missing-and-presumed-dead businessman reappearing after four years, and out to find the man who left him injured and with temporary amnesia. Of course, others die and both the businessman and possibly cheating wife stand accused of the crime. At this point, they must have run out of murder stories, because the second feature on this disc is Race for Life, a predictable auto racing movie starring Richard Conte.

None of these movies are really great, but they never aspire to be. Averaging just over 70 minutes each, they are interesting diversions. Several of the movies were directed by Terence Fisher who would later become Hammer's most prominent horror director, so this is a chance to view some of his early work. I suppose that they are all three star efforts, but they do make a fun set, and with some minor extras, I am giving this collection four stars. If you're a fan of noir, this is a good chance to expand your horizons beyond the big films.
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on November 19, 2012
These mostly all okay, and some interesting stories. However, Glass Tomb not very great, but I really didn't expect that. Trumpet in Black Glove SUPER IMPRESSIVE. Unholy Four one of best, and A Race for Life w/Richard Conte not so great. However, for the money, is okay to interest one when TV has nothing of interest. All 4 discs (8 movies) okay except Deadly Game has two small places where hum is detected, but not enough to ruin the movie.
Cecy Ivie
Cecy Ivie
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on March 29, 2010
VCI's second set of Hammer Film Noir contains 2 more movies (8 in all) but they are not as good as Volume 1 and the last one, A RACE FOR LIFE, isn't even a noir at all. Having said that, this set is still worthwhile as you get to see more fading American stars (Dan Duryea, Paulette Goddard, John Ireland, and Zachary Scott) and more of Terence Fisher's early work (THE BLACK GLOVE, A RACE FOR LIFE, THE UNHOLY FOUR, WINGS OF DANGER). Everyone of these films was renamed for the American market (they were released in England as FACE THE MUSIC, MASK OF DUST, THE STRANGER CAME HOME and DEAD ON COURSE) and they played the bottom half of a double bill. One of them, BLACK GLOVE (FACE THE MUSIC), is well written and directed with a great 50s jazz score while THE UNHOLY FOUR (THE STRANGER CAME HOME) is a halfway decent mystery. As one would expect from Fisher, these four are the most visually interesting of the set.

Regarding the other four, three (THE GLASS TOMB, PAID TO KILL, TERROR STREET) were directed by Montgomery Tully who is compensated for his minimum running times (GLASS TOMB is 59 minutes) by being given the more interesting storylines. PAID TO KILL is a minor suspense classic while THE GLASS TOMB gets the award for the most bizarre plot with a sideshow performer starving himself while people pay to watch. THE DEADLY GAME was directed by Daniel Birt and features a young Lloyd Bridges (before SEA HUNT) caught up with smugglers. Today it's easy to see how much his son Jeff resembles him. With the exception of A RACE FOR LIFE, I thoroughly enjoyed these movies for their up close look at post-WW II Britain and for seeing how creative the filmmakers could be with their extremely low budgets. Classic noir it ain't, but it's still not bad and should keep you entertained especially if you're a fan of British films.
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VCI Entertainment and Kit Parker Films present "HAMMER FILM NOIR COLLECTOR'S SET 2: 4-7" --- (Dolby digitally remastered)...Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe Hollywood crime dramas that set their protagonists in a world perceived as inherently corrupt and unsympathetic...Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography, while many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Depression...the term film noir (French for "black film"), first applied to Hollywood movies by French critic Nino Frank in 1946, was unknown to most of the American filmmakers and actors while they were creating the classic film noirs..the canon of film noir was defined in retrospect by film historians and critics; many of those involved in the making of film noir later professed to be unaware at the time of having created a distinctive type of film.

First up we have "TERROR STREET" (1953) (80 min. B/W) --- Under Montgomery Tully (Director), Anthony Hinds (Producer), Steve Fisher (Screenplay & Story), Ivor Slaney (Original Score), Malcolm Arnold (Stock Music), Walter J. Harvey (Cinematographer), James Needs (Editor) --- the cast includes Dan Duryea (Major Bill Rogers), Eisle Albin (Katherine 'Katie' Rogers), Gudrun Ure (Sister Jenny Miller), Eric Pohlmann (Slossen, the smuggler), John Chandos (Orville Hart), Kenneth Griffith (Henry Slosson), Harold Lang (Harry Cross, desk clerk), Jane Carr (Soup Kitchen Supervisor), Michael Golden (The Inspector), Marianne Stone (Pam Palmer) ------ our story has our hero Dan Duryea as the prime suspect in the murder of his British wife who has been shot ... in this post war film noir Duryea has only 36 hours to discover in his desperation who is the real killer and why ... Duryea is at the top of his game in this British melodrama, as you find yourself completely engulfed in his character and waiting for the next scene to unravel another clue and clear himself ... can he find the real killer before the police track his whereabouts and bring in the wrong suspect ... the scenes between Duryea and John Chandos (the major villain) are riveting.

1. Dan Duryea
Date of birth: 23 January 1907 - White Plains, New York
Date of death: 7 June 1968 - Hollywood, California
2. Montgomery Tully (Director)
Date of birth: 6 May 1904 - Dublin, Ireland
Date of death: 1988 - Unknown

Second is a Lippert Picture release "WINGS OF DANGER" (1952) (73 min. B/W) --- Under Terence Fisher (Director), Anthony Hinds (Producer), John Gilling (Screenplay), Trevor Dudley Smith (Novel), Packham Webb (Novel "Dead on Course"), Malcolm Arnold (Original Score), Walter J. Harvey (Cinematographer), James Needs (Editor) ------ the cast includes Zachary Scott (Richard Van Ness), Robert Beatty (Nick Talbot), Kay Kendall (Alexia LaRoche), Naomi Chance (Avril Talbot ), Arthur Lane (Boyd Spencer), Colin Tapley (Inspector Maxwell), Diane Cilento (Jeannette), Harold Lang (Snell, the blackmailer) ------ our second feature film noir is a first timer on DVD, and the intrigue is nerve-wracking just the way we would want it ... is our leading man Zachary Scott having bouts with blackouts and what part does the lovely Kay Kendall play in this twist and turn film noir story ... is Scott's friend Robert Beatty strong armed into the smuggling game, has he turned up missing ... this overlooked noir is loaded with suspense and drama, watch Zach Scott take on this web of smugglers only to find more mystery to this puzzle ------ there's a great deal of entertainment here for all the film noir fans out there --- all courtesy of VCI Entertainment, who in my humble opinion is the best there is in restoring early serials and features like this one.

1. Zachary Scott (aka: Zachary Thomson Scott Jr)
Date of birth: 21 February 1914 - Austin, Texas
Date of death: 3 October 1965 - Austin, Texas
2. Kay Kendall (aka: Justine Kay Kendall-McCarthy)
Date of birth: 21 May 1926 - Withernsea, Yorkshire, England, UK
Date of death: 6 September 1959 - London, England, UK
3. Terence Fisher (Director)
Date of birth: 23 February 1904 - London, England, UK
Date of death: 18 June 1980
Twickenham, London, England, UK

Third up we have "THE GLASS TOMB" (aka: Glass Cage) (1955) (59 min. B/W) --- Under Montgomery Tully (Director), Anthony Hinds (Producer), Richard Landau (Screenwriter), A.E. Martin (Book Author "The Outsiders"), Walter Harvey (Cinematographer), Leonard Salzedo (Composer (Music Score) ------ the cast includes John Ireland (Pel Pelham), Honor Blackman (Jenny Pelham), Geoffrey Keen (Harry Stanton), Eric Pohlmann (Sapolio), Sid James (Tony Lewis (as Sidney James), Liam Redmond (Lindley), Sydney Tafler (Rorke (as Sidney Tafler), Valerie Vernon (Bella), Nora Gordon (Marie Sapolio), Sam Kydd (George), Ferdy Mayne (Bertie), Tonia Bern (Rena Maroni), Arthur Howard (Rutland ), Stan Little (Mickelwitz) ------ our story has "The Starving Man:" with the longest fast undertaken by Sapolio who will go food less for 70 days ... can he do it, or will he be found dead inside his glass cage ... several murders as the police investigate and our hero John Ireland side steps a poisoning and kidnapping ... the lovely Honor Blackman appears in the midst of drama and intrigue within the carnival world ... discover whose behind all of this and why.

1. John Ireland
Date of birth: 30 January 1914 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Date of death: 21 March 1992 - Santa Barbara, California
2. Honor Blackman
Date of birth: 12 December 1927 - London, England, UK
Date of death: Still Living
3. Montgomery Tully (Director)
Date of birth: 6 May 1904 - Dublin, Ireland
Date of death: 1988 - Unknown

Fourth is "PAID TO KILL" (aka: Five Days) (1954) (71 min. B/W) --- Under Montgomery Tully (Director), Anthony Hinds (Producer), Paul Tabori (Screenwriter), Jimmy W. Harvey (Cinematographer), Ivor Slaney (Composer (Music Score), James Needs (Editor), J. Elder Wills (Art Director) ------ the cast includes Dane Clark (James Nevill), Paul Carpenter (Paul Kirby), Thea Gregory (Andrea Nevill), Cecile Chevreau (Joan), Anthony Forwood (Glanville), Howard Marion-Crawford (McGowan), Avis Scott (Eileen), Peter Gawthorne (Bowman), Leslie Wright (Hunter), Hugo Schuster (Professor), Arthur Young Hyson), Martin Lawrence (Masseur), Ross Hutchinson (Ingham), Arnold Diamond (Perkins), Charles Hawtrey (Bill), Geoffrey Sumner (Chapter) ------ our story is a thriller to end all thrillers, when Dane Clark hires his best friend to kill him for the insurance money ... why you ask, so his wife can be provided for as his business has gone down the tubes ... is the wife on the up and up, or is she behind an alternative plot to kill her husband ... another first timer on DVD, has the entire Hammer Studio lot jumping for joy as this is one is the best released from this UK organization ... and oh by the way, Dane Clark has changed his mind and no longer wants to die, but can he stop whoever is trying to end his life ... you're in for the surprise ending that you've been waiting for ------ there's a great deal of entertainment here for all the film noir fans out there --- all courtesy of VCI Entertainment, who in my humble opinion is the best there is in restoring early serials and features like this one.

1. Dane Clark (aka: Bernard Zanville)
Date of birth: 26 February 1912 - Brooklyn, New York
Date of death: 11 September 1998 - Santa Monica, California

Fifth we have "BLACK GLOVE" (1954) (84 min. B/W) --- Under Terence Fisher (Director), Michael Carreras (Producer), Ernest Borneman (Screenwriter / Book Author), Jimmy W. Harvey (Cinematographer) - - - - the cast includes Alex Nicol (James 'Brad' Bradley), Eleanor Summerfield (Barbara Quigley), John Salew Maxie (Margulies), Paul Carpenter (Johnny Sutherland), Geoffrey Keen (Maurie Green), Ann Hanslip (Maxine Halbard), Fred Johnson (Police Sergeant McKenzie), Martin Boddey (Police Inspector Mulrooney ) --- released January 29, 1954, Alex Nicol as an American trumpet-player visiting London who is falsely accused of murdering a Spanish singer, Nichol can only prevent his own execution by finding the real killer --- Using only two minor clues, he narrows the suspects to four people, but only after surviving poison placed on the mouthpiece of his trumpet --- from the original 35mm negatives

1. Alex Nicol
Date of Birth: 20 January 1916 - Ossining, New York
Date of Death: 29 July 2001 - Montecito, California

2. Terence Fisher (Director)
Date of Birth: 23 February 1904 - London, England, UK
Date of Death: 18 June 1980 - Twickenham, London, England, UK.

Sixth is a Lippert Picture release "THE DEADLY GAME" (1955) (70 min. B/W) --- Under Daniel Birt (Director), Robert Dunbar (Producer), Daniel Birt (Screenplay), Exec. Producer (Michael Carreras), Asst. Director (Jack Causey), Prod. Manager (Jimmy Sangster), Cinematographer (Jimmy Harvey),
Art Director (J. Elder Wills as Jim Elder Wills), Music (Michael Krein), Film Editor (Jim Needs), Original Author (Nicholas Bentley) - - - - the cast includes Lloyd Bridges (Philip Graham), Simone Silva (Mitzi Molnaur), Finlay Currie (Mr. Darius), Maureen Swanson (Marina), Ferdy Mayne (Maxwell Carey) --- released January 1955, Lloyd Bridges stars as an ex-GI living in Spain and is accused of murdering an army buddy and betraying his country to the Enemy, Bridges must work overtime to clear himself --- he is the only one not mixed up one way or another in murder, drugs and microfilm smuggling. But, the police are after him --- watch Bridges surface to the top and figure his way out. ------ there's a great deal of entertainment here for all the film noir fans out there --- all courtesy of VCI Entertainment, who in my humble opinion is the best there is in restoring early serials and features like this one.

1. Lloyd Bridges
Date of Birth: 15 January 1913 - San Leandro, California
Date of Death: 10 March 1998 - Los Angeles, California

2. Daniel Birt (Director)
Date of Birth: 23 June 1907 - Mersham, England, UK
Date of Death: 1955

Seventh we have "THE UNHOLY FOUR" (aka: The Stranger Came Home) (1954) (80 min. B/W) --- Under Terence Fisher (Director), Michael Carreras (Producer), Michael Carreras (Screenplay), Jack Causey (Asst. Director), Jimmy Sangster (Prod. Manager), Walter J. Harvey (Cinematographer), J. Elder Wills (Art Director), Ivor Slaney (Music), Bill Lenny (Film Editor), George Sanders (Original Author) - - - - the cast includes Paulette Goddard (Angie), William Sylvester (Philip Vickers), Patrick Holt (Job Crandall), Paul Carpenter (Bill Saul), Alvys Mahen (Joan Merrill), Russell Napier (Inspector Treherne), Davis King-Wood (Sessions) ---- released September 24, 1954, Miss Goddard appears with an all English cast in this film noir and turns in a rather good performance --- Paulette holds her own with a very distinguished supporting cast, someone returning to find the person who attempted to end their life. Paulette is one of the suspected --- Someone knocked a man out and left him for dead during a fishing trip in Portugal. That someone is either his fetching wife, or two business partners all sporting guilty faces after his unexpected return --- From the original 35mm negative

Paulette Goddard
Date of Birth: 3 June 1910 - Whitestone Landing, Long Island, New York
Date of Death: 23 April 1990 - Ronco, Switzerland.

Eighth is a Lippert Picture release "A RACE FOR LIFE" (aka: Mask of Dust) (1955) (69 min. B/W) --- Under Terence Fisher (Director), Mickey Delamar (Producer), Richard H. Landau (Screenplay), Exec. Producer: (Michael Carreras), Asst. Director: (Jack Causey), Prod. Manager:(Jimmy Sangster), Cinematographer: (Jimmy Harvey), Art Director: (Jim Elder Wills aka Jim Elder Wills), Music: Leonard (Salzedo), Film Editor: (Bill Lenny), Original Author: (Jon Manchip White) - - - - the cast includes Richard Conte (Peter Wells),Peter Illing (Tony Bellario), Alec Mango (Guidio Rosetti), James Copeland (Johnny Jackson), George Coulouris ("Pic" Dallapicola), Meredith Edwards (Laurence Gibson), Richard Marner (Hans Brecht) ---- released December 10, 1954, An idol of auto-racing fans attempts a comeback after serving in the Air Force. When his former rival lies dying in the hospital, he must decide whether to continue in the Grand Prix or make peace with his adversary --- A car pilot must choose between his love for car-racing, and his wife. His buddy's accident will help him to choose, and his loyal ways will get him a new friend - his main rival ------ there's a great deal of entertainment here for all the film noir fans out there --- all courtesy of VCI Entertainment, who in my humble opinion is the best there is in restoring early serials and features like this one.

1. Richard Conte
Date of Birth: 24 March 1910 - Jersey City, New Jersey
Date of Death: 15 April 1975 - Los Angeles, California

2. Terence Fisher (Director)
Date of Birth: 23 February 1904 - London, England, UK
Date of Death: 18 June 1980 - Twickenham, London, England, UK.


Great job by VCI Entertainment and Kit Parker Films for releasing the "Hammer Film Noir Collector's Set 2: 4-7", digital transfere with a clean, clear and crisp print...looking forward to more of the same from the '40s and '50s vintage...order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment, stay tuned once again with a top notch "Classic Film Noir" that only VCI Entertainment (King of the Serials) --- Hats off and thanks to Les Adams (collector/guideslines for character identification), Chuck Anderson (Webmaster: The Old Corral/B-Westerns.Com), Boyd Magers (Western Clippings), Bobby J. Copeland (author of "Trail Talk"), Rhonda Lemons (Empire Publishing Inc), Bob Nareau (author of "The Real Bob Steele") and Trevor Scott (Down Under Com) as they have rekindled my interest once again for Film Noir, B-Westerns and Serials --- order your copy now from Amazon where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch action mixed with deadly adventure --- if you enjoyed this title, why not check out VCI Entertainment where they are experts in releasing B-Westerns and Serials --- all my heroes have been cowboys!

Total Time: 585 mins on DVD ~ VCI Home Video #573 ~ (6/26/2007)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 24, 2014
4 out of 5 stars for this DVD set that dusts off a grip of obscure Hammer film noir pictures. 3 stars for 1954's The Unholy Four, the movie I'm chatting you up about.

It's not that The Unholy Four is bad. I enjoyed watching it. But let's not front, The Unholy Four isn't a timeless classic like, oh, I dunno, Double Indemnity, Laura, or The Postman Always Rings Twice. Now some purists posit that film noir should only be inhabited by them what haunt society's seedy underbelly. TCM host Robert Osborne defines film noir as a blend of "corrupt people, crime, and sex," and I'm down with that. Seems to me that "corrupt people" also encompass the privileged, entitled 1%. And it's such with The Unholy Four.

Based on actor George Sanders' novel, Stranger at Home - although there float whispers that the thing was actually ghost written by the prolific Leigh Brackett - the hub of the plot is English executive Philip Vickers (William Sylvester) who, after four years of mysterious absence, vengefully returns home only to find himself in the thick of a festive house party. Vickers claims that four years ago he was brutally attacked and so incurred amnesia whilst on a Portuguese fishing excursion. He'd recovered his memory only a year ago and had spent the rest of the time getting his bearings. Home now, Vickers, sporting a nasty scar on his brow, harboring deepset paranoia, lets fly with his accusations. He claims his assailant was someone on the fishing trip with him, some chum.

But put on pause that bit of lurid melodrama. Home now, Vickers becomes suspect when one of his associates gets himself bumped off by the boathouse. Inspector Treherne (Russell Napier) is on the case. And Inspector Treherne, chasing down clues like a world-weary bulldog, is one of the best things about this movie.

So an above average 3 out of 5 stars for The Unholy Four. Not even the occasional flat exposition can weigh down this moody British-made whodunit. It's enacted by a veteran international cast, although I shan't raise an eyebrow if the only name you recognize is Paulette Goddard. Goddard, even in the twilight of her career, can still muster up that va-va-voom. By turns demure and mildly distressed and wildly agitated, she plays Angie Vickers, our man's possibly unfaithful wife. As the tortured Vickers, William Sylvester is borderline unlikeable, lobbing his accusations as if they were word grenades, trying to get a stir out of whoever. No, it's not the most subtle investigative method. Except his indiscrimate kicking of the hornet's nest prompts two murders, not to mention animosity from his wife, her frazzled secretary (Alvys Maben), and other old associates.

Put yourself in the man's place, though. What he endures must seem like a nightmarish episode from Alfred Hitchcock Presents or The Twilight Zone. Good odds that English executive Philip Vickers is well and truly barmy and a danger to others. And I love that flavor of uncertainty. The Unholy Four gives you people who covet what ain't theirs, people who murder and lie and cheat with no remorse. The Unholy Four meets Robert Osborne's criteria for film noir. Most film noir pictures I've seen, they don't give a what for diabollically clever sleuthing. More often, it's our compromised anti-hero slugging a confession out of some mug. And The Unholy Four serves that up, as well.

Now if only someone would make a movie out of George Sanders' other book, Ennui & Me.

Okay, he never wrote a book titled Ennui & Me. But, dammit, he should've.
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on February 17, 2010
As film noir goes I have seen better, still worth having. The first set was much better, especially the under rated singer and film star DIANA DORS. By all means get her SWINGING DORS CD.
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on June 20, 2014
I would highly recommend this film set for all Hammer Studios completists and anyone who enjoys old crime thrillers. Excellent product received from Movie Mars. I am most satisfied!
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on August 14, 2014
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on August 27, 2014
Only fair
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