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Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume 1: A Bullet for Joey (1955)

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A Bullet For Joey

Okay, so A Bullet for Joey, directed by Lewis Allen (Appointment with Danger, The Perfect Marriage) and starring Edward G. Robinson and George Raft, doesn’t exactly fit so tidily into the whole film noir genre, but that doesn’t keep it from sharing certain elements of that cinematic world.

"doesn’t exactly fit so tidily into the whole film noir genre, but that doesn’t keep it from sharing certain elements of that cinematic world"


The crime. The passion. The futility of it all. It all comes to a head as a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse amps backup when a retired American gangster comes back into action, working for a foreign power who pays handsomely.  With Police Inspector Leduc of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Robinson) hot on Victor’s all too confident trail, time is quickly running out.  

But even Leduc has a weakness as he falls for Joe's former flame, Joyce Geary (Audrey Totter), a woman who is already compromised due to her past affiliations with the criminal underworld.  This is a tale of fear and guilt and, with a political leaning to its “Stop the Communists” angle, the film makes for interesting (if mediocre) crime thrills.

The two leads, reunited after 14 years since starring in Raoul Walsh's Manpower with Marlene Dietrich, share top billing even if they are on opposite sides of the law, with Robinson as Inspector Leduc and Raft as criminal Joe Victor, who is paid top dollar by some Communists to kidnap an Atomic Physicist, George Dolenz as Dr. Macklin.A Bullet For Joey

Kidnapping on the high seas follows as Raft’s character must make the ultimate choice between freedom in Europe or prison in America.  Or is there another choice?  And that’s where A Bullet for Joey gets its title and its main interest point.  

Film Noir, as a genre in film, stems from the assault of way too many “Happy Endings” in Hollywood.  It’s a natural response full of pessimism and fatalism and, as a result, it butters this reviewer’s bread.  For about a decade, writers and directors could see that audiences weren’t interested in fairy tales anymore.  There was too much poverty; too much death and destruction; too many wars.  And the push to urban life had created an economic disparity that lingered long after any romantic ending did.  

People needed the darkness to be acknowledged and, from 1944 to 1955, it was cinema’s prime celebrity as highly cinematographic films - cheaply made - fell onto the rain-soaked streets of Home Town, USA.  A Bullet for Joey, now on blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber’s Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume I, is merely one offering from that defining era of filmmaking.

3/5 stars

A Bullet For Joey


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- May 24, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1, 1.75:1, 1.37:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; five-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

In this set from Kino Lorber, all 5 films were newly remastered in HD! A Bullet For Joey (1955) When a Canadian police inspector (Edward G. Robinson) investigates a murder, he is hurtled into an adventure involving foreign spies, American gangsters and an explosive high-tech secret that could change the world, co-starring George Raft. He Ran All The Way (1951) John Garfield plays a dim-witted thug who survives a shootout with the police after a payroll robbery. Seeking cover, he meets Peg a lonely young girl (Shelley Winters) who takes him to her family's apartment, while there the paranoid thief decides to take the family hostage until he can escape. Storm Fear (1955) Cornel Wilde plays a wounded bank robber, on the run from the law, he and his gang decide to hide out at his brother (Dan Duryea) and sister-in-law's (Jean Wallace) farmhouse during a snowstorm. Witness to Murder (1954) A woman (Barbara Stanwyck) fights to convince the police that she witnessed a murder. Co-starring George Sanders and Gary Merrill.  And in Big House, USA, Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, Charles Bronson, Lon Chaney, Jr. and William Talman star in this tough and realistic crime drama about a gang of ruthless convicts who execute a successful prison break to secure a $200,000 loot hidden in Colorado's Royal Gorge National Park.


With a crisp black-and-white transfer, A Bullet for Joey lands on blu-ray thanks to the crackling efforts of Kino Lorber.  Shadows, while not too terribly detailed, are thick and atmospheric throughout. Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, the film looks marvelous and easily beats the poor appearance on television and on home video DVD that has previously dogged it. The blacks and grays are handled expertly by the transfer.  Beads of sweat are visible, wet city streets, textures in clothing, and even the dirt in the pavement is all visible with fine textures throughout.


Bang! Bang! Bang!  Shots are fired on the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which accompanies this film noir flick.



  • None

Special Features:

There is only a trailer.

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 1/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

2.5/5 stars


Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume I

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