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Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Singapore (1947)

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Singapore

Pear smuggler Matt Gordon (played wonderfully by Fred MacMurray) has returned to the scene of his heartbreak: Singapore.  Cue the lush heartstrings!  The drama!  The crimes!  And, oh, the Casablanca influences as Singapore, with boat and schooner whistles blaring in the distance instead of the roar of planes, brings us back to the days before and then immediately after WWII.

"doubles down on the romance angle"


Directed by John Brahm (The Lodger) and starring MacMurray and the lovely Ava Gardner, Singapore doubles down on the romance angle as Gordan and Linda Grahame (Gardner) jumpstart the flashback sequence in a lonely old bar upon his return to Singapore.  His heart was crushed here five years earlier thanks to Japanese aircraft.  We get their tragic story - an attack at the chapel where they are to be married - and the real reason Gordon is back in Singapore.  It is as Deputy Commissioner Hewitt (Richard Haydn) suspects: the lost pearls.

But the memories of Grahame flood unexpectedly back to him.  It is with his heart weighing heavily in his hands in which Gordon actually spots his long-lost love.  She’s alive!  But, thanks to the amnesia from the attack, she has no memory of him.  Oh, the humanity!

And her husband, plantation owner Michael Van Leyden (Roland Culver), is not too appreciative of Gordon’s advances.  He’s hiding something from Grahame, who now goes by the name of Ann, and it is only a matter of time before he must confess the truth.

But what of the pearls?!  With multiple parties trying to scheme Gordon from the pearls, it seems he has a choice to make of his own, too.  This is the territory of this romantic film noir, a thriller unlike most noir offerings due to its constant tugging on the heart strings and its commanding war-born narrative which is buoyed thanks to MacMurray’s narration.Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Singapore

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.  

Singapore, now on blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber’s Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI, is merely one offering from that defining era of filmmaking.

4/5 stars

 

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Singapore

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- April 26, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:

Discs: Blu-ray Disc; three-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Adventure and romance in the city of intrigue! The irresistible duo of Fred MacMurray (Double Indemnity, The Apartment) and Ava Gardner (The Killers, On the Beach) star in this exotic film noir from director John Brahm (The Lodger, Hangover Square). In pre-war Singapore, Matt Gordon (MacMurray) falls in love with the beautiful Linda Grahame (Gardner), but loses contact with her when the Japanese attack. Five years later, he returns to Singapore to retrieve a fortune in smuggled pearls and accidentally reconnects with Linda, now married to rich planter Van Leyden (Roland Culver, Dead of Night) and suffering from amnesia. Meanwhile, the sinister Mauribus (Thomas Gomez, Key Largo) schemes to steal Matt’s pearls. Richard Haydn (The Emperor Waltz), Spring Byington (I’ll Be Seeing You), Porter Hall (The General Died at Dawn) and Philip Ahn (China) round out the cast of this exciting, romantic noir. 

Video:

With a crisp black-and-white 2K transfer, Singapore 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 1.37:1, 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.

Audio:

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

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There is a NEW Audio Commentary for SINGAPORE by Film Historian Kat Ellinger and Author/Film Historian Lee Gambin which will delight fans of this noir romance.

Special Features:

There is a collection of trailers for future releases, including one for this release.

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3/5 stars


Film Details

Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Singapore

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
79 mins
Director
: John Brahm
Writer:
Robert Thoeren
Cast:
Fred MacMurray; Ava Gardner; Roland Culver
Genre
: Action | Crime
Tagline:
She was back with him...as a stranger.
Memorable Movie Quote: "To the Chinese Theater. Mr. Gordon says it's a must. They're doing Hamlet."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 14, 1937
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 26, 2022.
Synopsis: In prewar Singapore, Matt Gordon meets and falls in love with Linda Grahame. But, during the Japanese attack and invasion, he loses contact with her. Five years later he returns to Singapore to recover some stolen pearls and accidentally meets Linda, who is suffering from amnesia and does not remember the years before the war, and is married to an Englishman she met while interned in a Japanese prison camp.

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Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema, Volume VI: Singapore

 

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