Mickey Spillane’s I, The Jury Special Limited Edition | Buy the Blu-Ray It never got the acclaim that Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly got, but the 1953 film debut of two-fisted private detective Mike Hammer ain’t anything to sneeze at. Okay, this B flick is about as subtle as a flying mallet, but that’s part of its charm. And it’s finally been restored as a 4K UHD, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray combo that’ll have videophile crime buffs weeping with tears of joy (but manfully, of course). Starring meat-and-potatoes Biff Elliot as the relentless Hammer, out to avenge the murder of his war buddy, alongside co-stars Preston Foster, Peggie Castle and other, with cinematagraphy by the legendary John Alton, this special 2-disc edition comes loaded with bonus features, like audio commentary by Max Allan Collins, an unaired Mike Hammer TV show pilot from 1954 written and directed by Blake Edwards and starring Brian Keith, and more info about Biff Elliot than you could wave a side of beef at.
Guilty/High Tide | Buy the DVD/Blu-Ray It’s two, two, two noirs in one! This two-fer serves up a pair of rare noirs from 1947, both starring Don Castle and recently rescued by the Film Noir Foundation. The Guilty is based on a Cornell Woolrich story, and follows two recently returned vets double dating a pair of twins, one of whom turns up dead, but the one I’m jazzed about is High Tide, finally restored to its full length. It’s a corker, based on a yarn by Raoul Whitfield, about a former reporter turned private eye and his former boss, trapped in a car, watching the tide roll.
Last Looks | Buy the DVD | Buy the Blu-Ray | Watch it now! When the wife of an eccentric alcoholic TV star is murdered, burnt-out former LAPD hotshot Charlie Waldo comes down from his self-imposed exile in the mountains to solve the case. From the novel by Howard Michael Gould.
The Equalizer| Buy the DVD| Watch it now! Queen Latifah kicks considerable butt as Robyn McCall, a former CIA agent turned street-level vigilante in this rehash/remake of the 1980s cult fave and the Denzel films.
The Kid Detective| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! Once upon a time, Abe Applebaum was the toast of the town. A real, live kid detective, with over 200 cases solved. But then he grew up. A sad, quirky film, as though maybe David Lynch and Franklin W. Dixon teamed up to rewrite Chinatown.
P.J.| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray Finally, this hard-to-find P.I. flick from 1968, starring a surprisingly boyish, pre-Bancek George Peppard, and directed by John Guillermin (The Blue Max, The Bridge at Remagen, Skyjacked, The Towering Inferno, Death on the Nile, etc.) is available. Peppard plays down-on-his-luck New York private eye P.J. Detweiler who’s roped into bodyguarding the mistress of a not-quite-right millionaire (Raymond Burr).
Perry Mason: The Complete Series| Buy the DVD Can’t get HBO’s gloomy, doomy, misguided noir “re-imagining” of Perry Mason out of your head? Now might be the time to invest in this massive, 72 disk collection, which collects all 271 episodes of the classic, Emmy-winning TV legal drama starring Raymond Burr as Erle Stanley Gardner’s cocky, tricky criminal defense layer; the man who not only never lost a case, and never had a client who was guilty, but also shaved and bathed regularly? John Grisham? Scott Turow? Nice guys, but they tremble when the Big Man (and let’s face it—Burr was a Big Man) approaches the bench.
Scoob! | Watch it now! This sure ain’t your daddy’s Scooby-Doo! Or mine either–Scooby doesn’t “almost” talk–he yacks his herad off. And Velma’s a babe. Still, this star-packed animated film has Scooby and the gang running into various characters, from Hanna-Barbera’s Saturday morning roster, including appearances from Dick Dastardly and Muttley, Captain Caveman, and The Blue Falcon & Dynomutt, among others. There’s even a shout-out to Magilla Gorilla!
Charlie’s Angels| Watch it now! The Townshend Agency is now a global security conglomerate with offices (and Bosley’s) all over the world, and there’s a new slew of babes (Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska) to strap on the fuck-me heels, but the thongs remain the same. Or something.
Knives Out| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! Yes, the detective here, played by Daniel Craig, is a private investigator, but no, he’s not hard-boiled at all. But he does star in one of the most enjoyable mysteries I’ve seen in a while–a zany, wit spoof of about a million Agatha Christie movies, complete with a stately manor of suspects and one very dead old man.
Motherless Brooklyn| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! Ed Norton wrote the screenplay (based on Jonathan Lethem’s novel) directed it and starred in it– which meant it should have been one turd of an egofest. But if it’s not quite Chinatown, it’s still some pretty primo private eye stuff, with a solid cast (Bruce Willis! Gugu Mbatha-Raw! Alec Baldwin! Willem Dafoe! Michael Kenneth Williams!), some timely finger-pointing about shifty New York City real estate developers and some timeless finger-pointing about greed, corruption and human weakness.
My Life is Murder| Buy the DVD| Buy the Blu-Ray| Watch it now! Lucy Lawless, sans fur bikini, stars as retired cop turned P.I. Alexa Crowe in this Murder-She-Wrote-ish Australian mystery series, who seemingly can’t say “No” when her old boss comes asking for help with some tricky case or another. Not exactly hard-boiled, but Alexa displays admirable chops as a detective, and her dogged determination, dry wit and brash style go down easy.