Perhaps most famous for his comedies, including
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
, Hollywood star Robert Montgomery made his fair share of dramas, including John Ford's World War II actioner
They Were Expendable
But did you know Montgomery also played an (uncredited) role as assistant director to Ford on the war pic?
Montgomery went on to direct five films, including the 1947 Raymond Chandler adaptation Lady in the Lake, featuring Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan, and Tom Tully. Montgomery also played the lead role of Philip Marlowe, though we see him only for a few seconds at a time in mirrors: The film is told entirely through Marlowe's eyes.
Not the greatest noir entry, Lady of the Lake is remembered today for its point-of-view gimmick. That same year, however, Montgomery released his best-directed feature, Ride the Pink Horse, which finally has been made available on disc by the Criterion Collection.
Another noir film, it was adapted from the crime novel by Dorothy B. Hughes, whose work also yielded Nicholas Ray's 1950 classic In a Lonely Place, starring Humphrey Bogart.
An eccentric picture, to say the least, Ride the Pink Horse stars Montgomery as Lucky Gagin, a would-be blackmailer who has evidence that his best friend was murdered by a crime kingpin (Fred Clark). He tracks the evildoer to a small New Mexico town, where he encounters several setbacks before he can confront his nemesis.
In the story's most interesting twist, Lucky finds hostility everywhere he goes in New Mexico, save for folks from the marginalized Mexican American community.
Wanda Hendrix, who looks as un-Mexican as an actress could get, costars as a sort of love interest, a sweet Mexican American peasant girl named Pila, and Thomas Gomez costars as a carousel operator who helps Lucky escape death. (For his role in the picture, Gomez became the first Latino to garner an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.)
Montgomery has a terrific eye for detail and a talent for visual storytelling. His oddball feature will endear him to fans of film noir. (www.criterion.com; $29.95 DVD; $39.95 Blu-ray; not rated)
Other titles of note
Foyle's War, Set 8. Writer Anthony Horowitz's WWII British crime drama was supposed to last six seasons, one for each year of the war. But the show, which stars Michael Kitchen as scrupulously honest police detective Christopher Foyle, became such a fan favorite that Horowitz brought it back, but with a difference. The war has ended, and Foyle is ready to retire - until he's recruited by British Intelligence. For two seasons, we've watched him bring his unwavering belief in justice to a murky shadow world where morality rarely has a place. But Horowitz is calling it quits. Due April 14, the three feature-length mysteries in this volume bring the series finally to an end. (www.acornonline.com; $49.99 DVD or Blu-ray; not rated)
Veep: The Complete Third Season. The ditzy, foulmouthed, anti-intellectual weirdo Selina Meyer as president of the United States? Laughable, right? Julia Louis-Dreyfus proves that even Selina has a shot at the White House. It's the third season for Veep, the HBO political satire from Armando Iannucci (In the Loop, The Thick of It). Selina's campaign is even funnier than her job in the vice president's office.
(http://store.hbo.com/; $39.98 DVD; $49.99 Blu-ray; not rated).