The music to classic film noir movies -- the sweeping themes; jarring, crashing motifs; and ominous orchestral clusters -- were almost as important to the form's success as the scripts, directors, and actors. Of course, it doesn't work nearly as well heard in isolation, without accompanying images from the screen, which makes this compilation mostly of interest to hard-bitten noir cultists. That's a pretty big cult, however, and this disc captures excerpts from plenty of the genre's high-water marks: The Asphalt Jungle, The Maltese Falcon, Laura, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Big Sleep, High Sierra, and White Heat. The music is interspersed with plenty of dialogue, such as James Cagney's famed "made it, Ma -- top of the world!" exclamation from White Heat. The alternation of music and dialogue does make this difficult for casual fans to listen to, but then, that's not the target audience. Film fanatics who memorize their favorite lines will like this, especially as the package is embellished with scholarly liner notes about both the movies and the music.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger