By Ken Tucker
July 28, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Everett Collection

With 10 movies on five discs, is the Film Noir Classic Collection Vol. 4 (Unrated, 813 mins., 1946-55) box a smart investment? At least seven of these pictures are wonderful, the best being the astonishing double bill Crime Wave (1954) and Decoy (1946). Crime Wave is a terse cop thriller starring the great Sterling Hayden as the leader of a police manhunt. Director André de Toth shot the film mostly on location in L.A. It’s a time capsule of Tinseltown grit, with a riotous and informative commentary track by novelist James Ellroy and noir historian Eddie Muller. Decoy is the weird but transfixing tale of a dame (Jean Gillie) who brings her boyfriend back from the dead — not out of love, but to find out where he buried his loot. Add Act of Violence (1949), with Robert Ryan as a WWII vet nursing a deadly grudge, and two other single-disc pairings, They Live by Night/Side Street and Illegal/The Big Steal, and you’ve got the brightest noir collection around.