Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on After Dark, My Sweet from the After Dark Neo-Noir Cinema box set from Imprint Films. My review is part six of my series chronicling each film within the box set.
Boy, oh boy. Imprint Films have compiled one heck of a set for fans who enjoy their noir with a little infusion of the 1990s stylings. Those who have endured this journey with me have seen the swath of cinema that makes up the After Dark box set. It feels like yesterday when I cracked open the package and kicked it off with the 1991 film Mortal Thoughts. Here we are, five movies later, with the final entry: 1990s After Dark, My Sweet. In a way, finishing off the After Dark box set with After Dark, My Sweet is the best finisher. No movie encompasses what Imprint Films set out to do more than this 1990 James Foley-directed crime thriller.
And what does After Dark, My Sweet encompass? The hard-boiled dialogue that one expects from a Jim Thompson adaptation. I haven’t read the book and purposefully avoided spoilers to go into the film as blindly as possible. I’m not a film noir connoisseur, but I like the themes behind film noir and neo-noir. Everything about After Dark, My Sweet clicked for me. Everything you want to know about what the Imprint Films After Dark box set is going for needs to check out After Dark, My Sweet.
Jason Patric plays Collie, a down-on-his-luck boxer who enters into a relationship with Fay, a widow played by Rachel Ward. Trouble comes a-knockin’ when Uncle Bud, played by the always dependable Bruce Dern, shows up with a get rich quick scheme. As one might expect, not everything goes smoothly, and the three main characters struggle to find a way out of their ever-increasing and complicated plot.
On the special features side of the disc, “Light on a Film Noir” is a 30-plus minute interview with director James Foley. Foley talks about how he came upon the novel and how the film saved his soul. Foley details that the main character resonated with him, which drew him to the project. The director continues by discussing why Palm Springs worked as a location, the need to measure Jason Patric’s wingspan in preparation for the sex scene, and the initial financial failure and resurgence afterward. Foley makes for an unusual listen with an odd method of remembering After Dark, My Sweet‘s production. It took a few minutes for me to get into this interview, but Foley provides plenty of information that fans of the film will enjoy.
The second interview, “Primal Precipice,” is an interview with Jason Patric. If you read my article on Rush, you might recall that Jason Patric sat down to discuss that 1991 film. Patric’s comments on “Primal Precipice” come from the same sit-down. Patric talks about his circular relationship formed with co-star Bruce Dern, his method of how to approach his characters, and recounts a fascinating yarn about struggles on set. Patric takes acting seriously and emphasizes that throughout the 15-plus minute interview.
“Call Me Uncle Bud” is a chat with actor Bruce Dern. I’ve been a Bruce Dern fan for much of my life, so seeing that Imprint Films garnered an interview with the man, I was ecstatic. “Call Me Uncle Bud” didn’t disappoint as Dern traces his past from school through his work in Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight. What I found fascinating is that most of his talk revolves around stories outside After Dark, My Sweet. While I am not a fan of gossip, I found it disheartening that Dern and Jason Patric, from the sound of it, are no longer on speaking terms. Beyond that, Dern discusses wanting to be a sports broadcaster, opening against The Grifters, and his appreciation for filmmakers who know how to get things done. “Call Me Uncle Bud” is a fabulous interview and a must-listen for fans of acting and film.
The last interview on the disc, “A Psychotic of Goodwill,” is an interview with Jim Thompson expert Robert Polito. Only having surface-level detail about Jim Thompson, I was looking forward to “A Psychotic of Goodwill.” Polito does a remarkable job at explaining how Jim Thompson came to become one of the most influential authors of the 20th century, his disillusionment with working in Hollywood with Stanley Kubrick, and the transition of the book to the screen. While those more familiar with Jim Thompson may not glean as much from this interview as I did, speaking for me, Polito offered plenty of history and information that made this a worthwhile dialogue.
Imprint Films also included two commentary tracks for After Dark, My Sweet. The first track is with writer/director James Foley and Gillian Wallace Horvat. As I mentioned prior, Foley is a bit quirky during his conversations, so it is welcome that Horvat joins him to assist this commentary along, as she did with Flesh and Bone. Some of the topics he discusses, including the film’s aspect ratio and how he came to make After Dark, My Sweet, come up in “Light on a Film Noir,” but plenty of additional detail comes out during the track’s runtime. What this conversation plays like is an extension of the interview. We hear Foley go more in-depth about working with the actors, utilizing the locations of Palm Springs, and film and framing choices. I’m happy that Horvat was here to keep Foley on track as he is a man with plenty of film factoids—needing the right guide to get that information out of him.
The second commentary track has film critic Travis Woods hopping on to discuss his feelings on After Dark, My Sweet. Woods starts by detailing his credentials about his podcast, discussing each scene of P.T. Anderson’s Inherent Vice, and telling the listener that he will not run out of information to discuss. From there, he digs into Jim Thompson’s biography from alcoholic to author. Woods then discusses the character’s motivations and choices of the actors, including Collie’s walk and the characteristics of Fay’s house. True to Woods’ words, he has plenty to say throughout the commentary track and completes a one-two punch of worthwhile commentaries on this disc.
Finishing off the Blu-ray, Imprint Films includes the film’s theatrical trailer.
And there you have it! While After Dark, My Sweet wasn’t my favorite film of the box set—Rush and One False Move hold the crown—it is everything essential about neo-noir, with three worthwhile performances and a screenplay that does the genre justice. Imprint Films once again knocked it out of the park with a stellar package of extras that will please noir lovers and noir novices alike!