Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
Unique and VERY Dark, a Classic 50s Horror 'Noir' - Excellent on Blu-Ray
on 19 July 2015
I'm not quite sure why I hadn't seen this film before I bought it on this newly-issued Blu-ray a few months ago as it has many of the features I like in a movie.
That it was made some 60 years ago makes it something of a ground-breaking masterpiece, especially as it precedes one of most favourite 'noir' classics from that period, the quite superb 'Touch of Evil' by Orson Welles....
So, whilst I should have seen this film many years ago my tardiness has one benefit - I can 'enjoy' (this is a 'horror' film after all !) it for the first time at it's best, courtesy of this wonderfully produced Blu-ray.
Before I forget, this 'Arrow' production has one specific feature I've not seen much of before - the outer paper insert of the case is reversible, so you have a choice of 'covers'.
The inner side has a reproduction of the theatrical-release poster which in some ways doesn't properly hint at what the film is about (perhaps a good thing !), but is certainly more nostalgic and relevant than the 'standard' outer cover.
I've attached photos of the inner/outer so you can see what I'm on about and perhaps increase the purchase temptation....
This film was the only one directed by that British stage/screen legend Charles Laughton and it appears that it ruffled so many feathers on release (it bombed and got panned) that it is why he stopped directing - before his untimely death 7 years later; what a travesty.
It's easy to see why at the time this film would have been misunderstood/disliked/shocked - it has little of a pleasant nature in it and concentrates on the 'activities' of a ruthless ex-convict who is mad, psychopathic, murderous and cruel in equal measure. Add in some 'odd' (for the time) cinematography, forays into the almost psychedelic and elements of religious blasphemy and it must have come as no surprise that it was doomed....
As I consider most of the above to be laudable characteristics, the other main aspect of this production which makes it noteworthy is the quite marvellous performance of Robert Mitchum in the lead role of said ex-convict. One often forgets how versatile he was and his turn here must surely have been a pre-cursor for his impressive portrayal of the equally 'nasty' character Max Cady in 'Cape Fear' some 7 years later....
The Amazon 'Product Description' covers the film synopsis and disc features admirably, so I won't repeat them here. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is obviously not that lively but is very clear and I think it is definitely more 'spatial' in nature, so adding to the atmosphere for your viewing experience. I will definitely watch the copious and tempting disc extras at some point as this film deserves as much coverage as possible.
With the caveat that I've only watched it once, for the period and genre this film for me isn't quite up there with 'Touch of Evil' but it's close - more for the direction techniques of Laughton and performance of Mitchum than the story itself. This Blu-ray also doesn't provide as much on-disc 'coverage' as the recent Blu-ray issue of 'Touch of Evil' does, but what there is seems to be of sufficient quality to support the excellent presentation of the feature itself.
It still gets 5 stars though !