Category: DVD Report

The DVD Report #713

Warner Archive has released Blu-ray upgrades of two of my all-time favorite films.

I first saw 1935’s A Tale of Two Cities and 1936’s San Francisco on TV but was later able to see them on the big screen in revival houses that were precursors to home video through the 1970s.

It’s not just modern epics that look better on large theatre screens, the old epics also looked better, especially these two with their larger-than-life special-effects scenes – the storming of the Bastille in A Tale of Two Cities and the earthquake and resultant fires that destroyed large parts of the city in San Francisco. The high-definition Blu-rays do full justice to these two 1936 Oscar nominees.

A Tale of Two Cities was released in New York and other cities in December 1935 but held back until early in 1936 in Los Angeles so that it wouldn’t have to compete against MGM’s other high profile Dickens adaptation, David Copperfield, at the 1935 Academy Awards. George Cukor’s definitive version of David Copperfield lost anyway to another MGM epic, Frank Lloyd’s version of Mutiny on the Bounty.

Jack Conway’s film of A Tale of Two Cities was the fourth film version of Charles Dickens’ novel about the French Revolution. It wouldn’t be the last, but like so many MGM productions of classics of the era, it remains the best.

No version of A Tale of Two Cities would be worth much if it didn’t open and close with Dickens’ famous lines, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” at the start and “it is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done” at the end, and no version delivers them better.

Until this version, it had been a practice to use the same actor to play the protagonists Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay, the look-alike husband of Lucy, the woman he loves, but Ronald Colman only wanted to play Carton and so he did, with Donald Woods stepping in to play Darnay. Elizabeth Allen plays Lucy.

The standouts in the cast, aside from Colman, are Basil Rathbone as the despicable Marquis St. Evrémonde, Blanche Yurka as the treacherous Madame De Farge, and Edna May Oliver as Miss Pross, Lucy’s faithful companion.

Audiences still get chills from the performances of Rathbone and Yurka. Rathbone never exuded more despotic evil than when after running over a peasant boy with his carriage, he lectures the crowd on keeping their children away as they may injure one of his horses. Yurka grabbed them with her sneers and snarls as she added one name after another to her list of relatives of the aristocracy who must be brought to the guillotine.

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The DVD Report #712

Kino Lorber has released Robert Siodmak’s 1944 film noir The Suspect on Blu-ray and standard DVD, the first home video release ever for this classic in the U.S.

Screen legend Charles Laughton, in one his most subdued performances, stars as a mild-mannered 1902 London businessman who murders his shrewish wife and later, his blackmailer.

Laughton’s character has our sympathy throughout, beginning with his moving out his bedroom into what was his grown son’s room after his son has left home because of one too many tirades by his mother. She is played by Rosalind Ivan (Scarlet Street) in one of her signature nasty roles. The son is played by Dean Harens, who had a long career as a character actor on TV well into the 1970s.

Shortly after, Laughton meets Ella Raines (Phantom Lady), a ravishingly beautiful young woman, who comes into the shop he manages looking for employment. He turns her down, but later consoles her when he observes her in tears on a nearby bench. The two develop a friendship that eventually leads to romance. A jealous Ivan follows Laughton on one of his dates with Raines and threatens to create a scandal if Laughton doesn’t leave her and move back into their shared bedroom. To prevent her from following through on her threats, he kills her on Christmas Eve, making it look like accident.

The film is fleshed out with many fine performances, including those of Henry Daniell (Camille) as Laughton’s alcoholic neighbor and eventual blackmailer, Molly Lamont (The Awful Truth) as Daniell’s lovely wife, Stanley Ridges (To Be or Not to Be) as a Scotland Yard inspector, and child actor Raymond Severn (Foreign Correspondent) as Laughton’s loyal employee and friend.

Paramount had originally purchased James Ronald’s novel as a vehicle for director Fritz Lang (The Woman in the Window) who planned to make the film with Edward G. Robinson as Ivan before the rights lapsed and were picked up by Universal who assigned the project to Siodmak (The Uninvited).

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The DVD Report #711

Let Him Go is a road picture set in the mid-20th century west. Larry Watson’s 2013 novel was set in 1951 with its protagonists traveling from North Dakota to Montana. The film is set in 1963 with the protagonists traveling from Montana to North Dakota.

The film begins with grandparents Kevin Costner and Diane Lane enjoying life on their ranch with their son, his wife, and their infant grandson until their son is accidentally killed from a fall from a horse. Three years later, the son’s widow remarries. Grandmother Lane sees her former daughter-in-law’s new husband strike her grandson and his mother in the street. The next day she goes to visit them at their apartment and finds that they have suddenly left. She convinces her husband that they need to find their grandson and rescue him from whatever danger he may be in.

It turns out the boy is in plenty of danger from the former daughter-in-law’s new family, headed by her new husband’s mad mother (Lesley Manville). What will it take to rescue him?

Written for the screen and directed by Thomas Bezucha (The Family Stone), the film benefits from the superb cinematography of Guy Godfree (Maudie) and the acting of Costner and Lane in their first film together since 2013’s Man of Steel in which they played the adoptive parents of Clark Kent. The supporting cast is fine with Manville (Phantom Thread) earning a Best Supporting Actress nomination from the Hawaiian Film Critics. The standout, though, is Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga) as an Native American boy living on his own in the wilderness who Costner and Lane meet along the way who proves invaluable in the end.

Universal Home Video has released it on both Blu-ray and standard DVD.

Universal has also released Wild Mountain Thyme, albeit on DVD only.

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The DVD Report #710

Warner Archive has released four more Blu-ray upgrades of films from their vast library of film classics. They include a 1930s mystery and a 1950s comedy in stunning black-and-white and two Broadway-to-Hollywood musicals, one from the 1940s and one from the 1950s, in glorious eye-popping color.

Doris Day had been making at least one musical per year for ten years when she was cast alongside the original Broadway cast in the 1957 George Abbot-Stanley Donen production of the Richard Adler-Jerry Ross musical The Pajama Game. She had long since branched out to more dramatic roles, most notably in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 classic The Man Who Knew Too Much opposite James Stewart, but she was still known first and foremost as a singer, required to sing at least one song in her non-musicals such as the Oscar-winning “Whatever Will Be Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” from The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Day’s first film was 1948’s Romance on the High Seas in which she was the second female lead after Janis Paige, effortlessly stealing the film from Paige and everyone else. A disappointed Paige left Hollywood and reemerged as a great big Broadway star in the 1954 stage version of The Pajama Game. Warner Bros. had purchased the screen rights to the musical with the intention of filming it with the Broadway cast with one exception. They felt they needed a big name to sell it, so they pitched it to Frank Sinatra to play the male lead opposite Paige. When he turned it down, they brought in Day to replace Paige and retained John Raitt to play the male lead. Paige, in the meantime, had a screen hit of her own with Rouben Mamoulian’s 1957 film of Cole Porter’s Silk Stockings, which she stole from Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse.

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The DVD Report #709

With so many of the major film releases of 2020 being shown on streaming platforms in conjunction with their theatrical releases, Ammonite becomes the first high profile awards contender to be released on DVD and Blu-ray.

The film was on almost everyone’s list of Oscar contenders based on its pedigree. Top-casting, seven-time Oscar nominee and 2008 Best Actress winner for The Reader, Kate Winslet, and four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), it was an early favorite to receive Oscar nominations for Best Actress (Winslet) and Best Supporting Actress (Ronan).

Shown at various film festivals beginning with Toronto in September, and receiving a limited theatrical release in November, the film received high praise for the two actresses, as well as for its cinematography, production design, costume design, hair and makeup, and score, but none of that has so far not resulted in any major award organization nominations or wins.

Set in 1840 in England’s rough southern coast, Winslet plays against type as real-life under-appreciated, middle-aged fossil hunter Mary Anning, who against her wishes, takes on the care of a fragile young woman (Ronan) grieving over the loss of her baby for a fee from her wealthy husband, as he goes on a business tour in Europe without her. Winslet gradually warms to Ronan, nursing her back to health from a near-death illness, and involving her in her work. The two women eventually fall in love and have a passionate affair until it’s time for Ronan to return home.

Gemma Jones, who played Josh O’Connor’s dour grandmother in writer-director Francis Lee’s pervious film, 2017’s God’s Own Country, plays a similar role as Winslet’s mother.

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The DVD Report #708

Warner Archive has finally released the last four of their Blu-ray upgrades scheduled for December, including the Christmas themed The Shop Around the Corner and It Happened on Fifth Avenue. That’s really not an issue as both films, like any good film, can be enjoyed at any time of year.

Neither film was originally released during the Christmas season anyway. The Shop Around the Corner was released in January 1940 and It Happened on Fifth Avenue was released between April and June 1947. In New York, it opened on June 11, exactly one week after the even more celebrated Christmas classic, Miracle on 34th Street.

The Shop Around the Corner is one of the most beloved romantic comedies in film history. It was producer-director Ernst Lubitsch’s favorite of all his films. Based on the 1937 Hungarian play, Parfumarie, Lubitsch waited two years for Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart to become available, filming Ninotchka with Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas while he waited.

Sullavan plays a clerk in a little shop hired for the Christmas selling season and Stewart the store’s manager. They can barely stand each other, not realizing that they are secret pen pals by night. Frank Morgan, as the store’s owner, Joseph Schildkraut as a troublemaker, Felix Bressart as a timid clerk, and William Tracy as the shop’s delivery boy are all strong in support, but the film belongs to Sullavan and Stewart as the seemingly mismatched lovebirds.

The story was later musicalized as 1949’s In the Good Old Summertime with Judy Garland and Van Johnson and given a modern slant in 1998’s You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It was famously musicalized for Broadway as She Loves Me in 1963. The original Broadway production as well its 1993 and 2016 revivals were hailed by critics, but generally ignored by the public.

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The DVD Report #707

The first Blu-rays were introduced in 2006. Ever since then, there has been speculation as to which films, previously released on DVD, would be upgraded to the higher resolution Blu-ray discs. I have often speculated on this myself. This week, however, I am looking at the situation a little differently.

Most classic films are owned by Warner Bros. which controls all pre-1986 MGM and RKO films as well as those by Warner Bros. to the present, with a smattering of films produced by other studios also in the mix. At Warner’s current rate of upgrading five films per month, the odds are that they will not get around to releasing all their major films on Blu-ray before the format becomes extinct. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to look at films that Warner has put out on DVD that will likely never make it to Blu-ray.

Here then, are ten such films released between 1930 and 1966:

Released in the first wave of musicals to come along after the introduction of sound in 1927, Sigmond Romberg’s operetta New Moon, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and others, was released by MGM at the end of 1930. It starred Lawrence Tibbett and Grace Moore, the first opera stars to be nominated for acting Oscars, albeit for other films. Tibbett was nominated for The Rogue Song, a lost film released earlier in 1930. Moore was nominated for the 1934 film One Night of Love.

New Moon is the name of the ship on which young Russian soldier Tibbett meets Moore’s princess, who is engaged to the local governor (Adolphe Menjou) who, learming of this assignation, assigns him command of a deadly fort where he is almost certain to meet his doom. Stirring music is the thing, here, and it reaches its exultant heights with Tibbett’s moving “Stouthearted Men” and Moore’s thrilling “Lover Come Back to Me”. It was remade ten years later with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, but this earlier, less glossy version seems fresher with its lesser-known stars.

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The DVD Report #706

It’s time for reflection.

As we looked for entertainment in the horrible year just passed, we turned mostly to streaming, but there were many good Blu-ray releases of films from prior years to keep us busy as well.

Without delving into the 4K Blu-ray market which I have yet to explore, I still found it difficult to whittle my list of outstanding 2020 releases down to a manageable number, but I finally settled on twenty-five spread evenly throughout the year.

January brought us the recent theatrical phenomenon, Joker, the 1938 classic Holiday, and the 1967 slice-of-life drama The Whisperers. Joaquin Phoenix mesmerized in his Oscar-winning role in the first; Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant were at their charming best in the second; and Dame Edith Evans gave her greatest performance, turning 80 just before the year’s Oscar nominations were announced, in the third. Holiday included the 1930 version with Ann Harding and Mary Astor as an extra.

February brought us Ford v Ferrari, one of the last major films released for home viewing before the pandemic took hold. The film took us on the journey of an American car designer to end an Italian carmaker’s dominance of international auto racing in the 1960s, winning Oscars for film editing and sound editing at the 92nd Oscars.

March brought us the riveting new World War I movie, aptly named 1917, and two still-vibrant masterpieces from 1936, Show Boat and Dodsworth. 1917 was nominated for ten Oscars and won three for cinematography, visual effects, and sound mixing, all of which were extraordinary. Show Boat, starring Irene Dunne, Allan Jones, Charles Winninger, Helen Morgan, Paul Robeson, and Hattie McDaniel, all of whom appeared in various stage versions of the first modern Broadway musical, remains fresh as ever and Dodsworth enhances Walter Huston’s great stage performance.

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The DVD Report #705

It was announced on December 3 that Warner Bros. will release all their 2021 films simultaneously in theatres and on their streaming service, HBO Max. That led to speculation that this could be the end of theatrical distribution as we know it as well as the end of DVD and Blu-ray releases from Warner Bros. The reason for the latter being that other streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime seldom release Blu-rays and DVDs of their streaming products. This remains to be seen.

Warner Bros. does not have any new feature films prepped for video sales, but they have released several recent TV films and series through the Warner Archive including the HBO-shown film Bad Education with Hugh Jackman and the first three years of the CBS series Young Sheldon.

Warner Archive was the pioneer in the MOD (manufactured-on-demand) business of releasing their library of films on DVD in 2009, adding pressed Blu-ray releases in 2012. Their vast library consists of pre-1986 MGM and RKO films, post-1946 Allied Artists and Monogram films, as well as those made by Warner Bros. and its subsidiaries including New Line and HBO. They remain one of the premier providers of DVD and Blu-ray releases to this day. If anything, their output has been on the increase this year with seven major Blu-releases in December and another five planned for January.

Unfortunately, the current pandemic has affected the Archive’s release schedule. While Blu-rays of The Curse of Frankenstein, Holiday Affair, and Mister Roberts, expected earlier in the month, were finally in buyers’ hands in the days before Christmas, the remaining four, including Young Man with a Horn, The Harvey Girls, and two Christmas films, The Shop Around the Corner and It Happened on 5th Avenue, are still held up.

The Archive’s two-disc special edition of Terence Fisher’s 1957 film of The Curse of Frankenstein is from Mary Shelley’s immortal novel by way of writer Jimmy Sangster who added a few touches of his own to the classic horror tale. Peter Cushing starred as Dr. Frankenstein and Christopher Lee co-starred as his monster. Cushing is superb, but Lee is hampered by his character’s lack of dialogue. The two fared much better together as the good Dr. Van Helsing and the evil Count Dracula in 1958’s Horror of Dracula, a previous Warner Archive Blu-ray release, also directed from a screenplay by Sangster based on the Bram Stoker novel.

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The DVD Report #704

The Covid-19 coronavirus has made this such a terrible year in so many ways. Beyond the sickness and death, there has been economic suffering and mental anguish for many. Everyday things like going to school or work and shopping for essentials have been affected for everyone. Complaining about the state of movies seems almost petty in the wake of what is going on in the real world, yet here I am doing just that.

I have fond memories of going out to the movies and holding VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray copies of films in my hands along with getting ready to surrender to the excitement of seeing a good movie. Although I have enjoyed films I have only seen on television or my computer, they are not the same thing. I can still recall when and where I saw films in theatres as a child, or the first time I saw them on a video I owned, but I don’t have the same warm memory of something I watched streaming across my TV or computer screen. Is it that today’s films just aren’t that good, or is it the less exciting experience that dims my appreciation? It’s probably a little of both.

The virus has also affected home video production and distribution. Warner Archive, for example, has been experiencing a delay in getting out their highly anticipated December Blu-rays. I wrote last week’s review of Mister Roberts based on the old DVD and my anticipation of the ecstatically reviewed new Blu-ray which I still don’t have. I do not wish to compound the problem by trying to review any more of Warner Archive’s new releases until I have them in hand.

I had intended to write something this week about three of those releases, The Shop Around the Corner, It Happened on 5th Avenue, and Holiday Affair in an article about ten Christmas films that don’t usually make people’s lists of the ten best Christmas films. I’ll save those reviews for a later time. Meanwhile, here are the other seven worth considering after you’ve gotten through It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and A Christmas Carol again this holiday season:

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The DVD Report #703

Mister Roberts, which has been given a sparkling 4K restoration by Warner Archive for its long overdue Blu-ray release, was a film of many firsts.

The 1955 film was Henry Fonda’s first in seven years. It was James Cagney’s first film, except for cameos, in which he was not the top-billed star in a quarter century. It provided Jack Lemmon with his first Oscar nomination and his first win. Conversely, it was William Powell’s last film. It was also the first film for which John Ford shared billing with another director

Fonda left Hollywood for the Broadway version of Mister Roberts in 1948 after co-starring with John Wayne in Ford’s 1948 film Fort Apache, the first in his cavalry trilogy, which also includes 1949’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and 1950’s Rio Grande. For the length of the play’s run from February 1948 – January 1951, Fonda played the cargo officer on a supply ship in the Pacific toward the end of World War II who repeatedly has his requests to transfer to a combat ship turned down by his captain. The role won him a Tony as did the play and its writer-director Joshua Logan.

Fonda’s opening night Broadway supporting cast included William Harrigan as the captain, Robert Keith as the ship’s doctor, and David Wayne as a young ensign who does his best to avoid the captain as much as he avoids work. Cagney, Powell, and Lemmon had those roles, respectively, in the film.

Ford was brought in to direct the film by Fonda who had been directed by him in some of his greatest roles in Young Mr. Lincoln, Drums Along the Mohawk, The Grapes of Wrath, My Darling Clementine, and The Fugitive, as well as Fort Apache, but the two had a falling out over the making of the film which led to Ford’s dismissal after punching Fonda in the face, covered up at the time as Ford’s having to leave for health reasons. He was replaced by Mervyn LeRoy (Quo Vadis).

Mister Roberts was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, but Fonda was surprisingly left off the year’s list of Best Actor nominees. Cagney made the list albeit for Love Me or Leave Me, while rising star Lemmon, as stated, was not only nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category but won. The film had also been nominated for Best Sound.

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The DVD Report #702

Made in Italy marks the feature writing and directing debut of actor James D’Arcy (Dunkirk). It also marks the first starring role of Micheal Richardson, the actor who legally changed his name from Neeson to that of his late mother with his father’s blessing in 2018.

Richardson plays the soon to be divorced husband of a London art gallery owner who needs money to buy the gallery that he manages from his wife. His only option is to sell a house in Tuscany that he and his father (Liam Neeson) co-own so that he can use his share of the proceeds from the sale. The house, which belonged to his mother’s family, hasn’t been lived in since the death of his mother in a car accident fifteen years earlier when he was seven. It is in severe need of repair.

With little money to pay for outside help, Richardson and his father, a once successful painter whose talent seems to have left him, must do most of the work themselves, giving them a chance to heal the rift caused by their inability to grieve for Richardson’s mother.

The Tuscany locations and the charm of the local residents, most notably Valeria Bilello as a local chef, add to the film’s enjoyment, with Lindsay Duncan on board as a British exile real estate agent.

It all goes as you might expect it to, complete with a happy ending. What makes it special is the family dynamic between Richardson and Neeson. The death of Micheal’s mother Natasha eleven years ago when Micheal was 13 going on 14, was quite different with its headline-making coverage of her accidental skiing death and the public mourning of the two men. Here, they play a father and son who never talked about the mother’s passing, never cried over it in public or private, who are now forced to confront it in the film’s climactic scene. It is obvious that Richardson and Neeson are not acting but summoning genuine familial emotion.

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The DVD Report #701

Last week, I recommended six TV series to consider for giving as gifts to those who still prefer physical media to here today-gone tomorrow streaming services. This week I have six times six or thirty-six recommendations for you to buy for yourself or for giving to a serious cineaste who doesn’t already have them.

These recommendations are of four films per decade from the 1930s through the 2010s, all of which are available on Blu-ray and original DVD. None of these are obscure films, but I have purposely excluded those that most collectors will already have in their possession.

From the 1930s, I have selected Westfront 1918, Show Boat, Make Way for Tomorrow, and Holiday.

All four of these are Criterion Special Editions, and special they are. G.W. Pabst’s Westfront 1918, like Lewis Milestone’s Oscar-winning All Quiet on the Western Front, which was filmed at the same time, looks at the Great War from the perspective of German infantrymen, but is more somber, more austere, and ultimately more heartbreaking. James Whale’s Show Boat is still the definitive version of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II musical with the entire cast culled from various productions of the groundbreaking musical. Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow is a heartfelt look at old age just before the introduction of social security, and the film that should have won McCarey the Oscar over his The Awful Truth. George Cukor’s Holiday is the best pairing ever of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.

From the 1940s, I have selected The Mortal Storm, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Keys of the Kingdom, and Notorious.

Frank Borzage’s The Mortal Storm (Warner Archive), beautifully acted by Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, and Frank Morgan, was one of the first, and still one of the best, films about the Holocaust. William A. Wellman’s The Ox-Bow Incident (Kino Lorber), with Henry Fonda in one of his best roles, is the best western you many never have heard of. John M. Stahl’s The Keys of the Kingdom (Twilight Time) is the antithesis of all those treacly modern religious dramas with a great cast led by Gregory Peck. Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious is still oddly not as well-known as some of the great director’s other films despite a cast lead by Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, and Claude Rains at their finest.

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The DVD Report #700

Inasmuch as this is my 700th DVD Report, it’s as good a time as any to take a look back at my first column which appeared on May 8, 2007 when the DVDs released that day were spiffed up re-releases of The Caine Mutiny, To Catch a Thief, The Guns of Navarone, and Dirty Dancing. All of them have, of course, since been released on Blu-ray, some of them several times over.

Noted in that initial report were twenty-one Oscar-winning performances that had not as yet been released on DVD, Since then, all but Emil Jannings’ Oscar-winning lost film The Way of All Flesh and George Arliss’ Disraeli have been released while Olivia de Havilland’s To Each His Own remains unreleased in the U.S.

Twelve and a half years ago, DVD had long since replaced VHS and Laser Discs as the pre-eminent home video platform. The DVD has since been succeeded by the even more hi-definition Blu-ray and various streaming services, with few films released nowadays on original DVD only.

The biggest advantage of streaming is that it doesn’t require physical storage space. The biggest disadvantage is that if you are a collector, your collection is as secure as the owners of the streaming platform allow. That applies to digital downloads as well as on-demand TV suppliers, which can discontinue access at whim.

Pre-pandemic, most major films were released first to theatres, then to physical media, then to streaming. Netflix upped the ante last year with three major releases, of which Marriage Story has since been released on Blu-ray, another of which (The Irishman) will be released on Blu-ray next week, and the last of which (The Two Popes) seems to be headed the way of most Netflix streamers, i.e. kept in rotation on their platform for a couple of years and then forgotten. One wonders what they will do with the plethora of year-end 2020 releases making their debut on Netflix now in lieu of previously planned theatrical releases.

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The DVD Report #699

Australia has long produced high quality Blu-rays of Hollywood films unavailable in the U.S., but those Blu-rays were not playable on U.S. Region 1 players and available only as imports. Earlier this year, Australia’s Imprint label from ViaVision began releasing Hollywood films on region-free Blu-rays that will play on U.S. Region 1 players. While still available only as imports, they are, however, more widely distributed.

They have now released Essential Film Noir: Collection 1 consisting of four films that stretch the boundaries of what we commonly think of as film noir, all with commentary from well-known U.S. film noir experts.

Alan K. Rode handles the commentary on three of them: the classic Detective Story from 1951 as well as the lesser known Framed from 1947 and The Garment Jungle from 1957.

Detective Story was one of William Wyler’s best films. The three-time Oscar winner for Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Ben-Hur, received one of his nine other nominations for this adaptation of Sidney Kingsley’s 1949 Broadway hit. The film was also nominated for Best Actress (Eleanor Parker), Supporting Actress (Lee Grant), and Screenplay (Philip Yordan and Robert Walden), a reworking of the play that starred Ralph Bellamy and Meg Mundy in the roles played on screen by Kirk Douglas and Parker.

William Bendix shares over-the-title billing with Douglas and Parker as Douglas’ fellow detective in the story that takes place in one day in the life of a busy precinct. Lee Grant, in her film debut, reprises her role of the shoplifter from the play.

Douglas’ character is a hard-knuckled by-the-rules cop whose moral certainty is upended when his wife (Parker) is implicated in one of the cases he is investigating. The original storyline involved abortion, but that wouldn’t have been allowed at the time in which the film was made so the story is changed to a potential illegal adoption that ends in the death of the baby. Parker is devastating in this role, perhaps the finest of her career. Douglas and Bendix are riveting and the entire ensemble cast is equally strong, with Grant basically providing the film’s comic relief.

The Paramount film has never looked better.

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