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).

The Kino Lorber release includes commentary by film historian Troy Howarth.

Also new from Kino Lorber is the highly regarded 1948 film noir So Evil My Love, directed by Lewis Allen (Suddenly) for Paramount, from a novel by Joseph Shearing.

Set in the 1890s, the film features top-billed Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend) as a charming, but deceitful, rogue who manipulates a staid missionary’s widow played by Ann Todd (The Paradine Case) into stealing money from a gullible friend played by Geraldine Fitzgerald (The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry) so they can run away together.

Although she is second billed, the film revolves around Todd’s character, requiring her to play a woman who changes from saintly to devilish as she goes from saving lives of passengers on a ship overtaken by malaria to murder for the love a man who doesn’t deserve her.

The supporting cast, in addition to the sublime Geraldine Fitzgerald, includes Leo G. Carroll (Spellbound) as a wise detective, Hugh Griffith (Ben-Hur) as a not so wise coroner, Moira Lister (The Yellow Rolls-Royce) as Milland’s mistress, and both Martita Hunt and Finlay Currie from David Lean’s masterful 1946 version of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Just as Hunt’s Miss Havisham and Currie’s Magwitch did not have any scenes together in Great Expectations, neither do they here as Fitzgerald’s mother-in-law and a ship’s captain who never meet.

The year after this film was made, Todd divorced her second husband to marry Lean, who was his cousin. The marriage lasted until 1957.

Commentary is provided by film historian Imogen Sara Smith.

Paramount has released a restored print of Love Story, its biggest hit of fifty years ago and an Oscar nominee for Best Picture of 1970, which has been given a new 4K restoration.

The cliched romance about a rich boy and a poor girl who fall in love and marry against all odds first struck gold as a best-selling novel after its screenplay was turned into a novel prior to its release. The film made superstars of Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw who received two of the film’s total seven Oscar nominations.

The first line of the film is “what can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?” giving away the entire plot. The film’s most famous line is MacGraw’s “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Two years later, Barbra Streisand said the same exact line to O’Neal in What’s Up, Doc? to which he replies, “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Also in the cast are John Marley (The Godfather) as MacGraw’s salt-of-the-earth Father for which he received an Oscar nomination and former Oscar winner Ray Milland as O’Neal’s snooty millionaire father. Arthur Hiller (The Hospital) was the film’s Oscar-nominated director.

Erich Segal was Oscar-nominated for his original screenplay, but the only Oscar the film won was for Francis Lai’s overbearing score.

Extras include a mixture of fresh and archival material.

Another Paramount film newly released on Blu-ray and standard DVD is Alan J. Pakula’s 1974 conspiracy thriller The Parallax View, which has been given a 4K restoration by Criterion.

There’s a sense of dread that permeates The Parallax View, a thriller Pakula made between Klute and All the President’s Men. It begins with the assassination of a U.S. Senator inside the observation tower of the Seattle Space Needle. It is witnessed by reporters Warren Beatty and Paula Prentiss, who had recently broken up. Three years later, a paranoid Prentiss approaches Beatty about looking further into the murder. She herself is soon found dead.

Filmed in the wake of the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, and just as the Watergate scandal was about to break, the film hit audiences where they lived. I’m not sure how it plays to today’s younger audiences, but recent U.S. political events should make it seem all too real once again.

Hume Cronyn (Marvin’s Room) co-stars as Beatty’s editor.

Numerous extras include a combination of new and archival material.

This week’s U.S. Blu-ray releases include The Underneath and The War.

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