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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Counterfeiting > Murder > Spy > Drama > Alcoholism > Publishing > Newspaper > Historica > File Of The Golden Goose (1969)/Man In The Net (1959)/Park Row (1952/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVDs)

File Of The Golden Goose (1969)/Man In The Net (1959)/Park Row (1952/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVDs)


Picture: C+/C/C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Films: B-



PLEASE NOTE: These releases are all online-only exclusives from MGM and can be purchased from Amazon.com, which you can reach through the sidebar of this side.



The United Artists catalog is highly underrated and is the foundation of the back catalog holdings of the production company/mini-major that is now MGM.  Three new releases in the thriller and genre category from the Limited Edition Collection show just how interesting the material can get.



Sam Wanamaker was a very successful, long time character actor who also had some impressive success as a director, including a stretch of four feature films that began with the underrated The File Of The Golden Goose (1969) with Yul Brynner as an American agent wanting revenge for a female friend being gunned down.  This takes him to England to break into a murderous counterfeiting ring where he is paired up with a Scotland Yard officer (Edward Woodward of The Equalizer and Callan) to infiltrate the organization.


They poise as survivors of a big failed heist where all the crooks were killed in a fiery auto accident and immediately make contact with a corrupt shipping local (Walter Gotell, often the villain in James Bond films) which leads them to the outskirts of the operation and a flamboyant operative (Charles Gray of You Only Live Twice and The Rocky Horror Picture Show) who could be the key to discovering everything else.


The John C. Higgins (T-Men, Robinson Crusoe On Mars)/Robert E. Kent (the original TV Wild, Wild West) screenplay is solid, consistent, smart and pretty thorough, making this one of the better counterfeiting films, though like most films on the subject, has been dated by William Friedkin’s To Live & Die In L.A. (1985), but I had not seen this one for a very long time and was surprised how well it really held up.  John Barrie (Sergeant Cork), Adrienne Corri (A Clockwork Orange), Ivor Dean (The Saint with Roger Moore), Graham Crowden, Hugh McDermott, Karel Stepanek (Fallen Idol) and Anthony Jacobs round out the strong supporting cast.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 image was lensed by Director of Photography Ken Hodges (The Ruling Class, Negatives, Baffled!, Star Maidens) delivering a grade-A look all the way, with a slight roughness throughout that only makes this thriller only more pronounced.  Editing is better than most films of the genre of the time (thanks to Oswald Hafenrichter of The Third Man) and viewers will be impressed all the way to the nice use of London locales.



Michael Curtiz’s Man In The Net (1959) is a drama that turns into a thriller of sorts as an artist (Alan Ladd) has moved him and his wife (Carolyn Jones) from New York City to the country to help her with her alcoholism troubles, but she cannot take the boredom anymore and is constantly critical of him.  He still does his drawings, including of the neighborhood children whom she cannot stand, but is also having an affair she is not telling him.  However, this drives her to more erratic behavior, then she goes missing!


Is she dead?  Did she run away with a mystery man?  When blood is found around her dumped clothes, he starts to become a murder suspect, even without a body and the local townspeople start to become a vengeful mob.  Reginald Rose (12 Angry Men) and Hugh Wheeler (Sweeney Todd) co-wrote the sometimes predictable screenplay that has more ups than downs (and might involve the children more than you’d expect), but Ladd and Jones are compelling to watch and supporting work by Diane Brewster, Charles McGraw, John Lupton, Betty Lou Holland, Tom Helmore and the child actors make this an interesting one.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 black and white image was lensed by Director of Photography John F. Seltz (Sullivan’s Travels, This Gun For Hire, The Big Clock) is really good and even compelling, but this is not a Film Noir and was released a year after the original cycle ended, but it is a fine monochrome presentation and this transfer may have more softness than I would have liked, but the grey scale is not bad for a DVD.



Finally we have an interesting film written and directed by Sam Fuller about publishing and America called Park Row (1952), one Fuller made with his own money.  Set in the 1880s in New York City, it has three storylines going on at the same time: the building of a more modern printing press, the building of The Statue of Liberty and a battle for freedom of the press between a paper that just wants to be a moneymaking monopoly and a smaller one that wants to practice true journalism and benefit the community.


All are about the race to serve the greater good of the public, but also how some with greedy, ideological and/or anti-American interests (in a point as relevant as ever) would prefer not to see such progress.  The printing press section is even more ironic now that we are in the Internet age, the Statue of Liberty (which the newspaper for it starts a fund to get the money for the base of the gift from France, while the rival newspaper talks some nonsense about a waste of taxpayers money or some other cliché and propaganda to make people doubt its worth or the worth of anything) is more ironic since the events of 9/11 and the idea of any outlet practicing journalism that is not sold out to negative interests is more relevant than when this film was issued.


Fuller was usually known for rougher films (Pickup On South Street, Forty Guns, Underworld U.S.A., Shock Corridor, Naked Kiss, White Dog), but this film falls somewhere between the corny side of Frank Capra’s films and the newspaper publishing section of Citizen Kane for which this film can proudly claim to be a flipside (or even prequel of sorts if you will) to that part of the all-time classic.  Yet, this is pure, unadulterated Fuller and those who have not seen the film should definitely see it.  Gene Evans, Mary Welch, Bella Kovacs, Herbert Hayes and Gorge O’Hanlon star.



The 1.33 X 1 black and white image was lensed by Director of Photography John L. Russell (Hitchcock’s Psycho, 1952’s Invasion U.S.A., Beast From 20,000 Fathoms) shows once again how underrated a camera talent he was here, showing just how effectively (both in a visual and narrative way) he used the narrow vision frame.  Though this transfer can be soft and the print shows its age at times, it looks good for its age just the same.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on all three films sound good for their age with only some distortion issues, with Goose having background noise, but that is better than compressing it out and hurting the sound, but Harry Robinson’s score sounds good.  The only extra on all three discs are the original theatrical trailer for each one respectively.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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