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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Legal > Police > Murder > Mental Illness > Courtroom > Incident In An Alley (1962/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD)/Rapture (1965/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/12 Angry Men (1957/Criterion Collection Blu-ray)

Incident In An Alley (1962/MGM Limited Edition Collection DVD)/Rapture (1965/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/12 Angry Men (1957/Criterion Collection Blu-ray)

 

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

 

 

PLEASE NOTE: Rapture is limited to a printing of 3,000 Blu-rays and is available exclusively at the Screen Archives website, which is one of two places Incident In An Alley is also available, though the MGM Limited Edition DVD and also available from Amazon through the right-hand sidebar of this site.

 

 

With all the 3D and other digital bells and whistles turning up everywhere, current films seem to be less and less about story.To prove that this has happened before, i.e. Hollywood coasting on gimmicks, the late Gene Siskel once said he would be happy if all films were shot in black and white because he knew distraction leads to very bad filmmaking.Not that all monochrome films are smart, but they are forced to tell more of a story and the next three releases prove that point.

 

 

Incident In An Alley (1962) remakes a TV play Rod Serling wrote in the mid-1950s for the U.S. Steel Hour about a police officer who shoots a 14-year-old boy dead after a robbery at an instrument store causes havoc.Nicely adapted by the capable Harold Medford and Owen Harris, this independent production has unknown actors (Chris Warfield, Erin OíDonnell and Harp McGuire among them) delivering good performances.It is more than just about the shooting, but about society and the consequences of what happens when things go bad; a character study of the situation, at least as far as one could go at the time.I had not seen it in years, but it holds up very well.I wished the 1955 TV version or even a trailer was included, but there are no extras.

 

 

John Guillermin is know for blockbuster hits like the 1976 King Kong remake, The Towering Inferno and the all-star adaptation of Agatha Christieís Death On The Nile (1978), but his 1965 film Rapture with Melvin Douglas as an embittered father and widow who has to raise a daughter Agnes (Patricia Gozzi) who is not in the best emotional or mental state.He takes some things out on her, which does not help, but things take a twist when a young man (Dean Stockwell) enters their lives and becomes interested in Karen (Ingmar Bergman alumni Gunnel Lindblom) and then Agnes herself.This is a brutal, sometimes minimalist, sometimes bold attempt to portray some serious issues and damaged people by mixing Hollywood melodrama with hints of Bergman and the French New Wave (especially Francois Truffaut) down to a score by Georges Delerue.

 

Not that the editing is surreal, profound or challenging of the readerly script, but the combination of story and black and white widescreen scope cinematography makes it part of a special group of films (specifically ones that started to be shot in formats clearer than original CinemaScope) that deliver a sense of cinema no other kind of filmmaking ever did, including Hud, a 1963 classic Douglas also starred in.

 

This film deserves major rediscovery and Twilight Time has managed to issue yet another key, underrated film that is way overdue for a new audience.My only issues with the film is that it becomes too melodramatic, becomes a bit too predictable and in the last reel or two looses some sense of believability, yet it is done so well and achieves a certain sense of atmosphere you do not see anymore.Polanskiís Cul-Der-Sac (reviewed on Criterion Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) also has this going for it in its capturing a sense of the outdoors, nature and nature of people, even when this moves to indoor and confined locales.If you like smart dramas, youíll want to go out of your way for this one.Extras include an isolated music score track and informative booklet with illustrations.

 

 

Last but not least is another black & white Criterion release, Sidney Lumetís enduring feature film version on 12 Angry Men (1957) marks the beginning of one of the most significant and important directing runs in world cinema history.Known for his gritty honest dramas, he also took a powerful live TV drama like Incident In An Alley and expanded it into a fine film.Among the themes of Lumetís films is always justice in America and its limits.With a cast that includes Henry Fonda, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam and Ed Begley, this story about a jury more at war with itself than in finding out truth and justice was stunning in its time and as relevant as ever.

 

The case starts to take it toll on the men, some of them want justice, others just want to go and some of them show ignorance as their own personal issues and prejudices come pouring out and this cast does it as powerfully as you can imagine to the point that even though you see these famous faces, you slowly forget the fame and start seeing the characters they play, the men they are and the implications are as alarming about the U.S. justice system as it is about the character of individual people.

 

In this new transfer, it has never been more powerful and also shows the early genius of Lumet, who came from live television and became an amazing filmmaker to the very end (Before The Devil Knows Youíre Dead (2007, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), his final film, retained all those strong qualities with no compromises) rounding out an amazing half-century of stunning work.This is a must-see classic getting the deluxe treatment it deserves, finally.

 

Extras include a thick, nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text, while the Blu-ray adds the long lost original 1955 TV version directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (later of Patton and the original Planet Of The Apes), production history piece, archival Lumet interviews, three new interview segments (with screenwriter Walter Bernstein on Lumet, with Ron Simon of the Paley Center for Media about writer Reginald Rose, and with cinematographer John Bailey (American Gigolo, Ordinary People) on Director of Photography Boris Kaufman (The Pawnbroker, Baby Doll), the Original Theatrical Trailer and Lumetís TV effort Tragedy In A Temporary Town (1956) penned by Rose.William Friedkin remade the story a third time a few decades later, but that is not here, though a reissue would be nice.

 

 

The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Incident is a little softer than I would have liked, though MGM has a disclaimer before the film starts that this was from the best source material they had.It still looks good just the same but deserves an HD upgrade down the line.The 1080p 2.35 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image transfer on Rapture can show the age of the stock and grain of the time, but with that said, this is a stunning transfer that is as good as any black and white scope film on Blu-ray to date including Warnerís Jailhouse Rock.The film was shot in the older CinemaScope format (you can see the older logo announcing this after the Fox logo is older film stock) but this shoot used Franscope lenses, so it is less distorted as a result.Director of Photography Marcel Grignon (Is Paris Burning?, Shaft In Africa, The Fixer) delivers top rate work throughout in a film made to last.The 1080p 1.66 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image transfer on Men can also show the age of the stock, but Criterion made this transfer from a 35mm fine grain master positive and it renders all previous video versions obsolete.

 

 

The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Incident is good for a lossy transfer of such an older film, but there might be more to get out of the original surviving soundtracks.The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 lossless mix Rapture is really impressive for its age with only a few minor moments where dialogue is not clear.The isolated music track is in the same lossless format.The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 lossless track on Men comes from a restored 35mm magnetic sound print and is just as stunning.

 

I hope more black and white films get this much respect.

 

 

You can order Rapture exclusively at this link:

 

www.screenarchives.com

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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