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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > Military > Heist > WWII > Assassination > Politics > Revenge > Industry > Noir > Brass Target (1978/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Rage (2014/Image Blu-ray w/DVD)/Violent Saturday (1955/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

Brass Target (1978/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/Rage (2014/Image Blu-ray w/DVD)/Violent Saturday (1955/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Brass Target DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series, while Violent Saturday is from our friends at Twilight Time and only 3,000 copies are being made. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's some new action films old and new, all involving anger, revenge and intricate plots, except one that glaringly fails...

We start with an underrated thriller in John Hough's Brass Target (1978), a WWII thriller loosely based on what was $250 Million in gold bullion stolen by someone of Nazi Gold that was meant for the Allies to split, which includes the then-Soviet Union. That's $32 Billion today as of the posting of this review. A Soviet officer accused General Patton (George Kennedy very convincing in the role) of the robbery being on his end, so Patton tells him in not-so-nice terms that he'll investigate where it when and return his share. It turns out it is an inside job and what follows is a plot to throw Patton and investigators off the case and hide the gold.

The amazing cast includes John Cassavetes, Sophia Lauren, Robert Vaughn, Bruce Davidson, Patrick McGoohan, Edward Herrmann, Ed Bishop, Lee Montague, Bernard Horsfall and Max Von Sydow as an expert assassin. MGM made this a big event film, but it was not the hit it should or could have been despite having strong United Artists distribution behind it (they were on a roll at the time) so it has become an interesting gem worth catching again.

A few moments mighty seem dated or flat, but this is very consistent and very well directed by Hough, who started working on the final seasons of The Avengers with Linda Thorson, quickly climbing into a directing role. From there, he landed feature films like Twins Of Evil, Sudden Terror, Legend Of Hell House, Incubus the the original Disney Witch Mountain films, yet also continued TV work for shows like The Protectors, The New Avengers and Hammer House Of Mystery & Suspense. Here we have a very talented journeyman director pulling off one of the most complex, largest films of his career and it still works. If you have not seen Brass Target, you definitely should add it to your list.

A trailer is the only extra.

Paco Cabezas' Rage (2014) is a new Nicolas Cage film where he is a father horrified that someone has killed his daughter in a home invasion, a case of his darker past before becoming a good guy has caught up with him. Or is it? The worst film Cage ever made (replacing Gone In 60 Seconds easily) has no real story, is very formless, follows a formula that telegraphs (or texts if you prefer) its twist instantly and has the most violence, blood, guts and outright stupidity in the genre we have seen in a while. I'll be professional enough not to give away the twist, especially since you'll figure it out in a few minutes if you really think about it. Awful!

The lame extras include Deleted Scenes, a Making Of featurette and Alternative Ending that did not help and would not have made a difference.

Speaking of great journey filmmakers, Richard Fleischer has made more than a few underrated films like Soylent Green and even Mandingo (both reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), but here we can add another underrated gem in Violent Saturday (1955), an underrated heist thriller like Brass Target, but on a simpler scale, yet it also has an amazing cast and is as dark and gritty as a small group of men (Lee Marvin, J. Carroll Naish and Stephen McNally) intending to rob a bank in a small industrial mining town. All goes well until human nature and some plot twists kick in in this semi-Noirish thriller with some other dark sides.

Tommy Noonan is a bank executive who also happens to be a peeping tom and stalker, Sylvia Sidney is a librarian who has fallen on hard times who resorts to stealing to pay a big debt, Victor Mature is the man running the mine who gets involved in the madness and Ernest Borgnine is the father of an Amish family who clings to his non-violence when the trio of crooks threaten him on when they return on the run as part of their master escape plan.

This is a well-made, well-acted, event film as well with a cast that just gets better with time, a look that uses the very wide (wider then) CinemaScope frame and has so many subtle, smart moments that really build the film up to its climax that it was built to last and it does. I had not seen this or Brass Target for eons, but only minor flaws stops this momentarily from delivering and it is a terrific film worth your time.

Extras include another illustrated booklet on the film (standard in all Twilight Time releases) including informative text and thoughtful essay by Julie Kirgo, feature length audio commentary track by Kirgo and fellow film scholar Nick Redmond and isolated music score track.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Target is not bad for the format, shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision, came from the MetroColor labs and is not bad as a result. Some shots really stand out and the wide frame is used to nice effect. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Rage Blu-ray is an HD-shoot that has more motion blur and other limits than it ought to, so the anamorphically enhanced DVD lands up being the softest entry on this list. The visual winner here is the 1080p 2.55 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Saturday, restored nicely and showing off a great example of DeLuxe Color from the period. I have seen the film before, but it never looked this good and will impress anyone lucky enough to see it.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Rage is the best sonic performer here, but barely so as it is not a very imaginative mix and just happens to be professionally done, so they got something just about right, though the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD is on the weak side. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Saturday is an impressive upgrade from the originally 4-track magnetic stereo sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects issued on better 35mm film prints of the time. All the original qualities are retained, though some sound can show its age.

That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Target just sounding a generation down and a little weaker than I would have liked.

You can order the Violent Saturday limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at this link:


and to order Brass Target, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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