Of God (2013/Well Go USA
Blu-ray)/One Night At
National/Warner Archive DVD)/Possessed
(1947/Warner Archive Blu-ray)
B-/C/B Sound: B-/C/B- Extras: D/D/B- Films: C/C+/B
Night At Susie's
DVD and Possessed
Blu-ray are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and both can be ordered from the link below.
are three dramas with bold subject matter, then and now...
Franco takes another shot at directing by adapting Cormac McCarthy's
(2013) set in Tennessee in 1960 about a mentally ill outcast named
Lester Ballard (Scott Haze in a brave performance) not getting help,
not well and very, very alone. We meet him pulling a rifle on a
crowd when a house once belonging to him is up for sale, a scene that
ends badly. He lands up elsewhere, but not getting the treatment or
help he needs, if he could even be helped. Not getting well by any
means, he starts finding new trouble as things get worse.
to be as close to the book as possible to the point that some scenes
are split by the artifice of words from the book showing up as
large-titled text on the screen on occasion, Franco tries to find
ironic distance in vein between the subjects and what they do. Yet
he pulls no punches in what can often be a gross, even shocking film
with one too many such moments that hold back what could have been a
better film if it has more to say than just be a graphic visual
reproduction of the book. I give all credit for boldly going in this
direction, but it backfires and does not ass up as it might otherwise
have. Tim Blake Nelson also stars.
are no extras.
Francis Dillon's One
Night At Susie's
(1930) is a pre-code drama about the odd title character (Helen Ware)
whose home has become a place where gangsters and other criminals go
to solve things, taking it as neutral ground. It also attracts lost
men, other criminals and other trouble, but Susie herself wants to
make sure that her foster son Richard (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in his
early movie star youth) does not follow in the same mode. She is
suspicious when he meets a pretty young woman named Mary (Billie
Dove) and they fall in love.
lets her know she does not trust her, but the relationship goes on
until soon, there is an incident that should send Mary to jail, but
Richard takes the blame and the jail time. Even the hardened Susie
is surprised, but does not retaliate against Mary, yet keeps tabs on
her. From there, the plot has some interesting moments, including
one where Richard writes a play for Mary that becomes a hit, but she
has to deal with a sexually-harassing producer to get it made to keep
his hopes up in prison. Things even get a little darker, but this is
one of Dove's only surviving films and is worth your time just for
her. This is definitely worth a look.
are no extras.
(1947) has Joan Crawford in one of her greatest roles as a woman
whose life and fortunes have gutted out her soul and psyche, leaving
her wandering the streets and needing mental health help herself.
She quickly lands up at an institution where doctors try to help her
and as she starts to talk, we see her story in flashback from the
wild relationship with a man she loves who is not always nice (Van
Heflin in a thankless role) to the others around her only helping so
much, to her conflict with others and all as her mental health slowly
deteriorates without anyone else realizing and she barely
understanding what is happening to her.
two years after Hitchcock's Spellbound
(reviewed elsewhere on this site), this was a bold, groundbreaking
film with Crawford in work that is amazing and stands the test of
time, including all the twists, turns and surprises we get. Even
when the film gets a bit campy (especially decades after its release
due to Crawford's later years of camp classic work, et al),
Crawford's performance overrides any datedness or shortcomings,
a true Noir classic as Crawford delivers one of the great
performances of her time. Everyone should see this great film once,
especially in this fine Blu-ray release.
include a solid feature length audio commentary track by the
always-classy Dr. Drew Casper from a previous DVD release of the
film, a Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurette entitled Possessed:
The Quintessential Film Noir
and an Original Theatrical Trailer.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Child
is styled-down a bit and that's fine, but it does hold back
performance throughout ultimately, so it is slightly disappointing.
The 1.33 X 1 black & white image on Night
is the only standard definition image here and being 84 years old and
counting, is going to show its age. Some shots are soft and in a
classic style on purpose, but the film needs some restoration and
there is some print damage.
1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on Possessed
can sometimes show its age, but this new HD transfer is impressive
and the work of Director
of Photography Joseph Valentine, A.S.C. (The
Of A Doubt)
is on full display looking very impressive in this very consistent
transfer. Besides some demo shots and the excellent representation
of Warner black and white in the Noir era, some moments do not look
their age (even with the grain, which is not bad at all) at all with
a few jaw-dropping moments as well. This is not all the time, of
course, but it is as good as the film is going to look in this format
and is the best entry on the list.
the older films were theatrical monophonic releases, the DTS-HD MA
(Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Child
is well mixed and presented, but is too quiet and refined on purpose
at times, so the film does not total advantage of the multi-channel
possibilities, so the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless
mixes on Possessed
can compete more often than it should, especially as cleaned up and
restored it is. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Night
is older, the oldest, a little brittle, a little rough and shows its
age. Hope this gets some restoration attention down the line.
order either of the Warner Archive releases featured in this review,
go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases