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Category:    Home > Reviews > Heist > Comedy > Drama > Romance > Wealth > Mystery > Film Noir > Crime > Identity > Murder > Literature > Germa > Beat The Devil (1953/United Artists)/Hollow Triumph (1948/Film Detective Blu-rays)/In Cold Blood (1967/Sony/Columbia/Criterion Blu-ray)/Shadows and Fog (1991/Orion/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Bl

Beat The Devil (1953/United Artists)/Hollow Triumph (1948/Film Detective Blu-rays)/In Cold Blood (1967/Sony/Columbia/Criterion Blu-ray)/Shadows and Fog (1991/Orion/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)


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



PLEASE NOTE: The Shadows and Fog Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last from the links below.



There's something amazing about films shot on black & white film that communicate things like nothing else. Here's four examples just released, including upgrades to three we have previously reviewed....



John Huston's Beat The Devil (1953) is a comedy heist film with Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Robert Morley, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre and Bernard Lee that has a following we first reviewed on DVD at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/13088/Beat+The+Devil+(1953/UA/Film+Detective+DVD)/


Though the sound is no better, the picture is improved enough to say this is the best version now available, which we can also say for the new Blu-ray edition of Steve Sekely's Hollow Triumph (1948). The Film Noir shot by John Alton is one we also covered on DVD, which you can read more about at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/12622/Big+Bad+Wolf+(2012/Horizon+DVD)/Daleks+Invas


More on both below, though a trailer for each respective film is the only extra.



Richard Brooks' In Cold Blood (1967) was issued by Sony on Blu-ray a few years ago in a good but basic edition with shockingly no extras we covered at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10428/In+Cold+Blood+(1967/Sony+Blu-ray


The new Criterion Blu-ray corrects that with a slew of great extras that background the landmark book and film, including an illustrated paper foldout inside the Blu-ray case with an essay by critic Chris Fujiwara, then the Blu-ray disc adds a new interview with cinematographer John Bailey on the film's cinematography, a new interview with film historian Bobbie O'Steen on the film's editing, a new interview with film critic and jazz historian Gary Giddins on the film's music by Quincy Jones, a new interview with writer Douglass Daniel on director Richard Brooks, a vintage interview with Brooks from 1988 from the French television series Cinema cinemas, a vintage interview with actor Robert Blake from 1968 from the British television series Good Evening with Jonathan King, With Love from Truman, a short 1966 documentary featuring novelist Truman Capote, directed by Albert and David Maysles, two archival NBC interviews with Capote: one following the author on a 1966 visit to Holcomb, Kansas, and the other conducted by Barbara Walters in 1967 and the Original Theatrical Trailer. Yes, it is worth the upgrade, but if you are still not convinced, see more below.



Last but not least is Woody Allen's Shadows and Fog (1991), a clever comedy that starts as a murder thriller with a strangler going around his neighborhood at night and immediately becomes Kafkaesque when a group of his neighbors wakes him up in the middle of the night to join their 'gang' (or is that lynch mob?) to find the killer. He just wants to get back to sleep (check out the wild glasses he picked for his character) and let them take care of it. The circus is also literally in town, which eventually complicates things, including a couple (John Malkovich and Mia Farrow) whose relationship is not going well, so she lands up running into a prostitute (Lily Tomlin) and goes back to her brothel (where the 'co-workers' include Kathy Bates and Jodie Foster, plus customers like John Cusack) and gets propositioned.


In the meantime, Kleinman (Allen) consults a very smart surgeon (Donald Pleasence) about the matter while the killings continue, then when he leaves, keeps running into old frienemies and strangers as no one seems to know what is going on about anything... but the killer. Some might accuse Allen of playing too loose with the comedy or wishing for a more serious thriller (more likely now than then, when fans and moviegoers complained that they wanted the 'funny' Allen, only for not enough of the to go see his films when he delivered those kinds of films), but Allen is simply being sly in his approach here and it works better than he gets credit for.


The film shows his usual love of pure cinema with more richly realized inner-textual references than there might first seem to be, but that doesn't take away for how well the film works and also has one of the best casts he ever assembled. Be on the lookout for some stars to be as well.


Extras include another illustrated booklet on the film with Julie Kirgo's must-read essay, while the Blu-ray disc adds an Isolated Score Track and the Original Theatrical Trailer.



All four films are shot on 35mm black and white film and look good in High Definition, but the 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image on Devil and Triumph has specks, some debris, damage and other flaws in their prints and transfers, but they surpass their DVD predecessors. On Triumph, you can really see the darkness of the film black and more clearly what Director of Photography John Alton really achieved here. Both need more work, but these will do for now.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Blood is from a new 4K master than makes for an interesting comparison to the previous Blu-ray that looked really good and showed how good the lighting of the real anamorphic Panavision image is. This just edges out that disc with a richer and slightly more detailed appearance, but some shots of good lighting might be dimmer than they should be at times. Otherwise, a pleasant surprise that delivers the film's dark intents more starkly.


Finally, the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Fog is easily far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film because no previous format could deliver Director of Photography Carlo Di Palma's uncanny capturing of the German Expressionist look throughout that makes this amazing to watch at times and separates it from Allen films like Manhattan and Stardust Memories. We get minor print damage and issues, nice depth of field and surprising detail without seeming out of character or the era intended.


In the sound department, all the films are theatrical monophonic releases except Blood, presented in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix from its original 4-track magnetic sound with traveling dialogue and sound effects, offering detail and warmth the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 upgrade on the previous Blu-ray was missing. In fairness to Dolby, this is not the same soundmaster, but a brand new one that more money and effort was spent on, with likely new technology. It would be hard to believe the soundmaster is the same for both.


The rest of the films are here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Mono lossless mixes, with the 2.0 configurations on Devil and Triumph just too compressed and a little low in volume in the way they were transferred, similar to the same soundtracks on Film Detective's releases of The Bat and Bucket Of Blood (both reviewed in the same text elsewhere on this site), but the 1.0 Mono on Fog was originally a Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) Mono theatrical release, so it is far better and rare for that format. This is very warm, clear and one of the best monophonic tracks I have heard in any lossless format in a while down to the Kurt Weill music, though that is in lossless DTS-MA Stereo on the isolated music score track also sounding fine. Even for Allen, it is one of his best monophonic tracks.



To order the Shadows and Fog limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives (including several other Woody Allen films) while supplies last at these links:


www.screenarchives.com


and


http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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