Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Psychology > Identity > Jail Break > Murder > Drama > Drugs > Crime > Gangsters > Revenge > Estranged (2015/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/A Killer In The Family (1983/Sunn Classics)/Kona Coast (1967/Warner-Seven Arts)/Mister Buddwing (1965/MGM)/The Outfit (1973/MGM)/The Secret Bride (1935/Warner/all

Estranged (2015/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/A Killer In The Family (1983/Sunn Classics)/Kona Coast (1967/Warner-Seven Arts)/Mister Buddwing (1965/MGM)/The Outfit (1973/MGM)/The Secret Bride (1935/Warner/all Warner Archive DVDs)

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

PLEASE NOTE: All DVDs are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a look at more thrillers for you to consider seeing and should at least know about...

Adam Levins' Estranged (2015) combines the stuck-in-a movie with the 'sudden identity switch' con story and does both very badly. Here January (Amy Manson) comes home not remembering how she landed up physically injured or who her real family is, but the persons in the house claim to be that and are there to help her. A boyfriend who never met them is with her and everything seems fine at first, but we immediately know something is wrong and as more and more odd things happen, we know we are not being told or shown any more truths than she is.

From there, we are supposed to figure out the big mystery, but every clue is telegraphed to the audience in the worst ways proving once again that the makes of the rightly-named Insidious film seem to be totally incapable of any form of suspense or building a good mystery. This runs on and on and on and on for a very long 92 minutes, we get little in the way of real character development and the acting is nothing to write home about either. Unless you are very curious, this one is best skipped.

A trailer and Making Of featurette are the only extras.

Richard T. Heffron's A Killer In The Family (1983) is a rare drama produced by the infamous Sunn Classics exploitation outfit, known for their speculative hot films allegedly telling us the truth of things like Noah's Ark, Jesus and near-death experiences. Based on a true story, Robert Mitchum is the father of three young men visiting him in prison, but they miss hi so much that they want to break him out. When they do, it becomes a mess and the chase is on.

This one is a curio because of who plays his sons. You have Lance Kerwin, the big up and coming star of the time who did not go onto what he should have and both Eric Stoltz and James Spader, who suddenly became the next big young stars. They are convincing together, but I found it sometimes hard to believe they were Mitchum's sons. Still, this has some good moments, while other moments fall flat and it all ends to abruptly. Stuart Margolin (reuniting with Director Heffron from their his Westworld sequel Futureworld, both reviewed elsewhere on this site), Salome Jens (Seconds) and Lynn Carlin also star and Gerald Fried supplies a decent music score.

There are unfortunately no extras.

Lamont Johnson's Kona Coast (1967) is a dramatic thriller about a young drug-addicted gal who turns up dead at the hands of her party hosts/drug suppliers. Sam (Richard Boone, taking a star turn after many supporting roles ans the hit TV show of his people still love, Have Gun - Will Travel, reviewed elsewhere on this site) got a phone call from the gal before she turned up dead and does not think it is an accident despite what everyone else thinks. Sticking to this, he'll go back and forth putting his life and livelihood in danger and watch things get crazy in the process.

The script is not bad and the idea that this older (read moral) guy takes on younger adults taking advantage of the young counterculture for their own pleasures is handled in interesting ways, even if the film is a bit uneven in plotting. The unknowns are not bad here, while Joan Blondell turns in a mostly dramatic solid performance and the likes of Chip Rafferty and Kent Smith add to the tension of the plot.

Though I did not always buy this one, there are some good stand-alone scenes and the Hawaiian locales are used to best effect, making this always watchable even when it does not always work. Think of it as a curio you never heard of and if interested, give it a good look..

There are unfortunately no extras.

Delbert Mann's Mister Buddwing (1965) is another of the major films MGM put an up and coming James Garner in to launch his big screen stardom in after Maverick was such a huge TV hit for rival Warner Bros., but this was among the many films that only did so well. Here, he plays a man who wakes up not knowing who he is, makes up a name for himself and tries to figure out who he is and what has happened to him.

After finding a phone number that leads him to one woman (an initially unrecognizable Angela Lansbury) starts to think he sees a woman he recognizes (Katharine Ross) and then another (Suzanne Pleshette) seems to match up with his memories better. However, things are still not adding up and when he sees a psychotic, dangerous person is on the loose from the newspaper, he starts to think it might be him!

Though the script is ambitious and MGM got some good stars in here also including Jean Simmons and Nichelle Nichols around the time she debuted on the original Star Trek, the clues and conclusion are not as strong or convincing as they should or could be. However, seeing these stars work together and how this at least sometimes works, those curious should see it once. I just thought now as I did years ago, this one does not add up as much as I wish it had.

A Making Of featurette is the only extra.

John Flynn's The Outfit (1973) was an alternate crime drama film for Robert Duvall a year after the first Godfather was such a huge blockbuster, but is a different kind if film he did for MGM that has sadly become lost in the shuffle. A smart, sometimes suspenseful thriller that has aged well enough, it may not be a great film, but it has its moments and is the best release here. Duvall plays a man who has just been released from prison as his brother has been killed by the title entity because of disagreement over money and a heist, one he & his brother's crew did not know the target of which was owned by them. Still, he thinks they have gone too far and wants revenge.

With the help of one of the fellow-heist operators (Joe Don Baker), they get back at them in bits and pieces, all while he juggles his girlfriend (Karen Black) and targets the main man (Robert Ryan) in a series of scenes that add up nicely enough. Jerry Flelding's music score is a nice plus, as is the supporting cast that includes Joanna Cassidy, Henry Jones, Sheree North, Richard Jaeckel, Timothy Carey, Jane Greer, Archie Moore and Elisha Cook Jr. that makes this definitely worth a good, strong look.

A trailer is unfortunately the only extra, but you can read more about the music score at this link in our coverage of the limited edition CD...


William Dieterle's The Secret Bride (1935) may be just over 80 years old, but it is a surprisingly effective and interesting little drama with some mystery and crime that starts out as a simple story of a man and district attorney (Warren William) who loves the daughter (Barbara Stanwyck) of the current governor so much, he marries her, but does it without anyone knowing for privacy and to keep any public conflict thereof to a minimum. However, when a murder takes place, her father could be in big trouble and a secretary (Glenda Farrell) may go to jail or worse for being guilty of murder.

However, our title character (Stanwyck) has seen what actually happened, but to keep their secret, will stay silent. But for how long when it may send someone to the electric chair? Well, this is a Hollywood film during the code's early years, but it still has some good moments in its tight, solid 64 minutes. Nicely done, it is worth a look, but only expect so much. Still, the money is on the screen with the talent.

There are unfortunately no extras.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Estranged is easily the best performer here being a a new HD shoot and the only Blu-ray here, but it is still inconsistent, flawed and has a few issues with detail and motion blur. Thus, the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 on Outfit is able at times to compete, a solid representation of the original MetroColor it was intended in, it looks so good that it deserves its own Blu-ray.

Sadly, the rest of the DVDs are softer and have their own issues that hold them back of what otherwise are solid, professional shoots. The 1.33 x 1 color image in Killer is not bad, but it was meant for TV and this copy is at least second generation. Time to go back to the 35mm here.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Kona is as colorful as anything on this list, shot to be colorful and take advantage of its production period and was originally issued in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor 35mm prints. Even as soft and even muddy as this transfer gets, the color still comes through and the film would strongly benefit from a Blu-ray release. It could not be more colorful than it is here, surprisingly.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 black & white image Buddwing is from a nice clean print, but it tends to just be too soft throughout via what is an older transfers, as is the case with the 1.33 X 1 black & white on Secret, but that print also has light dirt and debris throughout with some print damage. Both would also look much better on Blu-ray, but the Video Black and Grey Scale on both are convincing for the format.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Estranged is well mixed and presented, but the soundfield is not as good as it ought to be and the music is so much better than the dialogue recording that it sounds like the on-set work was not as top notch as it should have been. All five DVDs offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, with Buddwing and Bride sounding poorer than the rest unfortunately, so be careful of high volume playback and volume switching.

To order any or all 5 of the Warner Archive DVDs, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com