Day At Black Rock
(1954/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The
(1954/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition
Complete First Season
(2016/Cinemax/HBO Blu-ray Set)/A
Study In Terror
(1965/Sherlock Holmes/Columbia/Sony DVD)/Suddenly
(1954/United Artists/Film Detective Blu-ray)/Wait
Until Dark (1967/Warner
B/B/B/C+/B-/B Sound: B-/B-/B/C+/C+/B- Extras: B/B/B-/D/D/C+
Main Programs: B/B-/B/B-/B-/B
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,
while the Bad
Day At Black Rock
Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their
Warner Archive series. All of them can be ordered from the links
below. The Suddenly
Blu-ray and Study
DVD can be ordered directly from Movie Zyng on our right hand sidebar
or the buttons atop this review.
a solid set of action/mystery thrillers...
Day At Black Rock
(1954) is one of the great widescreen films of its time as Spencer
Tracy arrives in a small town to visit a man whose name affects
anyone... everyone he tells it to. Why? Arriving by train, turns
out the train has not stopped at that station in years. The people
there know each other and don't seem friendly, or are they scarred by
something? As Tracy's WWII veteran digs deeper, he experiences
hostility and worse from the likes of a local man (Robert Ryan) and
his henchmen (especially Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine) as others
seem not to know how to act. Where will this lead?
MGM classic has been restored for this Warner Archive Blu-ray and it
is a gem that deserves it. Everyone is in top form, often young and
early in their career, including Anne Francis and John Erikson, who a
decade later would co-star in the TV detective/spy classic Honey
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) though you'd have no clue they
would do anything like that from their older work here.
like how this film just builds and builds and I think you will too.
Original Theatrical Trailer and outstanding audio commentary track by
film scholar Dr. Dana Polan are the extras.
L. Mankiewicz's The
(1954) may not be a murder thriller per se, but it is creepier than a
mere melodrama as Humphrey
Bogart attends the unexpected funeral of the title character (Ava
Gardner as Maria Vargas) who was a lively, sexy, sexual woman who
landed up in high society and circles with her exceptional beauty and
charm as dancer and actress that changed lives and shook any caste
systems. It is not that she was mysteriously murdered and this is a
detective story, but it is a character study and look at the
filmmaking business in conjunction with the mature, adult melodrama
I have some problems with the pacing of this 130 minutes film, but
the leads are amazing, though the film can be awkward and it turns
out some behind the scenes troubles contributed to this, yet
supporting performances by Edmond O'Brien, Marius Goring, Rossano
Brazzi, Valentina Cortese and Warren Stevens add to the density of
the script and locations to make the film a very palpable experience.
Gardner has some stunning moments and if you bring your attention
span, you'll be rewarded with an often remarkable film that is
ambitious, even when it runs into small problems here and there.
includes another nicely illustrated booklet on the film including
informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the
great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds a new feature
length audio commentary track with Kirgo and David Del Valle, Stills
on the film from Del Valle's own archive, an Isolated Music Score and
Original Theatrical Trailer.
The Complete First Season
a new cable TV series from the Cinemax
Network based on the work of longtime writer Max
Allan Collins (Road
Dick Tracy) about two Vietnam vets who come home to being hated, but
particularly because they were part of a raid that turned into a
massacre. Logan Marshall-Green is Mac Conway, not right from that
event, happy to be back home to his wife Joni (Jodi Balfour) and
finds getting a job tough due to his military duty, one he chose
without a draft to return to. A mysterious man (Peter Mullan) offers
him the chance to make big money by killing people, which Mac rejects
strongly to, but it won't be long before he's drawn into this man's
schemes by making a big mistake.
place in 1972, the episodes have plenty of great characters turning
up with enough twists and turns to keep the show going. A really
pleasant surprise, I cannot imagine why this is not already a big hit
and hope we get to see a second season, but it revisits the early
1970s with the authenticity and richness of the underrated and
This is a case where I won't say much more as not to ruin things,
but the mystery, realism, great acting, fine writing, fine directing
and the way the story keeps building makes it hard to stop watching
once you start and it does this all without much formula. Definitely
go out of your way for this show.
include Digital Copy, audio commentary tracks on select episodes,
promo clips, Music Videos, interviews, Deleted Scenes, Alternate
Scenes and clips on each episode.
Study In Terror
(1965) is an underrated Sherlock Holmes film involving
the hunt for Jack The Ripper years before Murder
yet despite the fictionalized and unconvincing take on the real-life
serial killer, is a very suspenseful, effective and even still
shocking Holmes film that is much closer to the books and character
than the recent Robert Downey, Jr. films as John Neville nails the
Holmes role and Donald Houston makes a great Dr. Watson. Holmes
quickly connects two seemingly unrelated murders in the newspaper and
that leads him to a killer not even he's expecting.
is a great director and this is one of the must-see Holmes films with
great costumes, great sets, superior use of color and a remarkable
supporting cast that includes Frank Finlay as Inspector Lestrade,
Robert Morley as Mycroft Holmes, Judi Dench, Barbara Windsor, Anthony
Quayle, John Fraser, Adrienne Corri, Barry Jones, Patrick Newell and
uncredited turns by Corin Redgrave and Jeremy Lloyd. The Pop
Art/Batman-inspired poster art suggests a comedy or spoof, but the
humor that is here is incidental to the plot and storyline, so don't
be fooled. This is very, very well done and worth going out of your
are very sadly no extras.
(1954) is here yet again on Blu-ray for the third time, this time
from Film Detective.
The abduction thriller with Frank Sinatra leading a gang up to set
up the assassination of a key figure by hijacking a small town family
home is effective. Here are the previous reviews of the film on
Chest/HD Cinema Classics Blu-ray version
are sadly no extras like the other editions, but the widescreen
version debuting here might appeal to some over others. Its not a
bad copy, but see more below in the tech section.
we have Terence Young's great thriller Wait
the Frederick Knott play (he wrote Dial
'M' For Murder
that Hitchcock himself turned into a great film thriller in 1954, now
on Blu-ray 3D from Warner) about a blind woman named Susi (a rightly
Oscar-nominated performance by Audrey Hepburn) who gets through life
the best she can, has a man (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) named Sam who
loves her and good neighbors. He travels for work and is randomly
given a doll at the airport by a lady stranger on one of his many
then brings it home to Susi not knowing it contains valuable hidden
bags of heroin in it, which a group of greedy dealers (Alan Arkin,
Richard Crenna, Jack Weston) would like to get it as quickly and
quietly as possible, but Susi has to be tricked. Taking things in in
the world differently, these manipulators may have unexpected
remains a smart, excellent, claustrophobic thriller as good as
anything the Diabolique/Psycho
wave inspired and us another case where everyone is convincing and in
excellent form, with the cast doing some of the best work of their
career. This was a risk for Hepburn making such a dark film against
type, but it payed off and remains one of the best films she ever
made. Young had always been a good director, but had come off of
three hit James Bond films by this time (3 of the first 4) and found
himself helming event films for the rest of his career. This is
easily the best of them. I always liked this film and am glad to see
it arrive in such a fine copy.
include a 'Warning Trailer' on the mode of Hitchcock's Psycho,
the Original Theatrical Trailer and produced for DVD Making Of
A Look In The Dark.
with the five Blu-ray releases, the new 1080p
2.55 X 1 digital High Definition image on Day
looks great in its CinemaScope, Eastman Color glory, gritty, yet with
interesting touches of color in what is a sandier, grittier color
film for its time. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image
transfer on Contessa
can show the age of the materials used with some slight dirt and
flaws in color registration here and there, but the slightly darker
35mm British dye-transfer,
three-strip Technicolor still comes through most of the time, as
lensed by the genius Director of Photography Jack Cardiff. It could
use some work, but I have never seen it even looking this good.
both is a HD shoot of all episodes of Quarry
in 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers that do a
pretty good approximation of recreating the look and feel of the
early-to-mid 1970s, better than most digital shoots have since HD
overtook film for the worse.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Dark
rarely shows the age of the materials used, is far superior a
transfer to all previous releases of the film on home video and was
also a 35mm dye-transfer,
three-strip Technicolor film in its original theatrical release.
Director of Photography Charles Lang, Jr.. (a Hepburn and Stanley
Donen alumni, et al) juggles the color looking really good and
naturalistic, while still having a dark, effective atmosphere that
works and delivers. Thanks to Blu-ray and the better Video Black,
you can see the depth intended and despite some flaws, you can now
experience the look and feel intended pretty much throughout as if it
were a film print. Those four releases tie for first place.
1080p 1.75 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on this version of Suddenly
is the grainiest of the three Blu-rays we have looked at and seems to
be missing some slivers of image on the sides on top of cutting the
top and bottom off for its widescreen 'soft matte' presentation, yet
it is not digitally processed or over-processed and is a little more
naturalistic. Its good and can compete with the other editions being
possibly the most naturalistic of the three, but the grain and loss
of information bothered me a bit, so we still do not have the
the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Study
comes from a great, clean, clear, color-accurate 'ColumbiaColor'
print that looks HD and Blu-ray ready and just adds to how fine this
film looks throughout.
for sound, Contessa
are here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but only
Quarry is originally designed as such and needless to say is narrowly
the best sonic presentation here easily as expected being the newest
production here. Contessa
was originally issued with Perspecta Sound which split the sound by
frequencies instead of by actual stereo and that mix is here in
DTS-MA 3.0. The 5.1 takes the original sound stems, including the
music, expanding them very effectively to a 5.1 mix. It also has
DTS-MA 2.0 for purists.
was originally issued in 4-track magnetic sound with traveling
dialogue and sound effects in its best 35mm presentations, but this
disc only offers
a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0
Stereo lossless mix that still sounds good, but is sadly missing some
detail and depth. Dark
has a fine DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono
lossless mix that is clean and clear enough to match Contessa
(with its great, effective Henry Mancini score) for playback
performance, though I always wished the film was in stereo.
also has DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono
lossless mix like the Image Blu-ray, but it is no better and not bad,
but not great either. I wish it were better, but the lossy Dolby
Digital 2.0 Mono on Study
does sound pretty good, as good as Suddenly and sounds closer to the
original sound source of the film. If only it were lossless.
limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while
supplies last at these links:
to order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, Bad
Day At Black Rock
go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases