DVD)/A Kind Of Murder
Of Death (1947/Fox)/Our
Man In Havana
(1959/Columbia/Sony/both Twilight Time Limited Edition
(1941/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)
C+/B/B/B/B/C+ Sound: C/B/C+/C+/B/C+ Extras: C-/C/B/C+/B-/C
Man In Havana
Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time,
are limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies
last from the links below, A
is exclusively issued by Warner Archive on DVD and can be ordered
from the link below and Blind
is now only available online and can be ordered from our friends at
Movie Zyng via the order button atop this review or on top of our
right hand sidebar.
an interesting set of mystery, detective, spy, Noir thrillers you
should be aware of....
from that fabled year where all the Hollywood studios great and small
turned out classics seemingly all the time and this Columbia
Pictures release is no exception. Chester Morris (often cast as
heroes) plays a troubled criminal, sadistic murderer and escaped
convict with a gang in tow. They go into an upper-class neighborhood
and invade the house of a psychiatrist (Ralph Bellamy in super cool
mode) and make all kinds of demands to hide there. How will these
high society types handle the stress and threats?
no always well, which makes this an interesting situation just on
contrasts and things get slowly worse, but the doctor's in the house
and starts to figure out what is bugging the criminal, with the
inevitable help of his gal (Ann Dvorak) who puts up with his
carelessness and ignoring her, hoping maybe he'll 'change' despite
the fact he keeps killing.
very suspenseful work and a forerunner of The
(made twice into fine films with Humphrey Bogart and Mickey Rourke
respectively) along with being ahead of Suddenly
with Frank Sinatra, the film is at least a minor classic of several
genres, though Noir had not arrived yet and that is not one of them.
Needless to say film addicts should watch all four films in
chronological order starting with this one to get the best impact and
effects. Glad Sony got this one out in a nice DVD version.
Kind Of Murder
the latest adaption of a Patricia Highsmith thriller (she's best
known for her many Ripley novels) that may be ambitious, but just
does not totally work despite the ambitions and bets efforts of the
participants. It is just one of those things that movies that try to
adapt her books or those of John
le Carre always seem to fall short (even Kubrick, who liked le Carre,
never found one of his books to adapt) so here, we get Patrick Wilson
(in a nice break from his formulaic, tired supernatural films) as a
widow who suspects a book store owner (the ever-underrated Eddie
Marsan) may have killed his wife (Jessica Biel) or not.
becomes obsessed over this, but is he onto something or just adding
thing up in a very bad state of upset? The film suggests he may or
may not be right, evoking at least some of the look of Noir films and
Detective genre films (they are two different things, by the way)
though this is not a Noir film. It does evoke the late 1950s, early
1960s well enough, if a little too clean for its own good and the
cast is not bad down tot he supporting players. Too bad the overall
film does not work, but those curious should still give it a look for
(1947) is a very hard-hitting, brutal Film Noir that is one of the
most important Fox ever made. Victor Mature is a former mobster who
has sold out his criminal ex-friends and was hoping that might be the
ned of it, but they know what he's done and decide to get a sadistic
killer (Richard Widmark in a remarkable, star-making role, his first)
to avenge the crooks. Along the way, he leaves a path of destruction
that shocked audiences then and still has the power to do so today.
Hecht and Charles Lederer deliver an ace of a screenplay while the
film has a great supporting cast including Brian Donlevy, Coleen
Gray, Howard Smith, Taylor Holmes, Mildred Dunnock and Karl Malden.
In the midst of all this is a film that is highly dense, enveloping,
realistic (shot on location in New York City) and you can feel it and
its world throughout, never an easy thing to do. However, that is
what the best Noirs do, showing us the dark side of the world,
criminality and the synergy of all the talent here, fusing together
like few Noirs ever did, makes this an inarguable classic that is a
must-see for all serious film fans. I am surprised this is a
Twilight Time release limited to only 3,000 copies, but I bet they'll
Carol Reed's Our
Man In Havana
the director's attempt to make another classic out of another Graham
Green novel (The
remain extremely popular) and does a decent job of pulling off one of
the last major spy genre films before the James Bond series changed
everything forever. Alec Guinness is the title character (a vacuum
cleaner salesman!), called in by a spymaster (legendary Noel Coward,
who would soon say no to playing Dr. No) to go to the international
hotspot (Castro was just taking over!) to find out about a
potentially deadly new weapon.
the way, he semi-comically deals with a series of characters who may
or may not be who they seem played by Maureen O'Hara, Burl Ives,
Ernie Kovacs, Jo Morrow and Ralph Richardson. The humor and wit is
pretty consistent and amusing, though some might find this too sly
for its own good if they are looking for a more comical spy film (the
debate between various Bond films is forever a genre point) without
becoming Austin Powers, which this does not, still staying rooted in
reality no matter any absurdity. That seems tougher than ever for
filmmakers to do today when they even attempt intelligent material.
has released this underrated Columbia hit as a Twilight Time Limited
Edition Blu-ray and for genre fans, its long overdue, but then they
are still sitting on all four much more comical Matt Helm film with
Dean Martin, so why the slow rollout? Who knows. Guinness alone is
a perpetual curio of an actor simply by way of his Star
films, but the unusually eccentric cast, Britishness of the film and
casual pace of the humor make this a one-of-a-kind in the genre all
serious spy fans need to see. Others should see it for the fun.
an interesting revisiting of the serial killer cycle of a few decades
ago with Anthony Hopkins as a man who can see the past and future by
touching things (thing the TV series Profiler,
et al) called out of retirement by a desperate police officer
(Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to help catch a killer (Colin Farrell, holding
his own in a really good performance here) who seems to strike sick
people and has some of Hopkins' powers. Abby Cornish is the other
cop (who also happens to be a psychiatrist) trying to solve the case.
This ambitiously tries to revive the serial killer tale, but still
runs into walls and a few cliches it still cannot shake, but I bought
the cast, like the risks the makers took in editing and
multiple-looks in the cinematography.
it starts to trip over itself a bit in the end and some of the
effects are used too much (including one from TV commercials first
used in Hopkins' film of Titus,
used too much here) so the script and plot cannot hold up in the end.
Still, there are some interesting moments here that keep this from
being a formula bore and I can see why so much talent signed up.
Worth a look for those interested, but expect some blood and gore.
(1941) is a crime melodrama that puts Joan Crawford at the very
beginning of the Film Noir period she would meld into so well, even
if this film is not totally a Noir itself.
Crawford is a woman who is on trial for the murder of a child, part
of a sick deal to get multiple plastic surgeries to repair the scars
on the right-hand side of her face (it was a big deal at the time for
Crawford to show up with her face deformed this way) with a sick man
with his own agenda to inherit a fortune in cash. Did she do it?
Cukor juggles courtroom drama, mystery, murder, suspense and
melodrama with dark themes that were about to take over the more
mature side of filmmaking and the film holds up well today (even TV's
referenced this film in one of its best episodes) and influenced the
murder/mystery genre enough. A few points have aged a bit, but the
script (a remake of a film Ingrid Bergman did before coming to
Hollywood) and a cast that includes Melvyn Douglas, Conrad Veidt,
Reginald Owen, Marjorie Main, Donald Meek and Osa Massen makes for
compelling viewing from still number one movie studio MGM. I doubt
most director's could have pulled this off as well as Cukor did.
four Blu-rays look really good, starting with the
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Murder,
an HD shoot that tries and usually succeeds in capturing a look of
the past. Maybe it looks too clean at times, but its fine and mostly
accomplished. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High
Definition image transfer on Kiss
can show the age of the materials used a little as expected, but this
is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film,
especially in its ability to show thick Video Black, depth and
1080p 2.35 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on Havana
rarely shows the age of the materials used, is far superior a
transfer to all previous releases of the film and was shot on 35mm
film in real anamorphic CinemaScope. It is always interesting to see
the rare number of monochromatic films shot in real scope and this
one does not disappoint, trying to be the widescreen cousin of The
The result is a look of its own.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Solace
is an HD shoot with a fancy mix of stylized shots and editing, but
color is pretty good and the makers manage to keep this flowing
convincingly enough to their credit versus so many who have tried
this approach and fallen on their faces.
1.33 X 1
black & white image on the Alley
DVDs come from really nice-condition prints that have been
transferred about as well as they could be for the format, so no
disappointments here either.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Murder
are obviously the sonic champs being the only newly recorded films
here, but they are well mixed and presented enough, even when relying
on dialogue-based scenes. Murder
is the quieter of the two due to the recreation of its period, but it
is a smart mix just the same.
offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 (faked stereo?) and 1.0 Mono
lossless mixes that both sound fine, but the 2.0 has a slight edge,
only offers a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix.
However, both show their age, even with the improved fidelity that
adds warmth and some depth at times, so only expect so much. The
music tracks sound a bit better though.
lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the two DVDs differ in that Alley
is just a little to lite in its transfer and playback, so be careful
of volume switching and high playback levels, but both are cleaned up
well for their age otherwise and are good listens.
include Trailers on all releases by Murder,
which offers three Behind The Scenes/Making Of clips. Death
include nicely illustrated booklets on each film including
informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essays by the
great film scholar Julie Kirgo and Isolated Music Score with select
Sound Effects, then Death
also adds two feature length audio commentary tracks: one with Kirgo
and fellow film scholar Nick Redman, the other with scholars James
Ursini & Alain Silver. Solace
adds its own Director's feature length audio commentary track and
Visions & Voices making of featurette, while Face
adds two radio adaptations of the film (one with Better Davis, the
other with Ida Lupino) plus live action Romance
Can't Fool A Camera
that includes a clip of this film and animated MGM Technicolor short
order the Kiss
Of Death and Our Man In Havana
limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at these
to order the A
Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great
web-exclusive releases at: