The Complete Third Season
(2017/HBO Blu-ray Set)/The
(1966) + The Drowning Pool
(1975) + Fritz Lang films: While
The City Sleeps + Beyond
A Reasonable Doubt (both
1956/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-rays)
A-/B+/B-/B/B/B/B Sound: B-/B+/B-/C+/C+/C+/C+ Extras:
D/C/C/C+/C/C-/C- Main Programs: B-/B-/C+/B-/B/C+/C+
The City Sleeps
A Reasonable Doubt
Blu-rays now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
our latest set of thrillers with action and suspense...
The Complete Third Season
back with its protagonist Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) now
wanting to bring a NFL team to play in the heart of Las Vegas. He
needs a team willing to move, the city to build a stadium and not to
mention they have no money, but things aren't so easy, he not only
has to find sponsors, but convince the football league to agree, but
also for the city's mayor (and various people) to give them the land
and money that with successful sports management that they can make
millions of dollars.
is a former ex-football player turned into financial manager/adviser,
and has the a big idea of turning Las Vegas into successful
pro-football city, but he and his team have some tough obstacles to
overcome including they are millions of dollars in debt, they need to
find sponsors and deal with greedy CEOs and their various toadies.
Also, he has to deal with all the players' various drug problems and
'questionable' activities, and not to mention they want to be
worshiped like gods.
was a sports drama oriented series, it paints CEOs as greedy
bastards, sports superstars as druggie wannabes and women as manager
prostitutes, the only character the audience can relate to is Dwayne
Johnson's character, a good looking man with the charm and the only
one who is trying to make things work and show their dreams isn't a
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on each show looks fine
for the style chosen and that's fine, but the DTS-HD MA (Master
Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the same shows are sometimes not good; a
problem previous coverage has noted. there
are no extras.
this time are...
- Spencer wonders if he is infertile. He must get a tycoon to help
endorse football to Las Vegas.
- The players get caught on social media promoting weed. Ricky
losses $2 Million gambling. Spencer must convince the Las Vegas
socialites to accept football into their city.
- Spencer faces the resistance to his Las Vegas football team idea.
The manger has a problem current coach and gets him fired.
- Spencer and Joe must desperately make it to an appointment with
Wayne and get his blessing for a football team in Vegas.
- Spencer must convince billionaire Wayne Hastings to write a 100
million dollar check to help get things rolling.
Hate New York
- Bret must deal with his brother to be a sponsor whom he hates
...and he decides rather sell his company than asks his brother for
- Ricky's disgrace is leaked on to internet and Spencer must get spin
control on the media coverage.
- Spencer's company finds out that their company is being sold ...and
they aren't happy with him.
- With everything on the line, Spencer tries buying the Raiders
...but finds out someone else is trying to out bid him.
- Spencer finds their land, their sponsors, his ideas has been stolen
from him ...so they turn to the only one left who can help them
Dario Argento production to add to the collection from Scorpion
Releasing. This year, they've been on fire releasing Argento's
and another film he produced called The
(reviewed elsewhere on this site), and are closing it out with
(1989). Originally intended to be the third installment in Argento's
series, The Church became it's own thing when it didn't quite fit
stars Tomas Arana, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., (a very young) Asia Argento,
Hugh Quarshie, Barbara Cupisti, and Antonella Vitale. The film is
also made with the help of Lamberto Bava, who was the man responsible
with a vicious medieval sequence where possessed corpses are left
behind, a creepy church is built on top of the death site. Lying
dormant for hundreds of years and fast forwarding to the present, a
librarian awakens the ancient evil by accident. With innocents
trapped inside and soon possessed, the church becomes a hell on earth
that soon spreads.
on 1080p Blu-ray with its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and an
English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 lossless track, the film looks
and sounds solid on the Blu-ray format. Released here for the first
time in high def, the film hasn't shown too much age and is likely
the best the film has looked since its original release.
Video Interview with Asia Argento
Video Interview with director Michele Soavi
Scorpion will get a few more Argento titles in their library soon as
these past three releases have been fantastic, though a little light
down and dirty with the new car movie Dirt
(2018), which tells the story of an off road truck driver named Rick
Radden (Dillian) and troubled but promising teenager/carjacker Dez
Truss (Horton) who become unexpected allies in the race to end all
races. Whilst following a familiar narrative for this kind of film,
it skates on by for a comfortable 90 minutes and works fine for a
direct to digital/home video release but is nothing groundbreaking.
Dillian, DeRon Horton, and Christina Moore star in Dirt,
a Motorsport Films production.
in standard definition on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphically
aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital sound mix, the
presentation looks fine for the format. Shot on digital there are
obvious moments of compression which wouldn't be evident on Blu-ray.
Off Road Film
you like films like Ron Howard's Rush
and other car movies of the like, then you'll probably dig this
adventure. Don't expect anything you necessarily haven't seen before
we'll look at these last two pairs of films in one section that cross
cover several genres and sometimes with each other. First we take on
the detective film and the idea of near-franchises with two of Paul
Newman's more commercial films, the two where he plays a detective
based on the Ross MacDonald Archer novels. Jack Smight's Harper
(1966) and Stuart Rosenberg's The
(1975) have Newman as Lew Harper, a detective taking quick money
cases to survive and get along, but sometimes running into more than
he bargained for. Neither are Film Noir or neo-Noir films, yet their
violence and situations would not be possible without that 1941 to
before the Noir period started, sound on film ushered in several
great series of detective movie series where the lead was usually a
bright crime solver, but the gumshoe, gritty detective was not far
behind and Noir kicked in just in time for that kind of investigator
as the classical detectives (Charlie Cahn, Mr. Moto, Sherlock Holmes,
The Thin Man) were on a roll that even defied studio expectations.
To get away from the idea of gritty low-budget Noir or any B-movie
sense (and because the spy films from James bond on down were making
so much money), Warner and Newman went the big time Hollywood route
with an all-star cast for the first Harper film including Lauren
Bacall, Shelley Winters, Julie Harris, Arthur Hill, Janet Leigh,
Pamela Tiffin, Robert Wagner, Strother Martin and made it a point it
was Hollywood getting gritty on its own big time terms.
by William Goldman, the film has Harper sorting out kidnapping,
murder and possibly more murder in a widescreen Technicolor
production that turned out to be the final years of the studio-bound
productions (like Newman's other thriller that year, Hitchcock's Torn
reviewed elsewhere on this site) where most scenes are indoors or on
sets and even the nice location shooting has rear projection in the
car chases. Despite this, the cast is great, the film has a fine
pace (Smight was always a good journeyman) and the film holds up just
well enough that it is still enjoyable and helped start a new era of
detective films, but they would soon run into neo-Noir deconstruction
and and American New Wave soon arriving with Arthur Penn's Bonnie
a huge influence on Newman's soon-to-be-megahit Butch
Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.
film was a hit, but not enough to start a series, though many times
at this point, a character would show up, just think at the time of
Nero Wolfe, Bulldog Drummond or Miss Jane Marple) and only two or
three films would get made. In addition, the mystery still holds up
pretty well here, so no matter how old the mystery film, can its
puzzle still puzzle? This one does.
the mid-1970s, Hollywood had its its next big mature peak since the
Noir era with many classics, a few blockbusters and a detective book
had hit the big screen and small screen (Columbo,
et al), Newman returned to Harper one more time via First Artists, a
great production co-venture he set up at Warner with other major
actor/filmmakers of the time and the result was an even better film
sending Harper to New Orleans (a great place for filmmaking, Roger
Moore made his James Bond debut a hit with Live
& Let Die
(1973) taking place there in part) and getting involved in an even
more dangerous, violent situation where the cops see him as an
invader, his new employer (Joanne Woodward in great form, as usual)
to help with a blackmail situation that turns out to be more tricky
and complex than it first seems, the film could be more sadistic and
violent (a hard PG that would probably be PG-13 today if it was any
rougher) than TV detective shows could be (namely Mannix,
still edgy to this day) and without obvious sets or now-obsolete rear
projection, it is a much more intense film and has some great
was reuniting with Newman years after making one of the best films
either of them ever made, Cool
so they were able to recapture the chemistry and edge that made that
film so great. A young Melanie Griffith, Murray Hamilton (the same
year he was in Spielberg's Jaws),
Tony Franciosa, Coral Browne, Andy Robinson and Linda Haynes help
ratchet up the tension and keep you wondering what craziness will
happen next, especially as Harper is not in familiar territory. Too
bad Newman was so critically and commercially successful that he took
too many risks all the time to continue doing these films, but it
shows how savvy he could be and if he really wanted to, I could
imagine a series that landed up delivering five to seven films, but
it was not to be.
to go back a few decades to the last years of the great RKO Studios,
they were lucky enough to have the great Fritz
Lang working there, the man who pioneered international filmmaking,
helped create German Expressionism, Horror films, Spy Films, Science
Fiction films and Film Noir, It is in Noir that he made what would
be his two final films in the United States at the studio and they
have a slightly similar path to the Harper films, though they arrived
the same year of 1956.
The City Sleeps
is a thriller about a murder that a local news outlet (they have a
newspaper and TV network!) gets sensational about and decides to dub
'The Lipstick Killer' that the police need to find before the next
woman is killed. In the midst of this, a reporter (Dana Andrews) is
trying to get the story, but is also getting romantically involved
with a gal in the office, but his boss (the owner of the empire) dies
as they talk watching TV and his son (Vincent Price, just before
becoming a Horror genre icon) takes over as various reporters try to
get promotions at the others expense. So much for camaraderie.
melodrama between the people in the office rivals the actual murders,
which is where the film starts to become too unintentionally funny
and when you add the media angle, this is more campy than expected.
It also runs a bit too long, but the supporting cast that also
includes Noir icon Ida Lupino, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Howard
Duff, Thomas Mitchell, Sally Forest, James Craig and even John
Barrymore, Jr. makes this one to watch just the same. If not great,
it is at least entertaining.
get back to some kind of grittiness, Lang also made Beyond
A Reasonable Doubt
that year with far less star power and the gimmick that a book writer
(Dana Andrews again) is so serious about showing up a pro-death
penalty D.A. that he frames himself as a mysterious killer of a
nightclub performer, but has a lawyer friend make notes and take
black-and-white instant Polaroids (no negatives to those stills
either) to show he is innocent when circumstantial evidence will show
him guilty. Yes, this is a stupid as Flatliners
(both versions) where people say they can die for more seconds than
the other (Name
for nitwits) but that is the gimmick we get here.
is interesting, but is unintentionally funny and the film only gets
more comical when his girlfriend (Joan Fontaine) is left out of the
secret plot and is mad he is calling off their engagement. The
campiness gets more hilarious when he starts talking to the gals at
the nightclub and so many other funny things (usually
unintentionally) every few minutes that you would almost think this
was a comedy if an upcoming scene did not get the film serious again.
This only runs 80 minutes, but that was more than enough and it is
worth a look, but expect a very strange film that shows why Noir was
wrapping up as a film form and Lang was ready to leave Hollywood.
strange, the underrated Peter Hyams, who did such a great job
in 1990 with Gene Hackman and Anne Archer remade this film with
Michael Douglas in the later afterwards and actually came up with a
less memorable film that was worse, forgettable and not even funny.
four films here are widescreen, something that separates them from
their older counterparts and the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High
Definition image transfers on both Newman films rarely show the age
of the materials used, plus even give us a good idea of how good the
films must have looked in real 35mm,
dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor ts (though Pool
was only available that way outside of the U.S. in places like the
U.K.) and they are shot to be big on a big screen so cheers to Warner
for such fine restoration efforts.
for Lang, he shot both films 1.33 X 1 black style, but they are
presented here in 1080p 2.00 X 1 black & white digital High
Definition image transfers because RKO was jumping into the
widescreen fray without using squeeze lenses, so they would optically
print widescreen by simply cutting out the very top and bottom parts
of the frame in a practice we would now call 'soft matte' so the
information was not lost on either half. Lang was no fan of
widescreen, but RKO did this to other productions (including 10 new
Technicolor films they made) dubbing the process Superscope or RKO
Scope, a forerunner of Super 35. The presentations both look fine
and have some nice detail and depth, but I've seen both at 1.33 x 1 a
good while ago and they both worked a bit better that way. Too bad
Warner Archive did not include the films in both aspect ratios, but
they still work well enough this way.
four films were issued in optical theatrical monophonic sound and the
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes capture that sound
the best it can in all four cases, but they are all unfortunately
sonically limited and so they only perform so well. I gather this is
best they'll likely ever sound, though isolated music scores would
have been interesting to include for comparison.
on all four films on Blu-ray include their respective Original
Theatrical Trailers, while Harper
adds a usually feature length audio commentary track by writer
William Goldman who has much to say (but might have talked more and
said more had someone who loved film joined him) and Pool
adds a vintage Making Of featurette: Harper
Days Are Here Again.
order any of the four Warner Archive Blu-rays, go to this link for
them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:
Nicholas Sheffo, Ricky Chiang (Ballers)