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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Suspense > Literature > Monster > Comedy > Robbery > Drama > Heist > Der Hund Von Baskerville (1929 w/1914 versions aka Hound Of The Baskervilles/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Old Man & The Gun (*Blu-ray w/DVD)/Widows (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray plus Blu-ray/DVD

Der Hund Von Baskerville (1929 w/1914 versions aka Hound Of The Baskervilles/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Old Man & The Gun (*Blu-ray w/DVD)/Widows (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray plus Blu-ray/DVD Sets/*all Fox 2018)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B- & C+/B & C+/B & C+ Sound: B- & C+/B & C+/B+ B C+ Extras: B/B-/C+ Films: B-

Next up are mystery/action films then and now, including one thought lost forever...

We start with a film thought to be lost, Richard Oswald's Der Hund Von Baskerville (1929), one of what apparently is the most filmed book of all time, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes book that is considered as strong as anything Doyle ever wrote. The family of the title is about to encounter some gruesome, unexpected deaths and they apparently are by a deadly dog that has come out of nowhere. Holmes (Carlyle Blackwell) is requested, but too busy, sends Dr. Watson (Georges Seroff) to investigate in his stead. Upon arrival, things immediately become more bizarre with more death to soon follow.

We have reviewed several versions over the years, but this is among the oldest and very welcome that any version has been found. I was surprised how atmospheric this version is and once again shows how strong and rich German Cinema was before the Nazis ruined it, et al. More on how this was saved below, but its great to catch it and fans of Holmes or any mystery films should go out of their way. It runs 66 minutes and that is with two early reels still missing.

Extras include Der Hund von Baskerville (1914) that Richard Oswald was also involved with as writer and director that also runs the same length of time as the 1929 version and uses more color tinting than expected (but I liked it too), an illustrated booklet essay by film historian Russell Merritt, an original commentary by Conan Doyle: The Hound, explores the link the story has across cultures and an original commentary: Restoring Der Hund, presented by film historian Rob Byrne, giving a complete picture of how this film came back for new audiences to enjoy.

David Lowery's The Old Man & The Gun (2018) is based on a true story of a man who loved to rob banks and did it was charm and ease, played here by Robert Redford, who says this will be his final acting role. We get some interesting, even fun, intertextual references to him, especially visually, but it is still a good film without them. A recent robbery gets the attention of a local police detective (Casey Affleck, once again at home in a role that requires understated acting) and our robber has accomplices (Danny Glover, Tom Waits) and a new love interest (Sissy Spacek) gives us more about the robber and his life.

This one deserves a larger audience than it got and somehow got lost in the shuffle of so many other releases, but I know this has a much bigger group of fans and viewers waiting for it and I hope they get to catch up with it soon. Lowery can direct and it is worth going out of your way for.

Extras include Digital Copy, a stills gallery and featurettes Everything Else We Shot, Prison Cats, On Filmmaking, 31 Wake-Ups, Joining The Hunt and a feature-length Audio Commentary By Writer/Director David Lowery.

Finally, a film many are citing as one of the best heist films in years. Steve McQueen, one of the boldest and most challenging filmmakers today, is back with yet another intelligent, mature, honest and daring film about persons you would meet in real life facing awful challenges for which they have limited choices to deal with. Widows (2018) is one of the year's best action and mystery films. the outstanding cast attests to the respect of his directing skills and the writers. I was hoping this would be remembered at awards time, reminding me a bit of the underrated hit film Set It Off, though based on a surprise hit British TV mini-series.

Several men, led by a particularly fired up aggressor (Liam Neeson) are in the midst of one of their biggest heist jobs when things quickly go wrong. They land up dead, but that also means a huge dollar amount was destroyed and that money belonged to someone. Leaving the wives and/or girlfriends behind, instead of just being shocked or horrified by the results and moving on, one of them (Viola Davis) starts to get harassed and is also in need of money, so she decides maybe she should recruit the others and do the next big money heist themselves!

She has a book from her dead lover (Neeson) and starts talking to each of them (Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki) and see what they can pull off.

The original British TV production put Lydia LaPlante (Prime Suspect) on the map and has been a favorite of many for years, even spanning a TV sequel, but this film does not necessarily leave that opening here. It is very hardcore honest about life, relationships and realities, including political ones represented in part by Robert Duvall as an old school politician and Colin Farrell as his son ready to go into a direction that he is warned is unwise.

The film has some issues, but I liked it and am glad it immediately got the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray treatment because we get a great cast, great Chicago locales and a kinetic enough thriller that delivers enough to more than justify it. I will not say much more, except if it is your kind of film, go out of your way for this one.

Extras include Digital Copy, a stills gallery and the Widows Unmasked: A Chicago Story featurette

Plotting The Heist: The Story

Assembling The Crew: Production

The Scene Of The Crime: Locations

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10+; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image on Widows was shot on 35mm Kodak Vision 3 color negative in the Super 35 format and it can suffer some detail issues because of shaky camera work, but the shaking is not fake and the actor benefit the most. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray is not bad, but you loose some subtle things that work when you can see it all more clearly. We also have a set that is the Blu-ray with an anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image that is passable, but too far away from the look the film achieves.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Gun is a decent HD shoot that never looks phony and is well edited throughout. Nice naturalism in spots too, the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is passable, but not as nice as the Blu-ray.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Hund (centered in a 1.78 X 1 frame) can obviously show the age of the materials used, combining an incomplete 35mm nitrate print with portions of an abbreviated consumer 9.5mm (aka 9,5mm) print meant for European markets in a format that was only popular in Europe and the U.k. and France in particular. Meant to compete with 8mm and 16mm film from Kodak, Pathe created the only film format where the sprocket holes are in between the frames, not on the sides, dubbing it Pathe Baby. In the early days, they made movie film with DuPont, but ironically joined Kodak later, who eventually produced film for the format.

This is the first time I've seen 9.5mm used for any restoration, but it works well enough, though expect scratches in all the footage, but some of it still looks pretty good for its age. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image with the same 1.33 X 1 centered image is fine for the format, but you can see more on the Blu-ray and get more of the atmosphere.

The Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) mix on Widows is the sonically most articulate and able of all the soundtracks only in its 4K version, while the Blu-ray offers a formidable DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix that will do. Gun has a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that is pretty decent, but dialogue and period driven, so it is a bit more laid back.

Hund on Blu-ray presents it new music score in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix that is fine, but I did not get much more out of it than a well-done work that fits, though it did not stick with mew. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Gun DVD and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the Hund DVD are passable.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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