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 > Film Noir > Drama > Murder > Betrayal > Mystery > Literature > Double Indemnity 4K (1944/Paramount/Universal/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Guilty/High Tide (both 1947/Monogram/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD Set)

Double Indemnity 4K (1944/Paramount/Universal/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Guilty/High Tide (both 1947/Monogram/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD Set)

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

Next up are some classic film noir films restored, including one of the most important classics from that cycle and genre...

We start with Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity 4K (1944) which appears on pretty much all Top Ten Noirs of All Time lists with Kiss Me Deadly, Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, Out Of The Past, The Third Man, Touch Of Evil and others, usually from the period of 1941 to 1958. Universal has owned this Paramount classic since 1948 and have given it top treatment on home video all the time since, including our review of the double-DVD set from their fancy DigiPak case series we covered at this link:


That pretty much summarizes the film and the points made by my fellow critics are as valid as ever. Still as influential and as admired as ever, we now have an impressive new Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version that even includes a regular Blu-ray.

One of the best things that has happened in recent decades by default is Fred MacMurray's comedy persona from TV hits like My Three Sons and feature film comedies like his original Disney Flubber film does not get as much airplay or has been issued on video much lately (though I can see the TV show maybe getting a Blu-ray release and more of his feature films getting 4K treatment, and not just the comedies) so you can appreciate and enjoy his dramatic talents ironically more as a result. He, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson are obviously in excellent form here and the film is as effective and creepy as ever. Nice to see another classic get the full deluxe 4K treatment, with hopefully many more such classic to come.

Extras are many, as expected, and include a paper pullout with an essay by Angelica Fade Bastien entitled The Black Heart Of Double Indemnity, joining some nice still and thorough tech info on the film and how it was restored and transferred for this release, while the discs add a solid feature length audio commentary featuring film critic Richard Schickel, a new interview with film scholar Noah Isenberg, editor of Billy Wilder on Assignment, a new conversation between film historians Eddie Muller and Imogen Sara Smith, Billy, How Did You Do It?, a 1992 film by Volker Schlondorff and Gisela Grischow featuring interviews with director Billy Wilder, Shadows of Suspense, a 2006 documentary on the making of Double Indemnity, audio excerpts from 1971 and 1972 interviews with cinematographer John F. Seitz, two well done radio drama adaptations from 1945 and 1950 and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

That leaves two B-movie Noirs with Don Castle as the main star: The Guilty and High Tide, both 1947, both directed by John Reinhardt. This does not mean the films are very similar, as the latter had more of a budget (relatively speaking) than the first film, but make the most of their budgets. I wish more low budget films these days would find a way to do the same.

The Guilty has two friends and WWII war veterans (Castle and Wally Cassell) share a cheap apartment when one of them meets Estelle (Bonita Granville) and he falls for her, turning on his friend to be with her more, but she is actually controlling and manipulating both. One of them is still recovering (if he totally can is another story) from war issues and an injury. Can she stay in control to get whatever she wants or will a few unexpected things change it all?

High Tide is the slightly better of the two films, with Castle reuniting with his now-married old flame Julie (Julie Bishop) in flashback as Tim (Castle) and Hugh (Lee Tracy, not her husband, who is played by Douglas Walton) are both injured where they went off the cliff not long ago and are lucky to be alive... for now. Oh, and a life insurance policy (sounds familiar?) is also involved.

We get a few good moments there too, but they are still B-movies and they have limits, so they have to rely on the script and actors, who do their best. Regis Toomey even shows up in both films, so they are both worth a look, especially if you are interested in seeing what real Film Noir is all about outside of the big films it is best known for. Low budget Monogram Studios made these, and Pathe picked them up for overseas distribution. Glad they both got saved!

Extras include a booklet with clever pulp novel style covers (also on the reverse side of the Blu-ray cover), but you have to flip the booklet upside down to read about the respective films, both offering essays and stills, while the discs add two feature length audio commentary tracks (Jaqke Hinkson on Guilty, Alan K. Rode on Tide,) separate intros to both films by Noir Scholar Eddie Muller and four featurettes: Jack Wrather; A Legacy of Film & Friendship, Nightmare: The Life & Films of Cornell Woolrich, John Reinhardt: Direction Without Borders and Lee Tracy: The Fastest Mouth In The West.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HECV/H.265, 1.33 X 1, black and white, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Indemnity makes it one fo the first Noirs of any kind to get 4K treatment (Kubrick's The Killing and Killer's Kiss, plus Welles' Touch Of Evil are due from another company in 4K soon, though) and still only one of the few black and white films at all to get the treatment. Well, other such releases have some high quality here to live up to as this is one of Criterion's great transfers where the larger you can see it, the better it actually gets, meaning it even has some impressive quality above my final rating.

In 4K, you can now really appreciate what Director of Photography John F. Seltz achieved visually here and with its singular look, helped to make it the classic it is today. Now you can really see what only the best 35mm and 16mm pristine film prints could deliver. The 4K scan of a fine grain 35mm nitrate copy from the U.K. and 1986 35mm duplicate negative were used to create the best the film has looked in decades.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer in the regular Blu-ray is fine for what it is, but is a little soft than I would have liked, so all the more reason the 4K is recommended over this version. It give you a whole new respect for this film and film in general.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfers on Blu-ray for Guilty and High Tide took more work as these are orphan films, but Flicker Alley, The Film Noir Foundation and its supporters have done it again to save two more interesting, important films that would otherwise very much have been lost. Video Black and Gray Scale are pretty good throughout considering. The 1.33 x 1 DVD versions are passable and here for convenience, which is fine, but the Blu-ray versions are the ones to see.

All three film were optical mono theatrical releases and optical sound copies are all that survived of them, so the PCM 2.0 Mono that we get are remastered from those older sources and we're lucky they survived as nitrate film prints can be more volatile than magnetic tape, which does not suddenly burst into flames. Indemnity has the sonic edge having more of a budget and having been preserved better over the decades. The other films still don't sound too bad, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the DVD versions of Guilty and Tide are a little weaker than expected.

- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com