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Category:    Home > Reviews > Noir > Mystery > Revenge > WWII > Character Study > Sex > Money > Anthology > French New Wave > Literature > Act Of Violence (1948/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/American Gigolo 4K (1980/Paramount/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/Six In Paris (1965/Icarus Blu-ray)/Tchao Pantin (1983 aka So Long, Stooge/Rad

Act Of Violence (1948/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/American Gigolo 4K (1980/Paramount/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/Six In Paris (1965/Icarus Blu-ray)/Tchao Pantin (1983 aka So Long, Stooge/Radiance Blu-ray/*both MVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Act Of Violence Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

These dramas involve enough crime and darkness to be in Noir territory, even if most of them are not fully Noir....

Fred Zinnemann's Act Of Violence (1948) is a Post-WWII revenge Noir film with Robert Ryan as the damaged soldier out to expose and even the score against the fellow soldier (Van Heflin) who is now respected and successful with a happy family in the suburbs and money to boot, but actually is a coward who only survived by selling out the lives of other soldiers. He's going to get him back no matter the cost.

Well directed and paced, this has some genuine suspense and the darkness is never backed away from, a story more true to real life than is often discussed today, an interesting combination of actors in the role that work. This is an early Zinnemann film and shows how solid a journeyman director he was even then, but the film is a little more forgotten than it should be. Glad to see it being save, restored and reissued. Janet Leigh, Mary Astor and Phyllis Thaxter are excellent in their supporting roles.

Extras include an excellent feature length audio commentary track by Drew Casper, Original Theatrical Trailer, featurette Act Of Violence: Dealing with The Devil and two classic animated theatrical cartoon shorts: Goggle Fishing Bear and The Shell-Shocked Egg.

Paul Schrader established himself as one of the big writers of the gritty side of life and U.S. life by writing and/or directing the likes of Taxi Driver, Hardcore, Blue Collar, Rolling Thunder and Obsession, but the latter De Palma film also pointed to both his character study strengths and Old Boyfriends was another set in that direction. So when he wrote and directed American Gigolo 4K (1980,) he was in a new place of growth and the result was a breakthrough hit. Richard Gere is male hooker Julian, fulfilling the fantasies of rich women all over the place, something the film does a great job of showing.

The upscale world is well portrayed, backed by Disco/New Wave music that has not aged as bad as if it were all-Disco, ahead of what would become the look and fell of the 1980s, for better and definitely for worse. Things are going well for Julian, then one of his female clients turns up dead and he is the number one suspect.

Of course, he did not do it, so this becomes a mystery/chase film until its conclusion. Gere was already becoming a star and had already handled lead roles, but this put him over the top and kept him on the A-list for decades, even with some down time. The supporting cast here is also convincing and solid, including legendary supermodel Lauren Hutton who can act, Nina Van Pallandt, Hector Elizondo, K Callan, Frances Bergen, Bill Duke, Carole Cooke, Macdonald Carey and TV producer William Dozier (Batman 1966) in a rare acting turn. Schrader's Old Hollywood tendencies add authenticity to the film.

The other side of all this is a few controversies, including Julian's enjoyment of clothing, dressing and fun not being 'masculine' enough for some, then you have the debate of this film versus William Friedkin's controversial leather bar murder thriller Crusing (also from Arrow, elsewhere on this site) with Al Pacino. The late, great film scholar Robin Wood debates that though Crusing got the big protests and anger thrown at it by the gay community, et al, Wood says Gigolo is actually the more homophobic, racist and casually disturbing film. I think is is correct about this film, but it has some of the same issues as other Schrader films. However, Crusing also has a bunch of issues, so maybe those crowds should have protested both, which have some great moments mixed with bad or dumb ones.

I could only go into that as a separate essay and only after addressing what Wood says in his brilliant film book Hollywood From Vietnam To Reagan ...And Beyond (also reviewed elsewhere on this site) which I strongly recommend. I would recommend doing a double feature of both films, then see what your reaction is. Now that they have been reissued in these great upgrades, that will be all the easier.

Extras include a rand new feature-length audio commentary with film critic Adrian Martin

  • Brand new interview with writer/director Paul Schrader

  • Six Ways to Sunday, a brand new interview with actor Hector Elizondo on detecting his character

  • The Business of PLEASURE, a brand new interview with actor Bill Duke on Leon's profession

  • Montages and Monologues, a brand new interview with editor Richard Halsey on putting American Gigolo together

  • The Non-Conformist, a brand new interview with camera operator King Baggot on American Gigolo

  • Man Machine, a brand new interview with music supervisor & KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox on the music of Giorgio Moroder

  • American Icon, a brand new interview with Professor Jennifer Clark on American Gigolo and the fashion landscape of the 1980s

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

  • Image gallery

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket

  • Double-sided foldout poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket

  • Six postcard-sized reproduction artcards

  • and an Illustrated Collector's Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Sinyard, an archival article by Bill Nichols, and original pressbook materials.

There was a recent TV series remake of the film that offered mixed results we hope to catch up with soon, but this original's iconic status is as strong as ever and seeing it in 4K is worth your time and trouble.

Besides all the great feature film classics the French New Wave produced, it produced more than its share of short films and even anthologies, like Six In Paris (1965) featuring six of the top directors of the time and of the movement:

Saint Germain-des-Pres by Jean Douchet
Gare du Nord by Jean Rouch, with filmmaker Barbet Schroder in an acting role.
Rue Saint Denis by Jean-Daniel Pollet
Place de l'Etoile by Eric Rohmer, who also narrates.
Montparnasse et Levallois by Jean-Luc Godard

and La Muette by Claude Chabrol, who plays the dad in the segment.

The first three segments are good, if not great, the Rohmer segment is the best here with its energy and wit in the New Wave spirit, then you have the last two parts by Godard and Chabrol. I don't know what they were thinking, but they are silly, bitter, lame and disappointing. That makes this a mixed anthology, but all serious film fans should give it a look for themselves.

Extras (per the press release) include three behind-the-scenes interviews from 1965 made for Swiss Television in black & white, featuring Barbet Schroeder and his then assistant Patrick Bauchau on producing films and the importance of Parisian cinematheques, Eric Rohmer on the importance of walking in his films, and Jean Rouch on how an old master like himself came to be involved with making the film. This all run 18 minutes.

Claude Berri's Tchao Pantin (1983) is a big deal of a film from the time in French cinema, a tale of a man (Coluche as Lambert) who used to be involved in darker activities, now just quietly running a gas station when he befriends a young man (Richard Anconina as Bensoussan) who deals in drugs, et al. They become friends and things move along well enough until Bensoussan starts to have some trouble.

When it gets very, very bad, Lambert is too involved and decides to intervene, dealing with the darker forces that were too much for Bensoussan. A revenge tale with added character study of the men and France itself, it becomes an early document of the horrors ahead in the Reagan/Thatcher era after all those decades of successful French resistance and courage, speaking to the heart and soul of the country. The book was a big sensation and the film also hit the nail on the head. We have had a sometimes lame cycle out of Hollywood lately of older men in revenge action films, but they are usually formulaic and shallow versus Tchao Pantin. See this one and experience the difference.

Extras include Once Upon a Time... Tchao Pantin - A documentary on the film featuring interviews with writer-director Claude Berri, novelist Alain Page, stars Richard Anconina, Mahmoud Zemmouri, Agnes Soral, cinematographer Bruno Nyutten and others (2003, 55 mins)

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Filippo Di Battista

  • and a Limited Edition booklet featuring new writing by Manuela Lazic.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on American Gigolo 4K looks the best it ever has on home video and can show its age, but is the closest to a non-faded film print (35mm or 16mm) you can get of the film. The stylized approach by Director of Photography John Bailey, A.S.C., is iconic and vivid, joining his other great work in Cat People, Ordinary People, The Big Chill and The Pope Of Greenwich Village as both definitive and defining of the era. It is also some of the best work the time before regressive 1980s Hollywood ruined the look of films to appeal to mall customers and VHS machines.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray is passable and fine for what it is, but no match for the 4K, which comparing the two will show you the smart, subtle points of the visuals you have been missing for decades. The soundtrack is the same on both and despite the great Giorgio Moroder soundtrack and hit records, this was never sonically the best film all around, but you get lossless choices of PCM 2.0 Mono, PCM 2.0 Stereo and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix shows this, with the Stereo being the most naturalistic option, Mono too low and limited for its own good and 5.1 that is really pushing it and trying to make up for its sonic limits.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Act Of Violence can show the age of the materials used, but the film has been restored very well and the results are some nice detail, depth and clarity, while the original theatrical monophonic sound has been restored as as presented in its DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix, is easily the best the film will ever sound.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Six In Paris has consistent color between the six story segments and rarely shows the age of the materials used, not looking as old as one might think. Featuring 2K scans, its nice the original 16mm camera materials survived as well as they did and we get PCM 2.0 Mono from the original theatrical mono misses and that makes this also sound as good as it ever will. The combination is solid. The legendary Nestor Alemendros lensed Saint Germain-des-Pres and Place de l'Etoile, Alain Levent shot Rue Saint Denis and Albert Maysles shot Montparnasse et Levallois.

That leaves the 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Tchao Pantin also rarely showing the age of the materials used, colorful yet dark without overdoing it. The lossless PCM 2.0 Mono sound is as good as this film will ever sound and they have done a fine restoration here too.

To order the Act Of Violence Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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