Image Entertainment has started an imprint, Dark City, which will be
solely devoted to releasing classic film noir movies on DVD. Their
first release was Kansas City Confidential back in the summer of
2002. After that I didn't hear anything about the imprint and assumed
that it withered on the vine until I received Too Late for Tears and
noticed that this was another Dark City release. It may have taken
two years, but I was happy to see that they were still putting out noir.
At least I was happy until I popped the disc into my player and saw
how horrible the print was. This is absolutely unwatchable.
Skip down to the video section to read more.
This film stars two film noir greats, Dan Duryea and Lizabeth Scott.
Both of them made a name for themselves playing tough guys and femme fatales
(respectively,) and this movie, made when both of them were at their peaks,
looks to be a great thriller.
Driving home on a lonely road one night, Alan (Arthur Kennedy) and Jane
Palmer (Lizabeth Scott) have a bag thrown into their car by another vehicle
that drives by. They open it up and find that the satchel is stuffed
with money. They get a little scared, but it soon turns to terror
when another car starts chasing them. It seems that they have accidentally
intercepted a payoff and the intended receiver wants his money back.
After a chase through the streets they loose him, and Alan wants to
turn the money into the police. Jane doesn't, she thinks they should
keep it, and convinces her husband to at least take it to their apartment
to look it over. It turns out that they've received about $100,000
in cash. Alan still wants to turn it in, but there is no way Jane
is going to give it up, even when the crook, Danny Fuller (Dan Duryea)
turns up at their door. As a matter of fact, Jane would rather kill
her husband and go off with Danny than turn all of that money in.
This was a pretty good movie, but the wretched picture just sapped all
the life out of it. The picture quality was so bad that the DVD is
virtually unwatchable. I spent most of my time trying to distinguish
which amorphous blob was which character during the night scenes.
The fully lit scenes were a little better, but they mostly illuminated
the print defects that the night scenes obscured. It is really impossible
to judge the movie based on this print. You couldn't see what the
director did with the lighting or even how well the actors preformed.
An actual screen capture from the movie: Dan
Duryea and Lizabeth Scott, or possibly two other people, talking in a car.
Or on a boat. Or maybe someplace else, it's hard to tell.
The back cover of this DVD lists the running time
as being 98 minutes, which is close enough to the IMDB's listed time of
99 minutes. Unfortunately, the actual running time of the movie on
the DVD is only 96½-minutes. The missing couple of minutes
seem to be due to the large number of missing frames throughout the running
of the movie.
The two channel mono soundtrack was not very good. There is a
good amount of background hiss, and frequent pops and cracks. Worse
than that, there are many dropped syllables and words throughout the movie
due to splices and missing frames. The dialog was distorted in parts
too. The audio on this disc is very unimpressive.
I really wanted for this movie to have a nice transfer. I was
hoping to report that it looked fine and recommend that everyone run out
and buy a copy, but I can't. The full frame picture is very dark,
with all of the details disappearing into the background. Several
important scenes are too dark to see what is going on. At one point,
a gun falls out of Jane's handbag. You could hear it drop, but couldn't
see what it was, which killed any suspense the scene might have had.
There are a lot of missing frames too, with a good number of specks
and dirt on the print. There are places where the damage is so bad
that it's hard to see the image. The picture is also very blurry.
I could go on and on, but as you can see from the screen capture, this
DVD is unwatchable.
Image has included a couple of nice bonus features with this DVD.
In addition to the cast and crew text biographies, Eddie Muller, author
of several books on film noir gives a quick overview of Liz Scott's career
in Lizabeth Scott: Femme Fatale. He does the same thing
for the male lead of the movie in Dan Duryea: Lady Killer.
These video profiles are five and eight minutes long respectively.
The video on these interviews is pretty dark and not too sharp. There
are a lot of digital defects, but these are still watchable.
There is also a nice selection of production stills and lobby cards.
This is a good noir thriller, but the absolutely horrible print make
this movie unwatchable. This DVD looks like something Madacy or some
other public domain outfit would release. Even at a $9 retail price,
that would be too much for this DVD. At a MSRP of $24.99, this is
a swindle. Skip It.