Crashout, released in 1955, follows a group of six convicts (William Bendix, Arthur Kennedy, Luther Adler, Gene Evans, William Talman and Marshall Thompson) after they escape from prison in a big "crashout" with several others who didn't make it out very far. The six lucky ones quickly find an old mine shaft where they hide out for a couple days and plan their next moves before venturing out to dig up a big stash of money buried up in the mountains. As is typical of this type of movie, they first agree to split the money up and go their separate ways, but things turn out differently by the end. The characters are rather stereotypical of those in prison movies of this era, including your requisite "tough guy" who orders everyone else around, a guy who considers himself a "ladies' man" and reminisces about his past girlfriends while speculating on future ones he'll meet now that he's out, and one who's led a mostly innocent life except for one indiscretion in the wrong place at the wrong time that landed him in prison.
Watching Crashout, one has to suspend disbelief a bit and also consider the conventions and restrictions (mainly the Motion Picture Production Code) of the time it was made. I felt it very convenient for the main characters how they were easily able to find the mine shaft to hide in as soon as they escaped from the prison, but despite the large amount of people looking for them they didn't find it so easily. A number of situations come up where the characters show their cold-bloodedness-particularly when they're still hiding in the mine shaft, one of them gets sick so two others go break into a closed service station to call a doctor. They tell him that there's been a car accident, so the doctor (Percy Helton) good-naturedly heads out from his home and arrives at the station only to be grabbed by one convict and taken to the mine shaft while the other steals his car. He treats the sick man but is then tied up and left there. As the men start heading off in the doctor's car, one decides that the doctor could still lead the authorities to them later so he grabs a rock and heads back into the shaft, while the camera remains outside but we hear a "thunk" and a muffled scream. Another memorable scene is where the gang arrives at a restaurant and forces the customers there to hand over their belongings, including their clothes so the convicts won't have to wear their prison uniforms. Since it's been a number of years since they've been around any women, two of them grab a woman there and forcibly kiss her in front of her husband. While this may seem rather tame to today's audiences who might have seen borderline rape played out in more recent movies, this was probably quite shocking at the time.
As the convicts move on to their buried treasure, some double-crossing goes on and one (Marshall Thompson, the youngest of the bunch) makes an attempt during a train ride to break away and go straight.
Filmed in black and white and framed at full 16x9, the transfer here preserves the intended look of the movie with varying film grain, with some shots in sharper focus than others. Overall it certainly proves that high definition can still be a great benefit to older movies like this, although the disc loses a few points for some compression artifacts in dark scenes.
The mono soundtrack is encoded in 1-channel DTS HD Master Audio, ensuring that it stays in the center channel where it belongs. The track is nothing special and certainly was never intended to be, sounding slightly muddy at times with a slight background hum audible in some quieter scenes, but dialogue is still clear.
The Blu-ray disc does not include any subtitles and is about as bare-bones as you can get, with no extras or trailers. The movie is adequately chaptered however.
Crashout overall is an entertaining prison-break film, and while it might be a more "minor" title it's great to see it released on Blu-Ray, as its only previous appearance on video was a late 90s release on VHS.
Jesse Skeen is a life-long obsessive media collector (with an unhealthy preoccupation with obsolete and failed formats) and former theater film projectionist. He enjoys watching movies and strives for presenting them perfectly, but lacks the talent to make his own.