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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Pressure Point (Blu-ray)
Pressure Point (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // Unrated // February 16, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted February 15, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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The Movie:

Aside from being a terrific director, especially when it came to wrangling big ensemble casts full of star power, Stanley Kramer was at the forefront of social issues as they reflected themselves through then contemporary American cinema. He was always a decade or so ahead of many filmmakers when it came to honestly dealing with delicate sociopolitical issues like race, social justice, genocide, religion… Two of his films, Inherit The Wind and Judgment at Nuremberg, are not only two of the best courtroom dramas ever made, they were also bold enough to tackle issues that we deal with to this day. The evolution vs. creationism debate is sadly still going on, and we're always dealing with the possible rise of fascism in one form or another.

Kramer didn't direct all of Pressure Point, he produced it and directed the brief framing device that bookends the film, but his unique approach of honestly and openly dealing with delicate problems in American culture is evident throughout. Five years before he tackled racism in his own film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Kramer produced this stark and effective drama about a prison psychiatrist (Sidney Poitier) analyzing a profoundly disturbed Neo-Nazi (Bobby Darin, also, is there any other kind?). Throughout the sessions, the psychiatrist begins to realize that the Neo-Nazi's hatred for anyone who doesn't look or think exactly like him might come from his traumatic childhood.

The premise makes it sound like a dull filmed play, but co-writer/director Hubert Cornfield finds very creative ways of blending the past and the present using simple in-camera effects and lighting tricks. He usually places actors playing figures from the Neo-Nazi's past within the same set and seamlessly switches between the past and the present within the same scene. This not only makes the experience more cinematic, it also gives the film an eerie look, perfect for the audience to get into the mind of the disturbed Neo-Nazi. Poitier is his usual stoic self, no criticism about that, the man is the master of self-controlled characters. Darin's film career involved a lot of lighter parts, but he really delivers here with a surprisingly touching dramatic performance.

A more recent Hollywood awards bait drama with this premise would have had the Neo-Nazi change his evil ways after realizing that the African-American psychiatrist is his equal. But Kramer was never afraid to deal with these issues in a realistic way, and he understood that deep-seated prejudices are very hard to change. That's why the ending to Pressure Point might not satisfy those looking for an amicable closure, but it rings true, and is unfortunately the way the situation would have probably gone down in real life.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Wow, I did not expect such a clear and crisp presentation of an older black and white film from Olive. They must have gotten their hands on an especially good looking master. The 1:66:1, 1080p presentation is lacking in obvious dirt and scratches found in catalogue releases like this. The black and white cinematography is transferred with a good amount of grain and contrast.

Audio:

Even though I prefer 1.0 tracks when it comes to mono presentations, Olive's DTS-HD 2.0 mono transfer is very good, with clear dialogue and a nice sound mix. The film is very dialogue heavy so that's pretty much what matters when transferring such a film to home video. I was always critical of Olive for not including any subtitles, so I was pleasantly surprised to see an option for closed captions here.

Extras:

We just get a Trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Pressure Point is a deftly handled drama that forces the audience to ask uncomfortable questions about the source of racism and prejudice. The themes that it deals with, coming from 1962 or 2016, will unfortunately always be relevant.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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