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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Boomerang (Blu-ray)
Boomerang (Blu-ray)
Kino // Unrated // November 15, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted November 7, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

An early film directed for Fox by Elia Kazan (and based on a true story!), Boomerang sets itself up with an opening that takes place in Bridgeport, Connecticut where the local priest is shot dead in front of seven onlookers who are able to give only a vague description of the assailant. The town is in an uproar after the killing, and rightly so. As such, the local cops, led by Chief Robinson (Lee J. Cobb), are under a lot of pressure to find the culprits and see that justice is served. Unfortunately, the cops are coming up empty no matter how hard they try, which leads to a political coup of sorts when some of the town's corrupt old guard spot an opportunity to take power back. They do this by using the town's newspaper, which just so happens to be owned by the former mayor, T.M. Wade (Taylor Holmes), as a mouth piece of sorts launching editorial after editorial on how and why those currently sitting in city hall are unfit and how the killer must be caught. His main reporter, Dave Woods (Sam Levene), doesn't necessarily see eye to eye with Wade on all of these issues.

At the same time, when a drifter named John Waldron (Arthur Kennedy), who just so happened to be hanging about when the murder was committed, is nabbed by the cops one town over for a completely unrelated offence. Here he is, the perfect scapegoat, especially since he was found with a revolver on him. The cops interrogate him until he's in such a pathetically weakened state that they're able to coerce a confession out of him, the ballistics tests come back in the cops' favor and some witnesses identify him out of a police line. Things don't look good for John. Enter Henry Harvey (Dana Andrews), the State Prosecutor assigned to the case. He's excited to take this on as it will be a big gain for his political ambitions and, if he gets the win, it'll get him in tight with some well-connected power players. There's only one problem here: Henry is honest. As details of the case emerge he starts to wonder if the man he's hoping to convict isn't a killer at all, but was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Henry starts investigating the situation on his own, going against those he had just recently hoped to win over to his side, to see that the truth comes out.

A scathing critique of backroom politics and their effect on the justice system, Boomerang is a film that holds up really well despite the fact that in many ways it is a product of its time. The theme here is a fairly timeless one, an honest man fighting against the powerful elite, to help someone who really and truly does need the help. This is a great role for an actor like Dana Andrews. It plays to his strengths as an actor, he always did well as the clean cut and upstanding citizen type. Here he plays to those clichés but also gives his character some palpable emotive weight. He shares some great screen time with Jane Wyatt, a lovely actress who plays his supportive wife, and while on the surface these may seem like simple dramatic inserts, upon further reflection they show how personally his character is taking this case. Of course, as he learns more about the truth behind the events, things become dangerous for him and it all leads up to a courtroom battle but not at the cost of tension of excitement.

The supporting players are great too. Taylor Holmes is great as the crooked newspaper man with his eye on the throne. He's clearly a clever and conniving type and Holmes makes this role his own. Lee J. Cobb plays the troubled top cop in town really well, giving his character a bit more depth than you usually get from ‘town sheriff' types while Arthur Kennedy is wonderfully sympathetic as the man that everyone is pointing their finger at. He keeps us guessing at a few key moments where we think we've made up our minds, his performance here is excellent. Ed Begley and Cara Williams also show up in interesting and important supporting efforts here, he as a town commissioner and she as a former flame of the accused.

Elia Kazan's direction is polished and slick. The movie is more concerned with showing us the shady political goings on than shadowy investigative tactics but it works. Unlike a lot of films of its era, Boomerang doesn't shy away from depicting society as less than ideal. There's a seediness to much of what happens in the film, not in an exploitative way but in how it shows just how willing we can be to sweep things under the rug. Lots of food for thought here. Everyone is guilty of something…

The Blu-ray

Video:

Boomerang is presented on a 25GB Blu-ray in a nice looking AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.33.1 fullframe. This is a nice improvement over the previous standard definition presentation of the film that was offered up on DVD through Fox's Film Noir collection series years back. Contrast looks alright here and black levels stay solid, only occasionally veering into dark grey. The whites never bloom or look too hot while detail and texture show a lot more than we've seen previously on home. There is very little print damage here to note, the picture is very clean. There are no signs of edge enhancement or noise reduction though some minor compression artifacts pop up here and there.

Sound:

The only audio option for the disc is a DTS-HD Mono track in English. No alternate language options or subtitles are provided. Dialogue is clean and clear and the levels are properly balanced. There aren't any issues with hiss or distortion and for an older mono dubbed mix, the audio here sounds just fine.

Extras:

The commentary track by James Ursini and Alain Silver that appeared on the old DVD release has been ported over to this Blu-ray. For those who haven't heard it, it is an enjoyable and well informed talk about the history of the picture that covers all the basics: casting, locations, themes, directing style and more. This disc also includes an all new audio commentary by Film Noir Historian Sara Smith. While this covers some of the same ground as the first track, Smith also invests a lot of time exploring the different characters that populate this world and pointing out a lot of interesting bits and pieces that make them more interesting than they might first appear to be. She also talks a lot about Kazan's life and work as well as the main players that populate the cast. Both tracks offer up a lot of information and add quite a bit of value to the disc.

Aside from that we get a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other noir titles available on Blu-ray through Kino Lorber, static menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Boomerang is a gritty, hard hitting thriller done right. The performances are really strong, there's loads of noirish style and the story moves at a really nice pace. Kino has done a fine job releasing this as part of their Studio Classics line. The movie looks and sounds really nice, carries over the extras from the DVD and adds a new commentary track as well. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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