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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Hangover Square (Blu-ray)
Hangover Square (Blu-ray)
Kino // Unrated // November 21, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted November 8, 2017 | 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

Directed by John Brahm in 1944, Hangover Square, based on the novel of the same name by Patrick Hamilton, takes place in London of 1903. When the film opens, an antiquities dealer in Fulham is stabbed and his shop set on fire. Stumbling away from the scene is George Harvey Bone (Laird Cregar), a renowned composer and pianist, but those who encounter him just assume him to be drunk, based on his confused behavior. Regardless of the fact that he has a bloody wound on the left side of his head, Bone makes it back to his home in the titular Hangover Square, a small neighborhood in Chelsea. When he enters, he finds his pretty blonde girlfriend Barbara (Faye Marlowe) inside, along with her father, a distinguished conductor named Sir Henry Chapman (Alan Napier). Barbara is understandably confused by George's unusual state.

When George learns the news of the murder/fire, he wonders if he had something to do with it. He makes an appointment to see Dr. Allan Middleton (George Sanders) of Scotland Yard who, after doing some quick forensics, tells George that if he did it, well, they wouldn't be able to prove it. Later that night George heads to a pub where he meets a sexy nightclub singer named Netta Longdon (Linda Darnell). They hit it off and soon enough, she's got him wrapped around her finger. He writes a song just for her and hopes to perform it with her, but once he finds out that she's not so secretly become engaged, well, his instability rears its ugly head once again…

Essentially a film noir set in Edwardian-era London, Hangover Square is a pretty suspenseful picture. At times quite eerie and very stylish, it's tense and well-paced with director Brahm doing an impressive job of keeping things moving without sacrificing character development. The film also benefits from some excellent cinematography, making the locations often times quite creepy: the dug-out ditches that are lining the streets, the cobblestone streets lit by gaslights, and of course, the giant pyre built out of mock bodies to celebrate Guy Fawke Night. This is a world of shadows, it seems to exist in perpetual night.

We get to know Bone enough to become concerned with his plight. He's likeable enough, to start at least, even if we know he's quite troubled and very likely the man who killed the shopkeeper in the opening scene. Much of the credit for this goes to Laird Cregar, a talented actor able convey as much with the right facial expressions as with any dialogue that could have been written for him. The best example of this in when the relationship between Bone and Nette that he's built up in his head starts to crumble and his sanity begins to crack. The cameras close in on him, the focus gets dizzy and he takes on a remarkably tortured, fractured appearance.

Linda Darnell is every part his equal. We know from the moment that he, and by default we, sets eyes on her that he's in trouble. She's gorgeous, and seems quite kind to his face, but we know more than poor George does. She doesn't find him all that interesting, even if she fakes it well. He's being used. Darnell note only looks the part, but she infuses her character with just the right amount of self-serving narcissism to really create a memorable part. Supporting work from Faye Marlowe as Bone's all too good girlfriend and Alan Napier as her well-meaning high society father is also quite good.

Video:

Hangover Square debuts on Blu-ray on a 25GB disc in a nice looking AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.33.1 fullframe taken from a ‘new 4k restoration.' Contrast looks very solid here and black levels stay strong. The whites never bloom or look too hot while detail and texture show a lot more than we've seen previously on home video. The 1.33.1 framing looks very good. There is very little print damage here to note, the picture is very clean. There are no signs of edge enhancement, noise reduction or compression artifacts to complain about and the upgrade in picture quality this release offers compare to the old DVD release from Fox is considerable..

Audio

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, particularly when music is used in the film. There are no alternate language options here, although subtitles are provided in English.

Extras:

Extras start off with a commentary featuring film historian/screenwriter Steve Haberman and actress Faye Marlowe. Haberman has more to say here, talking up Herrmann's score, the film's directing style, the cinematography and location work, issues that existed between the film's leading man and producer and quite a bit more. Marlowe talks about how she got her start as an actress, her interactions with the different cast and crew members, memories from the shoot and other related subjects A second commentary by Richard Schickel is also found on the disc. This one is more analytical than the first, diving deep into the themes that the picture explores, the production values on display, the mood and atmosphere inherent in the film, its influence, the novel that it was based on and how closely it adapts the source material and more. Both tracks add quite a bit of value to the disc, offering up a lot of insight into the picture as well as plenty of historical information too.

Kino has also supplied a twenty-minute long featurette entitled The Tragic Mask: The Laird Cregar Story. This is an interesting look back at what happened to Laird Cregar, who tragically died of a heart attack at only thirty years old, Hangover Square being the last of sixteen pictures he made before passing. Additionally we get a Hangover Square Vintage Radio Show Performed by Vincent Price that clocks in at just under half an hour in length. This is obviously a more compact version of the story but Price's delivery is excellent and reason alone to want to give his a listen.

Outside of that, look for bonus trailers for The Lodger, The Undying Monster and I Wake Up Screaming (though no trailer for the feature itself), menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Hangover Square is a great movie. It's eerie, weird, occasionally creepy but so too is it quite suspenseful, stylish and very well acted. Kino has done an excellent job bringing this one to Blu-ray. The transfer is very strong, the audio rock solid and the disc is loaded with some impressive extra features, 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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