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    Double Indemnity

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on October 5th, 2006

    Synopsis

    Fred MacMurray (whose line in match-lighting is so cool, I’d take up smoking just to be able to do that) is an insurance salesman. Edwards G. Robinson is a claims investigator with an infallible nose for fraud. MacMurray stops by the home of Barbara Stanwyck (as fatale as any a femme ever was) to make a sale. Instead, he’s sold on the idea of killing her husband for a massive insurance payoff. He concocts a scheme for what should be the perfect murder. But nothing in this life is perfect.

    One of the film’s many remarkable achievements is that we sweat along with our two murderer. Are we really cheering them alone? Hard to say. What isn’t hard to say is that the suspense is matchless, and the dialogue is to kill for. If every single film noir but one were to disappear, this would be the one to preserve. A masterpiece at every level.

    Audio

    The audio is mono, of course, and is pretty good. The dialogue, certainly, is perfectly clear and completely free of distortion. There is some background static, however. It isn’t severe, but in some scenes it is certainly loud enough to be noticeable. The sound, meanwhile, on the bonus feature is a perfectly unobjectionable mono.

    Video

    The picture has been remastered, and it sure does look nice. Sure, there are a few instances of flicker, but it’s pretty minor. Damage, however, is non-existent. Grain and edge enhancement ditto. The image is as sharp as one could wish. It is unlikely that the movie looked any better the day of its premiere.

    Special Features

    The quantity of extras may not be huge, but the quality is pretty damn high. There are two commentary tracks, one by Richard Schickel, and the other by historian Nick Redman and screenwriter Lem Dobbs. Both tracks are excellent, insightful, and manage to avoid excessive redundancy. The introduction by Robert Osborne sets the stage nicely, and the “Shadows of Suspense” documentary is fine introduction to the film and the noir phenomenon (with a nice socio-historical contextualization). The theatrical trailer is here, too. Disc 2 is the 1974 TV remake with Richard Crenna, Lee J. Cobb and Samantha Eggar. The dialogue is virtually word-for-word the same as the original, and it’s fascinating to watch this curio fall on its face trying to live up to the glorious model.

    Closing Thoughts

    Movies simply don’t get much better than this. See it or else.

    Special Features List

    • Audio Commentaries
    • Introduction by Robert Osborne
    • “Shadows of Suspense” Documentary
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • Made-for-TV Remake
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    To Kill A Mockingbird

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 20th, 2005

    Synopsis

    In the rural south of the 1930s, a black man is charged with the rape and beating of a white woman. Defending him is Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), and the events surrounding the case are seen through the eyes of Finch’s two children. The film is thus just as much about children’s fears (embodied by Boo Rradley [Robert Duvall], the boogeyman next door) and perceptions of the world as it is about race and unequal justice.

    In Finch, Peck incarnates what may well be the supreme portrai…
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    Sting, The

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 19th, 2005

    Synopsis

    Robert Redford is a small-time con man who swindles a runner working for big-time gangster Robert Shaw. When Redford’s partner is killed in retribution, Redford swears revenge, and hooks up with Paul Newman, a veteran at the con game who has fallen on hard times. They put together a veritable army of operators, determined to bring Shaw to his knees in the ultimate con.

    A delight when it was first released in 1973, the film is no less a delight now. To call it a masterpiece may be a…
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