Crusty city editor Lee J. Cobb assigns reporter James Stewart to the story of a mother whohas scrubbed floors for eleven years, saving $5000 to offer as a reward for any information thatmight lead to the exoneration of her son, imprisoned in 1932 for shooting a police officer.Initially skeptical, Steward gradually comes to believe that the poor man was, indeed, the victimof a miscarriage of justice. Writing up a storm for the newspaper, he digs deeper and deeper intothe cas…, despite police stonewalling, looking for that crucial piece of evidence.
The commentary refers to the film as a “docu-noir” and that isn’t a bad description. Thoughthe tone is very documentary in its approach, and a pure noir would more likely have focussedon the plight of the innocent man, rather than the crusading reporter, the look of the film (fullof shadows and dark lanes) is very noir indeed. The storyline is a compelling one, and the climax,as the pardon board waits for a last, crucial bit of evidence, is suspenseful, as well showing awhat you had to do in the 1940s to send a picture over the wires without a fax machine or theIntenet.
Stereo and mono options here. The stereo remix is unobjectionable in that there are nosurround voices. In fact, I was operating under the assumption that I was listening to a monotrack for most of the film. The sound is warm enough, but flaws are apparent when usingheadphones (some gurgling, and a flutter in the background). The sound is generally clean,however.
Now and then there is some minor speckling, and some shots are a bit on the grainy side,but for the most part the print is in fine shape. The image is extremely clear and sharp, and theblack-and-white tones are strong. No edge enhancement problems, either.
In their commentary, historians James Ursini and Alain Silver discuss not only the makingof the film, but also the ways in which it deviates from the reality of the case (Stewart’s characteris a composite of two reporters, the Lee J. Cobb figure was actually a woman, and so on). Alsopresent: a Movietone newsreel of the premiere, and the theatrical trailer. The menu is basic.
An absorbing thriller blessed with gorgeously moody cinematography, and another finecommentary make this a strong package.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Movietone Newsreel
- Theatrical Trailer