Career criminal Ray Milland shows up at the ranch of Korean vet Anthony Quinn, looking for his old flame, Debra Paget. She is now married to Quinn, but she hasn’t adapted well to country life, still carries a torch for Milland, and is in the very process of leaving Quinn. She and Milland rekindle their romance, and are planning to leave town with the million dollars Milland has just scored. When Milland runs over a state trooper, he forces Quinn to guide them through the wilderness to the Mexican border. A struggle for both survival and Paget’s love ensues.A welcome reminder of when thrillers didn’t have to be two-and-a-half hours long, this is a tight, swiftly paced peace of work. Despite the great physical difference between them, Milland comes across as a worthy adversary for Quinn, there’s a great cynical anger to the characters, and the violence is pretty brutal for its era. The location settings tend to make the studio exteriors all the more obvious, but this is a minor quibble This is a fine western noir, worthy of rediscovery.
I should probably cut and past my comments from other Studio Classics reviews, because what was true of them is also true of this release. Stereo and mono options are offer, and as usual, the stereo is rather indiscriminate, pushing any and all audio elements to the rear speakers, whether they belong there or not. The result isn’t too horribly distracting, however, and the score has a nice, rich sound to it.
For the most part, this is an excellent transfer. The colours are very bright and strong, the blacks are deep, the image sharp, and there is no edge enhancement. There is a bit of a jar in the colours each time there is a transition, though, and here and there, usually, it seems at the beginning or end of reels, there is some damage. About 17 minutes in, the guitar strings are pretty bad. Otherwise, though, this looks great.
If this is a noir, the commentary must be by James Ursini and Alaini Silver. And it is, which is a VERY good thing. These two consistently provide among the most interesting and in-depth commentaries in the business, so it’s great to hear them in action once again. The other extras are limited: a still gallery, the trailer plus those for two other Studio Classics releases.
A terrific little model of efficiency, and a fine entry to the Studio Classics series.