Immersed in Blu-ray: Hitchcock and Bogart

The WB Archive Collection gets Hitch and Bogie on Blu-ray and they’ve never looked better for home viewing.

In Kent Jones’ indispensable doc, Hitchcock/Truffaut, he reminds us that Truffaut was on a mission to correct misconceptions about Hitch as a lightweight filmmaker and why we should take him seriously. And two of his most neglected “Catholic” films are I Confess (1953) and The Wrong Man (1956). They explore guilt and “interchangeable killing” in very unique ways for the Master of Suspense, shot. ¬†Montgomery Clift plays a priest in Quebec who hears the confession of a murderer and, because of circumstantial evidence, becomes the prime suspect since he remains silent; and Henry Fonda plays a New York musician arrested and charged with a holdup and the ordeal drives his wife insane.

Both films are shot by Robert Burks with greater naturalism and contain elaborate detail, yet allow Hitch to visually express the outer disturbance and inner turmoil that haunt the two protagonists.  The Wrong Man is especially revered for its documentary approach (it influenced Taxi Driver) as an anomaly in the Hitch canon and with a terrific jazz score by Bernard Herrmann. But the director was not satisfied with either film and told Truffaut that they lacked humor and irony. Still, they are fascinating for their maturity and risk taking.

Speaking of maturity and risk taking, The Big Sleep (1946) and Key Largo (1948) find Humphrey Bogart at the top of his game with Lauren Bacall, playing Philip Marlowe for Howard Hawks and a World War vet tangling with gangster Edward G. Robinson for John Huston.

The Big Sleep is notoriously confounding but significant for the wit and chemistry between newlyweds Bogart and Bacall. In fact, a pre-release version in ’45 shown to military troops in the South Pacific was held back for re-shoots to capitalize on that chemistry (including the sexually suggesting racehorse scene). The result is a marked improvement in pacing and tone, with UCLA’s Bob Gitt discovering Hawks’ original cut in the late ’90s and restoring it. Both versions are available on the Blu-ray.

Key Largo‘s fine chemistry is between Bogart and Robinson in this claustrophobic noir about being hold up in a hotel during a hurricane and the combat training that benefits Bogart in outwitting the wily Robinson. Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Gomez, and best supporting Oscar winner Claire Trevor co-star in the expert ensemble.

Speaking of maturity and risk taking, The Big Sleep (1946) and Key Largo (1948) find Humphrey Bogart at the top of his game with Lauren Bacall, playing Philip Marlowe for Howard Hawks and a World War vet tangling with gangster Edward G. Robinson for John Huston.

The Big Sleep is notoriously confounding but significant for the wit and chemistry between newlyweds Bogart and Bacall. In fact, a pre-release version in ’45 shown to military troops in the South Pacific was held back for re-shoots to capitalize on that chemistry (including the sexually suggesting racehorse scene). The result is a marked improvement in pacing and tone, with UCLA’s Bob Gitt discovering Hawks’ original cut in the late ’90s and restoring it. Both versions are available on the Blu-ray.

Key Largo’s fine chemistry is between Bogart and Robinson in this claustrophobic noir about being hold up in a hotel during a hurricane and the combat training that benefits Bogart in outwitting the wily Robinson. Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Gomez, and best supporting Oscar winner Claire Trevor co-star in the expert ensemble.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Cinematography, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, Oscar, Score, Tech, Trailers

Add a Comment