directed by Ron Peck
UK 1978

When Nighthawks was first released 30 years ago our world was undoubtedly a different place. Key gay rights had still yet to be won, and low-budget independent British films were influenced by international arthouse directors such as Pasolini, Fassbinder, Warhol/Morrisey, Wenders and Chantal Akerman. Nighthawks defies categorisation, its compelling cyclical structure interspersing the daily work of schoolteacher with his documentation of changing urban spaces and nights spent cruising bars and clubs in search of Mr Right. Leading a mixed cast of actors and non-professionals, Ken Robertson excels in a brave performance that confounded critics at the time. This stunning restoration by the BFI reveals Nighthawks to be one of the great undervalued films of the 1970s.

Nighthawks II: Strip Jack Naked was made thirteen years after Nighthawks, the film tells of the struggle to get Nighthawks made and released and the directors life as a gay man growing up in Britain. 2 disc Blu-ray and DVD editions include fully restored presentations and a number of rare short films.

***

This is a the life of a gay man (pre-AIDS), a teacher in London, who does not flaunt his homosexuality but is certainly discreet about it even with his closer colleagues/friends... although they are aware. At nights he cruises the local gay clubs in search of someone to fill his empty void (no pun intended), if only for the evening. His relationships are frequent and lacking depth. All the characters are affable and it becomes conclusive, through a series of plot-less tableaux's, that this lifestyle is very commonplace for those born with his shared sexual preference. Shot with an independent grainy feel, which does help bring out the realism, perhaps its biggest failing is that it is only reporting the issue. It proves to be an important one especially at the time the film was made, but it could have been enhanced to include some social solutions - gone further. The films mundane feel sends the storyline into a directionless spiral, but I still found it both captivating and of interest for the entire viewing with an ever-present sense of the impending - like something was going to happen. There are no bold examinations or statements but the subtle message of the impersonal loneliness of the sheltered gay community, at this juncture in history, can have an educational impact on many. Unfortunately, those most in need of seeing the film will probably watch the Stallone shared-title instead.

Theatrical Release: November 1978

Reviews      More Reviews      DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Second Run - Region 2,4 - PAL vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Second Run - Region 2,4 - PAL LEFT vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Second Run DVD - Region 2, 4 - PAL BFI Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:48:52  1:53:25.799
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.3 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,313,466,248 bytes

Feature: 27,822,078,720 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Video Bitrate: 29.5 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  DVD

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Short Film By Ron Peck
• Making Of Documentary
• 8 page liner notes booklet with essay, biography, color photo etc.

DVD Release Date: August 8th, 2005

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Home Video

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,313,466,248 bytes

Feature: 27,822,078,720 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Video Bitrate: 29.5 Mbps

Edition Details:

• DVD of Strip Jack Naked

• It's Ugly Head (13:06 in HD!)
• On Allotments (32:34 in HD!)
• Edward Hopper (50:38 HD!)
• What Can I do With a Male Nude (24:15 SD PAL)
• The Last Biscuit (22:42 SD PAL)

• Pilot - Opening Sequence (13:55 SD)

• It's Ugly Head (12:43 SD)
• 74-page Illustrated booklet

Blu-ray Release Date: March 30th, 2009
Thicker Custom
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 13

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: BFI - Region FREE Blu-ray - June 09': Firstly, the BFI have packaged a Blu-ray of Nighthawks and included a DVD of Nighthawks II: Strip Jack Naked which was made thirteen years later.

I'm fascinated with what 1080P resolution can do to older, and more limited production, films. I can't add to much more to what you can see from the Blu-ray captures of Nighthawks captures below. the BFI Blu-ray has superior color rendering, the grain structure is far more intact and there is a significant amount of additional information in the frame. the image on the Blu-ray is brighter with less intense colors. the feature takes up over 27 Gig on the dual-layered disc with a pretty high video bitrate. This is as good as Nighthawks will ever look on digital. Period.

Audio is a reasonably clear linear PCM track that seems better defined than the Second Sight DVD but it still shows it more meager roots. Unfortunately there are no subtitles again but my Momitsu informs me that this release is indeed region free!

BFI have gone to town with the extras - on the, first disc, Blu-ray are three short film featurettes - all in HD! totaling over 1 1/2 hours. They are It's Ugly Head, On Allotments and Edward Hopper. The second disc (a dual-layered DVD - region 0 - PAL) seems to be of similar quality to the SD-DVD from Second Run but has different supplements. Beyond the 1 hour 31-minute feature with 8 chapter stops we get What Can I do With a Male Nude (24:15 SD PAL) and The Last Biscuit (22:42 SD PAL) - Pilot - opening sequence (13:55) and the afore mentioned It's Ugly Head, - but in SD - running 12:34 with 4% PAL speedup. There is also a 70-page booklet included in the hefty package with many photos and essays by Graham Leggott, Ron Peck and Carla Mitchell.

Great package from BFI - they are really doing these unique titles up right. It's only a few 's more than the single DVD of Nighthawks from Second Run and aside from being a vastly superior hi-def transfer, and region FREE, it includes Strip Jack Naked on DVD as well! BFI - please keep up this incredible work! More, More, More titles!   

****




 

ON THE SECOND RUN DVD: Nighthawks was shot with independent backing and limited production values so the progressive transfer seems to reflect the films technical limitations.

Grain is visible and the realism of Peck and Hallam's narrative shines through as adeptly as one might expect for SD-DVD although the image is a bit thick and colors look heavy. Second Run are 'new kids on the block' and many of us were quite anxious to see their initial efforts in DVD production. There are many positives - dual layered, original audio is clean (although a little scattered - indie feel), a progressive transfer, some very fine extras (Short film, Making of... with interviews etc.) and inclusion of some decent liner notes. Plus, I would say the price is very reasonable. My complaint would only be that removable subtitles are a great feature to consider including in future releases, possibly not cost-prohibitive either. They can do wonders for those not used to the ex. UK accents in this case and it would have also helped with the 'independent' audio stream. The news on Second Run is very good and their upcoming titles are mouth watering. We welcome them and look forward to many of their new releases!      

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus

Second Run - Region 2,4 - PAL LEFT vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT


 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

Second Run - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Second Run - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Second Run - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Second Run - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Second Run - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Second Run - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 

 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Second Run DVD - Region 2, 4 - PAL BFI Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray




Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

Thank You!