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(aka 'La Proie' or 'The Chair For Martin Rome')

Directed by Robert Siodmak
USA 1948

Cry of the City is a dark crime melodrama, filmed on location in New York City in voluptuous black and white by a director whose name is synonymous with the era of classic film noir. It was planned as a follow-up to Kiss of Death, a big hit for Twentieth Century Fox the previous year.

Martin Rome (Richard Conte) drives the law crazy - he is a beautiful loser, defying death, the great charismatic anti-hero of Siodmak's masterpiece of law and disorder. Adapted from a novel by Henry Edward Helseth, Cry of the City tells the tale of a charismatic New York criminal and his nemesis, the dogged cop and one-time friend who chases him down with a neurotic possessiveness as though in pursuit of his own evil twin.

Richard Conte's dazzling performance as Rome conveys a seductive ruthlessness opposite the brawny Victor Mature - a Fox favourite following his powerful performance in Kiss of Death - as Lieutenant Candella, the 'good guy' in the film's running battle between good and evil. They are supported by a brilliant cast including Debra Paget, Shelley Winters, and the mesmerizing, scene-stealing Hope Emerson in her most original and remarkable role as a thieving murderess.

***

The opening scene of Robert Siodmak´s grim film noir depicts police Lieutenants Candella (Victor Mature) and Collins (Fred Clark) observing wounded cop killer Martin Rome (Richard Conte) receive last rites. Though Rome recovers, he still must elude Candella and Collins in his desperate attempt to escape his fate. Rome has two visitors in the hospital: his girl friend Teena (Debra Paget), who goes into hiding, and Niles (Barry Kroeger), a crooked lawyer. Niles tries to bribe Rome to take a jewel theft and homicide rap for a client of his since Rome is facing the electric chair anyway. When Rome refuses, Niles threatens to frame Teena as the client´s female accomplice. Worried that Candella might find Teena, Rome breaks out of jail and goes to Niles´s office to accept the offer, but he actually plans to leave the country with Teena. When Niles reneges, Rome kills him, but not before learning the accomplice´s identity and discovering the stolen jewels in the lawyer´s safe. Rome finds the accomplice, Rose Given (Hope Emerson), and offers to trade the jewelry for the means to leave the country. She agrees, and they arrange a meeting in the subway, but Rome informs Candella of the plan. When the police arrive, Candella is shot, Rose is arrested, and Rome escapes to meet up with Teena in a church. As he is trying to convince Teena to run away with him, a wounded Candella shows up and tells Teena how Rome uses people and that everyone who helped in his escape will be paying a price. Teena rejects Rome, and he runs again, only to be shot down by Candella. The moral order is ultimately restored, but no one has been left unscarred...

**** 

Riveting example of Siodmak's skill not only in transforming indifferent material, but in giving the feel of studio noir to location shooting. The familiar '30s theme (cop and criminal sharing the same deprived background in New York's Little Italy) acquires an almost metaphysical ring in being displaced by what turns into a literal cry of the city as the wounded gangster (Conte, terrific) goes on the run for the last few hours of his life, leaving behind him a dark trail of murder, pain and betrayal.

Excerpt from the TimeOut Film review located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 28th, 1948

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DVD Comparison:

UFA (Germany) - Region 2 - PAL vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL vs. Carlotta Films - Region 2 - PAL vs. Suevia Films - Region 0 - PAL vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - NTSC

 

1) UFA - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Carlotta Films - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) Suevia Films - Region 0 - PAL FOURTH

5) 20th Century Fox- Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

   

 

Distribution UFA (Germany) - Region 2 - PAL BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL Carlotta Films - Region 2 - PAL Suevia Films - Region 0 - PAL Twentieth Century Fox - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:31:27 (4% PAL speedup) 1:31:24 (4% PAL speedup) 1:28:03 (4% PAL speedup) 1:31:48 (4% PAL speedup) 1:35:12
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.3 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.99 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.89 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.37 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.64 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

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

Bitrate:

UFA

Bitrate:

BFI

Bitrate: Carlotta Films

Bitrate: Suevia Films

Bitrate: 20th Century Fox

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB: German (Dolby Digital 2.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles German, None English, None French, None Spanish, English, None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: UFA

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Theatrical Trailer (2:26)
• Other trailers



DVD Release Date: May 21st, 2007
Transparent Keep Case in package with another Transparent Keep case of House of Bamboo
Chapters: 12

 

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer (2:26)
• 10-page liner notes booklet with photos and essay by Lee Server

DVD Release Date: October 15th, 2007
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 14

Release Information:
Studio: Carlotta Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Introduction by Patrick Brion (French - no Eng subs) 4:20
• Trailers and announcements of other Carlotta Noir releases

DVD Release Date: July 6th, 2005
Keep Case inside cardboard slipcase
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Suevia Films 

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Other Titles
• Poster
• Cast
• Film credits
• Filmographies

DVD Release Date: July 14th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer (2:32)

DVD Release Date: October 8th, 2013
Keep Case inside cardboard slipcase
Chapters: 16

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Fox Region 0 - NTSC - November 13': Yeah, this is the one - the only NTSC (theatrical running time) edition - and it took long enough! Despite the single-layering it looks very good - better than  even the UFA. Audio is strong - notable in Alfred Newman's iconic 'Street Scene' Noir score! No extras except a trailer. Despite bare-bones status - it's the one to own!

***

ADDITION: UFA Region 2 - PAL - March 08': This comes in a package entitled Hollywood Highlights 7 - Thriller from UFA in Germany. The film has a German translation calling the disc Schrei in der Großstadt. It comes in its own transparent keep case along with another keep case of single-layered film Fuller's House of Bamboo (called Tokio-Story in this package).

Quick story is that it easily looks the best of the four. It might be vertically compressed to some degree but it is still sharper, cleaner and has much better contrast. The soundtrack (with wonderful Newman score) sounded surprisingly powerful. It offers original English and an optional German DUB. There is a tab on my computer for German subtitles but I couldn't get them to appear. There is a trailer for the film and some others in this series. This is one of my favorite Noir films so it was an easy choice for me but considering it also contains House of Bamboo it may be agreeable to others at 20.95 EUR = $32.10 USD (at the writing of this review).

P.S. It is rumored to be coming from Criterion at some point.  

****

ADDITION: BFI - Region 2- PAL (Oct 07') - Quite a disappointment - we were really hoping for a much improved image from the other two PAL releases. Unfortunately the BFI edition doesn't appear to be offering such. My personal dissatisfaction is exemplified in that this is one of my favorite Noir films - it's FULL of seedy low-lifes and Conte and Mature are at their usual high standard.

The BFI appears to be an almost exact duplicate of the French Carlotta in terms of image - progressive and on a single layered disc. The BFI may be marginally cleaner and although I was hoping for some relevant extras there is only a trailer and an excellent liner notes booklet with photos and an essay. Ohhh... audio on the BFI is similarly as weak as its alt-PAL counterparts - it may be a notch superior. Also BFI utilizes the slightly longer version (2  minutes removed from Carlotta and Fox Movie Channel broadcast(s) - it's when Shelley Winters is tracking down the address of Rose, played by Hope Emerson, at a photography shop.) - Thanks Clyde!

I LOVE this film and it is a Noir-must as far as I am concerned. Unfortunately I've heard no announcement of this coming to NTSC anytime soon. What the hell is wrong with you Fox? Perhaps there are some rights issues surrounding a region one releases (which I assume will be the definitive) or perhaps the elements are in poor condition. Positives about the BFI are the superior English subtitles (optional), and the liner notes (plus I love the case and the menus with Alfred Newman's amazing score).

****

ADDITION: Suevia - PAL - May 2006 - Well, the Suevia release is from an unconverted NTSC source (verify with times above) and hence there is significant 'combing' (or 'trailing') problems (see examples below). It tends to look a bit sharper as it has also had some contrast boosting, but at times this blanket manipulation approach ruins certain scenes (see excessive brightness in Vic Mature's face in the subtitle capture). If you are watching on a tube the 'combing' won't likely be an issue but you are still best to buy the Carlotta and turn up your sets contrast if you feel it is an improvement. I appreciate the English subs on the Suevia although occasional words are spelled incorrectly ('craps game' is 'crape game' etc.). The Spanish edition looks like it might be a bit vertically stretched too. Stick with the Carlotta, but keep your fingers crossed for a Region 1 release - hopefully soon.

NOTE: It is funny how increased exposure to a film can alter your perception. After viewing again I am very much enamored with this dark film. A real gem that has moved into my list of favorite Film Noirs!  

***

Hazy transfer from Carlotta - the bitrate graph indicates a probable analog rendering, but it appears to be progressive with no inherent 'ghosting' or 'combing' issues. Aside from its lack of detail - the image is otherwise tube acceptable. The DVD is dual layered and the bitrate is exceptionally high (7.89). The single channel audio sounded quite buoyant on my system (a nice treat). It was fairly inconsistent. The French subtitles are removable on my computer and all 4 of my Malata players so we can assume they will be for your region-free player too. The short Brion intro is in French and has no subtitles.

The film is certainly flawed, but is still a real noir gem. Mature and Conte team up well to support the narrative. This film is another reason confirming the addictiveness of Film Noir.

NOTE: WE will eventually compare but suspect the Spanish version (available at DVDGo.com) is superior.

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus

 

 

UFA - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL RIGHT

 

 

(Carlotta Films - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Suevia Films - Region 0 - PAL RIGHT)


 

20th Century Fox- Region 0 - NTSC

 


Subtitle Sample - Note UFA + Fox do not have English subs!

 

1) UFA - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Carlotta Films - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) Suevia Films - Region 0 - PAL FOURTH

5) 20th Century Fox- Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Screen Captures

 

 

1) UFA - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Carlotta Films - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) Suevia Films - Region 0 - PAL FOURTH

5) 20th Century Fox- Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

1) UFA - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Carlotta Films - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) Suevia Films - Region 0 - PAL FOURTH

5) 20th Century Fox- Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

1) UFA - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Carlotta Films - Region 2 - PAL THIRD

4) Suevia Films - Region 0 - PAL FOURTH

5) 20th Century Fox- Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


More 20th Century Fox- Region 0 - NTSC captures


 

'Combing' visible on the Suevia release...

 

 


Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Report Card:

 

Image:

Fox

Sound:

-

Extras: BFI for liner notes  / UFA with

 


DVD Box Cover

   

 

Distribution UFA (Germany) - Region 2 - PAL BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL Carlotta Films - Region 2 - PAL Suevia Films - Region 0 - PAL Twentieth Century Fox - Region 0 - NTSC




 

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