Fuller's hard-nosed style adds wallop to this routine submarine picture - formulaic material in which Widmark's crew dive under the ice and foil an attempt by those wicked communists to amass a fearsome atomic arsenal in the Arctic. The cunning plan, you see, is to cause the Third World War and blame it on the Yanks (just like they did at Hiroshima and Nagazaki, I'll bet). Darvi is the decorative one with not very much to do.
Known for his uninhibited camera movements, Fuller was the obvious person for Fox to ask to make a CinemaScope movie in an enclosed space in order to prove to doubting executives that the walls of the cinema would not appear to rotate during tracking shots or pans. The result was Hell and High Water, which is mostly set aboard a submarine, and tells the story of a group of patriots and mercenaries who stop the Chinese from dropping an atomic bomb from an 'American' plane at the time of the Korean war. A deeply pessimistic film, it questions the roots of loyalty and identity by examining the stated motives of its characters at every stage of the film. Widmark is at his ambiguous best.
Theatrical Release: February 1st, 1954
DVD Review: 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
CLICK to order from:
|Distribution||20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 7.64 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.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 4.0), DUB: French (Dolby Digital mono)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
Richard Widmark: Strength of Characters (44:18)
Fox does there usual competent work on a film that is much better than I anticipated. It is no masterpiece and utilizes Fuller's typical ham-fisted techniques (note the hydrogen bomb over the title sequence), but it has his signature and marks the film with the director's obvious intent - unique and refreshing. Anamorphic, progressive and a dual-layered transfer support the glorious 2.55 cinemascope ratio. The image is not pristine sharp, and there are some artifacts (sky and water) but it looked acceptably impressive on my system. Colors are a bit dull but appear true with no manipulations. The (original?) 4.0 track is included - with a French mono DUB - and it sounded a shade more intense than a 2.0 channel - appropriately clear and consistent. There are English and Spanish optional subtitles.
Supplements include a long (45 minutes worth) featurette on Widmark called Strength of Character - originally an AE Biography special - it includes clips and interview segments with Sidney Poitier, Widmark himself and others. A nice inclusion for his fans. There is also a Pressbook gallery (scanned as images and difficult to read), a Stills Gallery (images from the film and some posters) and a theatrical trailer.
It is Sam Fuller, a solid DVD with a decent featurette and only costs $11 - so we surely recommend!