(aka "Grubaya sila" )

 

directed by Jules Dassin
U.S.A, 1947

 

As hard-hitting as its title, Brute Force was the first of Jules Dassin’s forays into the crime genre, a prison melodrama that takes a critical look at American society as well. Burt Lancaster is the timeworn Joe Collins, who, along with his fellow inmates, lives under the heavy thumb of the sadistic, power-tripping guard Captain Munsey (a riveting Hume Cronyn). Only Collins’s dreams of escape keep him going, but how can he possibly bust out of Munsey’s chains? Matter-of-fact and ferocious, Brute Force builds to an explosive climax that shows the lengths men will go to when fighting for their freedom.

****

It starts out with a hard rainfall and we view the architectural structure of a dark brooding penitentiary. Then the credits start to roll: The Men Inside - "Burt Lancaster" "Charles Bickford" "Hume Cronyn" ... The Women Outside - "Yvonne De Carlo" "Ann Blyth" etc.   Does it get any better?

 

This may be one of the quintessential Noir  prison pictures. Jules Dassin (Night and the City) and Mark Hellinger paint the perfect atmosphere showing both the grim life inside for a stoolie, as well as the 'honor among thieves' precept and camaraderie between convicts. Great performances by Lancaster, Bickford and Cronyn. We see the flashback narratives of the femme fatales that put them behind the big house walls and the imminent battle with the inmates and the authorities. Gosh this is great Film Noir.

Gary W. Tooze

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Release: 30 June 1947

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Wild Side Video - Region 2- PAL vs. Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Film Prestige - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Film Prestige Screen Caps!

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP LEFT vs. Wild Side Video - Region 2- PAL TOP RIGHT vs.

 Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM LEFT vs. Film Prestige - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Criterion Collection - Spine # 383

Region 1- NTSC

Wild Side Video
Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

Film Prestige
Region 0 - NTSC
Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 383 Region 1- NTSC Wild Side Video
Region 2 - PAL

Image Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

Film Prestige
Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:38:39 1:34:00 (4% PAL speedup) 1:37:48 1:37:45
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.16 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.86 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.83 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.2 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: Criterion 

Bitrate:

 

Wild Side

 

Bitrate:

 

Image Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

 

Film Prestige

 

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Russian DUB (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

Subtitles English, None French subs are forced when Eng audio is chosen None Russian, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• 
Audio commentary by film noir specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini
• A new interview with Paul Mason, author of Capturing the Media: Prison Discourse in Popular Culture
• Theatrical trailer
• Stills gallery
• Liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Michael Atkinson, a 1947 profile of producer Mark Hellinger, and rare correspondence between Hellinger and Production Code administrator Joseph Breen over the film's content
 

DVD Release Date: April 17th, 2007
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio: Wild Side Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Filmographies (text screens)
• Stills  + posters Gallery (slideshow)

DVD Release Date: October 26th, 2006
Slim transparent Keep Case

Chapters 12

 

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Filmographies (text screens)
• Stills and Pressbook Gallery (slideshow)

DVD Release Date: July 6, 1999
Keep Case

Chapters 16
 

Release Information:
Studio: Film Prestige

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Filmographies/biographies (text screens in Russian)
• Stills and Pressbook Gallery (slideshow)
• Info about titles in Jules Dassin Collection (in Russian)
• Original U.S. trailer for Rififi
• Original U.S. trailer for Topkapi
 

DVD Release Date:
Slim Digipack

Chapters 15

 

 

 

Comments

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - March 07':

NOTE: This Criterion transfer is again pictureboxed (see our description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). Criterion have included a thick black border around the edge of the frame to counter overscan on production television sets.

The Criterion looks great but I think I might give the edge to the Wild Side DVD for straight image appearance. Criterion have boosted the black levels a bit (and brightness at times) and the print used looks just a shade dirtier. To me the Wild Side looked smoother and more film-like while the Criterion was a notch grittier. One big difference is that, although I did notice some artifacts on the single-layered French DVD - the dual-layered Criterion was very crisp and totally free of them. Viewers on higher end systems will probably appreciate this more.

Where Criterion vaults ahead is in the supplements. Alain Silver and James Ursini give a full length commentary highlighting key points of the production that may have been lost to your average viewer including the anti-fascist sentiment of the film and some less noticeable homo-erotic moments. I won't say it was a stale commentary but certain points were unnecessarily repeated - like Burt Lancaster's body language ala Lon Chaney and Emil Jannings (stated 3 separate times). For the most part it was very good and the two of them work very well together. One can appreciate the hard work and preparation exemplifying the duo's adept and thorough understanding of period piece noir films like this. As with Eddie Muller I could listen to these guys all day. There is also an interesting interview with Paul Mason, author of Capturing the Media: Prison Discourse in Popular Culture - it is about 15 minutes long and well worth watching. There is an unrestored trailer and a stills gallery. The liner notes booklet included in the package is 36 pages long with some beautiful black and white photos. It includes an essay by Michael Atkinson and another by Pete Martin plus a correspondence letter between Hellinger and Production Code administrator Joseph Breen over the film's content.

With the artifact deficiency and Criterion excellent extras - it is surely the way to go for this essential Film Noir. A true gem of a package!       

***

ADDITION: Wild Side Video - Region 2- PAL Nov 06' - The Wild Side  (Pocket version) has a far superior image to the other two releases. No contrast boosting and it has film-like detail. It is also transferred progressively. The Wild Side shows far more information on the top and bottom of the frame.

The French subtitles are player generated and mandatory on most DVD playback units, but easily removable on all computers with DVD burners (see HERE). So you will be able to remove the French forced subs and burn without compression on a blank DVD5 (single layered) - see example - last capture.

It doesn't have any English friendly extras (except the Stills/poster gallery) but the menus are extensive. This is one of my favorite Film Noirs and I am thrilled to finally have a decent version. I'm going to watch it again tonight!  

****

On the Film Prestige:

In Russia, films made before 1970's (I'm not sure the exact year) are public domain. It looks like exact port of U.S. disc with added Russian material. It's recommended since it can be found for less than O.O.P. U.S. edition until Universal (or, perhaps, even Criterion) release their own version.

***

 

On the Image Entertainment:

Good luck finding a copy of this gem. Its been Out-of-Print for a long while and in heavy demand fetching big bucks on Amazon's Marketplace.

Aside from being a little over-contrasted in the first 15 minutes, it settles into an acceptable image, most likely taken from the LaserDisc (as the "Stills and Pressbook Gallery" extra features were).  No subtitles but a couple of text extras that were 'above code' when released back in 1999. Audio is similarly weak with inconsistent volume levels. This image does not have great contrast levels, but its value is obviously in the film. If Image Entertainment were smart they would re-release this, if they still have the rights.

-Gregory Meshman

 

 



DVD Menus

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP LEFT vs. Wild Side Video - Region 2- PAL RIGHT)

 

 
 
 
 



( Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Film Prestige - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Wild Side Video - Region 2- PAL 2nd vs. Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Film Prestige - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample (for Russian and French DVD)

 

 


(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Wild Side Video - Region 2- PAL 2nd vs. Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Film Prestige - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Wild Side Video - Region 2- PAL 2nd vs. Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Film Prestige - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Wild Side Video - Region 2- PAL 2nd vs. Image Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - 3rd vs. Film Prestige - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 

Criterion TOP and an example of an uncompressed burned DVD image (forced French subs removed) BOTTOM

 


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

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Overall - Criterion

Sound:

Criterion

Extras: Criterion
Menu: Criterion

 

 

 

DVD Box Covers

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 383 Region 1- NTSC Wild Side Video
Region 2 - PAL


 




 

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