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Directed by Charles Brabin
USA 19


Despite the fact that this opens with a message from Hoover (Herbert, not J. Edgar) urging us to glorify policemen rather than gangsters, this 1932 talkie is said to be better than average, as a police chief (Walter Huston) sets out to battle organized crime. Adapted by John Lee Mahin from a W.R. Burnett story, it was directed by Charles Brabin (The Mask of Fu Manchu), and certainly its cast is exceptional: Jean Harlow, Wallace Ford, Jean Hersholt, Tully Marshall, and 11-year-old Mickey Rooney.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's capsule at the Chicago Reader located HERE




Theatrical Release: February13th, 1932

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover


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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:26:15
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.53 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 2.0) 
Subtitles None

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Archive Advert (:59)

DVD Release Date: March 23rd, 2009

Keep Case
Chapters: 9



This is a very elaborate production for an early 30's film. The camera was surprisingly fluid with some strong cinematography. The Beast of the City was the precursor to many modern crime drama films that pit the gangsters vs. the diligent cops - eventually in a courtroom setting. I couldn't help but think of Basic Instinct as the police ogled Harlow in a 'line-up'. This was a better, or should I say - 'more sophisticated', film than I was anticipating. It was also certainly racy for it's time - made a couple of years before enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code (also known as the Hays Code). This might have fit appropriately in one of the Forbidden Hollywood sets. I also smirked at some of the sexism. Very entertaining overall.   

It's another single-layered, interlaced (see combing sample below), DVD-R treatment that has more weaknesses than the age and source limitations (mostly light speckles). There is Chroma and artefacts. It's on the positive side of 'watchable' - but just barely. It could do with some restoration and a stronger digital rendering.

As usual, no subtitles - and, unremarkable 2.0 channel audio that is often as weak as the video. No extras at all besides the usual Archive advert that starts the disc presentation.

I think you'd have to be quite keen to indulge in this one. It's a good movie for it's time and I admit to being impressed but the transfer is just too limited to be taken seriously as a purchase. It doesn't have too many Noir links - it's just a solid vintage crime film with a good cast. 

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menu


Screen Captures



















Chroma on Miss Harlow's dress


Cue Blip and combing visible

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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


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