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USA 1956

Death of media magnat Amos Kyne is causing power struggle between his executives. In the meantime New York women become prey of a serial killer. Reporter Edward Mobley is in that circumstances faced with almost impossible missions: to catch the killer, to prevent the media empire from falling into the wrong hands and to save his romantic relationship from break-up.

***

Conventional wisdom has it that the greatest stylistic influence on film noir was German Expressionism, with all its dark fatalism, subjective camera angles and movement, and sharp chiaroscuro lighting. So when an early Expressionist master takes on a noir subject, the result is bound to be pretty much definitive. Fritz Lang's career produced many of the best examples of the genre, including The Woman in the Window (1945), Scarlet Street (1945), and The Big Heat (1953). In While the City Sleeps (1956), Lang focuses on the attempts of several newspaper people to rise to prominence by breaking the real story behind a series of brutal murders of women. One of the hallmarks of many noir films is the shadowy moral universe they portray, in which the lines between "good guy" and "bad guy" are blurred. Lang goes full out with that approach in While the City Sleeps, painting the ambitious journalists seeking to crack the case as seedy, manipulative, and corrupt.

Although some attempts are made at a kind of pop-Freudian analysis of the crimes, Lang's interest here is less in exploring the mind of the murderer as he did in M (1931), perhaps the first film about a serial killer. He does, however, take a similar narrative approach as in the earlier movie by revealing the killer at the very top of the story. Some critics at the time carped that this was evidence of a poorly constructed thriller, but Lang isn't going for conventional suspense mechanics. The killer's actions (and the concurrent death of a newspaper tycoon) set off a chain reaction that leads the other characters down paths that reveal their own worst sides, and that's the true focus of the movie. There is even something of a parallel between the killer's choice of victims and the way the ambitious men in the story all use women to achieve their ends. Even the one character who seems to be the most upright, the reporter played by Dana Andrews, uses his fiancée bait for the killer.

While the City Sleeps was Lang's last successful U.S. release, following a 20-year career in Hollywood...

Excerpt of review from TCM located HERE

 

Product Description
'Lang's most underrated movie' - Time Out Film Guide.

While a police-eluding serial killer prowls the New York streets, newspaper publisher Walter Kyne (Vincent Price) pits his three top newsmen against each other to catch the maniac and scoop the story, but in the ensuing chase the hounds become entangled in professional rivalry and romantic complications - with deadly consequences.

Fritz Lang's tense, fast-paced Hollywood thriller features an all-star cast and cinematography by noir maestro Ernest Laszlo (KISS ME DEADLY).

Extra Features: Pressbook gallery, stills and poster gallery. First time on DVD.

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 16th, 1956

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Warner Archive Collection - Region 0 - NTSC

Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Exposure

Region 2 - PAL

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:35:36 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:39:33
Video

1.33:1 Cropped Aspect Ratio (should be widescreen 2.0:1)
Average Bitrate: 7.66 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.97:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.54 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 PAL

Bitrate NTSC

Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English) Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles English (SDH), None None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Exposure (UK)

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Pressbook gallery, stills and poster gallery, theatrical trailer

DVD Release Date: October 11th, 2010
Black Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.97:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: March 29th, 2011
Keep Case

Chapters 28

 

Comments

ADDITION: Warner Archive - June 11': The Warner Archive DVD is widescreen (almost exactly 2.0:1), is progressive and anamorphic, but single-layered and significantly softer. It also has some brightness boosting. It does show more information in the side edges of the frame. The Warner disc has the film without PAL speedup if that is an issue for some. There are no extras, not even the trailer that is available on Exposure disc.

This gives fans the option to weigh the value of the widescreen appearance via DVD. Unfortunately, it is not up to a high visual standard and has no subtitles. Noir and Lang fans can choose accordingly. 

***

NOTE: The film is reported to have been shown in some theatres in 2:1 (Superscope) - a frequently unsupported ratio - but the DVD is in 1.33 - full frame. We've added a sample of the old LaserDisc to give you an idea of the framing... (Thanks David!) It doesn't lose any information on the sides and, for some, the 1.33 might be considered òpen matte`. This was a transitional period for widescreen and there were probably many theatres that showed While the City Sleeps in 1.33. Incidentally, Lang himself described 'Scope as 'Only for snakes and funerals'.

After many delays - pushed-back release dates - we were thinking this advertised edition was never going to come out.... or it would be another PD-quality disaster. I'm please to say though that this isn't too bad at all. It's dual-layered, progressive and the image quality is acceptable. Detail is surprisingly impressive at times but there is some green infiltration in the contrast. The only damage is frame specific speckles and light scratches that don't impinge viewing. Kind of impressive - especially considering what we were anticipating.

Audio is imperfect 2.0 channel but has no fatal flaws that could hurt your presentation. It actually comes with optional subtitles (sample below) - nice touch. The disc is coded for region 2 - in the PAL standard.

 

Extras include a Pressbook info snapshot, some stills and posters in galleries, and a rough theatrical trailer. Nothing extensive like a commentary but the effort is appreciated. Some of the posters are shown above.

'Fritz Lang + noir' are three words that mean instant purchase in my book. I'm just tickled that the transfer, source and disc details are as adept as they are. This is no 'Fox Noir' in terms of the package but the film definitely deserves your attention and UK company 'Exposure' have produced a disc very worthy of shelf space in the Noir section.

Addendum: The Exposure DVD is the only game in town and presently, I'm very satisfied with this 1.33 presentation.

  - Gary Tooze

 



DVD Menu
 

 

Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC

 

 


Screen Captures

 

Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. LaserDisc MIDDLE vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

 

Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM
 


  Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

Sent from Exposure Cinema:


Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


Exposure (UK) - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner Archive - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Exposure

Region 2 - PAL

Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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