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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Private Hell 36 [Blu-ray]


(Don Siegel, 1954)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:20:29.825

Disc Size: 15,818,515,217 bytes

Feature Size: 15,772,317,696 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 21st, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 816 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 816 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)






• None





Description: Ida Lupino co-wrote and stars in this classic film noir about a desperate cop (Steve Cochran) straying off the straight-and-narrow, falling for a world-weary lounge singer (Lupino), and betraying his honest partner (Howard Duff). Directed with grim, artful efficiency by Don Siegel (Charley Varrick), Private Hell 36 is a thriller that revels in the claustrophobic tawdriness of its characters and is much smarter and potent than its gears-turning plot first reveals. The stellar cast includes Dean Jagger as the detectives' Captain and Dorothy Malone as Duff's understandably worried wife.



The Film:

Minor by Siegel standards, but still an admirably neat, tight B thriller from Lupino's Filmakers company (she also co-scripted), with Cochran and Duff as two LA cops who accidentally stumble on the loot during a robbery investigation, the latter reluctantly playing along with the former's impulsive decision to keep it for themselves. Familiar stuff, with conscience and comeuppance dogging their every move (the title refers to the trailer park where their guilty secret is stashed), but given a vivid edge by the characterisations (Cochran the likeable good-timer, Duff the dour family man) and the plausible motivations. A fellow cop is killed in the line of duty, and the latent resentment of men risking their lives for too little pay is given a turn of the screw because Duff now has a baby to provide for, and Cochran falls hard for a singer (Lupino) who loves him but asks for the moon. Siegel's direction (the opening sequence in particular, with an off-duty Cochran stumbling perilously in on a store robbery while on his way home, is a gem) is impeccable.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Private Hell 36 was one of the last feature-length efforts by Filmmakers, a company created by producer Collier Young and his then-wife Ida Lupino. Young and Lupino also wrote the script for this grim crime melodrama, wherein two detectives Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran) and Jack Farnham (Howard Duff Lupino's future husband) are assigned to track down $300,000 stolen in a bloody hold-up. The two cops manage to locate $80,000 of the booty, whereupon Bruner, not the most ethical of men, suggests that he and Farnham split the money 50-50 and keep their mouths shut. When Farnham decides to turn honest and hand the money over to his superiors, Bruner responds with the business end of his revolver. The very small cast is rounded out by Dean Jagger as the detectives' boss and Dorothy Malone as Duff's understandably worried wife.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Private Hell 36 has a, predictably, modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This is only single-layered and contrast looks a shade faint - but this is probably more the condition of the source where density has been compromised by age or storage. There are frequent speckles. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively. It requires some from of restoration to radically improve. Noise surfaces a shade but artifacts seem controlled. The black levels do  improve in the latter half and detail is not stellar but a notch above SD. The original 1.85:1 has been bastardized to 1.78. This presentation is certainly watchable and the source condition is probably why it hasn't surfaced on digital until now.
















Audio :

Authentically mono DTS-HD Master track at 816 kbps. It's lossless but not a lot to export in terms of aggression or depth. The original music is by Leith Stevens (notable for Earth vs. the Flying Saucers + 20 Million Miles to Earth) - it creates a suitable 'black cinema' atmosphere.  There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with their releases.



Sweet - Essential Noir on Blu-ray - and Ida Lupino to boot! I'm thankful to simply own this minor gem on digital - despite the imperfect appearance. It's not that bad - actually. The film is a bit hokey and heavy-handed but much can be forgiven in the name of Noir. Recommended for fans of the cycle. 

Gary Tooze

August 7th, 2012

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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