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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

They Made Me a Fugitive aka "I Became a Criminal " [Blu-ray]

 

(Alberto Cavalcanti, 1947)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Alliance Films Corporation  / Warner

Video: Kino / Indicator (UK)

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:41:13.057 / 1:40:52.004

Disc Size: 22,805,145,042 bytes / 43,981,087,202 bytes

Feature Size: 21,196,392,960 bytes / 29,706,943,872 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.91 Mbps / 34.92 Mbps

Chapters: 10 / 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent case

Release date: June 24th, 2012 / September 23rd, 2019

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Lecture:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

None / English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Trailers for Nothing Sacred, A Star is Born (1937) and Pandora and the Flying Dutchman /

 

The John Player Lecture with Alberto Cavalcanti (1970): archival audio recording of the celebrated director in conversation at London's National Film Theatre (1:02:15)
Neil Sinyard on `They Made Me a Fugitive` (2019): new appreciation by the author and film historian (28:13)

About the Restoration (13:20)
Squaring the Circle (1941): dramatised Royal Air Force training film, starring Trevor Howard in his earliest known film role (33:04)
The Aircraft Rocket (1944): extract from a multi-part RAF technical film, featuring Howard (8:59)
Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Nathalie Morris, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
UK premiere on Blu-ray
Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

 

Bitrates:

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: Academy Award nominee Trevor Howard (Brief Encounter, The Third Man) gives one of his greatest performances as Clem, an ex-serviceman who is fed up after the War and drawn to the excitement of black-marketeering. His psychopathic, sadist gang boss, Narcy (Griffith Jones), betrays him when he refuses to deal in drugs, and the story becomes a breathtaking tale of revenge. The complex ending of They Made Me a Fugitive is not a trivial resolution, but lives up to the social consequences of this violent and disturbing film that Leonard Maltin raves ''No holds barred...packs a real punch.'' From legendary screenwriter Noel Langley (The Wizard of Oz).

 

 

The Film:

They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) may be a movie about crooks, but it's more than a gangster picture. It's a bona fide British-made film noir and features the fine, stylized direction of Alberto Cavalcanti, from a screenplay written by Noel Langley and based on the novel A Convict Has Escaped by Jackson Budd. Ex-RAF pilot Clem Morgan is in desperate need of another war, or at least another diversion. He spends his time getting drunk and sinking into the oblivion of an uncertain future. More out of pure boredom than anything, Clem agrees to throw his lot in with a group of underworld figures, led by the suave, quick-tempered mastermind, Narcy (Griffith Jones), which is short for Narcissus. The gang operates out of a mortuary, a front that carries implications for future customers that just might come their way in a pine box, courtesy of the gang's own violent enterprises. But Clem balks at the gang's new direction: the peddling of dope. Clem may be partial to making a buck via a left-handed form of human endeavor, to borrow a phrase from The Asphalt Jungle (1950), but he draws the line somewhere, and the drug trade crosses it. Clem is accused of being a bit of a snob, but Narcy seemingly agrees to Clem's reservations and promises not to involve him in a drug transaction. Then Narcy double-crosses Clem, and pins the killing of a bobbie on him. Clem is sent away for manslaughter, but he's not out of the picture for good...Vengeance simmers.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Clem Morgan (Trevor Howard), an embittered ex-RAF pilot, mistakenly believes the life of crime is for him in this exceptionally dark British film noir, directed by Alberto Cavalcanti. He joins a gang of black marketeers led by the aptly named Narcey (short for Narcissus) (Griffith Jones), an egotistical and sadistic thug. The two develop an almost immediate mutual dislike, leading Narcey to frame Morgan for killing a policeman. While serving the resulting 15-year sentence, Morgan is visited by Narcey's sometime girlfriend Sally (Sally Gray), who tells him that the thug has taken up with the prisoner's fiancée, and that a witness to the frame might come forward. This triggers an even more bitter Morgan to escape and return to London to try to clear and avenge himself. Many postwar American films noirs dealt with alienated but law-abiding veterans, some of them framed for crimes they did not commit, e.g. Alan Ladd's Johnny Morrison in The Blue Dahlia. This British effort goes a noteworthy step further by placing the protagonist in the criminal underworld. Its downbeat ending is consistent with its unrelenting cynicism.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

From a print from the BFI Kino brings the classic UK crime-noir They Made me a Fugitive to Blu-ray.  The image quality shows some grit and minor texture grain - as well as frequent speckles. It can look a bit muddy but it is really only a representation of the source.  This is only single-layered but contrast has some decent layering. Detail is not at premium levels but considering the age - I think most will be pleased enough with the imperfect presentation. There are heavy grays, not piercing blacks and some unsightly noise. This Blu-ray has a few instances of depth and the 1080P rendering seems to have done a decent job of it. The Otto Heller cinematography is eye-catching bordering on brilliant. Without further restoration it can't look much better for Home Theater viewing.

 

Indicator have transferred this film to Blu-ray via a "2K restoration by the British Film Institute". It's on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate and the image quality has much richer black levels when compared to the Kino BD. It also seems not to have the same damage marks. Both transfer and restoration have bettered the 2012 US Blu-ray release supporting the excellent Otto Heller (The Ipcress File, Peeping Tom) cinematography to a higher level with detail and film grain texture.       

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Like the video the audio has imperfections and rough edges. It is transferred via a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps. Dialogue is reasonably clear although accents and slang might have indicated that optional subtitles would have been appropriate for some. The score from Marius Francois Gaillard supports the film but is no standout. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Indicator also use a linear PCM, but in 1.0 channel mono and 24-bit (as opposed to Kino's 16-bit). The score from Marius Francois Gaillard supports the film with more resonance - sounding deeper and more impacting - heightening suspense. Indicator add optional English (SDH) subtitles (sample above) on their Region FREE Blu-ray.   

 

Extras :

The extras consists of three trailers from previous Kino vintage films that have been put to Blu-ray - namely Nothing Sacred, A Star is Born (1937) and Pandora and the Flying Dutchman.

 

Indicator stack their package starting with an hour's worth of The John Player Lecture with Alberto Cavalcanti from 1972. This is an archival audio recording of the celebrated director at London’s National Film Theatre, including an audience Q&A with fellow filmmakers Michael Balcon, Paul Rotha and Basil Wright. I thoroughly enjoyed the 1/2 hour After Effects - an appreciation by author and film historian Neil Sinyard who discusses the great British cinema of the late 40's and 50's, the performances of Trevor Howard, Griffith Jones and the direction of Alberto Cavalcanti. It's very good. There is 1/4 hour About the Restoration from 2019 with the BFI’s Kieron Webb discussing the process of restoring the film and one specific damage mark that appeared on all prints. Squaring the Circle is a 1/2 shout from 1941 - it is a dramatized Royal Air Force training film, starring Trevor Howard narrating in his first known film role. The Aircraft Rocket is an extract from a multi-part RAF technical film, featuring Howard from 1944 running 9-minutes. There is an image gallery of promotional and publicity material and the package contains a limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Nathalie Morris, extracts from Cavalcanti’s Film and Reality, a 1970 article on Cavalcanti by Geoffrey Minish, an overview of contemporary critical responses, Anthony Nield on the wartime films of Trevor Howard, and film credits.

 

Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Helluva rough and ready Brit crime drama. This could easily squeeze into the Noir cycle, or Noir-leaning category, with the strong anti-hero protagonist ('Clem' Morgan played by Trevor Howard). There are plenty of surprises and excellent drama. The bare-bones Blu-ray
should appeal to those unfamiliar with the film and who don't already own an SD version. The 1080P definitely helps the heavy atmosphere. Overall an impressive entry into the UK-brand of the 'Black Cinema' styling.

 

Indicator advance their Blu-ray package of They Made Me a Fugitive in every area; video, audio, extras and cover design - over their US counterpart edition. It's easily the definitive for this bleak British Noir with underworld activity, blackmail, murder, organized crime with violence that doesn't discriminate between genders. This BD has made me fall in love with this film all over again. Strongly recommended!    

Gary Tooze

July 11th, 2012

September 17th, 2019

 


 

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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