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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Hell's Half Acre  [Blu-ray]


(John H. Auer, 1954)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Republuic Pictures

Video: Olive Films



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

Runtime: 1:31:05.460

Disc Size: 20,129,566,562 bytes

Feature Size: 20,011,634,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.98 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 26th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 892 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 892 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)






• None





Description: Hell's Half Acre is a 1954 film noir set in Hawaii; John H. Auer (City That Never Sleeps) directed this tale of Ex-racketeer, Chet Chester (Wendell Corey) who is blackmailed by his former criminal partners. Chester's girlfriend Sally (Nancy Gates) kills one of his enemies, but Chester takes the blame, assuming that he has enough clout to escape with a lighter sentence. Meanwhile, Dona Williams (Evelyn Keyes) arrives on the scene, certain that Chester is her long-lost husband. When Sally is murdered, Chester escapes from Jail intending to find her killer and clear his name. Written by film noir veteran, Steve Fisher (I Wake Up Screaming) and shot by legendary cinematographer John L. Russell (Psycho). The stellar cast includes Elsa Lanchester, Jesse White and noir goddess Marie Windsor (Force of Evil).



The Film:

A contrived murder mystery that has only one original element, its Hawaiian backdrop. Corey is a gangster gone straight whose girl friend, Gates, kills one of his ex-partners because he was blackmailing Corey. Corey takes the rap, thinking he can beat it. Keyes arrives, trying to find out if Corey is the husband she lost at Pearl Harbor. Gates is mysteriously murdered; Corey escapes from jail to find the killer. Things become very confused at this point, with the ex-gangster letting killer Ahn take his life so Keyes will be free to start a new life, and so their son will still believe his dad died at Pearl Harbor, a hero.

Excerpt from Tv Guide located HERE

Hell's Half Acre was written directly for the screen by Steve Fisher, whose I Wake Up Screaming remains one of the definitive "film noirs". The scene is a rundown section of Honolulu, where there dwells a group of wannabes, hasbeens and never-weres. While trying to go straight in this environment, ex-racketeer Chet Chester (Wendell Corey) is shaken down by his former criminal cohorts. Chester's girl friend Rose (Nancy Gates) kills one of his tormentors, whereupon Chester takes the blame, assuming that he's still got enough pull to get off with a light sentence. Meanwhile, Dona Williams (Evelyn Keyes) arrives on the scene, certain that Chester is her long-lost husband. When Rose is murdered, Chester escapes from jail, intending to prove Dona's innocence--and to square accounts with the 10-year-old son he never knew he had. Elsa Lanchester provides much-needed laughs as a dotty cabdriver. Dismissed upon its first release, Hell's Half Acre is now considered one of the most durable of Republic's mid-1950s features.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

Hell's Half Acre has a modest technical Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. It is single-layered but has a decent bitrate for the 1.5 hour film. Contrast is reasonably consistent throughout the presentation and its supports some pleasing detail. The film cinematography has some nice shadow play - and it certainly benefits from the 1080P transfer. There are no extensive speckling or noticeable scratches. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and produced a worthy digital image.















Audio :

Olive Films remains loyal to the original audio (no bumps) with a DTS-HD Master mono track at 892 kbps. It's quite lifeless but R. Dale Butts score and the Kaumakapili Choir's "Polynesian Rhapsody" and "Lani" sound about as good as they can. There is no notable depth but sound is consistent and clear..  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 most of their releases.



Hell's Half Acre is a flawed film but supports the intangibles that Noir aficionados love so much. Atmosphere would be a strong feature of the film and the Blu-ray exports these visuals appealingly. Outside of that it has the gals - with strong 'femme' characters for the dark cinema. The film is no masterpiece but has some strong points for fans of the cycle. 

Gary Tooze

April 6th, 2013

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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