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The Red Menace [Blu-ray]
(R.G. Springsteen, 1949)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Republic Pictures
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 18,839,350,993 bytes
Feature Size: 18,660,255,744 bytes
Video Bitrate: 26.18 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: February 26th, 2013
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 815 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 815 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Description: Taken seriously by only a few, THE RED MENACE still caused a sensation with its anti-Communist propaganda. When a disgruntled ex-soldier (Robert Rockwell) gets no help from the Veteran's Bureau, he is ripe for the influences of Communists who lead him down the party line. But he soon meets up with disillusioned party members who attempt to break out. "Are you now, or have you ever been?" Fear of Communism, ultimately brought to a peak by the McCarthy Hearings, swept post-war America. A divided Hollywood scurried to pledge their allegiance - and cash in on the furor. I MARRIED A COMMUNIST, BIG JIM McLEAN and other inflammatory warnings came to the screen. Leading the way was THE RED MENACE, the first full-length film concerning Communist infiltration in America. Overseen by Republic studio chief Herbert Yates, the film's production was shrouded in secrecy. FATHOMS DEEP was the working title, but the word on the street was that it had something to do with Communism in the USA. Like other films of its era, the documentary-styled THE RED MENACE was a message movie that crossed over into flat-out propaganda. Still, it is an intriguing, well-made reminder of a tumultuous time. Stylishly directed by R.G. Springsteen (Waco).
One of the most famous of the anti-communist tracts of the late 1940s, Republic's The Red Menace plays like a merciless lampoon of the genre when seen today. After a portentous introduction by one Lloyd G. Davies, described as a member of the Los Angeles City Council, the film concentrates on disgruntled ex-GI Bill Jones (Robert Rockwell). Having been victimized by crooked real estate agents, Jones turns to the government for help, only to come away empty-handed and mad as a wet hen. Obviously, the susceptible Jones is ripe for plucking by the American Communist Party. Using slogans, bribes and even sex to recruit disenfranchised souls like Jones, the dirty Reds hope to spread their poison to the entire U.S. of A. Fortunately, Jones and another commie dupe, schoolteacher Nina Petrovka (Hanne Axman), smarten up just in time. The HUAC and Joe McCarthy needn't have searched so diligently for subversives: according to The Red Menace, all they would have had to do was arrest anyone wearing a baggy suit or sporting a bad haircut. Some modern-day viewers begin laughing the moment the opening title of Red Menace, wherein an animated octopus wraps its tentacles around the Free World, fades into view.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Starting to tell the story of a discontented ex-GI who, plied with
liquor and women and a lot of elaborate promises, joins the Communist
party in the hopes of seeing social justice done, it soon diverts into
the story of several party dupes who, for one reason or another, very
soon want to get out.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Red Menace has a, predictably, modest technical Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films, but this single-layered rendering is extremely clean and the 1080P produces strong contrast. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively. The black levels are adept and I think this looks quite good. There is some grain texture and there is no damage or even speckles. The Blu-ray is vastly ahead of an SD rendering and it gave me a worthy presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is via a DTS-HD mono track at 815 kbps. There is no depth or range to speak of but it seems a faithful transfer without flaws. There is a pedestrian score by Nathan Scott that exports a bit of bass. There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases at this time.
February 28th, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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