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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Red Menace [Blu-ray]

 

(R.G. Springsteen, 1949)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Republic Pictures

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:27:35.959

Disc Size: 18,839,350,993 bytes

Feature Size: 18,660,255,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.18 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 26th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

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).

 

 

The Film:

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.

There is Mollie O'Flaherty, for instance, a "party girl" in more ways than one, who believes in Marxist doctrine because of her impoverished youth. She is in love with Henry Solomon, a revolutionary poet and intellectual. There is Sam Wright, a Negro student who works for The Toilers, the party newspaper, whose notion is that communism will improve conditions for his race. There is also Nina Petrovka, a sad-eyed European refugee who got into the party because her father was a Communist. All of them soon are disillusioned by the intolerance and brutality that they see in the operations of the party and their leaders and, in one way or another, they break out.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

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.

 

Extras :

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.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
You can't beat curiosities like this - "Lousy Commies". Despite being bare-bones this Blu-ray was an interesting pleasure to spin. A real window into desperate, paranoid time where propaganda was simple... and obvious. It depends how you look at it - The Red Menace is not good cinema but could be considered humorous to some - an historical artifact to others.
I love seeing stuff like this.

Gary Tooze

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.

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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