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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Ruthless [Blu-ray]

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/ulmer.htm, 1948)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Eagle-Lion Films

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:45:17.311

Disc Size: 23,185,872,052 bytes

Feature Size: 23,087,659,008 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.98 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 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 819 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 819 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
 

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Multi-millionaire Horace Woodruff Vendig (Zachary Scott) shows himself to the world as an ambitious philanthropist, but that's far from the case. Even as a young man he starts to exhibit an obsessive and selfish urge to make more and more money, loving and leaving women at will to further this end. Vendig steps on and rolls over anyone who stands in his way, including his lifelong friend Vic Lambdin (Louis Hayward), utilities executive Buck Mansfield (Sydney Greenstreet) and various women, among them his first and only love, Martha Burnside (Diana Lynn), socialite Susan Duane (Martha Vickers) and Buck's wife, Christa Mansfield (Lucille Bremer). It is a tribute to the acting skills of Scott that he makes his despicable character somehow likeable and sympathetic. The stellar cast includes Raymond Burr, Edith Barrett, Dennis Hoey and Joyce Arling. One of the few big-budgeted projects helmed by cult director Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour).

 

 

The Film:

Edgar G. Ulmer's Citizen Kane, chronicling the rise and fall of an arch-heel (Zachary Scott) in high film noir style. Ulmer was a genius with the low budgets he was invariably given to work with, making the restrictions—of acting, scope, and script—into positive virtues through a perverse, minimalist style. An existential crisis is implied in every shaky camera movement. While not for all tastes, this is still some kind of a blasted masterpiece.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr at the Chicago Reader located HERE

Often described as Ulmer's Citizen Kane, this is, alongside The Black Cat, Bluebeard and Detour, one of the Poverty Row king's very finest films. Given a far better cast and a slightly larger budget than usual, he follows Welles in choosing to view the rise to power of Horace Woodruff Vendig (an admirably cast Scott) through flashbacks which both stress his destructive use of others and refuse to explain his ambitions through clear-cut motivations (although, as with Kane, lost love is hinted at as a subconscious driving force). Indeed, like so many of Ulmer's unsympathetic protagonists, Vendig seems to be a puppet of Fate, a motif perhaps reinforced by the harsh precision of the stark, even noir-like visuals. Whether the film is a subversive critique of the American Dream, or merely adheres to the populist sop that wealth necessarily entails loneliness and anxiety, is ambiguous; there is no doubting, however, the effectiveness of Ulmer's pulp poetry, especially in the final scenes when Vendig drowns, choked by Greenstreet's vengeful, ruined Southern tycoon.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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

Ulmer's Ruthless gets a Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This was much-anticipated by the film community. The 1080P can tend to be a notch below their standard in terms of crispness appearing a bit hazy at times and there is quite a lot of speckles and scratches - most notably in the opening credits. However, most inconsistencies are frame-specific. This is single-layered and contrast seems well-rendered with some pleasing layered supporting a shade of depth. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively as I expect this is, as usual, more a factor of the original source. There is some grain and I found the presentation easily watchable without distractions. The Blu-ray certainly improved the presentation over an SD rendering.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio, transferred in a DTS-HD Master mono track at 819 kbps, has some of the inconsistencies of the video - again source-related. But overall it was certainly acceptable despite a couple of instances of weakness - nothing major. Werner Janssen's (The Southerner, Marx Bros' A Night in Casablanca) score benefits from the lossless and plays well beside the film.  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.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Impressive work from Ulmer - it won't change my opinion that Detour is his best but this is probably his next greatest effort, IMO - and an essential Noir to boot! I was 'wow'ed a few times during the presentation. The Blu-ray is better than I was expecting - because I had heard the source was in quite poor shape. I was thankful to actually see this Ulmer film - and a huge bones to be in 1080P. I hope you are all as pleasantly surprised as I was - strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

May 1st, 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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