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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Big Operator [Blu-ray]


(Charles F. Haas, 1959)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:30:38.433

Disc Size: 19,311,872,685 bytes

Feature Size: 19,133,134,848 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.93 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 16th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 821 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 821 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)






• None





Description: Mickey Rooney plays labor racketeer Little Joe Braun in this fast-paced and surprisingly violent drama about one man's determination to clean up his union. Bill Gibson Steve Cochran is Little Joe's nemesis and is one of the men who can testify that he saw the labor boss in an incriminating conversation with a known criminal -- something that Little Joe denied under oath. Knowing that Cochran and one other witness can bring him down, the crooked labor boss starts on a campaign of terror. One of Bill's friends is set on fire, someone else is thrown into a cement mixer in the opening scenes, and finally, Little Joe kidnaps Bill's son Timmy Jay North. The odds at this point, seem very much in the labor boss' favor.



The Film:

Rooney does his customary believable job as a Hoffa-like labor boss being skewered by a panel of senators. He hides behind the Fifth Amendment but his tongue slips once when asked about one of his hoodlums and the rest of the picture is one shock after another. Cochran plays a straight heroic type whose son is kidnaped by Rooney's goons when Cochran mounts an offense against Rooney's tyrannical rule of the union. Suspense is high and so is the violence: Torme, Cochran's best friend, is burned and a hood is tossed into a cement mixer. This film was made by the same group that did the dreadful THE BEAT GENERATION the same year. Zugsmith, Haas, Danton, Cochran, Coogan, Ray Anthony, Daniels, Van Doren, and Charles Chaplin, Jr., were all involved in both movies. One was tripe but this one had some merit. The difference lay in the script. Smith and Rivkin respected the Gallico story and provided cast and crew with a no-nonsense, tense story that never flags. (Remake of JOE SMITH, AMERICAN.)

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

The evening before the start of a Senate Committee probe into racketeering, William Tragg, the treasurer for the Carlton and Son Precision Tool plant, is murdered by Oscar "The Executioner" Wetzel. Wetzel brings Tragg's business papers to union boss "Little Joe" Braun, who is waiting in his car outside of the union hall. Plant worker Bill Gibson and his coworker and friend Fred McAfee witness Wetzel deliver the papers to Braun. At the Senate hearings the following day, Braun repeatedly pleads the Fifth Amendment, despite a formal letter read into the record from the National Labor Federation warning him to comply with the court. When the subpoenaed Tragg and his files cannot be located, Braun is summoned to the court for further questioning.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

The Big Operator has a, typical, modest 1080P Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This is only single-layered but contrast looks supportive of the black and white image. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively. The black levels do seem to improve as the films runs along and detail is acceptable - if not stellar. Details is reasonable and the image is fairly clean. It's not a particularly dynamic presentation but it's crisp and consistent enough to appreciate the film.

















Audio :

Olive use a DTS-HD Master 1.0 channel mono track at 821 kbps. There isn't excessive aggression throughout most of the film but the score by Van Alexander (Strait-Jacket) adds tension to this thriller.  There are no subtitles and my Oppo 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 their releases.



The Big Operator went for the gritty docu-drama feel and it comes off pretty well. I don't consider it a Noir but it has some decent crime-thriller elements although I found it unusually violent and intense. 'The Mick' does okay in the baddie role. The Olive Blu-ray (I don't like the cover though) has some positives and, at the writing of this review, the Barnes and Noble price is far more in-line with 'value' than the Amazon. This was solid entertainment and kept my attention. Vintage film aficionados should consider. 

Gary Tooze

September 5th, 2014


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