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directed by Michael Anderson
Ireland, USA 1959

 

Marian Thompson adapts Reardon Conner's novel for the screen and Michael Anderson directs this spellbinding action-packed political film about the complexities of the 1921 Irish Rebellion against their British rulers. It's filmed on location in Ireland, which adds to its authentic feel. Its big problem is that even though the story is riveting, the acting is first-rate (some of the supporting characters are from the famed Dublin's Abbey Players and James Cagney gives a maddening fiery performance), the film is well-crafted, and there's no question that it caught the disturbing chaos of that time period, there's still a question about its dubious political content.

During the ongoing strife with the IRA the regular British army is replaced by the "Black & Tans," a special British force that is given to using violent means to fight the violent rebels, under the irresolute and punitive leadership of Colonel Smithson (Christopher Rhodes). The IRA is headed by the General (Michael Redgrave), a politically savvy man, who views violence as a means to an end. The field commander is, believe it or not, a mild-mannered on the outside surgeon and professor at the medical college, someone known as the Commandant, Sean Lenihan (James Cagney), but who is burning inside with rage and believes in no compromise until Ireland becomes a republic and that violence is an end rather than a means. The political message seems muddled as the terrorists, except for the fanatical Sean, are seen as the good guys, while all the Brits are smeared as usurpers and power-hungry enforcers who wish only to suppress the common Irish citizen.

Excerpt of review from Dennis Schwartz for Ozus' World Movie Reviews located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: 24 June 1959 (USA)

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DVD Review: Shout! Factory (4 Action-Adventure Movie Marathon) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Shout! Factory

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:51:04
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.75 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Shout! Factory

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• 4 films on 2 discs
• Audio Commentary With Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball for Treasure of the Four Crowns

DVD Release Date: July 15th, 2014
2 discs in Keep case

Chapters 8

 

 

 

Comments

Shake Hands with the Devil has been one of my most wanted titles to be released on DVD, but it never came out until this multi-film package from Shout Factory. I'm still not sure what's the connection between a Roger Corman produced jail-break blaxploitation from 1972 I Escaped from Devil's Island, the Special Forces military actioner from 1982 The Final Option, the Italian Indiana Jones-influenced cheezy actioner from 1983 Treasure of the Four Crowns and a serious action-drama from 1959 about early days if IRA filmed in Ireland and starring James Cagney, Shake Hands with the Devil. What's more confusing, the first 2 films got HD transfer and were released as double-feature on Blu-ray. No such luck for the last 2 films, both of them used ancient transfers from VHS days. Treasure of the Four Crowns is pan-and-scanned as you can see in the capture, but it gets the lone extra of the set - "Audio Commentary With Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball for Treasure of the Four Crowns". Shake Hands with the Devil fared better with an open-matte transfer - it's not in original aspect ration, but at least nothing is cut off. The film starts with old United Artists logo from the VHS days, there are visible tape tracking on the top of the screen as seen in the captures and some chroma is evident (7th capture). It's unfortunate the film doesn't get the better presentation, but the low price of the set allowed me to purchase it for reviewing. It's still better than any Public Domain release, but only those interested in the last 2 film should consider getting this set since any other release is highly unlikely - others should avoid it.

  - Gregory Meshman

 


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  Capture for Treasure of the Four Crowns

 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Shout! Factory

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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