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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The House on Carroll Street [Blu-ray]

 

(Peter Yates, 1988)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Edward Small Productions

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:41:05.059

Disc Size: 21,474,774,620 bytes

Feature Size: 21,253,761,024 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.98 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 17th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1615 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1615 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Trailer (2:00)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Mastered in HD! Kelly McGillis (Witness) and Jeff Daniels (Arachnophobia) spark a fiery chemistry in this old fashioned romantic thriller that boasts superb casting, a skillful and astute script by Walter Bernstein (The Train, Fail Safe) and edge-of-your-seat direction by the great Peter Yates (Bullitt, Robbery). When Emily Crany (McGillis) refuses to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee chairman, Ray Salwen (Mandy Patinkin, The Princess Bride), she's blacklisted and immediately fired from her job. But when she stumbles upon Salwen's nefarious plot to smuggle Nazi war criminals into the U.S., she enlists the help of FBI agent (Daniels) to help her bring Salwen to justice... before he brings an end to them! The great Jessica Tandy (Nobody's Fool) co-stars in this homage to classic Hollywood film noirs.

 

 

The Film:

Yes, there are commies under the bed. But are there Nazis there too? Emily Crane (Kelly McGillis) is a modestly successful Life photo editor living in 1950s New York, until she is called before the Senate Un-American Activities Committee to testify about her "communist" associations. When she refuses to divulge the names of friends in her civil liberties group, she loses her employment and her friends. In desperation, she takes a job reading books for Miss Venable, a somewhat crotchety lady (Jessica Tandy) who lives in a quiet residential neighborhood. Then, while taking a break in Miss Venable's back yard, Emily overhears something from the house behind that compels her to investigate and leads her eventually to conclude that it is the headquarters of a group smuggling in ex-Nazi scientists for some mysterious purpose. Meanwhile, she is being harassed by two FBI men, on behalf of the Senate Committee, as well as by a sinister, McCarthyite, Senate investigator named Salwen (Mandy Patinkin). One of the FBI men, Cochran (Jeff Daniels), takes a liking to Emily and humors her by agreeing to investigate her suspicions. This quiet mystery is a nostalgia piece. It's '50s backgrounds are authentic and the plot device -- an innocent becoming entangled in an unbelievable conspiracy -- is closer to one of Hitchcock's masterpieces of that period (e.g., North by Northwest) than to Reservoir Dogs or Speed. The people seem to be from a simpler time, too, when the distinction between good and evil was clearer. Emily shines with idealistic integrity and the naive Cochran is so honest that he finds it impossible to deceive the target of his investigation. There is even a terrifying, "acrophobe's nightmare" scene played out in a dome high above Grand Central Station. For those tired of endless shoot-em-ups and car chases, this is the mystery to choose.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

 

Idealistic Emily (McGillis) comes up before a senate committee in 1951 and refuses to name names, loses her job on Life magazine, and is subjected to surveillance. By chance, she stumbles upon a plot to smuggle Nazis into the country, and FBI agent Cochran (Daniels) believes her story but is repeatedly warned off. Yates isn't Hitchcock, however, and the cruel cat-and-mouse structure of Notorious crumbles to allow for The Janitor to make another pass. Walter Bernstein's script unfortunately can't quite make up its mind to finger the American government for giving useful Nazi war criminals sanctuary in the early '50s, and hedges its bets. On the entertainment level, though, it's an efficient, good-looking movie, thanks to Michael Ballhaus' photography of period New York. The tension relies a bit too much on footfalls on gloomy stairwells, and the villain's silkinesss lacks menace. But there are plenty of nice touches: straight-arrow Cochran making love to Emily between surveillance duties at a stake-out; Tandy's imperious old lady with the binoculars.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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

The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of The House on Carroll Street has some softness but it is consistent and probably in-line with how the production looked originally. There is some minor depth and pleasing texture to the visuals. Colors may be a shade dull but it gave a reasonable 1080P presentation in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio (shouldn't it be 1.85:1?). The source is clean, with only a handful of speckles. This Blu-ray gave me a watchable, but unremarkable, viewing in regards to the picture quality.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 16159 kbps in the original English language. It carries some depth although there isn't an abundance of aggressive effects. Georges Delerue (Mister Johnson, Jules et Jim, The Woman Next Door, The Last Metro, Day For Night) did the score and it benefits from the uncompressed rendering creating a mysterious, suspenseful, atmosphere. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Only an interlaced trailer.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The House on Carroll Street is a good film, but not what I expected. I guess I was hoping for more Noir and less 'blacklisting' politico.  Still , I thought it was very much worth seeing - well acted, suspenseful, good story, Ballhaus' cinematography, Delerue's score and the impressive art direction. The bare-bones Kino Lorber Blu-ray
provides a decent presentation in 1080P and it's currently on-sale (almost 50% OFF - pre-order). From that standpoint we will definitely recommend! 

Gary Tooze

November 3rd, 2015

 

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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