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directed by Jean Negulesco
USA 1948

 

“This slam-bang melodrama of troubled love, murder and unique revenge in a sleazy nightclub” (Cue) is a noir classic filled with “suspense” (Los Angeles Times), “dramatic punch” (Motion Picture Herald) and a “macabre demonstration of a wildly jealous man who is bent on ruining two lives” (The Hollywood Reporter).

Jefty Robbins (Richard Widmark) owns a road house near the Canadian Border which is managed by his playboy buddy Pete Morgan (Cornel Wilde) and cashier Susie Smith (Celeste Holm). After a trip to Chicago, Jefty brings back Lily Stevens (Ida Lupino), a chanteuse with whom he is obviously smitten. At first Pete is loathe to hire another one of Jefty’s girls but Lily proves her talent is worth the paycheck. When Jefty goes on a hunting trip with some pals and prepares to ask Lily to marry him, Pete and Lily share some intimate time together and realize they are in love. The news sends Jefty into a psychopathic tailspin. He devises a plan to frame Pete and manically begins a game of endless torture and brutality, making “the lovers suffer and suffer – until their cup of bitterness runs over” (Daily News)!

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 22nd, 1948

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Comparison:

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

   

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:35:06  1:35:16.085 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.87 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,638,183,202 bytes

Feature: 19,468,732,416 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 23.92 Mbps

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1564 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1564 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps

Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by film noir historians Kim Morgan and Eddie Muller

• Featurette: Killer Instincts: Richard Widmark and Ida Lupino at 20th Century Fox (19:13)
• Interactive pressbook
• Stills galleries
• Fox Noir advert

DVD Release Date: September 2nd, 2008

Keep Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: Kino

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,638,183,202 bytes

Feature: 19,468,732,416 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 23.92 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

 Audio Commentary by Film Noir Historians Kim Morgan and Eddie Muller
 Killer Instincts: Richard Widmark and Ida Lupino at Twentieth Century Fox Featurette (19:18)

 Animated Image Gallery (2:52)
 Trailers (Cry of the City - 2:33 Deadline U.S.A.- 2:45 , 99 River Street - 2:13)

Blu-ray Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 9

 

   

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray September 16': Kino's 2016 Blu-ray transfer seems to support the film's textures - it's brighter, more detail and, while Road House will never look 'crisp' - it carries the film grain and heaviness consistently in 1080P. Softness, a factor of the original production, is still present but the presentation in-motion is adept.

Kino go with a lossless DTS-HD Master audio track supporting the score by Cyril J. Mockridge (Thieves' Highway, Desk Set, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Dark Corner, My Darling Clementine, Nightmare Alley) and an uncredited Alfred Newman (The Diary of Anne Frank, Bus Stop, Blood and Sand, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Panic in the Streets, The Song of Bernadette etc. etc.). This is augmented by Ida Lupino singing One for My Baby (And One More for the Road), Again, The Right Kind and There'll Be Some Changes Made. Aggression is at a minimum but the bar fight seems carries some depth. It sounds as consistent as the video. There are no optional subtitles on the region 'A'-locked disc.

Supplements duplicate the2008 DVD and include a commentary with some enjoyable laughter from Kim Morgan and Eddie Muller. Their absolute love of Noir shows as, at times, they are both totally enamored with the performances (Lupino). She's covered in great length by the commentarists and they share a lot of valuable information. Eddie remains favorite Noir commentator and he again does a professional job with Kim Morgan giving nice balance to the discussion. There is also a 19-minute featurette - Killer Instincts: Richard Widmark and Ida Lupino at 20th Century Fox. It has clips and input from Eddie Muller, Robert Osborne and Rudy Behlmer among others. This is really good with plenty on Widmark and his solid reputation (avoiding the Hollywood lifestyle and being friendly to everyone etc.) often juxtaposing his unbalanced onscreen characterizations. It wraps up with an animated still gallery, and a trailer. There are no liner notes.

We're in solid Noir territory with Road House with many of the conventions we enjoy about the cycle. Kino's Blu-ray is a welcome addition to the library - another film I can revisit for the rest of my days. Absolutely recommended!

***

ON THE DVD: Not quite up to the image quality standard of the older Noir Moontide but this transfer still looks respectable although contrast is a shade dampened (whites) - a tinge sepia at times. I again expect some sort of restoration (probably digital) but the image can show softness with consistent noise that appears, a bit, as grain. The dual-layered, progressive transfer is an acceptable one from Fox, even with the marginally lower bitrate, but perhaps a notch beneath the high standard previously offered from Fox in the same series.

Like Moontide - it's a Fox Film Noir (as stated on the case) - yet I see no spine number - so perhaps Fox have abandoned that categorization labeling. 

These releases are surely a dream come true for Noir fans offered at such a reasonable price considering all we are getting in this package. Just a wonderful Film noir - Lupino and Widmark are mesmerizing at times - and we strongly recommend!

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus


 

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



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

 

Subtitle Sample - ONLY DVD offers subtitles

 


Screen Captures

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

Box Covers

   

   

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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