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directed by Robert Wise
USA  1945


Director Robert Wise "calls forth a favorable verdict from [the] jury" (The New York Times) in this noirish courtroom drama starring Tom "The Falcon" Conway and Martha O'Driscoll. When Steve Barnes (Conway) accidentally kills a crooked nightclub owner (Robert Armstrong), the slick attorney believes he's in the clear until his girlfriend (O'Driscoll) is accused of the crime. Determined to save his girl and career, Barnes must prove her innocence without taking the rap if he's to get away with murder. Introducing the cinematic elements that Wise would alter perfect in the noir classics Born to Kill and The Set-Up, Criminal Court was produced by former crime reporter Martin Mooney, whose credits also include Blonde Ice and Detour.


Theatrical Release: 15 November 1946 (New York City, NY)

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Film Noir Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:02:42

1.31:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.92 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.


Audio Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.31:1

Edition Details:
� None

DVD Release Date: June 9th, 2015
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Chapters 9





Summer of 2015 will be remembered as summer of darkness - film noirs airing every Friday on TCM in June and July and an on-line noir course Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir presented by TCM and Ball State University that can be taken by everyone to widen their noir knowledge. Warner Archive Collection adding their own spark, issued 5 RKO noirs on June 9 under their ongoing Film Noir Archive Collection marquee.

Films included are not some tier Z hardly noirs, but are from the best film noir studio, RKO, and directed by some of the biggest names in the genre - Anthony Mann (Two O'Clock Courage), Richard Fleischer (The Clay Pigeon), Robert Wise (Criminal Court) or starring the heavy-hitters George Raft (Johnny Angel) and Pat O'Brien (Riffraff). There is something for everyone as we review these releases.

Criminal Court stars Tom Conway taking a break from his Falcon character, playing a lawyer and a District Attorney candidate who attempts to clear his girlfriend (beautiful Martha O'Driscoll) of a murder charge. The murder was actually committed by him in self-defense, but no one believes him as everyone knows his courtroom tricks, but there is a witness who can clear him and his girl.

Robert Wise directed Criminal Court after his 2-year collaboration with producer Val Lewton and a remake of The Most Dangerous Game, A Game of Death, and before his name became associated with film noir for Born to Kill. The director is helped by the cinematographer Frank Redman, who shot 9 features for RKO in 1946 alone, to add some noir atmosphere to otherwise pedestrian story and 62-minute running time helps this B move along and never overstay its welcome.

Like many other RKO films, Criminal Court has been available on DVD in Spain since 2005. The source material for that release was likely video-sourced as the new made-on-demand disc from Warner Archives features a newly remastered transfter. There is noticeable drop in quality in a couple of scences, but otherwise this is a fine progressive transfer with a few marks and specs. The image is window-boxed with slight black bars on the sides at approximately 1.31:1 aspect ratio. The contrast and grain are kept in check and mono audio doesn't have any damage or distortion. Per usual standard, there are no subtitle options and the single-layered disc does not have any extras. The film gets a moderate recommendation for noir fans, but the disc from Warner Archive features its best presentation.

  - Gregory Meshman


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:


Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC


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