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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Between Heaven and Hell [Blu-ray]

 

(Richard Fleischer, 1956)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Video: Signal One Entertainment

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:33:43.659

Disc Size: 23,043,474,180 bytes

Feature Size: 22,504,052,160 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 20th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080P / 24 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), None

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary With Richard Fletcher expert Paul Talbot
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:26)
Still Gallery

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Robert Wagner, Terry Moore, Broderick Crawford and Buddy Ebsen star in this absorbing drama about a young, self-centered recruit who comes of age during WWII. Sam Gifford (Wagner) is a successful cotton planter who treats his sharecroppers as if they were little more than farm machinery. But during combat in the Pacific, as he sees "quality" people crack, endures life under a sadistic officer (Crawford), and learns true friendship, from a "cropper" (Ebsen), Gifford slowly discovers there's more to a person than social class and good breeding.

***

On his family's plantation, Sam Francis Gifford (Robert Wagner) is a pretentious man who's unsympathetic to the less fortunate. But when World War II strikes, Gifford finds his inherited wealth does nothing to improve his rank in his National Guard unit. As the horrors of war and camaraderie with his fellow soldiers affect him, Gifford's attitude begins to shift toward egalitarianism. Still, Gifford's new outlook causes him to clash with the unstable Capt. "Waco" Grimes (Broderick Crawford.)

 

 

The Film:

Haughty Southern gentleman Wagner is forced to buck up his ideas when he's sent to the Pacific campaign during WWII and finds himself in the 'suicide' platoon commanded by the psychotic Crawford. Needless to say, Wagner's reforming snob learns all about humanity and humility in the tough times that follow. Fleischer keeps his head down, knits the action together, and tries not to let the worthy sentiments saturate the proceedings entirely.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Rich landowner Wagner, who has been raised with the usual southern prejudices and has mistreated his sharecroppers, enters the service shortly after Pearl Harbor. Most of the story dwells upon Wagner's southern background in the life of landed gentry before going with his all-southern National Guard unit to the war in the Pacific, where avuncular Keith is an understanding colonel. Wagner threatens another hometown bigoted officer and is transferred to a remote suicide hill commanded by psychopathic, loud-mouthed, illiterate Crawford. Crawford is protected from his own men, whom he mistreats so cruelly that they all want to kill him, by two young punks, Gorshin and Homeier. (Both seem to typecast themselves in such roles.) Wagner befriends Ebsen, a sharecropper who teaches him the errors of his social viewpoint in a great understated performance. When the Japanese close in on the hill, Wagner, in a spectacular running fight, saves Ebsen. Both are wounded but survive to be sent back to the states. Crawford and his goons are conveniently killed by the enemy to keep the military rolls unstained. Though billed as an action-packed film, only the final scenes deliver exciting drama. Terry Moore is functional as Wagner's girl friend back home. She and Wagner, who was being groomed to replace Tyrone Power at Fox, had earlier appeared together in BENEATH THE TWELVE-MILE REEF, and were promoted as a hot young love team. Wagner never became Power, and the duo fizzled on screen. Friedhofer's score was nominated for an Oscar.

Excerpt from TVGuide located HERE

 

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

Between Heaven and Hell gets a single-layered transfer to Blu-ray from Signal One in the UK. It has a supportive bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature, in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It looks impressive in 1080P. Generally the colors have some richness looking a bit faded in a few scenes. Contrast is strong and there is some nice texture and depth. It's not dynamically crisp but that would be more the production than the transfer. 'Cinemascope Mumps' are present stretching the image horizontally but you can get used to it pretty quickly. It's where the center of the image received less horizontal squeeze when the B+L lenses were focused for short distance. Once projected though, the center of the image was expanded more than its original compression giving some characters, especially in close-ups, wider, fatter faces. Fairly standard for such and early widescreen film. I thought the presentation was excellent in-motion.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred via a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 2304 kbps (24-bit). It supports the film's frequent effects from gunfire to explosions. The score is exceptional in switching moods - composed by Hugo Friedhofer (Man in the Attic, Ace in the Hole, Body and Soul, Gilda, The Bishop's Wife). It sounds very clean and crisp in the uncompressed.  There are optional English (SDH) subtitles offered - see sample above - and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Signal One include an audio commentary with Richard Fletcher expert, and author, Paul Talbot discussing the production and director. There is plenty of interesting information. We also get an original theatrical trailer and a stills gallery.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Between Heaven and Hell is a different War film from the "Ra-Ra, we win - good guys and bad opposition" usual flag waving efforts. There are moral themes and Wagner handles the role well - one of his better performances. The Signal One Blu-ray offers solid value (not a great cover though) - a solid presentation, commentary and a fairly unique and emotionally realistic war film. I rate this and it is recommended!  

Gary Tooze

March 7th, 2017


 

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.

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Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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