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The Devil's Brigade [Blu-ray]
(Andrew V. McLaglen, 1968)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: United Artists
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 30,945,739,608 bytes
Feature Size: 28,052,447,232 bytes
Video Bitrate: 24.94 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 1st, 2017
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1558 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1558 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps
•Audio commentary by King Cohen director Steve Mitchell and Combat Films: American Realism, 1945-2010 author Steven Jay Rubin
• Trailer Gallery - The Devil's Brigade (3:46) and four other films
Description: They were misfits, rebels... and heroes! Screen legend William Holden (The Revengers) stars in this riveting World War II saga based on the true story of the First Special Service. Capturing the drama of combat with outstanding cinematography and an exceptionally strong cast, The Devil's Brigade is a thrilling tribute to this renowned fighting unit. Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick (Holden) takes on the daunting task of melding a renegade group of American and Canadian recruits into a crack team of commando warriors. Frederick's superiors doubt the rookies until Frederick's volunteers them for a perilous attack on a Nazi stronghold in the mountains. His men will be outnumbered and outgunned, but that's a fair fight to The Devil's Brigade. Action veteran Andrew V. McLaglen (Bandolero!) directed this top-notch adventure yarn co-starring Cliff Robertson (Obsession), Vince Edwards (The Victors), Richard Jaeckel (The Dirty Dozen), Carroll O'Connor (Lonely Are the Brave), Dana Andrews (Boomerang), Michael Rennie (The Lost World) and Harry Carey Jr. (The Long Riders)
During the early days of World War II, while the United States was massing its forces for the war, England hastily plans commando raids against the German forces to keep them at bay until America's troops enter the war. As a part of this plan, the Allies create the 1st Special Service Force to plan and carry out an attack on Norway in order to tie up the German forces. This commando force of Canadian soldiers and American GIs is headed by Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick (William Holden), a paper-pusher given his first field command. Antagonism immediately erupts between Canadian Maj. Alan Crown (Cliff Robertson) and American Maj. Cliff Bricker (Vince Edwards). But Frederick utilizes their mutual dislike as a basis for a rivalry that turns this rag-tag group of misfits into a disciplined fighting force. But now that Frederick's men are ready to fight, Frederick receives word that the Norway.
While awaiting the massing of United States power during the bleakest phase of World War II, England begins preparing for commando raids against Nazi-occupied Europe. As part of the desperate operation, the Allies create the 1st Special Service Force to plan and carry out an attack on Norway in hopes of tying up large numbers of German troops. The force of efficiently trained Canadian soldiers and rebellious American G.I. misfits is trained in Montana under the leadership of Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick, a desk-bound army intellectual who has never before held a field command. Antagonism between the Canadians and the Americans, as well as between their respective leaders, Maj. Alan Crown and Maj. Cliff Bricker, at first threatens to disrupt the guerrilla training. But Frederick uses the men's mutual enmity as the basis for a rivalry that eventually welds them together as one highly disciplined fighting force.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of The Devil's Brigade looks decent and consistent in 1080P. It may be a shade 'light' but still far exceeds SD. Contrast is reasonable and detail, in close-ups, is pleasing. The film's almost exclusive outdoor sequences can tend to look quite impressive. The source is clean, and I noticed no noise - not even in the few darker sequences. There is minor grain and a few instances of depth. Not particularly dynamic but this Blu-ray gave me a very watchable viewing in regards to the picture quality.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1558 (16-bit) kbps does a competent job of exporting the film's effects in the guns, military preparation and a rowdy bar scene. The score is by the great Alex North (The Wonderful Country, Man with the Gun, Under the Volcano, Viva Zapata, Spartacus, Man With the Gun, A Streetcar Named Desire and more) sounding crisp and clean. The lossless audio supports the HD presentation very well. There are English subtitles offered (see sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Supplements consist of an audio commentary by King Cohen director Steve Mitchell and Combat Films: American Realism, 1945-2010 author Steven Jay Rubin. It's good - they discuss particulars of the large cast and many more details on the production, the widescreen, the composition and the overall genre. It's informative - and they work well together. There is also a trailer for the film and four others.
August 2nd, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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