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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Drowning Pool [Blu-ray]


(Stuart Rosenberg, 1975)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: First Artists

Video: Warner Archive



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:48:17.491 

Disc Size: 33,730,552,097 bytes

Feature Size: 31,677,566,976 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 27th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1982 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1982 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none



• Harper Days are Here Again (10:46)
Trailer (2:31)





Description: Private eye Lew Harper is in deep this time. Hired by an old flame to unravel a seemingly routine blackmail case, he’s so far down he may never come up for air. Paul Newman returns as the quick-witted detective he first played nine years before in Harper. A cast to reckon with joins him in this mystery based on Ross MacDonald’s novel and directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke). Joanne Woodward plays the New Orleans oil heiress who turns to Harper for help. Young Melanie Griffith is her kittenish daughter. And Tony Franciosa, Coral Browne, Andy Robinson, Murray Hamilton and more keep The Drowning Pool’s intrigue as thick as gumbo.



The Film:

Paul Newman returns as private detective Lew Harper is this tale of blackmail and murder based on a novel by Ross MacDonald. Iris Devereaux (Joanne Woodward), the wife of a wealthy oilman from Louisiana, hires Harper after she receives a threatening letter. A blackmailer is threatening to tell Iris' husband James (Richard Derr) about a recent extramarital affair; she claims this indiscretion never happened, though she has been unfaithful in the past, and years ago had a brief fling with Harper. Matters become more complicated when Iris' mother-in-law Olivia (Coral Browne) is found murdered. Eventually, Harper traces the blackmail letter to Kilborne (Murray Hamilton), another bayou oil baron, and along the way encounters Schuyler (Melanie Griffith), Iris' young but ripe daughter; Pat Reavis (Andy Robinson), Olivia's former chauffeur and a key suspect in her murder; and Detective Broussard (Tony Franciosa), a police investigator who, like Harper, was once involved with Iris. This was Coral Browne's first film after her marriage to actor Vincent Price in 1974.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

The title actually describes a rather inventive action sequence late in this mystery thriller which provides Paul Newman an opportunity to reprise his slick sardonic (Harper (1968)) private detective persona. This one was directed by Stuart Rosenberg; Tracy Keenan Wynn Lorenzo Semple Jr. and Walter Hill wrote their screenplay using Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer protagonist. Harper travels to New Orleans to assist an ex-lover oil heiress (played by his wife Joanne Woodward) who’s being blackmailed for infidelity. Shortly after he arrives the bodies start to pile up and the plot is intricate enough perhaps too much so to keep one guessing until the end. Tony Franciosa plays the Beau Rivage police chief Richard Jaeckel an overly enthusiastic lieutenant. Murray Hamilton plays a wealthy oilman who wants the valuable drilling land on which Woodward’s (mother-in-law’s) estate is built. The sex angle is provided by: Melanie Griffith (in one of her first roles) who plays Woodward’s prying & promiscuous daughter.

Excerpt from ClassicFilmGuide located HERE

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

The Drowning Pool arrives on Blu-ray from The Warner Archive looking crisp. Like Harper, this is a dual-layered transfer with a max'ed out bitrate. The image is, also, brighter than the previous DVD - it can look a shade waxy but I don't suspect digitization. The visuals are consistent in the 2.4:1 aspect ratio. There is plenty of depth but can look brittle and is more glossy than textured. This Blu-ray image is decent enough for the film with vibrant outdoor colors and it probably won't look any better on digital.





1) Warner (Paul Newman Collection - Reviewed HERE) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM



1) Warner (Paul Newman Collection - Reviewed HERE) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM



1) Warner (Paul Newman Collection - Reviewed HERE) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC - TOP

2) Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM
















Audio :

The audio is rendered in a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1982 kbps (24-bit). There is aggression and it comes through clean with lingering depth. The score by Michael Small (Black Widow, Child's Play, Night Moves, The Driver, The Star Chamber) seems competent but is fairly subtle with a, sexy southern edge. Warner include optional English subtitles (see sample) in, shouting, CAPITALS (incidentally in one sequences where there was whispering - it was in lowercase) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

Warner repeat the vintage, behind-the-scenes, featurette Harper Days are Here Again running shy of 11-minutes. It's nothing special... plus there is a trailer.



The Drowning Pool isn't up to the neo-noir-licious level of Harper, but it has some memorable moments and the New Orleans, Louisiana sexiness. I would have liked Harper to have been followed by other adventures of the detective but this was too late (almost a decade) and didn't have Goldman penning it. While it suffers, Newman brings it life - and it offers another strong supporting cast.
If you are only picking up one - the Harper Blu-ray has the superior film and an excellent commentary. This is only recommended to Newman fans or to those addicted to the 'dark cinema' appeal.

Gary Tooze

February 25th, 2018



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