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directed by Roy William Neill
U.S.A. 1946

 

Elegantly directed by Hollywood veteran Roy William Neill (best known for his 11 Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone), Black Angel is an underappreciated film noir treasure, adapted from a novel by the acclaimed crime writer Cornell Woolrich (Phantom Lady).

When the beautiful singer Mavis Marlowe (Constance Dowling) is slain in her chic apartment, the men in her life become suspects. There is Martin Blair (Dan Duryea, Scarlet Street), her alcoholic musician ex-husband, nursing a broken heart; there is the shady nightclub owner Marko (Peter Lorre, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon) who has been sneaking around her place, and there is Kirk Bennett (John Phillips), the adulterer who found his mistress s dead body and fled the scene. When Bennett is convicted and sentenced to death, his long-suffering wife Catherine (June Vincent) joins forces with the heartbroken pianist Martin Blair to uncover the truth...

Black Angel is a consummate 1940s crime thriller which boats a suspenseful narrative, strong performances and atmospheric, meticulously lit cinematography. Roy William Neill s film is presented here in a sumptuous restoration, with several illuminating new extras.

***

Not exactly a pristine Cornell Woolrich adaptation, since the brooding subjectivism (so lovingly preserved in a real poverty row quickie like Fear in the Night) has been partly pruned to leave a moody thriller along the lines of Phantom Lady, beautifully crafted with the sort of unpretentious skill Neill brought to the Rathbone-Bruce Sherlock Holmes series. The authentic tang of noir is lent by Duryea, superb in (for once) a sympathetic role as the tormented musician with the faithless wife who finds the solution to the mystery of her murder surfacing through the alcoholic haze of his memory. Lovely supporting cast too.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 2nd, 1946

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Universal - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

  

  

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:20:24         1:20:27.447 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.16 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.28:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,429,063,423 bytes

Feature: 24,619,912,320 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.86 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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 2.0 Mono

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles English, Spanish, French, none English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Original Trailer

DVD Release Date: July 6th, 2004
Keepcase

Chapters 18

 

Release Information:
Studio:
Arrow

 

1.28:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,429,063,423 bytes

Feature: 24,619,912,320 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.86 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

New audio commentary by the writer and film scholar Alan K. Rode
A Fitting End, a new video appreciation by the film historian Neil Sinyard (23:50)
Original trailer (1:32)
Gallery of original stills and promotional materials
Reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Philip Kemp


Blu-ray Release Date:
January 27th, 2019
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 13

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Arrow Blu-ray (January 2020): Arrow have transferred the film noir Black Angel to Blu-ray. Unfortunately, the aspect ratio is skewed at around 1.28:1 as opposed to 1.37:1 (or a more acceptable 1.33:1). This elongated faces abnormally and Arrow is aware of the issue and addressing it. We have put captures to indicate the flawed appearance and the, eventual, corrected look. This is most apparent in the last set of screen captures looking at Peter Lorre's head. The other aspects are strong - great grain and contrast on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate.

On their Blu-ray, Arrow use a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. It is another advancement in the film's audio and dramatic score by Frank Skinner (The Appaloosa, Madame X, Magnificent Obsession, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, All That Heaven Allows, Thunder Bay, and The Naked City) sounding richer with more consistent dialogue. Arrow offer optional English (SDH) subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

Arrow add a new audio commentary by film scholar Alan K. Rode who is at his usually prepared standard providing minutia on the film, actors, cast and crew including Duryea studying the piano for his role as Martin Blair. he informs us that Ava Gardner was expect for the role of Catherine Bennett but that didn't come to fruition and details on the colorful author Cornell Woolrich. It's excellent and Noir aficionados will appreciate his informative commentary. A Fitting End, is a new 24-minute video appreciation by the film historian Neil Sinyard who exposes further details of this lesser-discussed 'dark cinema' effort. There is also an original trailer and gallery of original stills and promotional materials. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options and the first pressing gets an illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Philip Kemp.

Black Angel is a gem of the noir cycle. Please stay tuned here as to the eventual 'fixed' Arrow Blu-ray - where we will post more information. I don't think the skewed aspect ratio was distributed to the public (or only a few) so the current links may be for the accurate transfer. 

Gary Tooze

 


Universal - Region 1 - NTSC

 

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray


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

 

1) Arrow (flawed aspect ratio) - Region FREE - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Arrow (with corrected aspect ratio) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Arrow (flawed aspect ratio) - Region FREE - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow (with corrected aspect ratio) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Arrow (flawed aspect ratio) - Region FREE - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow (with corrected aspect ratio) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Arrow (flawed aspect ratio) - Region FREE - Blu-ray  MIDDLE

3) Arrow (with corrected aspect ratio) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


  

 

Box Cover

  

  

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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