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Robert Harris

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Otto Preminger's In Harm's Way is an odd production, that I'd not seen in many years until receiving this Blu-ray. My main memory is the initial paring of John Wayne and Kirk Douglas.

I recalled it being far better than it is.

Shot mostly on location in Pearl Harbor, with some location work in San Diego and San Francisco.

Shot in beautiful black & white by Loyal Griggs (Shane, The Ten Commandments, White Christmas - all Paramount), it was blown up to 70mm for special performances. The score is by Jerry Goldsmith. It's a high-end piece of technical work.

Even models used in the battle sequences were large in comparison to the norm, allowing a more realistic feel.

To me, the film loses ground with it's screenplay, which moves away from war drama, and for it's 165 minute length, brings in enough secondary personal drama to turn parts into something akin to a WWII soap opera.

And yet, it's still a quality watch over half a century in.

The new Blu-ray from Paramount, nicely priced at $13 is well worth the price. However, all is not what it might have been.

Presumably with a image harvested from a fine grain, the overall look and feel of the film is decidedly a notch above okay. While the gray scale is generally pleasing and complete in many sequence, it loses ground in others.

Viewed from a nominal seating distance, it generally looks fine, except in cases where the timing might have been a bit better.

Grain structure seems either reduced or derived from a master that's less than new, and many shots also show minor ringing.

Nothing horrible here, and not what would be expected of a modern release. But this is a $13 disc, and allowances must be made.

Audio is 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, and while it doesn't sound pure and original, it does the job.

As to other actors making appearances, there are many that will be recognized.

Franchot Tone (Mutiny on the Bounty '35, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer), Brandon De Wilde (playing Mr. Wayne's son), Patricia Neal, Tom Tryon, Paula Prentiss, Jill Haworth (a Preminger alum), Dana Andrews, Stanley Hallway, Burgess Meredith, Carroll O' Connor, Slim Pickens, George Kennedy, Bruce Cabot (he saved Fay Wray from the gorilla), Larry Hagman, Hugh O'Brien...

And in probably the best (especially by it's length) performance in the film, Henry Fonda.


If I might have a single major gripe about this release is would be the cover art, which makes little sense when one might have the work of a bona fide graphic genius leading the marketing charge.

This:


in_harms_way_1965_linen_original_film_art_f_5000x.jpg


Image – 4

Audio – 4

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Certainly

Recommended

RAH
 

jim_falconer

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And in probably the best (especially by it's length) performance in the film, Henry Fonda.
Respectively disagree. Duke should have been nominated for an academy award for his performance. Hank Fonda did a serviceable job in his 5 minute appearance in the film, but also the role could have been handled by any seasoned actor of his age at the time the film was made.
Thanks for the review Robert. Glad Paramount didn’t make the same mistake with this release, that they did with The Sons Of Katie Elder.
 

Keith Cobby

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Thanks for the review. This is my favourite of all of John Wayne's films, everyone gives a good performance but I have always liked the scenes with Burgess Meredith the most. Needs to be seen on a big screen, would have liked to have seen it theatrically.
 

Billy Batson

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Yes, there's an element of soap opera in it, but only a bit, in a really long film. I like the fact that John Wayne's love interest is a middle aged no nonsense nurse (Patricia Neal), & it's her that moves the relationship into a physical one (being a nurse in wartime, she'd know there's no sense wasting time). Only Stanley Holloway's turn as an Aussie rings false for me. Of course I'd have loved for this to have been an all new Paramount Presents transfer, but then we're probably lucky to have it at all, & for a cheapo release just slipped out, we don't seem to have done too badly.

The film was made just before The Duke had a lung removed for lung cancer, & he doesn't look at all well, but I still wouldn't want to cross him.

I remember on the DVD, there's a bit near the end (when Kirk Douglas steals the plane) where the picture quality gets really awful, no grayscale, just like a really bad dupe, but when I saw it in HD on TV that bit was fine, so they must have fixed whatever was wrong with it.
 
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lark144

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Thanks for the review. This is my favourite of all of John Wayne's films, everyone gives a good performance but I have always liked the scenes with Burgess Meredith the most. Needs to be seen on a big screen, would have liked to have seen it theatrically.
I saw it blown up to 70mm. It was quite impressive, especially the opening dance and concluding battle scene.

This always had a bit of a soapy aspect to it, as it's adapted from a best seller which crosses "They Were Expandable" with "Petyon Place", though that never really bothered me, for when a slutty Barbara Bouchet is piling on the suds, who can complain? And then there's Patricia Neal & Jill Haworth, both excellent. I found Wayne surprisingly mature and three dimensional. You can really relate to his character, which helps smooth out some of the film's more bumpy domestic-romantic passages.

This is on the way to me, and I am looking forward to seeing it again.

Though I agree with Mr. Harris that terrific Saul Bass poster art should have been on the cover. As I recall, Mr. Bass' end credits are phenomenal.
 

Robert Harris

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I saw it blown up to 70mm. It was quite impressive, especially the opening dance and concluding battle scene.

This always had a bit of a soapy aspect to it, as it's adapted from a best seller which crosses "They Were Expandable" with "Petyon Place", though that never really bothered me, for when a slutty Barbara Bouchet is piling on the suds, who can complain? And then there's Patricia Neal & Jill Haworth, both excellent. I found Wayne surprisingly mature and three dimensional. You can really relate to his character, which helps smooth out some of the film's more bumpy domestic-romantic passages.

This is on the way to me, and I am looking forward to seeing it again.

Though I agree with Mr. Harris that terrific Saul Bass poster art should have been on the cover. As I recall, Mr. Bass' end credits are phenomenal.
As far as I'm concerned, anything that Mr. Bass touched was gold.

Consider Spartacus vs the Roman army...
 

Angelo Colombus

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Have the Blu-ray and the image is fine with me. Noticed the Paramount logo not at the beginning of the film and i guess that's been the case when it came out. Kinda long with the personal drama but it holds my interest and the acting is good.
 

Robert Crawford

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I like this Blu-ray more than RAH as it looks outstanding on my 65" OLED and the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD blows away the DVD it replaces in my disc library. Paramount has done a much better job with this BD release than when they released "The Sons of Katie Elder".

Also, this BD has all of the prior DVD's bonus material.
 

lark144

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As far as I'm concerned, anything that Mr. Bass touched was gold.

Consider Spartacus vs the Roman army...
Yes, many of my favorite films credits are by Saul Bass.
He often structured them as little short films with their own internal narrative and visual structure.
That's certainly the case with the end credits for "In Harm's Way".
I recall reading somewhere that, as far as "In Harm's Way" is concerned, Mr. Preminger decided on the narrative and many of the specific images of the end credits before they were produced by Mr. Bass, especially the very end, which they both felt was a kind of moral statement, and as important as the film which proceeded it.
My favorite Saul Bass credit sequence is "Vertigo". Though Mr. Bass commissioned the experimental filmmaker James Whitney to produce those spirals, which are very similar to those in Mr. Whitney's "Yantra" from 1957, I'm assuming the shapes and colors were decided upon by Mr. Bass.
 

cadavra

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Fun anecdote. About 30 years ago when I was at Paramount, I got a call from Michael Hickey, who was in charge of Asset Management. Apparently someone rummaging through a vault stumbled onto a 70mm print of IHW in almost pristine condition. He asked if I had any use for it. "Are you kidding? Hell, yes!" I immediately booked it into every rep house that still had 70mm projectors (including the Fairfax here in L.A.).

A couple of years later, Michael called back and asked if I still had the print. Again I replied, "Are you kidding? Hell, yes!" Turns out they were ready to release it on home video, but the original masters were lost. That 70mm print was literally the sole surviving record of the stereo soundtrack. I immediately brought it in, they copied it, and the home release went off as scheduled.

Now here's the postscript. Many years later, I was on the MPAA Appeals Board, and we got a notice for a picture called DIAMONDS with Kirk. I called and asked, "Is he coming in person?" "Yes." I found a gorgeous lobby card of him from IHW, and during a break I approached him, told him the story, and asked if he would sign the card. And he wrote: "To Mike, who saved it! Kirk Douglas"
 

Rick Thompson

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I remember on the DVD, there's a bit near the end (when Kirk Douglas steals the plane) where the picture quality gets really awful, no grayscale, just like a really bad dupe, but when I saw it in HD on TV that bit was fine, so they must have fixed whatever was wrong with it.
That's also the part of the picture when it lost any grip on believability. Maybe it would have worked on a film released in the midst of WW2, but not since.
 

Scott Voth

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This was one of my favorite WWII John Wayne movies. I haven't seen it in years though so it might be time to add it to the collection. I do remember that the Japanese fleet seems seemed pretty bad with the ships at full speed with no smoke coming out of the stacks. I just added another old but goodie - the Long Ships to my collection.
 

jim_falconer

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Watched this yesterday, and while it’s certainly a nice upgrade over the DVD, the presentation isn’t one to blow your socks off. When I was finished, I was in the mood for a little more Kirk Douglas / John Wayne…so I threw on “Cast A Giant Shadow”. Now that transfer is truly breathtaking. The image is so crystal clear.
 

Robert Crawford

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Watched this yesterday, and while it’s certainly a nice upgrade over the DVD, the presentation isn’t one to blow your socks off. When I was finished, I was in the mood for a little more Kirk Douglas / John Wayne…so I threw on “Cast A Giant Shadow”. Now that transfer is truly breathtaking. The image is so crystal clear.
Well, I guess we disagree as I don't remember "Cast a Giant Shadow" Blu-ray being truly breathtaking. I thought it was on par with "In Harm's Way".
 

Ken Koc

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My father who was there at Pearl Harbor and fought in the Pacific said it was the best film he saw about WWII in the Pacific.
Personally the chemistry between Wayne and Neal was palpable. It was rare to see a mature couple relationship as the main love story in 1965.
 
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Billy Batson

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Yeah, mine's arrived in the UK, I haven't had a chance to look at it yet. Paramount releases Paramount Presents & small batches of catalogue titles at bargain prices, but this film got a no fanfare release of it's own. I'm not complaining, maybe Donovan's Reef & The Shootist will follow.

"It was rare to see a mature couple relationship as the main love story in 1965."

Ha, it's pretty rare now. Is there some sort of law that says the woman love interest has to be 20-30 younger that the leading man :)
 

Randy Korstick

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Not a favorite John Wayne for me. It is a bitt too soapy much more than Hatari which I love. It sounds like the transfer for In Harms Way is the same so so transfer I already have on Digital so I will probably get this one latter down the road.
 

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