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A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Sea Wolf -- in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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Jack London's famous 1904 tome of the sea, and the captain of The Ghost, "Wolf" Larsen, had been already produced for the screen. Several times.

A short film, c. 1907, then in 1913, directed and starring Hobart Bosworth, and then in 1920, directed by George Melford, for Paramount. It hit the screen again in 1926 via Ralph Ince (younger brother of Thomas), and again in 1930, directed by Alfred Santell for Fox.

This is a terrific tale of the sea.

This 1941 WB production has been among the missing, at least in it's uncut version for about 70 years.

Strangely, I'd never seen the 1947 re-issue, which had been unceremoniously shorn of 14 minutes, along with (I'm told) Hal Wallis' credit.

I'd first hear of the film around 1966-67, when I met Alexander Knox in an elevator at a hotel in London, and on the ride was able to ask him a few questions about Wilson, and his work on that film. An intelligent, and soft-spoken gentleman, he let me know that he'd probably be taking tea in the late afternoon, and if I happened to be in the hotel...

His quiet performance, which opened a career for him in Hollywood, was in contrast to those of Edward Robinson, Ida Lupino, John Garfield and Barry Fitzgerald, which are, shall we say, far more active.

Until about a year ago, the only known surviving element of this film, was a 16mm print owned by Julie Garfield. The discovery of a 35mm fine grain master in it's uncut form was almost miraculous, leading to what I believe should be a rediscovery of the film.

The Sea Wolf is a magnificent production, with superb performances across the board, gorgeous black & white cinematography by Sol Polito, and a great score by Erick Wolfgang Korngold, whose previous assignment had been The Sea Hawk, a film that Mr. Warner thought might be confused with Wolf.

At the time of its intitial release, The New York Times noted: "The Sea Wolf is strong adventure drama that will sail a profitable course through the theatre box-office, with the fair weather aided considerably by the marquee voltage of Robinson, John Garfield and Ida Lupino.

Michael Curtis directs in a straight line, accentuating the horrors that go on during the voyage of the 'Ghost.' Salty atmosphere is nicely generated through fine setting for the marine sequences."

From a purely tech perspective, this is a magnificent Blu-ray, with rich, black, blacks, deep shadow detail, and major sequences with heavy fog, and nary a digital problem in sight.

While viewing this film, two things came to mind.

First, it seems to be a precursor to the noir dramas that would follow it a few years hence. And second, if I had to spend an evening with either Captain Larsen, Queeg, or Bligh, which might be the most interesting, and the most survivable?

You'll want to grab a copy of this one, as a previously unavailable rarity returns to the fold.


Image - 4.9

Audio - 5

4k Up-rez - 4.9

Pass / Fail - Pass

Highly Recommended

RAH
 
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Steve...O

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Thanks for the comments. Your's along with Crawdaddy's have made me very anxious to view this disc to be one of the ones to, as you said, "rediscover" this film. Amazon says I should have this by EOD today where it will leap to the top of the list.
 

Stephen_J_H

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The latest Warner Archive podcast talked about this earlier this week, and confirms that Hal Wallis' onscreen credit was indeed cut. They also indicated that the fine grain master is a nitrate element, and that the reason for shearing the lost 14 minutes was to allow the film to be played on double bills.
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/warner-archive-podcast/id310063354?mt=2#
 

Robert Crawford

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This Blu-ray displays Polito's cinematography so much better than any previous viewings I experienced with this film. This disc will be in my top ten favorite 2017 releases.
 

Robin9

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I watched this last night. I agree that this is an exceptional presentation of the film. I'm very pleased.
 

Robert Crawford

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Excellent movie and great transfer. These B&W films look so good in HD
They certainly do as I remembered people saying on this forum that they won't upgrade a DVD to Blu-ray because the movie was filmed in black and white. IMO, when it comes to black and white photography, they're wrong in using that logic.
 

atfree

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They certainly do as I remembered people saying on this forum that they won't upgrade a DVD to Blu-ray because the movie was filmed in black and white. IMO, when it comes to black and white photography, they're wrong in using that logic.
I'm actually more impressed with the B&W transfers of older films than many of the color films from those eras.
 

Matt Hough

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I had planned on watching Wonder Woman later today, but I've changed my mind and now The Sea Wolf will be my evening viewing. Looking forward to it.
 

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