DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Detective Story (Recommended)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Oct 24, 2005.

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  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Detective Story



    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1951

    Rated: NR

    Length: 103 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: Full Screen 1.33:1

    Audio: Dolby Digital English Mono, French Mono

    Closed Captioned and subtitled in English

    Special Features: None

    Suggested Retail Price: $14.99 USD


    Release Date: October 25, 2005

    William Wyler’s claustrophobic screen adaptation of Sydney Kingsley’s Broadway play is an intense psychological study of one of New York’s Finest amid the bedlam of his Manhattan precinct. Virtually the entire film plays out inside the precinct walls, as we watch the unraveling of the hero amidst the everyday backdrop of the police station.

    Kirk Douglas stars as Detective James McLeod, the hard and rigid workaholic detective who isn’t above roughing up a suspect, yet who has his own moral code of principles under which he works. Eleanor Parker is his wife, Mary, who is tormented by a guilty secret.

    While the day-to-day business of the precinct swirls around them - a frightened girl (Lee Grant) is booked for shoplifting, a manic burglar (Joseph Wiseman) is interrogated - an old case comes to the fore which pits McLeod against a detestable man, and brings to light Mary’s awful secret.

    Wyler delivered an engrossing, gut-wrenching drama in this film - with the help of outstanding performances from Douglas, Parker, Grant, and William Bendix - and outstanding black and white photography by Lee Garmes. What could have been standard melodramatic fare, in these hands, is a cinematic work of art.

    Those who are familiar with the TV series Barney Miller (1975 - 1982) will see the heavy influence this film had on the series - from the look of the precinct to its regular invasion by the city’s strangest of characters.

    While the film that seems to have inspired Barney Miller has some of the same style comedic moments, Detective Story is firmly rooted in the dramatic genre. The film is somewhat dated, but has a gritty realism that, in the hands of Wyler and Douglas, will grab you and pull you in until the explosive climax.

    The film was recognized at Oscar time, picking up nominations for Wyler, Parker and Grant, as well as the writing team of Robert Wyler and Philip Yorden for their adapted screenplay.

    The Transfer
    Presented in full screen format, this transfer closely replicates the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. The film elements are in excellent shape, displaying only occasional specks of debris.

    The image has good sharpness and contrast, showing off Garmes beautiful black and white photography in a very good light. Black levels are strong, and there remains considerable detail in shadow areas. The picture has a good, comfortable midpoint and clean white areas that never clip.

    This is an outstanding transfer.

    The Audio is presented in your choice of English or French Mono. The English soundtrack has a fairly good dynamic range and clean dialog. There is a noticeable background hiss throughout - but as far as I can tell, this soundtrack accurately portrays the source elements.

    Special Features
    None.

    Final Thoughts
    An excellent, gripping drama from one of the finest filmmakers of the 20th Century. This film gets a solid treatment on DVD from Paramount.

    Recommended.
     
  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Scott: Thanks for the review!

    This one caught my eye this week. Easy to see why with a pedigree like its got: Wyler, Douglas, Grant, Parker, & Bendix.

    Actually, Wyler, Parker & Grant and the screenwriters were all nominated for Oscars...but did not win. But look who beat them out: Wyler lost to George Stevens for A Place in the Sun, Parker lost to Vivien Leigh's performance in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Grant lost to Kim Hunter's performance in A Streetcar Named Desire. This was the same year as The African Queen and An American in Paris.

    However, people should note that Lee Grant won the Best Actress award at Cannes for his performance in Detective Story. And, Grant, Kirk Douglas and the film itself were all nominated for Golden Globes that year.

    It sounds like a fascinating film.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It's a great film that has been copied by other films. I watched the dvd earlier this evening and the dvd presentation if not excellent then very good. Also, Paramount's release of "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" is another very good dvd presentation. Today was a Kirk Douglas double feature day for me.[​IMG]






    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    It's on my list to review. Falling behind...

    -Scott
     
  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    So many films...so little time... [​IMG]
     
  6. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    You will be hearing from my lawyers [​IMG]
     
  7. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    [​IMG] I hear those Brit barristers are the worst...bowlers and umbrellas and all!

    Sorry, John! [​IMG]
     
  8. Mark Edward Heuck

    Mark Edward Heuck Screenwriter

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    I'm rather curious as to why the credits read "A Paramount Re-Release" on the back. I know that for years films would get reissued theatrically and the credits would be adjusted accordingly on posters and other ads, but it seems funny to continue to list it as a "re-release" on the DVD. Was this originally made at another studio and Paramount is thus contractually obligated to refer to their handling as a second-time issue?
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    No, this was a Paramount release all the way. There have been too many mistakes to document on dvd boxes so perhaps this might be just another one.




    Crawdaddy
     
  10. Ira Siegel

    Ira Siegel Stunt Coordinator

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    I just purchased and watched this DVD based on Scott's review. Excellent review and excellent movie. While I have vague memories of this movie from viewings on TV in the 50s, my memory was not strong enough to link it to Barney Miller. Scott's comment about the Barney Miller television series' roots being in this film is dead on. Take out the McLead/Shneider subplot, and you have a movie-quality Barney Miller episode. Wiseman (funny and scary) and Grant (funny and sympathetic) are spectacular. All the actors are great. I highly recommend this DVD.
     

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