DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Damned Don't Cry (RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Jun 9, 2005.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    The Damned Don't Cry






    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1950
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: 103 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Academy
    Audio: DD Monaural
    Color/B&W: B&W
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $19.97
    Package: Single disc/Keepcase





    The Feature:
    Even though we have to wait another month for the 2nd installment of the Film Noir Collection, Warner's upcoming Joan Crawford Collection contains enough noir to keep the average enthusiast happy - well, for six hours at least. On June 14th, Warner will release two collections containing ten films of two of Hollywood's most celebrated and rival actresses; Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. The Crawford Collection contains The Damned Don't Cry (1950), Possessed (1947), Humoresque (1946) which are all new-to-DVD as well as repackaged versions of Mildred Pierce (1945) and The Women (1939) both of which sport identical transfers but are now in Keepcases. The titles are available individually and list for $19.97 or $49.92 for The Collection.

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    In what was the first of three collaborations between Joan Crawford and director Vincent Sherman, Crawford stars as Ethel Whitehead who arrives hurriedly at her family homestead. Told in typical film noir flashback fashion, we learn that Ethel is actually on the lam from the gangster that afforded her the luxury she craved all her life. After growing up in the middle of an oil field surrounded by derricks, Ethel is a frustrated housewife living with her parents and married to a selfish and dull laborer. She leaves the factory town after her young boy is killed in a freak truck accident and vows never to be poor again. While her marriage was on shaky ground to begin with, the tragic and untimely death of her young son is the motivation she needs to leave her family as she heads for the big city in search of the good life.

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    Ethel soon finds work in a cigar-store girl and meets a brilliant but boring Martin Blackford (played by Kent Smith), an accounting wizard to whom she latches on and whom she pushes into an association with crime czar, George Castleman (played by David Brian), while promising the accountant marriage. But she becomes Castleman's mistress, even though the underworld boss has an invalid wife. To smooth out Ethel's (now being to referred to as socialite, Lorna Hansen Forbes) rough edges, Castleman hires a down-and-out socialite who brings culture and polish to the ruthlessly ambitious housewife. But Castleman is just as ruthless and uses Ethel, passing her off as a Texas oil heiress, to worm information from a west coast rival, Nick Prenta (played by Steve Cochran). Eventually both men become embroiled in a violent confrontation after double-dealing with Ethel. Ethel flees into the night, driving herself (fur-wrapped and all) back to the shabby home where it all began. When dawn finally rolls around, the story has come full circle and she sees Castleman outside waiting. Soon she is faced with the decision of her life.

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    The Feature: 4/5
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    Video:
    Presented in it's original Academy ratio of 1.37:1, the transfer is very nice and on par with many of Warner's recent efforts. Blacks were quite deep and whites were decent and clean. There was an acceptable level of grayscale and shadow detail was also impressive.

    The majority of the film looked reasonably sharp with only occasional instances of softness, save for the expected close-ups on the female actresses - very soft in fact. Fine grain was present but was minimal and appropriate, with the overall look of the film having a slightly coarse look to it.

    There were slight instances of dirt and dust and infrequent scratches but this transfer was mostly clean. The image appeared to be solid in nature as light shimmer or jitter never became in issue. Thankfully, there were no compression errors or any type of enhancement issues.

    A very nice job…!!

    Video: 3.5/5
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    Audio:
    Not much to say in the audio department. The soundtrack is DD Mono encoded and for the most part is more than adequate.

    The track is virtually free of any hiss as well as any popping or crackling. The overall fidelity of the track is natural. Dialogue was always intelligible and bold, never becoming strained or edgy. The overall dynamics of the track are rather limited but are on par with what we would expect from a 55 year old film.

    Worth mentioning is the perfect score by Daniele Amfitheatrof which was used to great effect and does a superb job at eliciting just the right emotions of the film and raising the tension level just a notch or two.

    Very little to complain about as this track accomplishes what it needs to do, quite effectively.

    Audio: 3.5/5
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    Special Features:
    Not a lot here in terms of numbers, but all of these are certainly worthy of your time starting with:
    [*] A Commentary By Vincent Sherman. This is a terrific commentary from the gentleman who directed the film. Obviously Mr. Sherman has a great deal of information to contribute and he is as sharp as a tack. He does a terrific job at keeping much of his comments scene specific as he analyzes the film. He does a superb job at setting up the film by describing Ethel's quest for a better life which creates the tension with all of her family members. There's a little dead time here and there but how often are we afforded the luxury of a director commentary from a 55 year old film...? Well worth your time.
    [*] The Crawford Formula: Real and Reel is a documentary relating to the film and the cast & crew members. Some of the participants include Glenn Erickson - DVD Savant, Boze Hadleigh, Dr. Drew Casper and James Ursini. Savant (as usual) does a terrific job talking about the film from a noir standpoint and points out some of the characteristics and highlights. Mr. Sherman also appears and looks terrific - and keep in mind he's 99 years young. The feature concludes with a number of observations and comments about the leading lady and her importance during the Golden Age. Duration: 13:43 minutes.
    [*] And finally the Theatrical Trailer is included which is in great condition. Duration: 2:12 minutes.

    Special Features: 3/5
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    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    In terms of film noir, The Damned Don't Cry is certainly not on the same level as Crawford's other quintessential noir, Mildred Pierce. It is however, an intriguing glimpse of a woman's desire and climb to high society using every man she comes across in the process. Sherman's direction is solid and Crawford turns in another solid performance. While Crawford certainly received her share of recognition and accolades - and deservedly so - she isn't necessary thought of as one of the leading femme fatales in noir circles, no doubt due to the dozens of other critically acclaimed films she appeared in. Make no mistake however, Joan made a picture perfect femme fatale with her distinct physical features and trademark crazed stare.

    The presentation of the film is solid and the special features are worthwhile, particularly the welcome inclusion of the surviving director, Vincent Sherman's commentary. I suspect this title might be the neglected one among this collection of terrific Crawford films but if you're a noir fan, check this one out - you won't be disappointed.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)
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    Recommended...!





    Release Date: June 14th, 2005


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    The Joan Crawford Collection
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  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I never really cared for this film, I guess to each his own. I will check out the commentary by Sherman and the other commentary. I'll have my set tomorrow and the first dvd in my player will be Humoresque which I think is a superior film in more ways than one.







    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Chris Cheese

    Chris Cheese Stunt Coordinator

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    Only three of the films in the set are noirs, correct? This, Possessed and Mildred Pierce?
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    That's correct.





    Crawdaddy
     
  5. Conrad_SSS

    Conrad_SSS Second Unit

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    I think is one of Crawford's best pictures, and this is its first home video incarnation of any kind. It was never on VHS or Laserdisc.

    A great review from Herb....and a must-have for either Noir fans or Crawford fans (or both!).
     
  6. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    I LOVE THIS MOVIE!

    It always puzzled me why this film was never out before. It's truly one of the consummate Joan Crawford movies, and she's terrific all the way through. It has a definite, tough noir feeling to it, and the supporting cast, particularly David Brian, Steve Cochran, and Kent Smith, are all perfectly cast.

    It is amazing that at nearly 100 years old, director Vincent Sherman is still with us! How great that he was able to provide a commentary. I wonder if he makes any reference to the fact that he started having an affair with the leading lady during the filming. I would assume he probably does, as he has been public about this before.

    I've already given away my old snapper copies of THE WOMEN and MILDRED PIERCE, as it's cheaper to buy the three new Crawford pictures in this boxed set that I didn't have, then to buy them individually.

    One of several hundred reasons why nobody beat WB!
     
  7. Mikya

    Mikya Extra

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    Although it casts a wide net, Herb's Noir List includes Humoresque as well.
     
  8. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Very true Mikya. Although I'm not necessarily keen on calling it straight-up noir, the film certainly contains many characteristics including an ending that's as "noir" as any. Certainly many of those who have written about the topic seem to refer to Humoresque as noir including Selby's "Dark City", Duncan's "Noir Films of Trust & Betrayal" as well as Mike Keaney's "Film Noir Guide". Suffice it to say that if you are a fan of darker films i.e. noir, then Humoresque should appeal to you.
     

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