WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS FILM NOIR 12 Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 1950 Film Length: 95 minutes Genre: Crime/Drama/Film Noir Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.33:1 Colour/B&W: B&W Audio:[*] English & Spanish 2.0 mono [*]English 2.0 stereo Subtitles: English & Spanish Film Rating: Not Rated Release Date: December 6, 2005. Film Rating: / Starring: Dana Andrews (Detective Sergeant Mark Dixon), Gene Tierney (Morgan Paine), Gary Merrill (Tommy Scalise), Karl Malden (Detective Luentenient Thomas), Bert Freed (Detective Sergeant Paul Kline), Tom Tully (Jiggs Taylor), Craig Stevens (Ken Paine) Written by: Ben Hecht and Robert E. Kent Directed by: Otto Preminger He couldn’t shake loose from what he was… In Where the Sidewalk Ends, director Otto Preminger reunites Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney, his stars in Laura. Being such a big fan of Laura, I was doubtful that the same on screen chemistry from these actors was possible a second time. However, Where the Sidewalk Ends exceeded my expectations: not only was the chemistry hot, but the script was edgy and the story enthralling. The only missing piece is a villain as sly as Waldo Lydecker. This time around, Dana Andrews plays Detective Mark Dixon. Being a police detective is Dixon’s way of refusing to be like his ex-con father. However, Dixon inevitably inherited his father’s ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude. As a result, Dixon’s tough attitude and harsh approach to arrest is not highly respected by his colleagues. Nonetheless, Dixon believes that bullying the bad guy is essential to being a successful detective. When Dixon is assigned to locate murder suspect Ken Paine, he waits patiently in Paine’s apartment while his partner Kline searches the nearby bars. When Paine returns to his apartment, Dixon roughs him up in hopes of getting a confession. When Paine resists Dixon’s threats, Dixon uses more force. So much so, that he knocks Paine to the ground. As Paine lies motionless, Kline phones Dixon asking him to watch his temper; Paine is a highly respected war hero with a metal plate in his head. At this time, Dixon realizes that the overwhelming force he displayed has killed Paine. Dixon begins to panic. If the police find out about the accident, they will surely discharge Dixon from the force. Dixon sees no alternative but to dispose of Paine’s body, making it appear as though Paine is running from the police. Dixon feels somewhat relieved when his colleagues believe that Paine’s disappearance is an indication of guilt. When Dixon visits Paine’s wife Morgan to inform her of her husband’s disappearance, he meets a beautiful but fragile woman. Morgan confesses that she and Paine are in the midst of a separation because of Paine’s violent temper. Dixon can’t help but be attracted to Morgan. However, things get complicated when Paine’s dead body is found and the police learn of a marital quarrel between Paine and Morgan on the night of his disappearance. Things get more complicated when Dixon begins to fall in love with Morgan and learns that her father has been charged with Paine’s murder. Dixon knows that he can provide a wonderful life for Morgan, one that she never had with Paine. Yet he also knows how much pain Morgan is in because her father’s arrest and pending murder trial. The challenges and emotions that overwhelm Mark Dixon are typical of the flawed noir hero: He is a good man but forever at a disadvantage because of the qualities he inherited from his father. Dixon is wants to be loved and is capable of returning that love to Morgan. However, that love will never be honest as long as Morgan’s father takes the heat for Paine’s murder. Dixon knows that he risks losing Morgan if he reveals that he is the one responsible for Paine’s death. The question is: Can Dixon come to terms with his past and take control of his future or is Dixon inevitably doomed from the start? (DS) VIDEO QUALITY / This is an outstanding restoration and transfer of this awesome film noir title! This title could almost easily pass for a brand new film – that’s how clean, clear, and three dimensional the image on this DVD is. There is barely a blemish, a fleck of dirt, or a mosquito effect happening on this picture. You will NOT be disappointed. I was amazed of how good this title looks. I would bet that next to Panic in the Streets, this is one of the finest looking film noir titles Fox has released. Excellent job!! Nit-picky viewers will find it hard to find a trace of edge enhancement. I didn’t. Black levels are solid and still show very good detail. All shades of grey appear neutral, and not as warm as other black and white films I’ve viewed at 5400K. The brightest white never looked clipped either. A lot of care must have gone into this restoration and the results prove it. This is a fine DVD presentation with a film aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (and 1.78:1 anamorphic menus and still galleries). This is a title that deserves an HD Blu-Ray release (but no cropping of 1.37:1 please!!). (MO) AUDIO QUALITY / The audio quality is good. When comparing it to Fox’s film sound of the late ‘40s, the progress of recorded audio can be heard; it’s cleaner and clearer sounding than other releases only a few years prior. The dialogue sounds a little more rounded, sound effects become more numerous and prominent, and the music has more impact. The original recording is mono, and there is a little bit of background hiss on this track. There is a stereo soundtrack available as well. It doesn’t sound like ‘fake-stereo’ like the other soundtracks I’ve heard and avoided on past noir titles. This one actually has the dialogue still in the centre of the soundstage as well as virtually all sound effects and music. I noticed a nearly discrete left-channel effect at the beginning of the film; the honking of cars on the streets at night. Beyond that, during my viewing, I didn’t notice much else that didn’t appear mono. There stereo sound that is on the stereo option is the mono soundtrack enhanced a bit to appear slightly wider. Like the recently released title Pinky, I still prefer the mono soundtrack option. Both options are encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0. (MO) SPECIAL FEATURES / There is an audio commentary from film noir historian Eddie Muller who speaks about many things of this movie’s design, production, and talent. It sounds good from what I’ve listened to, so fans shouldn’t miss out on it. You also have access to 49 stills/photo gallery showing shots of the movie, poster art, and profiles of Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. (MO) IN THE END… Overall, Where the Sidewalk Ends is a fast paced, gripping noir drama. I attribute the intensity of the film to the performance given by Dana Andrews. I’m grateful to Fox for including this hidden gem in their series. This is one film you won’t want to miss this year! Michael Osadciw & Debrah Scarfone January 17, 2006.