- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
Shot in just a few days to get its 3D images on the screen before any other major studio of the era, Lew Landers’ Man in the Dark is only a mediocre noir drama but a wonderful 3D experience. Those looking for in-depth characterizations or trailblazing action won’t find a lot to recommend with this quickie thriller, but those looking for a first-rate 3D feature will enjoy all facets of its make-up: the depth of image, the always interesting placement of props and people within the frame, and the numerous forward projections some of which startle with their quickness and impact.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC, 1080P/MVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 7 Min.
Package Includes: 3D Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 01/21/2013
Career criminal Steve Rawley (Edmond O’Brien) and his gang have stolen $130,000, and Steve has hidden it where no one, not even his faithful girl friend Peg (Audrey Totter), knows where it is. In order to get out of jail long before his robbery conviction sentence is over, Steve submits to an experimental brain operation by Dr. Marston (Dayton Lummis) which will remove the part of the brain which controls his malevolent behavior. The operation is a success, but it leaves him with complete amnesia; he doesn’t even remember his real name. His former gang (Ted de Corsia, Horace McMahon, Nick Dennis), unhappy that he hasn’t shared the location of the stolen loot, abducts him and attempts to coax the information out of him not believing his protests of ignorance about his identity or the location of the money. Insurance investigator Jawald (Dan Riss) locates the gang’s hideout before the police and waits for Rawley and company to make a move. Sure enough, a series of nightmares gives Rawley enough clues to begin his own investigation for the money's location though Peg, ever the trusty companion, begs Steve to forget the ill-gotten gains and simply begin a new life with her.
The Production Rating: 3/5
A remake of the 1936 film The Man Who Lived Twice, Man in the Dark has interesting plot and character points that due to the small budget and hasty filming schedule simply aren’t developed in the George Bricker-Jack Leonard screenplay (for example: is it pure greed for the money or his true criminal nature reemerging that causes Steve to revert to the tough cookie he was before the operation in the film’s final reels; is it the love of a good woman or the lack of that criminal part of his brain that allows him to make the decision he makes in the final shots?). With the film being shot so quickly, director Lew Landers didn’t have much opportunity for visual imagination, but one of Steve’s nightmares is rather stylishly designed and shot with an off-kilter camera and the disturbing, garish images at a carnival which can sometimes rightly be relegated to one’s bad dreams making it not only the most visually interesting of the film’s sequences but also offering up some solid clues to the solution of the film’s mystery. The mystery of the hidden money is another facet of the story that isn’t milked for all it could have been, but it will hold one’s attention long enough to enjoy the numerous 3D tomfoolery that gives the picture its real distinction. The film’s climactic sequence on a roller coaster doesn’t manage to wring all of the dramatic and cinematic possibilities out of its setting (for one thing, we aren’t always sure who each of the characters is when the filming is done from below the actors), but it has its moments.
Though four years older than the character he’s playing in the movie (and actually looking a bit older than thirty-eight), Edmund O’Brien is by far the most impressive performer in the movie as Steve Rawley. He offers both a tough criminal type and a rather milquetoast alternative after the operation (though he certainly remembers how to use his fists quickly enough later in the movie), and his characterization is complex enough for the viewer not to really be sure where he’s going to land by film’s end. Audrey Totter gets to play tipsy in a bar scene but otherwise acts the faithful moll without much imagination. Ted de Corsia plays a stereotypical heavy without much flair either, but John Harmon and Ruth Warren have some good back-and-forth insult dialogue as a battling couple at the carnival.
The film’s original 1.33:1 theatrical aspect ratio is replicated in this 1080p transfer using the MVC/AVC codec (the disc offers both 2D and 3D encodes). The image is pristine with no signs of age anyway apart from some occasional lighter bands at the right edge of the frame. Grayscale is outstanding with nice black levels and levels of gray that are impressive even when viewed through polarized glasses. Sharpness is also excellent: details in facial features, hair, and clothes are easily seen. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: 5/5
As another of the Golden Age 3D films which found many opportunities to utilize the medium within the film’s story, the 3D here is terrific and features no significant problems with ghosting. Though the depth offered with the process makes Steve’s hospital room seem rather gigantic, the expansion of all of the indoor sets allows the director to place people and props in interesting arrays always offering a stereoscopic experience that makes the 3D transfer the go-to version of the film for home viewing. And the forward projections are numerous and fun: sometimes surprising (a man falling from a great height in your face will likely make you jump; spiders and birds, fists and guns and the surgical instruments used during the operation are all thrust forward) and sometimes just a matter of the photography (a tree branch unobtrusively protrudes outward near the film’s beginning). Some may call it gimmicky (a roller coaster sequence near the film’s climax using obvious rear projection tries to beat This Is Cinerama at its own game), but why else have 3D if you’re not going to offer something one can’t experience in the 2D version?
The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix has been nicely engineered to remove any age-related hiss, crackle, or other audio artifacts. There isn’t much bass to the mix, but dialogue has been solidly recorded and is presented here without the music score or the sound effects intruding on the viewer’s understanding.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Isolated Score Track: offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
Theatrical Trailer (1:39, HD): Edmond O’Brien himself introduces the picture to the viewer.
Six-Page Booklet: some excellent black and white stills, the colorful poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s interesting take on the film and its impact in 3D.
Man in the Dark may not rank high in the annals of film noir, but as a 3D experience, it’s a lark and for those with the at-home capability, completely and enthusiastically recommended.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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