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Blu-ray Review The Detective Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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The Detective Blu-ray Review

When the Hollywood Production Code was discarded in the late 1960s and a new ratings board was established in its place, movies were allowed a much wider variance in portraying violence and sexual situations on the screen. Among the films which took advantage of this newfound permissiveness was Gordon Douglas’ The Detective. With a lurid sex crime at its heart and a fair-minded detective operating among a pit of bigoted and in many cases crooked fellow policemen at the center, The Detective was one of the earliest of the garish crime dramas which would later saturate movie theaters in the 1970s. In retrospect, it’s naïve in places and patently absurd in others, but there are kernels of truth and interest amid the salaciousness and corruption at the movie’s core which make The Detective worth watching.



Studio: Fox

Distributed By: Twilight Time

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 54 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

clear keep case

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: All

Release Date: 12/08/2015

MSRP: $29.95




The Production Rating: 3/5

When Teddy Leikman (James Inman), the homosexual son of one of New York’s most prominent businessmen, is founded bludgeoned to death and castrated, Captain Farrell (Horace McMahon) of the NYPD knows that solving such a high profile case will mean certain promotion for his best detective Sergeant Joe Leland (Frank Sinatra). Though most of the cops in the precinct have no interest in pursuing a case involving gay men, Joe and his new rookie detective/partner Robbie (Al Freeman Jr.) get a tip on Teddy’s former bodybuilding roommate Felix Tesla (Tony Musante) and look at him for the murder as a crime of passion. Though clearly psychotic, Felix is goaded into a confession and is later electrocuted, closing the case and earning Joe his lieutenant’s badge, but a later case involving a crooked land conspiracy operation called Rainbow concerns a suicide named Colin MacIver (William Windom) which has some surprising repercussions for Joe and the department.

 

Oscar-winner Abby Mann’s script is based on the best-selling novel by Roderick Thorp, but there are some changes of locale and personal situations despite hewing fairly closely to the original story. The script and Gordon Douglas’ direction do after a fashion reveal aspects of the gay world which had heretofore never been shown on American movie screens (the Trucks down by the docks in New York City is most prominent though most of the movie was filmed in Los Angeles; the aftermath of a sexual encounter between two men which leads to the murder) though glimpses of men together are brief and always bathed in an atmosphere of shadowy sensationalism, and the extras used in scenes where gay men are interviewed or convene couldn’t be more stereotypical and outrageous. The brightly lit gay bar in the film with its crystal chandelier and dark pink and red color scheme seems quite over-the-top but is like Versailles compared to the dark and dingy place pictured in Otto Preminger’s Advise and Consent. Along with the sordid crime dramas which form the major part of the storytelling, there is a lengthy and particularly unsatisfying subplot (mostly shown in poorly formulated flashbacks) involving Leland’s courtship, marriage, and separation from Karen (Lee Remick) who turns out to be a nymphomaniac. Proving that sexual dysfunction could hit home as well as in his work, the Joe-Karen scenes don’t get nearly the attention such a serious situation deserves and function mainly to interrupt the main storyline as we constantly return to the domestic muddle that is Joe’s life. Gordon Douglas’ direction is rather pedestrian with too many close-ups as characters stare into the camera reciting their dialogue and a shoot-out in a garage that’s badly staged and unbelievable in its resolution.

 

Frank Sinatra was by now an old hand at portraying detectives with two Tony Rome adventures preceding The Detective. He’s certainly the most admirable character in the movie standing up for the downtrodden homosexuals (he punches out two different fellow policemen for their bigotry) and refusing to live a lie burying what he knows about the department by the end of the movie. He’s also more understanding of his wife’s sexual addiction than most men would have been at the time. Lee Remick does what she can with a very poorly written character. Always an intelligent actress, she simply seems out of place here as if in a completely different movie. Ralph Meeker and Robert Duvall play the most prejudiced cops on the force that Sinatra’s Joe must teach a lesson while Jack Klugman amusingly plays Dave Schoenstein, seemingly Joe’s only real friend on the force. Director Douglas allows Tony Musante to go far, far afield playing the psychotic Felix Tesla, and William Windom doesn’t offer much shading in his performance as Colin MacIver either. Horace McMahon as the police captain, Lloyd Bochner as a psychiatrist who holds some keys to the final puzzle, and Renée Taylor as the smothering wife of Klugman’s Schoenstein do fine work in small parts. In one of her earliest roles, Jacqueline Bisset (in a part Sinatra had wanted his then-wife Mia Farrow to play) as Norma MacIver is rather inexpressive and dull.



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film’s original Panavision aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is faithfully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness throughout is quite outstanding, and color values are true and consistent with believable skin tones. There is some inconsistency with contrast from shot to shot, and black levels aren’t always at their optimum. There is also a tiny bit of aliasing in some automobile grillwork, but it’s not a major concern. The movie has been divided into 24 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix is very typical of the mono sound design of the era. Dialogue has been expertly recorded and meshes well with the rather mournful Jerry Goldsmith background score, and the occasional sound effects. No age-related problems with hiss, crackle, or humming mar the aural experience.



Special Features Rating: 3/5

Audio Commentary: film historians Nick Redman, Lem Dobbs, and David Del Valle have an interesting fact-based chat not only about the original novel and the film but also about many aspects to the careers of Frank Sinatra, Gordon Douglas, and many other participants in the film and other related matters in the movie business.

 

Isolated Score Track: Jerry Goldsmith’s score is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.

 

Theatrical Trailers (3:16, 2:23, SD)

 

Six-Page Booklet: contains some interesting color and black and white stills from the movie, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s adept analysis of the movie’s virtues and shortcomings.



Overall Rating: 3.5/5

The Detective offers a fine central performance from Frank Sinatra even if the movie shows its age in other areas of its makeup. The Blu-ray release from Twilight Time offers the film in its best possible condition. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via their website at www.twilighttimemovies.com or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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JohnMor

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Thanks Matt. This was a blind buy for me and I ended up enjoying it more than I expected to. Certainly an excellent cast, even with the director not reining Musante in as much as he should have.
 

sidburyjr

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Is there anything in the extras about John MacClane? I vaguely remember somewhere that The Detective was supposedly connected to the Die Hard series in that Joe Leland was supposedly the young(er) John MacClane, sort of, maybe, even if old blue eyes looks older than Bruce Willis.
 

Vahan_Nisanain

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Jacqueline Bissett's hair was short in this film, and was also short at the premiere. She must have worn a wig for Bullit.


97346341-premiere-of-movie-the-detective-staring-frank-gettyimages.jpg
 

Matt Hough

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sidburyjr said:
Is there anything in the extras about John MacClane? I vaguely remember somewhere that The Detective was supposedly connected to the Die Hard series in that Joe Leland was supposedly the young(er) John MacClane, sort of, maybe, even if old blue eyes looks older than Bruce Willis.
Yes, it is mentioned in the commentary.
 

Robin9

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Thanks for the review.


"In one of her earliest roles, Jacqueline Bisset (in a part Sinatra had wanted his then-wife Mia Farrow to play) as Norma MacIver is rather inexpressive and dull."


Not dull for me when I first saw this film! I fell in love with her! After an hour or so of heavy-weight dramatics involving unlikable characters, her sudden appearance in the film with subdued manner and English accent was so refreshing, it made me sit up.


I don't like this film nearly as much as I once did but I'll buy the disc, partly because I'm interested to hear the commentary. That's very unusual for me because I find most commentaries boring and uninformative.
 

bronson

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I don´t like Sinatra´s arrogance in life because of his stardom.


His wife at the time Mia Farrow was shooting "Rosemary´s Baby" and Sinatra said "I´ve got a small role for you in a movie called "The Detective". His wife said "I can´t, we still shoot "Rosemary´s Baby".


Sinatra said "If you don´t show up to shoot my movie" then it´s over.


The next day Sinatra sent her the divorce papers.


What a jerk. He means because he was Sinatra, he owned the world. I hate such a behavior.
 

JoHud

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bronson said:
His wife at the time Mia Farrow was shooting "Rosemary´s Baby" and Sinatra said "I´ve got a small role for you in a movie called "The Detective". His wife said "I can´t, we still shoot "Rosemary´s Baby".


Sinatra said "If you don´t show up to shoot my movie" then it´s over.


The next day Sinatra sent her the divorce papers.

Citation Needed.
 

Richard Gallagher

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JoHud said:
Citation Needed.

From a 2013 interview with Mia Farrow in Vanity Fair:


Because her husbands were not happy about her making movies away from them, the radiant young actress never capitalized on the enormous potential for fame and fortune she accrued from Rosemary’s Baby. “I had thought I would probably never work again after that,” she says. “I had very little ambition.” Sinatra demanded that she stop working on the film, which ran way over its shooting schedule, and make The Detective with him. “In terms of what Frank would say, I shouldn’t have done any movies. He’s on the record saying, ‘I’m a pretty good provider. I can’t see why a woman would want to do anything else.’ That’s the way men thought, and you felt pretty guilty wanting something for yourself.”


“Do you think if you’d flown around with him and just sat by his side the whole time, you’d still be together?,” I asked.


“Yes, because then he came back, over and over and over and over. I mean, we never really split up.”


http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2013/11/mia-farrow-frank-sinatra-ronan-farrow
 

Cineman

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Richard Gallagher said:
From a 2013 interview with Mia Farrow in Vanity Fair:


Because her husbands were not happy about her making movies away from them, the radiant young actress never capitalized on the enormous potential for fame and fortune she accrued from Rosemary’s Baby. “I had thought I would probably never work again after that,” she says. “I had very little ambition.” Sinatra demanded that she stop working on the film, which ran way over its shooting schedule, and make The Detective with him. “In terms of what Frank would say, I shouldn’t have done any movies. He’s on the record saying, ‘I’m a pretty good provider. I can’t see why a woman would want to do anything else.’ That’s the way men thought, and you felt pretty guilty wanting something for yourself.”


“Do you think if you’d flown around with him and just sat by his side the whole time, you’d still be together?,” I asked.


“Yes, because then he came back, over and over and over and over. I mean, we never really split up.”


http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2013/11/mia-farrow-frank-sinatra-ronan-farrow

I would say just the details included in this one interview strongly suggest there is quite a bit more to the story than merely an "arrogant" star bullying the little lady around in order to get his way. The fact that she continued a romantic relationship with him after the divorce, remained extraordinarily close to him and his family until his death and, as far as I know, never had a bad word to say about him even at the time of the break up could very well indicate that she knows she was partly, perhaps even equally at fault. Had they discussed her career vs their marriage extensively before the wedding? How about a pre-Rosemary's Baby commitment from her to be in his movie, The Detective? No mention of it in this interview, but it certainly appears Mia Farrow knows it wasn't just some bullying "arrogance" on his part to control her life or ruin her career.


Mia Farrow has been a deep showbiz insider since birth really. But she wouldn't have needed to be an insider to know full well that Sinatra had already had one marriage go very badly and in a most public way during those lean Sinatra years when his star was fading and that wife's star was rising. Try Ava Gardner publicly humiliating you with her film shoot dalliances on for size. So Mia Farrow would not have been in the dark about what putting off being with him in order to make movies without him instead meant to him emotionally.


There are few A-list stars in Hollywood history who demonstrably did more than Frank Sinatra to boost and promote, as either the producer or the star who could call some of the shots, the budding careers of "Supporting Actors/Actresses" who were given plum roles, big important scenes in his movies either at his urging or his total agreement; Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Peter Falk, Laurence Harvey, Shirley MacLaine, to name a few. Seriously. Look at the supporting players in those Sinatra vehicles once he had the clout to say yea or nay to handing over some of the better scenes to them instead of "arrogantly" boosting his time and impact on screen.


Tony Musante is a prime example of a beneficiary of the Sinatra generosity in this thread's subject movie (although some would say he went overboard, Musante immediately went on after this movie to be a recognizable name actor with a very successful career in movies and tv). Sinatra understood better than almost any other movie actor how a plum role for a supporting player can change your career and life forever for the better, if given the opportunity to shine, because that is exactly what happened for him re From Here to Eternity. After that, he paid it forward with a vengeance whenever he could. Sure, he knew giving those opportunities to the right actor was also good for the success of the movie, as it was for the success of From Here to Eternity. But it would be particularly good for the actor or actress who was given that opportunity.


Watch The Devil at 4 O'Clock starring Frank Sinatra and Spencer Tracy and see who got the big, emotional, memorable scene in the final minutes of that movie. Bernie Hamilton. Some of you might not recognize the name now but he had a sizable career in films and television post-Devil. Like Tony Musante, he was a near complete unknown prior to being cast alongside Sinatra in that 1961 movie. The final scene could have been re-written to include just Frank Sinatra and Spencer Tracy. Or at least written to give Sinatra a bigger moment than the ones shared by Hamilton and Tracy. Instead, there is this relatively unknown actor placed right between those two mega stars and being given the best moments in the movie. Didn't have to be that way. But it was fine with Sinatra. Might have even been insisted upon by him. It wouldn't have been the first time that happened and it wasn't the last.
 

bronson

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By the way, Sinatra did 2 movies where he played private detective Tony Rome.


"Tony Rome" and "The Lady in Cement". How are those two movies in comparison to "The Detective"?


Is it possible that Twilight also has the rights on the two "Tony Rome" movies.
 

Robin9

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Richard Gallagher said:
From a 2013 interview with Mia Farrow in Vanity Fair:


Because her husbands were not happy about her making movies away from them, the radiant young actress never capitalized on the enormous potential for fame and fortune she accrued from Rosemary’s Baby. “I had thought I would probably never work again after that,” she says. “I had very little ambition.” Sinatra demanded that she stop working on the film, which ran way over its shooting schedule, and make The Detective with him. “In terms of what Frank would say, I shouldn’t have done any movies. He’s on the record saying, ‘I’m a pretty good provider. I can’t see why a woman would want to do anything else.’ That’s the way men thought, and you felt pretty guilty wanting something for yourself.”


“Do you think if you’d flown around with him and just sat by his side the whole time, you’d still be together?,” I asked.


“Yes, because then he came back, over and over and over and over. I mean, we never really split up.”


http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2013/11/mia-farrow-frank-sinatra-ronan-farrow

This does not in any way substantiate what Bronson posted.
 

nyguy2046

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Robin9 said:
This does not in any way substantiate what Bronson posted.

Robert Evans in "The Kid Stays in the Picture" substantiates what was mentioned about the Sinatra/Farrow contretemps over "The Detective" and "Rosemary's Baby", as does Roman Polanski's comments in the supplementary materials for the Criterion "Rosemary's".
 

Cineman

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nyguy2046 said:
Robert Evans in "The Kid Stays in the Picture" substantiates what was mentioned about the Sinatra/Farrow contretemps over "The Detective" and "Rosemary's Baby", as does Roman Polanski's comments in the supplementary materials for the Criterion "Rosemary's".

No one is saying the basic events didn't happen. Just whether it was all as simple, one-sided and brutally direct as stated. I doubt either Robert Evans or Roman Polanski was privy to the intimate discussions about it before, during or after the Sinatra-Farrow break up and divorce. But Mia Farrow was. And her response, stated sentiment and certainly her behavior doesn't substantiate nearly the selfish, "arrogant" bullying characterized by the Hollywood Reporter type anecdote version of it no matter how many times that version is repeated by those who couldn't possibly know the rest of the story.


I'm pretty sure most of us could come up with a three line dialog summary of Robert Evans' and Roman Polanski's least proud moments that would make for an entertaining anecdote to read in the Hollywood Reporter or repeat to friends over drinks but wouldn't exactly hold up to the rest of the story they'd like to tell about it and could rightfully be told about it. Which is true of any of us, for that matter.
 

nyguy2046

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Cineman said:
No one is saying the basic events didn't happen. Just whether it was all as simple, one-sided and brutally direct as stated. I doubt either Robert Evans or Roman Polanski was privy to the intimate discussions about it before, during or after the Sinatra-Farrow break up and divorce. But Mia Farrow was. And her response, stated sentiment and certainly her behavior doesn't substantiate nearly the selfish, "arrogant" bullying characterized by the Hollywood Reporter type anecdote version of it no matter how many times that version is repeated by those who couldn't possibly know the rest of the story.


I'm pretty sure most of us could come up with a three line dialog summary of Robert Evans' and Roman Polanski's least proud moments that would make for an entertaining anecdote to read in the Hollywood Reporter or repeat to friends over drinks but wouldn't exactly hold up to the rest of the story they'd like to tell about it and could rightfully be told about it. Which is true of any of us, for that matter.

Mia Farrow has also indicated this is just how it happened (read her memoir). Can we perhaps drop this? Or are there really people who still believe Frank Sinatra could do no wrong? That's what your post seems to boil down to.


Anyway, this is for a review of "The Detective", not "Rosemary's Baby".
 

Cineman

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nyguy2046 said:
Mia Farrow has also indicated this is just how it happened (read her memoir). Can we perhaps drop this? Or are there really people who still believe Frank Sinatra could do no wrong? That's what your post seems to boil down to.


Anyway, this is for a review of "The Detective", not "Rosemary's Baby".

Can do no wrong? My my, but Sinatra does bring out the irrational reactions, doesn't he? The odd thing is, he always has. Not sure why.


I heard he once killed a guy for snoring. Happy?
 

Tina_H_V

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I will look into adding this one for my birthday in June--which, ironically, is Gay Pride Month. :) I will listen to the commentary on this one, most definitely.


I also read the 1966 Roderick Thorpe novel in the time following 9-11. It is quite an interesting read.
 

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