The Web – Blu-ray Review

4 Stars Universal noir debuts on home video

Prior to arriving in Hollywood, Michael Gordon was a stage actor in New York City as a member of the Group Theatre – something of a precursor to the Actor’s Studio – during the 1930’s. When he came to Tinseltown in 1940, he found work as a dialogue director and later graduated to the director’s chair, cutting his teeth working on 4 B movies for Columbia Pictures in 1942 and 1943. After a couple of years, he was brought over to Universal-International Pictures where he would make a name for himself with film noir flavored dramas and thrillers, starting with The Web. Kino has licensed the movie from Universal for its home video debut.

The Web (1947)
Released: 25 May 1947
Rated: Approved
Runtime: 87 min
Director: Michael Gordon
Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Cast: Ella Raines, Edmond O'Brien, William Bendix
Writer(s): William Bowers, Bertram Millhauser, Harry Kurnitz
Plot: An attorney acting as a body guard, apparently kills a man in defense of his employer's life, and later believes the victim was set up to be murdered.
IMDB rating: 7.1
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Universal
Distributed By: Kino Lorber
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 27 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Blue keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 07/13/2021
MSRP: $24.99

The Production: 4/5

Small time lawyer Bob Regan (Edmond O’Brien) finds himself in a pickle after taking on a job as personal bodyguard for businessman Andrew Colby (Vincent Price). It happens when he shoots Colby’s former associate Leopold Kroner (Fritz Leiber) after the former convinces Regan that Kroner was trying to kill him. However, as both Regan’s friend with the police Lt. Damico (William Bendix) and Kroner’s daughter Martha soon reveal to him, Kroner was not the unhinged man that Colby made him out to be. Now facing a potential murder charge, Regan tries to expose the two-timing Colby, but could end up in even deeper trouble along with Colby’s secretary Noel (Ella Raines).

For his first foray into film noir, director Michael Gordon infuses The Web with a great sense of atmosphere as well as adding a few genuine twists. In addition to the visual style brought by the director and cinematographer Irving Glassberg (making his first film in that capacity after paying his dues as a second and assistant cameraman), screenwriters William Bowers and Bertram Millhauser add to the stew with a sly and wry sense of humor in the dialogue; the latter was certainly no stranger to that since he was just coming off of a run of 6 Sherlock Holmes movies which he scripted while Bowers was making his noir debut here after scripting mostly comedies and musicals. Best of all, the cast here play their parts with great relish and in the process, either play into or against their type, which adds to the fun here. Overall, The Web is a very entertaining little noir that helped to establish Gordon as a director and also help two of its stars to greater heights.

Fresh off of playing insurance man turned sleuth in Robert Siodmak’s The Killers (1946), Edmond O’Brien is a solid lead as lawyer turned personal bodyguard who soon finds himself in over his head; he would later win an Oscar for playing Ava Gardner’s press agent in The Barefoot Contessa (1954). As the suave yet diabolically cunning Colby, Vincent Price is offered one of his best character parts outside of Laura (1944); he, of course, would become one of the most recognized faces and talents in the horror genre, starting with House of Wax (1953). Ella Raines, one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the noir genre, makes for an appropriately headstrong secretary, while William Bendix effectively plays against type as the hard-edged cop buddy of Regan who suspects his friend has been manipulated into doing Colby’s dirty work. Rounding out the cast here are Fritz Leiber as the ill-fated Kroner, Maria Palmer as his daughter, John Abbott as Colby’s right hand man Murdock, Tito Vuolo as a client of Regan’s and Wilton Graff as the district attorney.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in its original 1:37:1 aspect ratio for this release. Film grain is organic, with fine details and gray scale given faithful representations; there are some instances of scratches, tears, dirt and speckling present but they’re mostly minor and not too distracting. For a movie that hasn’t seen the light of day on home video until now, this is likely the best it will ever look on the format.

Audio: 5/5

The film’s original mono soundtrack is presented on a DTS-HD Master Audio track for this release. Dialogue is clear with the sound mix and Hans J. Salter score also given a faithful representation in clarity and strength as well; there’s little to no problems like distortion, crackling or hissing present here. This release represents likely the best the movie will ever sound on home video.

Special Features: 3/5

Commentary by professor/film scholar Jason A. Ney – Recorded for this release, Ney talks about the careers of the cast and crew as well as breaking down the themes and aspects of the movie.

Theatrical Trailer (2:17)

Bonus KLSC Trailers – Alias Nick Beal, Shield for Murder, Calcutta, The Sleeping City, O.S.S., Thunder on the Hill, Kiss the Blood Off My Hands

Overall: 4/5

White it mostly passed through theaters without much notice, The Web has emerged as a small hidden gem in the noir genre that’s worth rediscovering. Kino continues its run in giving rarities like this movie a solid home video release, with a great HD transfer and an informative commentary track to mark this film’s debut on home video. Highly recommended. The Web [Blu-ray]: Edmond O’Brien, Ella Raines, Vincent Price, William Bendix: Movies & TV

Mychal has been on the Home Theater Forum’s reviewing staff since 2018, with reviews numbering close to 300. During this time, he has also been working as an assistant manager at The Cotton Patch – his family’s fabric and quilting supplies business in Keizer, Oregon. When not working at reviewing movies or working at the family business, he enjoys exploring the Oregon Coast, playing video games and watching baseball in addition to his expansive collection of movies on DVD, Blu-ray and UHD, totalling over 3,000 movies.

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