Received this film in the mail, less than 24 hours ago, courtesy of Blu-ray label Twilight Time and having already watched it have it say… it is a keeper.
This 1953 directed Roy Baker film, starring Robert Ryan, Rhonda Fleming and William Londigan is a surprisingly intense, gripping and even brutal affair. What begins as a seemingly routine 1950s period film, becomes something far more compelling and intriguing, something that surprised me, watching it for the first time in 2020, in its sophistication of storytelling, and attention to detail, and the efficacy of its survival narrative.
You get a real appreciation for Robert Ryan as an actor, who rarely got the chance to play anything besides vicious heavies, and can appreciate why this was one of his films that he liked. Also actors Rhonda Fleming and William Londigan, likewise give strong performances. Also the accompanying film commentary (if you are watching via Twilight Time disc) gives a thoroughly informative and enriching look into all involved in the film, and the film itself. You particularly learn that contrary to Robert Ryan being typecast largely as heavy, and racist; that he was actually a champion for human and civil rights, and was an erudite and learned man.
Now regarding the Twilight Time Blu-ray disc for this film, it looks good but it does not look great. It looks DVD quality, not remastered, with artifacts, which is most likely the print Twilight time was given by the studio to work with, so I do not hold it against them. But I did want to make you aware you are not getting this release for its picture quality.
As of this writing this film is not available via streaming, and with it being one of the Fox inventory that is now owned by Disney, the chance of a future Region A disc release of this film is currently unlikely.
Though eventually I see this film making it onto a streaming service, and when that happens, it will likely be a better print, higher quality than presented on this disc.
You may think that’s an odd admission from me, considering I am always praising the importance of physical media, and I do prefer physical media. However in some cases, streaming gets it right, and the physical media… doesn’t. And this disc quality wise, leaves room for improvement.
That said, it could be years before this film hits Disney streaming or is re-released on disc, and considering how good of a film it is, that would be a bit of a loss, to film fans and to film history.
And the Blu-ray/Hi-Def limitations of this Blu-ray disc aside, it is perfectly presentable, and worth owning for the special features, and commentary alone. And Twilight time is one of the few labels doing the hard-work of releasing these often long unavailable films. That then get picked up by bigger labels that have the money to remaster the films, etc.
So Twilight Time is definitely a company worth supporting. And as of this writing you can still pickup the INFERNO Blu-ray.
And even if the streaming version was available today, I would still recommend owning the physical version of this movie, because it not only offers you the film, and the special features, but also the ability to donate it or sell it when you are done with it. Something you are not going to be able to do with a digital version that you ‘own’.
The physical version still has inherent resale value.