Thursday, February 1, 2007

HIS KIND OF WOMAN (RKO 1951) Warner Home Video

With a cast that includes Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Raymond Burr, Vincent Price and Tim Holt, His Kind of Woman (1951) ought to have been scintillating entertainment. As it stands, this perennially requested film noir as a lot of dandy items in the window, but inevitably comes up a ‘no sale.’

It’s very much a period piece, relying heavily on Mitchum’s celebrated persona as a loner to bolster what little integrity and style it has. Plot wise, the film is concerned with deported crime kingpin Nick Ferraro (Raymond Burr) who desires to re-enter the United States. On problem – he’s public enemy number one with zero chance of getting in without being nabbed by the Feds.

So Ferraro gets himself a stooge - honest gambler Dan Milner (Mitchum), whom he subjected to a series of planned misfortunes before bribing him to take a trip to Mexico. The plot thickens – but just slightly – when Dan hooks up with sultry chanteuse Lenore Brent (Jane Russell). Lenore is Dan’s kind of woman. Believing that he actually has a chance at winning Lenore’s heart (and quite unaware that she does not possess one) the two arrive at the swank Morros Lodge in Baja California. But circumstances are not what they appear. The moneyed patrons are all playing parts. So, is Dan a patsy? Who can he trust? How will it all end? In the realm of noir there are few possibilities for a happy outcome.

And even fewer possibilities for enjoying this film as it currently exists on DVD. Image quality is shockingly bad. Apparently sourced from a second or third generation print, the overall visual characteristic is clumpy and slightly out of focus. At no time during this presentation does the image come anywhere close to being even middle of the road. Blacks are muddy, dull and gray. Whites are gray. Age related artifacts (dirt, scratches, chips) are so plentiful one wonders where the film has been stored all these years.

Warner Home Video has not even had the decency to progressively master this transfer for viewing on big screen displays. Edge enhancement, tiling, shimmering of fine details and digital combing all plague the image. The audio is mono and adequately represented. An audio commentary is included but one wonders why when the overall presentation is as close to forgettable as possible. Truly, there is nothing to recommend this DVD to the consumer. Don’t waste your money!

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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