Eddie Muller's insights on 'The Lineup' make it a must-own for noir fans. Top 2020 release contender.
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The Lineup on Blu-ray, with its organic visuals and solid grading from an older Sony master, presents well despite minor flaws. Rated 4.25/5, Region-B locked.
The Blu-ray features an English LPCM 1.0 audio track with optional English SDH subtitles, noting minor dialog level fluctuations true to the original, good clarity, and limited music presence.
Vintage, commentary-rich package with The Lineup, featuring insights on noir's influence, San Francisco locales, detailed audio commentaries, remastered trailers, radio episodes, and an exclusive book.
Don Siegel's The Lineup (1958) redefines film noir with action-packed daylight scenes in San Francisco, minus genre clichés, on Blu-ray with rich extras.
The Lineup, a notable entry in the lineup of classic film noirs, has made its way onto Blu-ray with a presentation that respects its heritage while navigating the limitations of its source materials. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and encoded with MPEG-4 AVC for a 1080p transfer, this release by Indicator/Powerhouse Films exhibits a commitment to quality albeit sourced from an older master provided by Sony Pictures. This master, previously utilized for the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics I DVD set in 2009, displays a commendable fidelity to the film's original aesthetic. Observers will note that while density levels and grain exposure occasionally betray the master's age with unevenness, the overall visual presentation is preserved without the interference of egregious digital enhancements.
The video quality maintains a strong organic integrity, with image stability that is largely commendable. Although slight imperfections such as minor spots and blemishes remain visible, they do little to distract from the overall viewing experience. Particularly praiseworthy is the color grading; primaries are robust, and the nuanced range of supporting colors lends a vibrant life to outdoor scenes, fully encapsulating the visual storytelling of the era. It is worth noting, however, that viewers might detect variability in clarity and delineation, particularly evident on larger screens where such shifts are more discernible.
Technical considerations aside, this Blu-ray edition underscores a respect for the source material tempered by the realities of its age. Without falling prey to overzealous digital restoration, it offers a viewing experience that is as close to authentic as possible under the circumstances. The absence of significant digital artifacts allows for an appreciation of the film's cinematography and artistic intentions. It's a region-B locked Blu-ray release which requires the appropriate player, a minor inconvenience for an otherwise impressive presentation. With these factors in mind, this version of The Lineup earns a respectful nod with a rating of 4.25 out of 5, acknowledging both its strengths and inherent limitations.
The audio presentation of "The Lineup" on Blu-ray is delivered via an English LPCM 1.0 track, accompanied by optional English SDH subtitles for those who may need them. This singular audio option focuses on maintaining the original sound design's authenticity, offering a glimpse into how the movie was intended to sound at the time of its release. The clarity and sharpness of the audio are commendable, ensuring that each line of dialogue and sound effect is discernible, preserving the atmospheric intention of the filmmakers.
However, it's important to note that there are occasional instances where the dialogue's dynamic levels experience minor drops. These fluctuations are more noticeable during certain exchanges between characters, contrasting the consistency observed in sequences featuring outdoor action. While these variations might initially suggest potential encoding issues, closer scrutiny suggests that they are inherent to the original soundtrack's production values. Such observations underscore the age and technical limitations present at the time of the film's audio recording.
Despite these minor dynamic inconsistencies, the overall audio experience does not heavily rely on a musical score to convey its narrative or enhance its tension. The relatively sparse use of music allows the focus to remain on the vocal performances and ambient sounds, contributing to an authentic auditory experience. This approach in audio presentation emphasizes dialogue and diegetic sounds over musical embellishment, aligning with the film's storytelling technique and period-specific production characteristics. Thus, while acknowledging its minor imperfections, this LPCM 1.0 track admirably serves its purpose, virtually transporting the listener back to the era of the film's initial release.
The Blu-ray extras for "The Lineup" present a compelling package that significantly enhances the film's appeal for cinephiles and noir enthusiasts alike. The inclusion of remastered trailers, radio episodes, and especially the engaging commentary tracks provide deep dives into the film's production, its iconic San Francisco setting, and its impact on the genre. Notably, the audio commentary by Eddie Muller and James Elroy stands out for its rich blend of informative content and entertainment. The segment with Christopher Nolan discussing film noir's influence on his work adds a contemporary perspective, bridging the classic with modern filmmaking. Additionally, the inclusion of "The Three Stooges in Tricky Dicks" offers a lighter, period-appropriate complement to the main feature, while the extensive book included rounds out the extras with valuable insights and historical context, making this a definitive edition for both scholars and fans of classic cinema.
Extras included in this disc:
- Trailer: Remastered vintage trailer for The Lineup.
- Trailer Commentary: An episode of Trailers From Hell with Josh Olson.
- Radio Episodes: Three episodes featuring 'The Candy Story Murder', 'The Case of Frankie and Joyce', and 'The Harrowing Haggada Handball Case'.
- The Streets of San Francisco: A program visiting real locations used in the film.
- Christopher Nolan: The Influence of Noir: Nolan discusses film noir's impact.
- Audio Commentary One: Archival commentary by Eddie Muller and James Elroy.
- Audio Commentary Two: Commentary by David Del Valle and C. Courtney Joyner.
- Image Gallery: Vintage promotional and production materials.
- The Three Stooges in Tricky Dicks: Fully remastered short film.
- Book: A 120-page book with essays, interviews, and film credits.
Don Siegel's 1958 film noir classic, "The Lineup," is masterfully presented in this Blu-ray release by Indicator/Powerhouse Films, a testament to the film's enduring appeal and Siegel’s innovative approach to the genre. Unlike the traditional film noir, Siegel eschews long dark shadows and dramatic angles for a raw action-packed narrative set under the sunlit streets of San Francisco, unfolding over a single day. This unique formula, which Siegel reprises in "Dirty Harry," sets "The Lineup" apart, showcasing his ability to defy genre conventions while delivering a gripping story. The collaboration with cinematographer Hal Mohr, a San Francisco native, further enhances the authenticity and vibrancy of the location shots, drawing parallels yet establishing its distinct identity from other San Francisco-based films like "Bullitt."
The narrative follows gangsters Dancer (Eli Wallach) and Julian (Robert Keith) as they navigate a series of escalating mishaps in their quest to deliver heroin hidden in unsuspecting travelers' luggage to their elusive boss, The Man (Vaughn Taylor). Their plans unravel amidst a backdrop of betrayal, addiction, and a fatal police chase, culminating in a chaotic showdown at the Sutro Baths and Museum. Siegel’s adept storytelling keeps viewers engaged through a mix of clever macho dialogues and dynamic action sequences, though it occasionally sidesteps realism for dramatic effect, especially in its portrayal of police procedures.
Indicator's Blu-ray edition appreciates Siegel's work through supplemental features including archival audio commentary by noir expert Eddie Muller and author James Elroy, providing insightful retrospectives on Siegel’s artistic choices and challenges. While "The Lineup" diverges from the moodiness typical of film noir for a more transparent visual style shared with Siegel’s later works, this release honors its place in the genre, offering a comprehensive look at Siegel's vision and the vibrant setting of San Francisco that frames this unconventional narrative.
The Blu-ray release of "The Lineup," as part of Indicator/Powerhouse Films' Columbia Noir #1 box set, stands out significantly due to its inclusion of archival commentary by film noir expert Eddie Muller and author James Ellroy. This feature alone renders the disc a cornerstone for aficionados of the genre, providing insightful and engaging perspectives that breathe new life into Don Siegel's classic. Esteemed for their deep understanding and passion for film noir, Muller's and Ellroy's contributions are highlighted as a defining aspect of this release, making it a compelling purchase for collectors and enthusiasts alike. The quality and depth offered by this commentary set a high standard for what is expected in re-releases of classic films.
Furthermore, the anticipation that this disc has generated among fans of both film noir and historical cinema speaks volumes about the value held within. The excitement surrounding this release is not just about nostalgia; it's about appreciating cinema history through a modern lens, facilitated by expert analysis. If the rest of the discs in the Columbia Noir #1 box set mirror the quality and engagement found in "The Lineup," then Indicator/Powerhouse Films is setting up for one of the most commendable European releases of 2020. The focus on delivering quality content, both in terms of film preservation and supplementary material, sets a new benchmark for archival releases.
In conclusion, the Blu-ray disc release of "The Lineup" excels not only due to its cinematic importance but also because of the unparalleled commentary by Eddie Muller and James Ellroy. Their insights, combined with Indicator/Powerhouse Films' dedication to quality, make this release an essential addition to any film noir enthusiast’s collection. We hold it in high regard and strongly recommend it to those seeking to experience film noir through a meticulously curated lens, promising not just entertainment but an educational journey into one of cinema's most intriguing genres.