Lineup (The) (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (16th November 2020).
The Film

Six tough, no-nonsense noirs from six of the genre’s toughest, no-nonsense directors: Budd Boetticher’s Escape in the Fog, in which a nurse and a war veteran take on Nazi spies in San Francisco; Joseph H Lewis’ The Undercover Man, inspired by the real-life case against Al Capone; Richard Quine’s Drive a Crooked Road, which finds Mickey Rooney moving away from comedies and musicals to a tougher persona; Phil Karlson’s 5 Against the House, starring Kim Novak as a nightclub singer embroiled in a casino heist; Vincent Sherman’s The Garment Jungle, from which Kiss Me Deadly director Robert Aldrich was famously fired; and Don Siegel’s police procedural The Lineup, based on the radio and television series, and as brutal a film as he ever made.

All six films are presented for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK, with The Undercover Man and Drive a Crooked Road making their world Blu-ray premieres. This stunning collection also boasts a 120-page book, and is strictly limited to 6,000 numbered units.

Video

A drug smuggling ring planet drugs on unsuspecting tourists in Asia and then grab the syuff off them when they land in San Francisco. Two coppers (Warner Anderson, Emile Meyer) track a series of killings as two smugglers (Eli Wallach, Robert Keith) and their driver (Richard Jaeckel) leave a trail beyind them. Eventually due to various circumstances, the smugglers nab a woman (Mary LaRoche) and her daughter (Cheryl Callaway). It all culminates in a confrontation with "The Man" (Vaughn Armstrong), the brains behind the ring.

Another first class crime flick based on the popular radio (1950-53) and TV series (1954-60) is as tight as a drum without an ounce of fat with a gritty script that feels very authentic. Cracking performances with everyone at the top of their game; Keith and Wallach make for a very creepy pair of psychos. Anderson and Meyer are very smooth as the leads. Surprisingly brutal and violent for the era and brilliantly directed by Don Siegel of Dirty Harry (1971) fame.

As with Drive a Crooked Road and 5 Against the House, the excellent transfer of The Lineup is from Sony's HD remaster which - at a guess - is taken from a preprint element; most likely the OCN or possibly an interpositive. My comments for the other matted 1.85:1 films applies here.

Yet another shadowy monochrome noir with not a shred of colour bias creeping into the perfectly balanced gamma. This is the fourth film in the set to be in a widescreen matted format and was shot open aperture 1.37:1 but designed to be matted in projection to 1.85:1. Consequently, there's a layer of softness that the two Academy aspect ratio films in the set. Being overall a darker production, it does have more potential issues although the encode handled it beautifully.

As with the other films the black levels are rich and deep with a stygian quality typical of the genre when they're on screen; lots of shadow detail comes through at all times; contrast is layered and and low key with no blown out highlights and plenty of detail allowed to shine through on all focal planes. Textures are tangible, skin and fabrics typically benefit the most with closeups being very detailed. Backgrounds are filled with detail.

Grain is ever present and mostly fine but it is much courser in process shots and exteriors but always maintains a film like appearance, never descending into digital mush. I saw no signs of noise or tinkering and no print damage; the encode by Fidelity in Motion as as good as can be with no clumping or digital splats. As I said above, opticals are obviously softer but this is still a top notch transfer and has it's B&W source looking as good as we're ever likely to see shy of a 4K UHD BD with HDR.

Another stellar transfer ('A+').

1080/24p / AVC MPEG-4 / 1.85:1 / 86:31

Audio

English LPCM 1.0
Subtitles: English HoH

A basic mono track of the time which has limited range and is channelled purely through the front centre speaker. Dialogue is always clear, the score typically lush and melodramatic but keeps it's place and sound effects are well rendered in the mix. The dialogue is the main thing and it's handled with skill and the lossless rendering does it proud. Obviously, it's not in the same league as a modern Dolby Atmos track but only a fool would expect it to do so. I noticed no distortions, no sibilant issues. This is as good as this track can be given when it was made so full marks ('A+'). Techno freaks would probably only give it a 'C' when laid against a modern track.

Subtitles for the hearing impaired are top notch and very welcome.

Extras

Audio commentary with James Ellroy and Eddie Miller (2009)
Audio commentary with David Del Valle and C. Courtney Joyner (2020)


The first is a vintage track ported over from the R1 NTSC, US 2009 Columbia Noir DVD set and is hilariously un-PC and laddish with some strong language ... but it has James Ellroy. If you know Ellroy, you know what to expect and the track is proceeded by a text disclaimer. The more recent Del Valle-Joyner track is more in line with what we normally get with yaktraks. Both are chock-full of trivia and info with the latter being more on point, the Miller-Ellroy track has several segues to all sorts of unpredictable side alleys ... enjoy!

"The Influence of Noir with Christopher Nolan" 2009 featurette (6:29)

The blockbusting director of such thrillers as Following (1999), Insomnia (2002) and the Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-12) sets his sights on delving into why he loves noir.

"The Streets of San Francisco as Seen in The Lineup" 2020 featurette (7:08)

An enjoyable little piece that points out all the notable San Francisco locations used in The Lineup.

The Lineup Radio Episodes:
- "The Candy Story Murder" (1950) (29:50)
- "The Case of Frankie and Joyce" (1951) (30:51)
- "The Harrowing Haggada Handball Case" (1951) (25:56)


A selection of episodes from the radio series that spawned this film; all are in lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 but seemed very clean and clear to my ears.

"Tricky Dicks" 1953 short film (15:57)

Another restored Three Stooges shirt in HD but lossy sound.

Theatrical Trailer (2:09)
Trailers from Hell with Josh Olson: The Lineup (2:45)


The first is the vintage promo, the second an excellent little love-letter to The Lineup by screenwriter and podcaster Olson.

The Lineup Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (8 images)

Scant HD gallery.

120-page liner notes booklet

The book is a typically superb Powerhouse booklet that covers all six films. The Lineup has eleven pages devoted to it with a 2020 essay "Rounding Up the Usual Suspects" by Sergio Angelini and "Don Siegel on The Lineup" an extract from Don Siegel's posthumously released 1996 autobiography. Pages 101-114 cover the various short films on the set.

Packaging

Each film has it's own Digipack and all five are housed in a hard card slipcase. Each Digipack has original art on all sides.

Overall

The final disc in the set gets the now ubiquitous topnotch image and sound and deluxe treatment from Powerhouse Films as the sixth and final film in their much anticipated Columbia Noir Boxed Set #1. Extras are a little more extensive but with pride of place being the fine contrastingly styled commentaries followed by the booklet.

The Film: A- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A+

 


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