Chicago Syndicate (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (8th September 2021).
The Film

Indicator’s ongoing series of Columbia Noir box sets returns with its fourth instalment, once again delving into the studio’s archives to select six films which plunge the viewer into a dark world of crime. Featuring Kim Novak, Fred MacMurray, Jean Simmons, Rory Calhoun, Abbe Lane, Louis Hayward, and Richard Conte – not to mention gangsters, G-men, foreign spies, criminals on the run, and corrupt cops – Columbia Noir #4 continues the series in fine style.

Presenting all six films on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world, this stunning collection includes newly recorded commentaries and critical appreciations, archival documentaries, six Three Stooges comedy shorts which lampoon the tropes and themes of the titles in the set, and a 120-page book. Strictly limited to 6,000 numbered units.

Video

Another hard-boiled thriller with narration although this time it's in the first person ala Raymond Chandler. Chicago Syndicate stars lesser know character actors and is directed by the prolific Fred Sears, doing a great job, who also made the fun Ray Harryhausen alien invasion flick Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956).

Disc five in Powerhouse Film's Columbia Noir #4 set is another very strong presentation but it's no surprise as Sony masters are cherished for their excellence. Consequently my comments are much the same as before.


It's been taken from a typically superb HD master from the Sony vault. Nice, crisp monochrome with perfectly balanced gamma so no colour bias creeping in. The image is incredibly film like with a sheen of fine grain across the whole film which is handled beautifully by the encode. I could see no signs of digital tinkering but Powerhouse's transfers rarely have flaws like that.

Black levels and contrast ensure we have plenty of lovely deep, dark shadows with lots of detail; this film could've been shot yesterday it looks that good. No unintended crush and no blowouts. A great transfer so 'A'. It's as good as the format will allow with a maxed out bitrate on a BD50 so we shan't see better until UHD BD.


It's a sharp, crisp top of the line transfer of a monochome '50s film. Another film shot spherical 35mm 1.37:1 on the negative but designed to be matted to 1.85:1 and that's what we get. Overall as a result the transfer is s sliver less sharp than the one for Walk a Crooked Mile which was open matte and full frame.

1080/24p / AVC MPEG-4 / BD50 / 1.85:1 / 84:20

Audio

English LPCM 1.0
Subtitles: English HoH

My comments for the first disc will more or less apply to all six in this set so are reproduced here. The mono track is robust without any issues that you wouldn't expect. Dialogue is to the fore and the stock music tracks never interrupt. Being a track from the '50s it's reasonably dynamic with no distortions. Florid, forceful and generally very satisfying with a decent range considering the technology of the period and the restoration team have done a bang up job in ensuring it's clarity.

Hard of hearing subtitles have been provided and as is usual are superb with all dialogue being accounted for; at least for the various sections I tested. I must clarify: Most studio subtitle streams tend to streamline the dialogue which means much of the nuance can be lost, but with a curated release as we have here from a small independent like Powerhouse Films you can tell that those responsible for these subtitles love what they do and take great care.

Extras

Audio commentary with Tony Roan (2021)

Roan - a new name to me - hits the ground running discussing the film giving us a succinct history of the production and of those involved and the track is packed from start to finish. Presented in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

"From Nurse to Worse" 1940 short film (16:47)

Another lovingly restored and pristine looking Stooges escapade. 1080/24p 1.37:1 with uncompressed LPCM 1.0 (48 kHz).

Chicago Syndicate Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (28 images)

Solid HD gallery of promotional material.

120-page liner notes book by Beth Ann Gallagher, Bob Herzberg, Sophie Monks Kaufman, Omar Ahmed, Jen Johans, Monica Castillo, and Jeff Billington, archival articles and interviews and film credits

This film gets slightly less devoted to it in the superb hardcopy accompaniment. 14 pages to Chicago Syndicate: "It Takes a City" by Jen Johans, a vintage comments in "Abbe, Cugie and Allison" and cast and crew information.

Packaging

Six small single-disc digipacks in a hard card box with a outer slip.

Overall

Disc five in the Columbia Noir #4 set houses another good film sporting an excellent transfer with strong image and sound; typical excellent Powerhouse Film's presentation and encode from Fidelity in Motion. Top notch extras as well. You know the score.

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

 


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