DARK CITY [1950 / 2019] [Blu-ray] [UK Release] 1950’s American “Film Noir” crime film ‘DARK CITY’ is a new kind of love and violence to hit the screen!

Originally developed as a star vehicle for Burt Lancaster, the lead role in the gripping revenge noir ‘DARK CITY’ ultimately became the Hollywood debut of 26-year-old Charlton Heston, already confidently wielding the intense, rugged charisma that would define his career.

Once a decorated war hero, Danny Haley [Charlton Heston] now leads a group of small-time card sharks who know a sucker when they see one. They cheat their latest mark, Arthur Winant [Don DeFore] out of $5000 at the poker table;  but when Arthur Winant hangs himself in despair; his  unstable, hulking older brother Sidney Winant [Mike  Mazurki] seeks violent revenge on the grifters responsible. As the bodies pile up, Danny Haley and his lover, nightclub singer Fran Garland [Lizabeth Scott], flee to Las Vegas... but Danny is about to learn he can’t hide from the consequences of his actions.

Expertly directed by William Dieterle (‘The Devil and Daniel Webster’) and featuring a terrific supporting cast, including future Dragnet stars Jack Webb and Harry Morgan. ‘DARK CITY’ is a nail-biting suspense classic that heralded a future screen icon.

FILM FACT: The working title of this film was ‘No Escape.’ The production dates were from April 5 to May 12, 1950. Additional scenes and retakes were from the 9th May to 11th May, 1950. The production scenes were shot at the following Los Angeles locations: Griffith Observatory, Union Station, North Hollywood, and the amusement pier in Ocean Park, the Wilshire Plaza Hotel and the Valley Vista Motel on Ventura Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley, California. In addition, background shots were filmed in Las Vegas, Nevada and Chicago, Illinois. When the film was released, film critic for The New York Times, Bosley Crowther, applauded the work of newcomer Charlton Heston, but critics panned the film.

Cast: Charlton Heston, Lizabeth Scott, Viveca Lindfors, Dean Jagger, Don DeFore, Jack Webb, Ed Begley, Henry Morgan, Walter Sande, Mark Keuning, Mike Mazurki, Fred Aldrich (uncredited), John Bishop (uncredited), John Breen (uncredited), Walter Burke (uncredited), Hamilton Camp (uncredited), Jack Carroll (uncredited), Bill Cartledge (uncredited), Jack Chefe (uncredited), Sally Corner (uncredited), Charles Dayton (uncredited), Mike Donovan (uncredited), Jimmie Dundee (uncredited), Bob Evans (uncredited), Sam Finn (uncredited), Byron Foulger (uncredited), Mickey Golden (uncredited), Greta Granstedt (uncredited), Marcoreta Hellman (uncredited), Stan Johnson (uncredited), Hubie Kerns (uncredited), Warren Mace (uncredited), George Magrill (uncredited), Mike Mahoney (uncredited), Joan Morgan (uncredited), Jay Morley (uncredited), William H. O'Brien (uncredited),  Ralph Peters  (uncredited), Ben Pollack (uncredited), Stanley Prager (uncredited), Dewey Robinson (uncredited), Franz Roehn (uncredited), Kasey Rogers (uncredited), Edward Rose (uncredited), Jeffrey Sayre (uncredited), James R. Scott (uncredited), Bill Sheehan (uncredited), Charles Sherlock (uncredited), Owen Tyree (uncredited) and Otto Waldis (uncredited)

Director: William Dieterle

Producer: Hal B. Wallis

Screenplay: John Meredyth Lucas (screenplay), Lawrence B. Marcus (screenplay/ story "No Escape") and Ketti Frings (adaptation) and   

Composer: Franz Waxman

Costume Design: Edith Head

Make-up Supervision: Wally Westmore

Cinematography: Victor Milner, A.S.C. (Director of Photography)

Image Resolution: 1080p (Black-and-White)

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Audio: English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio

Subtitles: English

Running Time: 97 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Paramount Pictures / Arrow Academy

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘DARK CITY’ [1950] brings us multiple reasons to see this classic 1950’s “film noir,” and is a Hal Wallis production starring Lizabeth Scott as Fran Garland and Charlton Heston as Danny Haley with a slice of romantic tinged crime scenario genre, that all though is an uncomplicated film, but it definitely is easy to comprehend, but it is also a very compelling to watch.

‘DARK CITY’ made by Paramount Pictures in 1950, and does not really conform to the typical “film noir” formula as far as content is concerned but it is a nicely twisted crime thriller and it certainly has the noir visuals.

The film ‘DARK CITY’ best assets, besides great costumes by Edith Head, and the composed film score music by Franz Waxman and definitely good direction by William Dieterle, and also the film has at best lesser-known cast of actors in typical gangster roles, especially stars and performers such as Ed Begley as Barney and Lizabeth Scott, both of whom make a distinct impression in their generic roles, and as for Miss Lizabeth Scott who performs as the nightclub singer who is in love with Charlton Heston the card shark.

Danny Haley in his first major role and runs an illegal betting operation and it is not a very successful operation. Danny Haley keeps paying off the cops and they keep raiding his joint anyway. Now the operation has been raided once again and Danny Haley and his partners Barney and Augie [Jack Webb] are temporarily out of work and definitely broke. Things look very bleak, but then a typical sucker appears on the scene just in time.

Arthur Winant [Don DeFore] has arrived in the city with a cashier’s cheque in his pocket for $5,000. It’s supposed to be used to buy sporting equipment for a club. Arthur Winant is one of those guys who thinks he is streetwise and savvy, but he is not. Danny Haley and his pals invite him into a poker game and they totally fleece him. They don’t just take all of Arthur Winant’s money; they take the cashier’s cheque as well.

Danny Haley, who marched off to war as a frat boy and returned very angry, alienated, and full of self-loathing. In typical noir fashion Danny Haley was a hero in combat who couldn’t quite get the hang of day-to-day life. Danny Haley’s service career ended in disgrace after dodging a guilty verdict in a court-martial of the most serious kind, where he killed an officer in a fight over a woman and turns out the officer was his best friend and the woman was his wife. Danny Haley now he lives a half-life on the fringes of the New York underworld, haunting nightclubs and card games, stringing along songbird Fran Garland [Lizabeth Scott] and trying to make a living from a “small piece” of a downtown bookie joint.

The card game sequence in the film ‘DARK CITY’ is the slickest you will witness — while we are all clued in on the grift, Danny Haley is not, and that's what makes it really work for me. Arthur Winant insists that one of the crew sits out to   deal in order to ensure a fair game, and he chooses Danny Haley who deals the game straight but Barney and Augie rake Arthur Winant over the coals anyway. Danny Haley makes an insightful comment early in the film, “…playing cards with you two is like washing your feet with your socks on.” We see the sequence unfold from Fran Garland’s point of view. As Fran Garland circles the table we look over every shoulder at every hand in the game, and we see the con coming from a mile away.

But Arthur Winant has an ace up his sleeve though, in the form of a psychotic brother he was planning to meet the following day and throughout the poker game Arthur Winant chatters on and on about this brother, and all of the crazy things Sidney has done over the years to protect him. In the payoff to the foreshadowing Arthur Winant, leaves the Sidney a suicide note complete with the names of the men who fleeced him, and the brother spends the rest of the film hunting them down one-by-one, starting with Barney. We never actually see Sidney until the final climax in the film — he is just the bogeyman, though with each of the killings we see just his hands, identified by the gaudy mood ring he wears.

The film veers unexpectedly towards melodrama as Danny Haley catches himself falling for Arthur Winant’s widow, while at the same time is visiting Fran Garland, who loved him and set him free, in a new light. As the film pushes towards a climax, the unseen Sidney continues to polish off gangsters and eventually finds Danny Haley shuffling cards in Las Vegas. Things turn out as you might expect, but the over the top Hollywood ending seems very out of place, even considering that redemption rather than doom was always in the cards for Danny Haley.


I DON'T WANT TO WALK WITHOUT YOU (uncredited) (Music by Jule Styne) (Lyrics Frank Loesser) [Performed by Lizabeth Scott and dubbed by Trudy Stevens]

A LETTER FROM A LADY IN LOVE (uncredited) (Written by Maurice Ellenhorn and Judy Bennett) [Performed by Lizabeth Scott and dubbed by Trudy Stevens]

THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC (uncredited) (Music by Harold Arlen) (Lyrics Johnny Mercer) [Performed by Lizabeth Scott and dubbed by Trudy Stevens]

I WISH I DIDN'T LOVE YOU SO (uncredited) (Written by Frank Loesser) [Performed by Lizabeth Scott and dubbed by Trudy Stevens]

IF I DIDN'T HAVE YOU (uncredited) (Music by Harold Spina) (Lyrics by Jack Elliott) [Performed by Lizabeth Scott and dubbed by Trudy Stevens]

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Blu-ray Image Quality – ‘DARK CITY’ was restored in 1080p high definition Black-and-White quality, and is equally enhanced with a 1.37:1 aspect ratio and was transferred from the original negative film elements that were provided by Hollywood Classics. Film image can look stunning on Blu-ray, but only if they've been properly and meticulously restored. Well with this Blu-ray release and the help of Hollywood Classics, they have done a superb and brilliant job in giving this Black-and-White film a top class image restoration. A pleasing amount of grain supplies appropriate texture to this gritty film drama and retains the feel of celluloid film. Strong black levels and shadow delineation enhance the noir feel, and solid grey scale variance helps details appear more defined. Sharp close-ups highlight fine facial features well, such as Charlton Heston's chiselled jaw and Lizabeth Scott's tarnished beauty, and no crush or noise creep into the picture. ‘DARK CITY’ is definitely watchable, and it's a treat to see it in high definition. So well done Hollywood Classics and Arrow Academy for your sterling image work on this “film noire” movie. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘DARK CITY’ brings you via Paramount Pictures and Arrow Academy a good solid 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono Audio experience. The films audio clean-up has been lavished on this film, which previously were plagued by pops, crackles, and light surface noise throughout. Dialogue is generally very clear and comprehendible, although some of Charlton Heston's mutterings are sometimes difficult to decipher, and especially various accents, but punches and gunfire, are crisp and distinct. Franz Waxman's melodramatic music film score nicely fills the room with wonderful ambience, and Lizabeth Scott's nightclub songs sound rich and full-bodied. I didn't expect anything more than a basic, workman like audio track, but overall it was better than I expected. So once again, thank you Hollywood Classics and Arrow Academy for your sterling work on the audio aspect of this film.

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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: Audio Commentary by Alan K. Rode [Audio only] [2019] [1080p] [1.37:1] [97:09] With this featurette, we get to hear this audio commentary by writer, historian and film programmer Alan K. Rode who is the author of biographies of Michael Curtiz and Charles McGraw, offers some thorough reflections on ‘DARK CITY.’ As the film starts Alan K. Rode introduces himself and says he will be your audio tour guide throughout this this sparkling Blu-ray transfer release of the film ‘DARK CITY’ and was produced by Hal Wallis and directed by William Dieterle and released by Paramount Pictures in October of 1950, and also says this was Charlton Heston’s feature film debut, and also says that this film is a definitive visual introduction doe the actor Charlton Heston who would become Hollywood’s biggest star during the 1950’ and 1960’s period. Alan K. Rode also mentions the roll call of all of the brilliant actors in the credit sequence at the start of the film and we are reminded that Hal Wallis was one of the most efficient and effective producers in a long history of Hollywood. Alan K. Rode says the film ‘SARK CITY’ was a nervous “A” film with an upfront budget of $932,000 and that Hal Wallis ensemble a great deal of talent for ‘DARK CITY’ and was considerable. When we see the police raid on the illegal establishment, it was filmed on the Paramount lot, but the director William Dieterle was previously an actor who worked under Hal Wallis at Warner bros., and the police raid introduces the three main actors and those are Jack Webb, Ed Begley and Harry Morgan, and praises these three main actors that appear in ‘DARK CITY’ and also informs us that Ed Begley was paid more than any of the actors in the film ‘DARK CITY.’ Alan K. Rode also says that the film was so efficient and economical to film, and also says that the actor Harry Morgan is one of his most favourite actor of all time, and is also well worth watching whatever movie that actor appears in. Alan K. Rode discusses the work of the key personnel who worked on the picture, offering some anecdotal detail about their various careers and, in particular, highlighting the work of the film’s supporting actors. Alan K. Rode discusses Jack Webb’s character Augie’s real sadistic abuse of Soldier [Harry Morgan], and feels Jack Webb’s character is a real prick in ‘DARK CITY’ and is not sure if this a “Male Bonding” thing, and also says that Jack Webb was paid $600 a week for appearing ‘DARK CITY’ and his contract was specified that he could a Thursday radio programme entitled “Dragnet,” and is allowed to leave the studio at 5:40pm. But considering this in the context of the amicable relationship between Jack Webb and Harry Morgan that spanned several films and television shows, including, of course, the TV series “Dragnet.” Alan K. Rode’s audio commentary track is grounded in consideration of the evidence, including Alan K. Rode’s reading of the production  files for ‘DARK CITY’ – which offers some insight into producer Hal Wallis’ feelings about the original script, doctored by Leonardo Bercovici and Carl Foreman – both of whom would be blacklisted – at the suggestion of Hal Wallis. As we come to the end of this audio commentary by Alan K. Rode, he says, as Charlton Heston and Lizabeth Scott walk off into the studio stage sunset, and I bid you farewell and this is Alan K. Rode thanking you very much and take a good look at the credits once again as the film ends, and feels that were a great cast of actors that is worth repeating, and thanks for listening and at that point the audio commentary by Alan K. Rode ends.

Special Feature: ‘DARK CITY’ – A New Appreciation by Philip Kemp [2019] [1080p] [1.78:1 / 1937] [14:34] With this featurette, Philip Kemp the freelance reviewer and film historian offers a characteristically precise and insightful overview of the film ‘DARK CITY’ which he informs us that it is the lesser known “film noir” film and starring at the time the lesser known actor Charlton Heston and also commenting specifically on its position within the career of Charlton Heston, who would of course goes on to become one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars that took on roles like in television and of course later on his major acting career in characters block buster films as Moses, Ben Hur, El Cid and of course Philip Kemp discusses Danny Haley character and reflects on the complexities of this character in ‘DARK CITY’ where he plays something of a surprise as a small time New York low life petty crook, card sharp, and his eyes light up when an outer town sucker comes into contact with him with a card game and Danny Haley’s character sees the man has a $5,000 cheque up for stealing with a crooked card game. Philip Kemp also talks about the Charlton Heston’s character with the on and off romance relationship with Fran played by Lizabeth Scott. Philip Kemp also talks about that Charlton Heston has also played a rogue character in the two Richard Lester’s films ‘The Four Musketeers’ [1974] and ‘The Return of the Musketeers’ [1989] playing the character Cardinal Richelieu. Philip Kemp also talks about the career of director William Dieterle and considers William Dieterle’s position amongst some of the more “experienced” directors of “film noir.” But critics were not very kind towards the film ‘DARK CITY,’ but Philip Kemp felt the director William Dieterle did a good job in directing the film ‘DARK CITY,’ but also mentions the other films William Dieterle has directed and they were ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ [1935], ‘Blockade’ [1938], ‘The Devil and Daniel Webster’ [1941], ‘Tennessee Johnson’ [1942], ‘I'll Be Seeing You’ [1944], ‘Kismet’ [1944], ‘Boots Malone’ [1952] ‘Salome’ [1953] and ‘Elephant Walk’ [1954]. Philip Kemp also mentions that William Dieterle's career declined in the 1950’s during the era of McCarthyism. Although he was never blacklisted directly, his Spanish Republic-sympathetic film ‘Blockade’ [1938], in addition to people he had worked with, was thought to be suspect. William Dieterle is remembered for always wearing a large hat and white gloves on set. This was due to needing to quickly change roles from actor to technician without dirtying his hands during his early career. Philip Kemp also praises the other actors in the film ‘DARK CITY’ like Lizabeth Scott, Dean Jagger, Don DeFore, Jack Webb, Ed Begley, but also mentions the actor Mike Mazurki who played the big menacing heavy Sidney Winant and also mentions that Mike Mazurki had an intimidating face like craggy granite and a towering 6' 5" solid frame, Mike Mazurki (born Mikhail Mazuruski or Mikhail Mazurkiewicz) was one of cinema's first serial thugs and specialized in playing strong arm men, gangsters and bullies for over 50 years on screen. Nearly always portrayed as a lowbrow muscle man, but in real life Mike Mazurki in real life was a highly intelligent, very well read and a witty conversationalist. Mike Mazurki was also an accomplished sportsman, having been a football player and a professional wrestler. At that point the Philip Kemp featurette comes to an end.  

Special Feature: Theatrical Trailer [1950] [1080i] [1.37:1] [2:14] With this featurette, we get to view the Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘DARK CITY.’

Special Feature: Image Gallery: With this featurette, we get to view 41 wonderful 1080p black-and-white and colour publicity images related to the film ‘DARK CITY.’

BONUS: Reversible printed sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tonči Zonjić who is a Croatian comic book artist, who entered the American market in 2008 as one of the artists for Marvel comic books “The Immortal Iron Fist” series by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fractio. Tonči Zonjić currently resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

PLUS: FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Beautiful Printed 24 page Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw entitled DARK CITY: NOIR MOVIES INTO A NEW AGE. Also included in the booklet are Black-and-White/Colour Publicity Photos, Movie Posters, CAST, CREW, ABOUT THE TRASFER, PRODUCTION CREDITS and SPECIAL THANKS.

Finally, ‘DARK CITY’ is a very uneven film that is primarily of interest as Charlton Heston’s screen breakthrough. It isn’t a definitive example of film noir in any way other than the alienated, inwardly neurotic state of Charlton Heston’s character. The first half of the picture is striking, and moves with determinism to the card game sequence and its subsequent fallout. Other perks and rewards in the film ‘DARK CITY’ which to some critics it is mostly a well-made B-movie with a good script and that you should watch it like it is something you’ve just stumbled upon and enjoy. ‘DARK CITY’ provides a preview of coming distractions and a showcase of outstanding Hollywood talent. ‘DARK CITY’ is certainly and is also definitely a “film noir” genre, despite this comment, I really enjoyed the film. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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