Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 31st, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1953
Director: Phil Karlson
Writers: Robert Smith, George Zuckerman
Cast: John Payne, Evelyn Keyes, Brad Dexter, Frank Faylen, Peggie Castle, Jack Lambert, Eddy Waller, Ian Wolfe
BluRay released: June 21st, 2016
Approximate running time: 83 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
99 River Street was directed by Phil Karlson whose other notable films as a director include, Dark Albi, Scandal Sheet and Kansas City Confidential. Key collaborators on 99 River Street include, screenwriter Robert Smith (I Walk Alone, Quicksand) and cinematographer Franz Planer (The Face Behind the Mask, The Chase).
This film features a meticulously constructed narrative and it has all the ingredients one would want or expect from a Film Noir. When it comes to the characters have sufficient back-stories and all of their motivations are well defined! Also pacing is never an issues as things move along briskly from one shocking revelation to the next.
From a production stand point there is not a single area that is lacking. With its striking visuals being at the forefront of its strengths. Also when it comes to the visuals they do a superb job capturing the essence of the story at hand. Standout moments visually include, the scene where he realizes that his wife has been murder and the scene where an aspiring actress who believes that she has killed someone convinces the protagonist to go back to her scene of the crime.
Performance wise, the entire cast are all very good in their respective roles, especially John Payne in what is arguably his defining performance of his career (Kansas City Confidential, Hidden Fear) in the role of this film protagonist Ernie Driscoll, a former boxer who now works as a cabdriver. Other notable performances include, Peggie Castle (Invasion U.S.A.) in the role of Driscoli’s wife Pauline and Evelyn Keyes (Here Comes Mr. Jordan) in the role of Linda James, in the role of Driscoli’s other woman. Overall 99 River Street is a solid Film Noir that has languished in obscurity for far too long.
99 River Street comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This film has been newly remastered in HD and the source used for this transfer is in great shape. Black and contrast levels remain solid throughout and details look sharp. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with a one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Everything sounds balanced, background noise is minimal and never intrusive. Also though limited range wise this audio does a good with more ambient aspects of the soundtrack and dialog comes through clearly.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, Film Noirs that take place over the course of one night, director Phil Karlson, his thoughts on the film and what elements he enjoys the most, the cast and information about them, characters and key sequences are discussed in depth, critical and audience reaction to the film, Cinematographer Franz Planer and the look of the film and other production related topics.
Overall 99 River Street gets a first rate release from Kino Lorber.