TALES FROM THE URBAN JUNGLE – BRUTE FORCE AND THE NAKED CITY ARROW BLU RAY

The urban jungle and its decay, from murder to prison life, have left society on its back heel. The nasty truth is that it only gets worse and not better (no it usually stays static). But law and order must be maintained. It must keep us all in the security, we are of course accustom to. Jules Dassin made a series of great films on the order and disorder of things. Two of which have been released here on the TALES FROM THE URBAN JUNGLE set. It comes from Arrow academy and includes BRUTE FORCE and THE NAKED CITY. In BRUTE FORCE, Joe Collins (Burt Lancaster), is having it hard. His cell, R17  is a box, cramped with other cons. This is bad enough but sadistic warden Captain Munsey (Hume Cronyn) likes to break people. He savours his reign of terror over the weakened inmates. Inmates each angry and filled with hate at the system, now plan to break out.

Joe has a special reason to get out also. A cancer-ridden wife (Ann Blyth) is dying and his pleas for freedom are ignored. Powerful, meaty stuff for the audience to experience. At a time when people want more bars, more prisons and less remorse for those in the slammer. The Naked City is the flip side of this film. When a blonde ex-model is murdered in her bathtub, Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald) and Halloran (Don Taylor) are assigned to the case. Their investigation lead them all over New York City. Pounding the beat. Hunting the murderer. Shots are fired, fists are thrown. Secrets and told and exposed. All ending on a bridge. The documentary feel lays claim to its routes as a piece based on the work of infamous tabloid photographer Weegee.

BRUTE FORCE is the better of the two films. For a number of reasons and a number of factors. Its more robust, condemns the hypocrisy of the prison system and its driven with a force that is, well brutal. Dassin understands the reach of the film. He also understands that talking about and living inside are two different things. This means sometimes he reveals in the dirt, the claustrophobia, the sweat. However, it holds up brilliantly. THE NAKED CITY on the other hand is a solid and sensational exploration of the work of the police. This is where it comes apart a piece. The action and reaction of events are slapped together without much of a feel for the whole. Director Dassin plays the piece with branches. Branches that make a tree. Small stories, small packages, linked together. Like a city. Its stories are told in the many and not the few.

DISC

1080p versions of the 4K are solid but the release deserved a 4K release for both. Why I say this is that, if the source is there and you want to do so much skilled work with the box, why do you scrimp on the quality of the release.  THE NAKED CITY comes out nicer. Cleaner, less watered down with blacks and whites leaking. It impressed on me the sad state of my DVD release from Arrow.

 

EXTRAS

BRUTE FORCE and THE NAKED CITY  top 5 on the set

Burt Lancaster: The Film Noir Years, an in-depth look at Burt Lancaster’s early career by Kate Buford, author of Burt Lancaster: An American Life. This is the best thing on both discs period. Buford deals with Lancaster work as an actor and how that connects to him as a producer and creator.

Naked City Radio, a unique new audio commentary by historian and critic David Cairns featuring actors Steven McNicoll and Francesca Dymond A fun, if not unbalanced take on commentary. Its an example of old meets new. It has enough steam to get to the end but I wouldn’t return. Though the quality of content is excellent.

Nothing’s Okay, a brand new visual essay by film historians David Cairns & Fiona Watson Is nothing short of delightful. Bringing forward the film themes and use of space.

 

 

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of new 4K restorations of both films
– Original uncompressed mono 1.0 audio
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for both films
– Illustrated booklet featuring writing on the films by Alastair Philips, Barry Salt, Sergio Angelini, Andrew Graves, Richard Brooks and Frank Krutnik
– Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sister Hyde

DISC ONE – BRUTE FORCE
– Brand new commentary by historian and critic Josh Nelson
– Nothing’s Okay, a brand new visual essay by film historians David Cairns & Fiona Watson
– Josh Olson: Brute Force, a personal appreciation by the Academy Award winning screenwriter of A History of Violence
– Burt Lancaster: The Film Noir Years, an in-depth look at Burt Lancaster’s early career by Kate Buford, author of Burt Lancaster: An American Life
– Theatrical Trailers
– Image Gallery

DISC TWO – THE NAKED CITY
– Naked City Radio, a unique new audio commentary by historian and critic David Cairns featuring actors Steven McNicoll and Francesca Dymond

– The Pulse of the City, a brand new visual essay by historian and critic Eloise Ross
– New York and The Naked City, a personalised history of NYC on the big screen by critic Amy Taubin
– The Hollywood Ten, a 1950 documentary short on the ten filmmakers blacklisted from Hollywood for their refusal to name names before the House Un-American Activities Committee, including The Naked City’s screenwriter Albert Maltz
– Gallery of production stills by photojournalist Weegee
– Theatrical Trailer

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