Home Page  
 
 

SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary featuring film noir historians Alain Silver and James Ursini
  • New interview with Imogen Sara Smith, author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City
  • Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1947, featuring Robert Montgomery, Wanda Hendrix, and Thomas Gomez

Ride the Pink Horse

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Robert Montgomery
Starring: Robert Montgomery
1947 | 101 Minutes | Licensor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #750
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: March 17, 2015
Review Date: March 7, 2015

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

Share:

SYNOPSIS

Hollywood actor turned idiosyncratic auteur Robert Montgomery directs and stars in this striking crime drama based on a novel by Dorothy B. Hughes. He plays a tough-talking former GI who comes to a small New Mexico town to shake down a gangster who killed his best friend; things quickly turn nasty. Ride the Pink Horse features standout supporting performances from Fred Clark, Wanda Hendrix, and especially Thomas Gomez, who became the first Hispanic actor to receive an Academy Award nomination for his role here. With its relentless pace, expressive cinematography by the great Russell Metty, and punchy, clever script by Charles Lederer and Ben Hecht, this is an overlooked treasure from the heyday of 1940s film noir.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

In what I believe marks the official debut of the film on a disc format, The Criterion Collection presents Robert Montgomery’s Ride the Pink Horse on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of about 1.33:1 on a dual-layer disc. The new high-definition transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

The film was originally quite hard to catch, lacking a decent home video release in North America (though it seems there was a VHS release and what appears to be a bootleg DVD) and only airing occasionally on television, it seemed doomed to complete obscurity. So despite this feeling that very few actually cared about the film I was pleased to see that a lot of love and care has gone into this new presentation.

Unsurprisingly the transfer itself is quite strong, delivering a sharp image with an incredible amount of detail in every frame, even delivering some nice textures. Film grain is rendered beautifully with no artifacts to worry about, and edges are clearly defined and clean. Gray levels render and blend perfectly and contrast levels look accurate for the most part, with rich black levels.

The biggest surprise from the presentation is just how clean the print is. Since it felt like the film was more or less forgotten I figured there was a chance it could look a little rough but there’s very little damage here: just a few minor marks and faint tram lines, that’s it. Overall it’s a gorgeous looking presentation.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

AUDIO

The film’s lossless 1.0 PCM mono track is a bit flat, a product of its time, but overall quality is decent, with strong, intelligible dialogue, and crisp music. There’s also no notable damage to the track.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Unfortunately Ride the Pink Horse doesn’t come with a lot of supplements but the quality of what we get is good. Surprisingly (after a bit of a run with releases lacking commentaries) criterion includes an audio commentary featuring noir scholars Alain Silver and James Ursini. The two both agree that the film is an underappreciated noir from the period, almost forgotten, and spend the track defending the film and explaining why they hold it in high regard and what separates it from other noir films of the period. They spend a lot of time looking at and breaking down the camera work, the framing, how the story unfolds, and some of the more impressive touches (like the opening done in a single take) that Montgomery managed to incorporate. They talk about some of the typical noir conventions that the film steps away from, and also talk about the original novel by Dorothy B. Hughes, which actually contained a far darker ending. The two have disagreements with each other’s opinions at times but keep it cordial, but on the whole they offer a good examination of the film and the genre as a whole.

Accompanying the commentary is In Lonely Places, a 20-minute interview with Imogen Sara Smith (author of the similarly titled book). Smith tries to first define, more or less, what makes a noir film (ultimately it comes down to a feeling) and talks about the various successful films from the genre, about Ride the Pink Horse’s place as a “non-urban” noir, and even talks a bit about the film’s producer, Joan Harrison. It’s a nice companion to the commentary, further covering noir and how Mongomery’s film fits into the genre while simultaneously breaking a few of the rules.

Criterion then includes a Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film, from December of 1947, starring Montgomery, Hendrix, and Gomez in their original roles. At only 59-minutes it of course shortens the story down a bit, though it’s probably one of the more faithful radio adaptations I’ve come across. It significantly changes the beginning, skipping the whole intro at the bus depot and having Gagin meet Pancho right off. It also speeds through a number of other scenes and changes around some other plot points (Hugo, for example, no longer has a hearing aid). It’s an entertaining adaptation, though makes you realize how much Montgomery was able to convey through his visuals. It’s also a lot of fun for the ads.

The release then comes with a standard fold-out insert (not one of the big “road map” ones found in a few other titles recently) featuring an essay by Michael Almereyda, who further looks at the film’s adaptation, fitting it more in line into a jaded post-war worldview, and going over Montgomery’s and screenwriter Ben Hecht’s contributions.

Criterion has included a nicely rounded batch of supplements examining noir of the 40’s and Montgomery’s unique contribution with this film. Plus the radio adaptation is pretty fun.

7/10

CLOSING

Not a loaded special edition but the features are still worthwhile and the transfer was a stunning surprise. It comes with a very high recommendation.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

Share: 



Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca  




Join our Facebook Group (requires Facebook account)

This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection