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Noir-melodrama hybrid pitting a trio of vicious bank robbers against a small Arizona mining town riddled with secret sins. Adulterers, alcoholics, voyeurs and thieves all find their fates hanging in the balance on one VIOLENT SATURDAY.
For more about Violent Saturday and the Violent Saturday Blu-ray release, see Violent Saturday Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 5, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Richard Fleischer
Writer: Sydney Boehm
Starring: Victor Mature, Richard Egan, Stephen McNally, Virginia Leith, Tommy Noonan, Lee Marvin
» See full cast & crew
Violent Saturday Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 5, 2013
Richard Fleischer's "Violent Saturday" a.k.a. "Les Inconnus dans la ville" (1955) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French label Carlotta Films. The supplemental features on the disc include a conversation with director William Friedkin and an in-depth look at the film with director/writer Nicolas Saada. In English, with optional French subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Heist films typically tell stories about bad guys trying to steal something and good guys trying to stop or catch them. The direction these films would follow is almost always very easy to guess.
Richard Fleischer's Violent Saturday is a heist film, but trying to guess where the film wants to go, and how, isn't easy. In fact, it is not even easy to tell if there are any truly good guys in it - at least not for a while.
The film is set in the small town of Bradenville, a quiet place where the rich and the poor have learned to coexist without constantly targeting each other. There is an obvious distance between the two and both sides do their best to maintain it. Unsurprisingly, life in Bradenville has a familiar rhythm.
A lot changes when a group of traveling gangsters decides to rob the town's only bank. They check in the local hotel and immediately begin scouting the area. While gathering the information they need, the gangsters meet some of the town's residents - a wealthy alcoholic whose wife is having an affair with a single man, a married bank manager obsessed with a stunningly beautiful nurse, a middle-aged man whose son is seriously disappointed that he isn't a war veteran like most other fathers in the town, and a quiet but seriously frustrated librarian who owes a lot of money to the bank.
Eventually, the gangsters rob the bank and head to an Amish farm just outside of Bradenville to exchange the car they've used with a truck. But the owner of the car, whom they've taken as a hostage, forces them to change their plans.
Structurally, Violent Saturday reminds of Stanley Kubrick's The Killing. The narrative is fractured into various episodes, each following a different character before, during, and after the heist. Like The Killing, Violent Saturday also maintains a notably steady tempo, the type some documentary films favor.
Unlike Kubrick, however, Fleischer does not seem too interested in the mechanics of the heist. The preparations and consequently the execution of what is supposedly a perfect robbery plan are used only as a foundation for excellent character studies. This surprising approach transforms Violent Saturday into a crime drama with very unique social undertones.
Shot in lush CinemaScope, Violent Saturday often looks spectacular. There are terrific panoramic shots boasting incredibly rich and sharp colors throughout the entire film. On the other hand, close-ups are virtually non-existent. Even some of the more intimate scenes are framed in a manner that allows one to see a wide range of objects. The film was lensed by cinematographer Charles Clarke (Henry Koster's Stars and Stripes Forever, Nunnally Johnson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit).
The cast is diverse and impressive. Victor Mature is outstanding as the owner of the car the gangsters use during the heist. Tommy Noonan, a great but forgotten actor, plays the obsessed bank manager. Lee Marvin is the sadistic gangster Dill, while J. Carrol Naish is his partner Chapman. Ernest Borgnine is Stadt, the Amish owner of the farm where the gangsters arrive to exchange their car.
Violent Saturday Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.55:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Richard Fleischer's Violent Saturday arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French label Carlotta Films.
The high-definition transfer is enormously impressive. Clarity and image depth are the very best I have seen in a film from the early '50s. This should not be too surprising considering the fact that the film was shot in CinemaScope, but the overall consistency is likely to surprise some viewers (see screencaptures #5 and 9). Color reproduction is also terrific - right from the get-go lush yellows, browns, reds, and blues fill up the screen. The daylight sequences in particular are like moving pictures. There are no traces of excessive degraining corrections. Sharpness is terrific throughout the entire film, but it has nothing to do with the artificial sharpening some releases of classic films are plagued with. Indeed, the type of sharpness Violent Saturday boasts is all natural. Lastly, there are no damage marks, debris, or cuts. Excluding some extremely light banding early into the film, the presentation is indeed very, very impressive. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Violent Saturday Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0., and French DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. For the record, Carlotta Films have provided optional French subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
I chose to view the film in its entirety with the English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. The dialog is exceptionally clean, always stable, and easy to follow. The overall range of dynamics is excellent - the action sequences are appropriately aggressive while elsewhere Hugo Friedhofer's orchestral score is quite vibrant (check the sequence where the leader of the gangsters arrives at the Amish farm). Dynamic movement is slightly more flexible on the English DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 track, but overall rear activity isn't likely to impress too many viewers.
Violent Saturday Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Violent Saturday Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Like director William Friedkin, I think that Richard Fleischer's Violent Saturday is a small masterpiece. It is a heist film with different social undertones that oozes style and elegance. This should not be too surprising, however, as the script for the film is from Sydney Boehm, who also delivered the script for Fritz Lang's classic The Big Heat. Carlotta Films' presentation of the film is very, very impressive. I cannot wait to see what the French label has done with Fleischer's The Boston Strangler. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Violent Saturday Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Upcoming Richard Fleischer Titles Detailed - February 20, 2013
French label Carlotta Films has detailed its upcoming Blu-ray releases of Richard Fleischer's Violent Saturday (1955), starring Victor Mature, Richard Egan and Stephen McNally, and The Boston Strangler (1968), starring Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda and George Kennedy.The ...
• Two Richard Fleischer Films Heading to Blu-ray - January 11, 2013
French label Carlotta Films has revealed that it is planning to bring to Blu-ray two classic American films directed by Richard Fleischer: Violent Saturday (1955), starring Victor Mature, Richard Egan and Stephen McNally, and The Boston Strangler (1968), starring ...
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