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DEAD RECKONING ($25) is an entertaining film noir that tries to emulate the "Bogie and Bacall" classics that Humphrey Bogart made over at Warner Bros., but this Columbia Pictures release comes up a bit short in creating the same kind of screen magic. Bogart is Bogart, and for my money, he is always terrific, however, as much as I like leading lady Lizabeth Scott, she just doesn’t have the same chemistry with Bogie, as did Lauren Bacall. Still, I found DEAD RECKONING to be a highly enjoyable mystery that keeps one guessing until the final reel.

The plot of DEAD RECKONING concerns war veteran Captain Warren Murdock (Bogart), who is returning to the states with Sgt. Johnny Drake (William Prince), a paratrooper whom Murdock has recommended for the Congressional Medal of Honor. While on their way to Washington DC, Johnny learns that he is about to receive the medal and disappears off the train before coming under the scrutiny of the press. Of course, Murdock needs to know why Johnny has gone AWOL, and decides to look for the missing paratrooper in his hometown. Murdock's investigation leads him right into a mystery involving a high profile murder case and a beautiful chanteuse named Coral Chandler (Scott), whom the war hero left behind. The cast of DEAD RECKONING also includes Morris Carnovsky, Charles Cane, Marvin Miller, Wallace Ford, James Bell and George Chandler.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made DEAD RECKONING available on DVD in a nice looking full screen transfer that frames the movie in its proper 1.37:1 aspect ratio. However, the black and white film element used for the transfer does evidence the fact that DEAD RECKONING is well over a half a century old. There is some minor print damage and blemishes do crop up throughout the course of the movie, although none of them are particularly bothersome. The image itself is fairly crisp and provides more than respectable definition. A grain structure is noticeable almost continuously, which give the presentation a film-like quality, instead of making it appear too much like video. Blacks are deep and inky, while whites appear crisp. Contrast is quite good, and the picture displays a nice grayscale. Digital compression artifacts are well camouflaged on this cleanly authored DVD.

As with the picture, the Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack does show a few signs of age. The limited fidelity of the track keeps it from having any significant highs or lows, but then again, DEAD RECKONING is primarily dialogue driven movie. The film’s score and sole musical number sound decent, although Lizabeth Scott’s vocals are obviously dubbed on the latter. Dialogue is always completely understandable, and the distinct voices of the film's two leads maintain their sense of character. No other language tracks are provided on the DVD, but English, French, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese subtitles are included. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. A Bogart Collection retrospective, with vintage advertising materials is the featured extra. Additionally, trailers for THE CAINE MUTINY, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA are also included on the DVD.

While not of classic stature, DEAD RECKONING is still high profile Bogart entertainment. If you are a movie buff or a fan of the cinema icon, you will want to add DEAD RECKONING to you collection.



Dead Reckoning (1946)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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