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Long before expensive digital special effects could be applied to the "date which will live in infamy" director Otto Preminger brought the attack on Pearl Harbor to the silver screen. IN HARMíS WAY ($30) is the story of Naval Officers that survive the attack, and whose lives are forever changed by the event that brought the United States into World War II. John Wayne stars as Captain Rockwell Torrey, who makes a tactical error while in pursuit of the Japanese following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Torreyís error causes the loss of his ship, and upon his return to base, the Captain finds himself deskbound, while the navy conducts a formal inquiry. Making matters for Torrey is his uncomfortable reunion with his estranged son, whose naval career choices fly in the face of what Torrey believes to be right. IN HARMíS WAY also stars Kirk Douglas as Commander Paul Eddington, Torreyís first officer, who discovers that his wife died during the attack while she was being unfaithful to him. Unfortunately, Eddington begins to unravel with the knowledge of his wifeís infidelity, affecting both his judgment and his naval career.

IN HARMíS WAY runs nearly three hours; containing numerous characters and other subplots, some of which verge on wartime soap opera. However, IN HARMíS WAY is first and foremost an inspirational war movie that benefits from Otto Premingerís assured staging and direction. In addition to Wayne and Douglas, the all-star cast of IN HARMíS WAY also includes Patricia Neal, Tom Tryon, Paula Prentiss, Brandon De Wilde, Dana Andrews, Stanley Holloway, Burgess Meredith, Franchot Tone, Patrick O'Neal, Carroll O'Connor, Slim Pickens Larry Hagman, Hugh O'Brian and Henry Fonda.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made IN HARMíS WAY available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The transfer is very impressive, as it clearly shows why black and white Ďscope cinematography creates a distinct visual impact. The image is crisp, detailed and provides wonderful clarity and depth. Blacks are solid and inky, while contrast is generally smooth, with occasional starkness. The film element used for the transfer is very clean, displaying very few blemishes. Film grain is occasionally noticeable, but never objectionable. Smart dual layer authoring tames all traces of digital compression artifacts.

For this release, IN HARMíS WAY is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel sound mix. IN HARMíS WAY is a good example of how even older films can be enhanced by a 5.1 channel soundtrack. Battle sequences, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor really come to life, with the effective use of all the channels for sound effect placement. Certainly, there are limitations in the fidelity of these 1965 recordings, but the enveloping effect of 5.1 draws the audience into the action. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is completely understandable. The bass channel is never ground shaking, but the track does reproduce with a genuine bottom end. Jerry Goldsmithís score is greatly enhanced by the filmís remix into 5.1, having both clarity and presence. An English Dolby Surround track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. IN HARMíS WAY includes an eight-minute theatrical featurette from the filmís original release, which plays more like an extended trailer than anything else. Three shorter theatrical trailers are also included on the DVD and they close out the extra features.

IN HARMíS WAY is a solid and highly entertaining war film about the attack on Pearl Harbor and its affect on naval personnel. Paramountís DVD edition looks and sounds surprisingly good for a film that was originally released in 1965. If you are a movie buff that enjoys big Hollywood movies that feature all-star casts, then IN HARMíS WAY is a DVD that you will most definitely want to check out.


 In Harm's Way


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 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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