Friday, July 25, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Barricade (1950) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

BARRICADE (1950) moves the classic story of Jack London's THE SEA WOLF (1941) from a ship to an isolated mining camp. It's an intriguing premise but the results are disappointing.

This Warner Archive DVD is an absolutely beautiful print, but the story is surprisingly slow-moving and listless despite good lead actors.

Bob Peters (Dane Clark), having broken out of jail and escaped a posse, takes a job working at a mining camp owned by ruthless Boss Kruger (Raymond Massey). Kruger is an exceptionally nasty piece of work but he gets away with it because the men he employs have nowhere else to turn.

Also in the camp is Judith Burns (Ruth Roman), another jail escapee who was critically injured in a stage accident, and Aubrey Milburn (Robert Douglas of HOMICIDE), a fellow stage passenger who was also injured.

The movie creeps along, with what suspense there is being whether Bob and Judy, not to mention Aubrey, will escape from the camp with their lives.

I really like Roman and especially Clark but it's Massey who dominates the film, and his evil character simply isn't interesting to watch as he torments person after person. There are no shadings or motivations to his character, he's simply crazy evil and that's that. The film as a whole has an unpleasant tone which made it hard to watch at points.

The film would have been much more interesting if it flipped its focus and delved more deeply into Roman and Clark's characters and how they cope with their predicament, moving the "unkillable" Massey character more into the background. There's the possibility of a touching romance buried in this story but instead it's given short shrift and comes off as perfunctory.

This 77-minute film was written by William Sackheim, directed by Peter Godfrey, and photographed in Technicolor by Carl E. Guthrie. The supporting cast includes Morgan Farley and Walter Coy.

This was an earlier Warner Archive release, with one of the blue DVD covers the Archive used early in its history. One of the things that's especially great about the Warner Archive, of course, is that since movies are burned on demand, no title ever goes out of print! Although I was dissatisfied with the script, visually this is a fine-looking DVD. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.


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