Monday, May 25, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The Price of Fear (1956) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Four years ago Kino Lorber released The Dark Side of Cinema, a collection of film noir titles on Blu-ray and DVD.

The series returns in a big way this year beginning with The Dark Side of Cinema II, released on Blu-ray this month.

The three-disc set features THE PRICE OF FEAR (1956) along with THUNDER ON THE HILL (1951) and THE FEMALE ANIMAL (1958).

Additional sets have been announced, with the third collection coming in June and the fourth in July.

Two of the films in Vol. II, THE PRICE OF FEAR and THE FEMALE ANIMAL, are brand-new to me. I watched THE PRICE OF FEAR today and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The pleasure begins with that distinctive Universal Pictures '50s black and white widescreen look which I find very appealing. For me that style signals in straightforward fashion "Good viewing ahead!"

Merle Oberon plays Jessica Warren, an accomplished investment counselor who, tipsy from an evening out, hits an elderly man in the street while she's driving home.

Jessica flees the scene, but when she stops at a pay phone her car is stolen by Dave Barrett (Lex Barker), who's on the run from the mob. Dave owns an honest greyhound racing track, but mobster Frankie Edare (Warren Stevens) has just bought out and then murdered Dave's partner (Tim Sullivan).

Dave is ultimately arrested, and while he's suspected of his partner's death, he's also believed to be the hit-and-run driver. He can't be charged with both crimes since they took place simultaneously, so he goes along with the hit-and-run charge, which enables him to get out on bail and try to clear his name of everything which happened that night.

Jessica, meanwhile, begins a relationship with Dave, which allows her to manipulate him as needed; however, her nightmare grows even more complicated when Edare pressures her to "cooperate" with him. Oh, what a tangled web we weave...

Oberon and Barker give fairly low-key performances considering the strain both their characters are under, but they're attractive and good enough to get the job done, while Stevens is properly slimy as the mobster.

The always-reliable Charles Drake is on hand as Pete Carroll, the police detective working the case. It sometimes seems Drake was the detective or sheriff in every other Universal movie of the '50s, but I'm always happy to see him because he fit that type of role perfectly.

Gia Scala plays the daughter of the hit-and-run victim, with Stafford Repp and Mary Treen as a cabbie and his wife. The more I see of Treen, the more I like her; she's great as a woman who gives Jessica a run for her money in the manipulation department.

Director Abner Biberman has a scene as a police criminalist who updates Detective Carroll on the case. Biberman began directing in 1954 but had been acting for two decades at the time he appeared in this film.

The cast also includes Dan Riss, Konstantin Shayne, Phillip Pine, and Roy Engel.

The movie was filmed by Irving Glassberg. Robert Tallman's screenplay was based on a story by Dick Irving Hyland.

THE PRICE OF FEAR is a well-paced 79 minutes filled with crosses and double-crosses. It may not be a top-of-the-line crime film, but it's quite well done and entertaining. I liked it and thought it built to a pitch-perfect conclusion.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray print looks and sounds terrific. The disc includes the trailer.

I'll be reviewing the other titles from this set here at a future date, as well as films from the original 2016 Dark Side of Cinema collection.

Update: Here is my review of THE FEMALE ANIMAL, and THUNDER ON THE HILL is reviewed here.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger john k said...

Hi Laura,
Well,both yourself and Gary at DVD Beaver seem to like THE PRICE OF FEAR so that's good enough for me. I've only seen a very bad off air version of this film and would love to see it in high def. I do wish Kino would release the titles in their 3 part sets as stand alone titles also, and I'm certainly not the only person of this opinion.There are certain sets where I only want one or two titles therefore am not inclined to shell out for all three. It's good to see some of these lesser known Universal Noirs/Thrillers turning up on Blu Ray,furthermore there are many that have not even had a DVD release so far.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi John!

Went and checked out Gary's DVD Beaver review and glad to see he seemed to feel pretty much as I did -- as you indicated. If you've only seen a bad print I think you'll really appreciate how good this looks.

Definitely understand about wishing for single-title issues along with the sets so you don't duplicate things. I'd also love to see even more titles new to home viewing, as you mention, there are many.

But on the other hand Kino is doing such a great job with these attractive releases with extras that I feel a bit guilty wanting even more LOLLLL. We'll see what else they have in the pipeline!

Best wishes,

11:36 PM  

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