Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Breakaway (1956) - A Kino Lorber DVD Review

This month Kino Lorber has released a new five-film DVD set, British Noir III.

The collection is a follow-up to the original British Noir set, as well as British Noir II, released last year; I wrote about the latter set and reviewed the film THE INTERRUPTED JOURNEY (1949).

The films in the new set consist of:

*THE FRIGHTENED LADY (1940), also known as THE CASE OF THE FRIGHTENED LADY or THE SCARF MURDER MYSTERY, starring Marius Goring and Penelope Dudley-Ward.

*BRASS MONKEY (1948), which stars American actress Carole Landis in her final role.

*THIRD TIME LUCKY (1949) starring Glynis Johns and Dermot Walsh.

*TALL HEADLINES (1952), aka THE FRIGHTENED BRIDE, starring Mai Zetterling, Michael Denison, and Dennis Price.

*BREAKAWAY (1956), the movie being reviewed tonight, which stars Tom Conway and Honor Blackman.

I chose BREAKAWAY to watch first because of my fondness for Tom Conway and his Falcon Mysteries.

I learned that BREAKAWAY was the second film in which Conway played private investigator Tom "Duke" Martin. The previous year he played the role in the mystery BARBADOS QUEST (1955), also known as MURDER ON APPROVAL. I need to track that one down!

At least four cast members of BARBADOS QUEST appeared in different roles in BREAKAWAY, including familiar TV faces John Colicos, who was the villain of the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978-79) show, and John Horsley, who guested in countless British series.

The BREAKAWAY plot is a bit of a mishmash about a chase to find a secret formula which prevents metal fatigue. There's a dying inventor, a kidnapping, a rescue, and in the middle of it all is the suave, calm Duke Martin (Conway), who seems unruffled even when bad guys are holding a gun on him.

The film is strictly "by the numbers," with little character development, although fans of Conway or Blackman will probably find it a mildly pleasant 72 minutes, as I did.

The DVD print is variable, with some lighter scenes. The purpose of a set like this isn't beautiful restorations, but getting relatively obscure films into the hands of those who would like to see them, and from that standpoint it's very appreciated. Although some scenes are faded, there's no major damage such as distracting skips, and the soundtrack is solid. There are no extras or subtitles for this film.

BREAKWAY was directed by Henry Cass and filmed in black and white by Monty Berman.

I'll be reviewing additional films from this set in the future, and I also intend to circle back to Volume II to watch more films. So many movies to watch, so little time...

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this DVD.


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

A quite interesting set, Laura. These films were all programmers so no classics to be found but that's always fine with me. I also like Tom Conway from his 1940s Hollywood films. By the 50s he was on the slide sadly.
A face that is always of interest to me is Bruce Seton. Around the time of "Breakaway" he was starring in the TV series "FABIAN OF THE YARD" (1954-55) which I loved as a child. Episodes are very hard to find today sadly (I have just 6 of the 39 filmed).

BTW, the best film by far in this KL set is "TALL HEADLINES". I look forward to your reviews of the other films (as always!).

11:33 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jerry! I always particularly appreciate your input on British films such as these. Have made a note that you feel TALL HEADLINES is the gem of the set! I'm also quite interested in BRASS MONKEY; although I read a bio of Carole Landis years ago I'd forgotten she made a film in the UK.

Best wishes,

12:01 PM  

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