Thursday, July 22, 2021

Tonight's Movie: The Web (1947) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

This month Kino Lorber is releasing a wonderful trio of "never on DVD" crime films on Blu-ray: LARCENY (1948), ALIAS NICK BEAL (1949), and tonight's movie, THE WEB (1947).

I've been fortunate to see all three films in beautiful prints at film noir festivals, but what a joy to have them available for home viewing at last! I'm very appreciative of the work Kino Lorber is doing to make previously hard-to-see films like these available for classic film fans to own on physical media.

I first made the acquaintance of THE WEB at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs in 2018. I loved the movie, and that evening was made even more memorable by the appearance of co-star Vincent Price's daughter Victoria as a special guest.

I was thus happy to see the movie again, and I'm glad to say that the Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-ray presentation of this Universal Pictures film looks and sounds absolutely terrific. The movie is just as much fun as I remembered; the top cast and excellent script are among the reasons this film is such a pleasure.

Bob Regan (Edmond O'Brien) is an earnest young lawyer who meets business tycoon Andrew Colby (Vincent Price) and Colby's assistant Noel Faraday (Ella Raines) while representing a client.

Regan ends up being hired as an unlikely bodyguard to Colby, who's worried when a former associate, Kroner (Fritz Leiber), is released from prison. Regan sees it as a chance to earn a $5,000 nest egg towards opening his own law practice, never dreaming that in almost no time he'll find himself in the position of shooting Kroner to protect Colby.

The killing is ruled justifiable, but Regan's friend on the police force, Lt. Damico (William Bendix), still has questions about the incident...which soon are shared by Regan himself.

Things go from bad to worse when Regan and Noel, who have tentatively begun a romance, are framed by her boss for a new murder.

The climax of the movie might take a teeny suspension of disbelief, but it's so entertaining that I'm not inclined to quibble. Bendix is grand fun as the bespectacled homicide detective who manages to stay one jump ahead of everyone in the movie.

O'Brien and Raines were each incredibly attractive in this and strike sparks while tossing around great dialogue provided by William Bowers and Bertram Millhauser. I find O'Brien one of the most unique and appealing leading men of the '40s.

Raines' character is smart and independent, though it does baffle me why she was living in her boss's mansion. Was that part of her role as personal assistant, or was there something else going on between them? There are interesting hints about their relationship, which is fairly intimate, yet nothing is ever explained, and in the end it seems as though Noel would be too self-respecting to have had a fling with her longtime boss.

Price is delightfully slimy as Colby, who always handles questions from Regan with smooth aplomb. You almost believe he's a nice guy. Almost.

The movie was directed by Michael Gordon and filmed in black and white by Irving Glassberg. It runs 87 well-paced minutes.

The supporting cast includes Tito Vuolo, John Abbott, and Robin Redmond, who has a nice scene as a woman working in a newspaper morgue.

The Blu-ray extras consist of the trailer; a gallery of trailers for seven additional films available from Kino Lorber; and a commentary track by Jason A. Ney. Ney has written articles for the Film Noir Foundation's Noir City e-magazine.

Now that THE WEB is available for home viewing I hope it will become better known. I really enjoyed revisiting this movie and recommend it.

Look for reviews of LARCENY and ALIAS NICK BEAL here at a future date.

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


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