Violent Saturday (Blu-ray) (1955)
Featurette-Richard Fleischer – Storyteller (20:37)
Featurette-Melodrame Policier (28:07)
|Year Of Production||1955|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Richard Fleischer|
J. Carrol Naish
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
English DTS HD Master Audio 4.0 L-R-LS-RS
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.55:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.55:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Bradenville is a small American town reliant upon farming and the nearby copper mine. It has only two policemen and one, unguarded, bank which becomes the target of an armed robbery when Harper (Stephen McNally), Chapman (J Carrol Nash) and Dill (Lee Marvin) arrive in town and take rooms in the hotel opposite the bank to scout the area and plan their robbery. Bradenville, however, has a number of residents with sins simmering below the surface. Boyd Fairchild (Richard Egan), the son of the owner of the copper mine, is an alcoholic who considers himself a failure, not only because he does he not have the ability of his father but also because his wife of ten years, Emily (Margaret Hayes), has been having extra-marital affairs. Bank manager Harry Reeves (Tommy Noonan) is married but is a peeping tom, fixated by new nurse in town Linda Sherman (Virginia Leith) while librarian Elsie Braden (Sylvia Hayes) has financial problems and so has stolen money from the library’s clients. Mine superintendent Shelley Martin (Victor Mature) is having problems with his young son who cannot accept that Shelley was required by the government to stay at his job during WW2 and not fight, and become a hero, like other boy’s fathers.
On the day of the robbery Harper hijacks the car driven by Shelley as a get-away car. The robbers drive Shelley to the isolated Amish farm of Stadt (Ernest Borgnine) and his family, tie everyone up then return to town for the robbery. There, during one violent Saturday, the lives of the town’s inhabitants and the robbers intersect, leading to a climax at the Amish farm.
Violent Saturday is a heist film, a sun drenched noir and a melodrama as the tawdry misbehaviours of the townspeople are displayed during the build-up to the robbery. Violent Saturday was made in 1955 and directed by Richard Fleischer. He had won a Best Documentary Oscar for Design for Death (1947) and his filmography includes some good films including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), The Vikings (1958) and Soylent Green (1973) although towards the end of his career he did made some films probably best forgotten such as Conan the Destroyer (1984), which sadly killed off the Conan franchise, and Red Sonja (1985). But, in Violent Saturday, his use of the CinemaScope 2.55:1 frame, shot by cinematographer Charles G Clarke, was masterful.
Violent Saturday is in many respects a small film about the lives of small town people, but Fleischer always has something going on at the edges of the CinemaScope frame such as the range of hills around the town, moving people, the huge mine trucks and equipment; it is never overdone, but is always there. Many of the interiors become more visually interesting because frequently people are framed within the widescreen frame by windows, doors, drapes or other vertical lines; pause the film at 34:56 during the bar scene for a spectacular example of frames within a frame, telling a number of stories all at once. The film’s feel is also aided by the impressive orchestral score by Hugo Friedhofer, eight times nominated for Oscars, wining once for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).
The main theme in Violent Saturday is the nature of violence, with extremes from Lee Marvin’s almost psychotic thug to Ernest Borgnine’s pacifist Amish farmer, within which relationships between fathers and sons and husbands and wives are explored; Violent Saturday is also a very moral film, with all those who have sinned, the adulteress, the thief, the peeping tom, not to mention the bank robbers, getting their “just” punishment, although the person who is most severely punished among the townspeople is an interesting reflection on 1950s values. The ensemble cast of Fox contracted players are fine although the script, by Sydney Boehm from a novel by William L Heath, does not really allow for any histrionics; nevertheless, Lee Marvin and Virginia Leith stand out. In the end however, the film is not so much dominated by the cast as by the visuals and the music.
Violent Saturday is a fine film. The melodramatic, heist and film noir elements are for once perfectly blended and Richard Fleischer uses the widescreen CinemaScope 2.55:1 frame to provide some stunning visuals while exploring a theme that are still relevant today, perhaps even more so.
Violent Saturday is presented in the 2.55:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p, using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
This is what epic films used to look like! The De Luxe colours are deep, rich and stupendous with a vibrancy that is absent in digitally shot films. Details are strong, the frame showing depth in every shot. Blacks, shadow detail are fine and skin tones natural. The print is artefact free although occasionally brightness and contrast varied slightly.
English subtitles for the hearing impaired are provided.
Violent Saturday was released theatrically with either mono or a 4 track stereo, which is reflected by the audio choices on this Blu-ray; English LPCM 2.0 or English DTS-MA HD 4.0. I watched the film with the 4.0 audio and sampled to 2.0.
Dialogue is always easy to understand although there were some sections when, as a character moved across the frame, the dialogue changed from one surround speaker to another which sounded clumsy. Effects were crisp, gunshots loud; there was some music, the mine explosion and the burning car in the surrounds, but in truth there was not a lot of activity.
The orchestral score by Hugo Friedhofer suits the film and thus supported the visuals well.
I did not notice any hiss or distortion.
Lip synchronisation looked fine.
|Surround Channel Use|
Made in 2013 director William Friedkin (Oscar winner for The French Connection (1971), also director of The Exorcist (1973)) discusses the life and work of director Richard Fleischer with particular reference to Violent Saturday, including the themes of the film, the narrative structure, the cast, Fleischer’s style and the use of the CinemaScope widescreen format. Friedkin is knowledgeable and informative and this is an excellent discussion.
Also made in 2013, in this featurette French writer / director Nicolas Saada (the recent Jamie Foxx film Sleepless (2017) is based upon the 2011 French / Belgium film Nuit blanche which was written by Saada) is not seen on screen but speaks (in French with removable subtitles) over scenes from Violent Saturday. He talks about the films of Fleischer but concentrates on his impressions of Violent Saturday including the composition and framing of shots by Fleischer, the limitations and advantages of the CinemaScope format, the characterisations of the gangsters and townspeople by screenwriter Sydney Boehm and the ensemble cast. Another interesting and informative extra.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This Australian release of Violent Saturday is identical to the UK Region B Eureka release, but without the booklet and DVD version of that release. The Region 0 US release has an audio commentary and isolated music score but misses out of the excellent extra features on our release. The DVDBeaver site has comparisons here. The choice depends on your interests but I will call it a draw for now.
Violent Saturday is an excellent film, more melodrama than crime drama, but director Richard Fleischer achieves the unusual feat of blending the genres into a very interesting and entertaining film, where every character, including the minor ones, are beautifully drawn and differentiated. All have their weaknesses and foibles, and these are played out under the tension of an armed robbery, all photographed in spectacular CinemaScope and De Luxe colour!
The film looks great, the audio is fine. The extras are interesting and informative resulting in a very good Blu-ray package.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|