Unforgotten Crime (Affairs of Jimmy Valentine, The) (1942)

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Released 21-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1942
Running Time 52:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bernard Vorhaus
Studio
Distributor
Republic
Warner Vision
Starring Dennis O'Keefe
Ruth Terry
Gloria Dickson
Roman Bohnen
George E. Stone
Spencer Charters
William B. Davidson
Roscoe Ates
Bobby Larson
Joe Cunningham
Harry Shannon
Jed Prouty
Patsy Lee Parsons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Unforgotten Crime is based on a short story by the prolific O. Henry, whose writings have provided the basis for many films and TV series, notably The Cisco Kid. O. Henry's 1903 story A Retrieved Reformation was adapted for the stage by Paul Armstrong: a play that has been filmed on at least six occasions. A 1915 film called Alias Jimmy Valentine, part of the Region 1 DVD box set The Origins of Film (1900-1926), is the only other version of this story available on DVD at the time of writing.

    Jimmy Valentine was a real-life safecracker whom O. Henry met in prison whilst he was incarcerated for embezzlement. Years later, Henry wrote a fictional account of what happened to Valentine after his release from prison, and the events leading to his reformation. This 1942 version from Republic Pictures has very little to do with the original story, and is apparently a remake of a film called The Return of Jimmy Valentine.

    Mike Jason (Dennis O'Keefe) has devised a stunt where his radio programme is offering $10,000 for the whereabouts of one-time safecracker Jimmy Valentine, who has been missing for years. The search has been narrowed down to the town of Fernville, where Jason meets Bonnie Forbes (Ruth Terry), a young woman who wants to be a reporter for her father Tom (Roman Bohnen), editor of the local newspaper.

    The only clue is that Valentine has red hair. Jason suspects that Pinky (Harry Shannon) might be the cracksman. When Pinky is mysteriously murdered, Jason assumes that Valentine is the killer, and sets out to trap him. But all is not what it seems.

    Bernard Vorhaus brings some nice touches to the direction of Unforgotten Crime, and there is some interesting photography by John Alton. Some shots prefigure the film noir style that would evolve over the next few years. However, the film also has the look of being shot quickly on a low budget. The sets look cheap and a boom microphone can be seen reflected in a mirror in the upper portion of the screen for a few seconds from 6:08.

    With a pedestrian script and less than charismatic leading players, Unforgotten Crime has little to offer. Attempts at witty banter between Jason and his colleague Cleo Arden (Gloria Dickson) probably seemed forced and unfunny even to audiences of the time.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video afforded to Unforgotten Crime is of a quality hardly better than VHS.

    The film is presented in black and white with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, closely approximating the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, and is, of course, not 16x9 enhanced. The image appears to have been cropped on the left hand side.

    The transfer is not very sharp. Most lines and edges are slightly blurred, though this may be a result of the poor print used for this transfer. The print itself is lacking in contrast, which has reduced the overall level of detail available. Shadow detail is therefore quite poor.

    The unrestored print used for this transfer shows virtually every film artefact known. Dirt, scratches, flecks, spots, blotches, reel change marks, splice marks, missing frames (mainly in the first 4 minutes) - you name it, it's there. It certainly does not compare with the quality achieved for DVDs of other films from the same era, for example Now, Voyager or The Maltese Falcon. There is considerable mosquito noise throughout the film. There is some aliasing, but given the overall video quality, this is not an issue. There is some evidence of mild edge enhancement from time to time, for example at 27:35.

    There is some intermittent telecine wobble throughout, though this is not particularly distracting. At 21:40 the film freezes for about a second. This is not a fault with the disc or player but is inherent in the transfer. This should have been easy to fix during the production process.

    The film is presented on a single-layered disc, so there is no layer change to worry about.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio on this disc is no better than the video, so at least it is consistent.

    There is a single English Dolby Digital two channel mono audio track.

    Audio is very poor, although dialogue is intelligible. There are the usual pops and crackles as might be expected from an unrestored film of this vintage. Hiss is constantly present, and the amount of wear and tear on the source material has reduced the dynamic range considerably.

    At the 27:45 mark, there is a loud pop and the audio quality deteriorates significantly, with the hiss reaching annoying levels. There is another loud pop at 43:48 and the audio returns to the earlier quality. This fault was undoubtedly present in the source material.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Oddly, there is no "Making Of..." documentary, or director's commentary, or indeed any extras of any type whatsoever, apart from a static main menu with no audio and a chapter selection menu. Given the abbreviated running time, there would have been sufficient room on the disc to include some extras, such as a trailer or even a short film. As it stands, this DVD gives very short measure.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This film does not appear to have been released on DVD in any other Region.

Summary

     This is a minor B-picture from 1942 that might be of interest to fans of O. Henry, but is of little worth for the general viewer, particularly given the short running time. Those interested in seeing the story of Jimmy Valentine on the screen should go for the silent version available in Region 1, which is a much better film with a better transfer, although it is only available as part of a box set.

    The video quality is poor.

    The audio quality is poor.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XS29M33 68cm Trinitron Wega. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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