Dark City Blu-ray Review
You would think tricksters and hustlers would have watched a movie at some point and thought to themselves, “Maybe. Just maybe. There will be that off chance that I hustle the wrong person and wind up with my body floating in the river.” I mean, that ignorance makes for a great story. Some unlikeable crooks getting what they deserve is always a rewarding plot, but this one is different since it stars Charlton Heston who generally is remembered as a hero.
This is actually Heston’s first starring role which makes me wonder why something so cinematically important to his filmography would take so long to reach blu-ray and then get such an average treatment in terms of being touched up. Heston plays Danny Haley, a petty crook who’s skeptical of the kindness of others, which might make him the most level-headed of anyone in this film. Although it’s also curse since he’s incredibly distrusting of the genuine love and the general good will of others when it matters the most.
He was operating a bookie joint until the police raided and cleaned him of all his assets. Now he and two others need to find some poor sap to help get them back on their criminal feet. They manage to sucker in a stranger who Danny crosses paths with in his favorite bar. They fool this man into believing he’s a good poker player, only to swindle him later out of $5,000. It wasn’t even the poor sap’s money. So that’s why he immediately goes home to hang himself. The trio thinks they only have to worry about the cops who are now breathing down their necks, but the stranger has a psychotic brother who begins hunting them down to kill them via strangulation.
I’ve never watched a noir film and I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I am in anyway an expert in the field of noir films. So when I watch a noir film, I generally assume that things will be a bit ludicrous and that coincidences are all a part of the allure of something so outlandish. And I say outlandish because Danny goes from scourge of the police to helping them and from being a distrustful ladies man to loving with open arms.
I can roll with the swings that this character throws at me, but from what I’ve previously seen from Heston, it’s a little bit unbelievable to see him in the role of protagonist and antagonist. It’s so disjointed in its presentation that I’m more interested in the overarching hunt than I am the games he plays with the characters around him.
Also my understanding of the noir film is that it’s typically dark and bleak. It’s so weird to watch Danny walk in the sunlight or stroll through the bright lights of a casino. DARK CITY feels way more at home in the smoky lounge where soft spoken ladies sing about love or the dark corridors of the unforgiving city streets. DARK CITY feels more like a hodgepodge, but since it’s so old, I can only assume it’s an experiment in film that didn’t quite pan out.
Nevertheless it’s entertaining and I stuck through every dull moment to see the inevitable outcome of Danny. So maybe that’s what filmmakers throughout the years saw. The ability to capture an audience and make sure they stick out through thick and thin to see what happens to our lead. That’s what Charlton Heston provides and it’s great to see him work so well as that component so early in his career.
Video: (1:37:1) The quality varies from shot to shot. It could be a case of having trouble restoring everything, but regardless when it looks good, it looks good, but when it looks bad, it looks bad.
Audio: (English) The dialogue, singing, SFX, and music are hit or miss. Mainly miss. The hissing and popping are very audible during moments of silence.