Union Station Blu-ray Review

Joyce Willecombe (Nancy Olson) spies two suspicious men on a train and informs the attendant that one is carrying a gun  The head of the Union Station police, Detective  Lt. William ‘Tough Willy’ Calhoun (William Holden), is hesitant of the claim at first but does his due diligence in following the men.  After they stash a mysterious suitcase in a locker, Calhoun furthers his investigation, quickly learning that the men are involved in the kidnapping of a blind heiress to hold as ransom.

The cat and mouse game between the ruthless kidnappers and the clever trench coat police department is held mostly at the famous Chicago Union Station.  The energy and pacing keep this 1950’s noir more exciting than it probably should be.  While UNION STATION is a bit rudimentary compared to the intricacies of today’s thriller standards, it does provide an element of intrigue and suspense.

William Holden in Union Station

Detective Calhoun and his superior, Irish police inspector Donnelly (Barry Fitzgerald), play well off each other with a tough cop mentality who will go to all lengths to catch their man.  The hustle and bustle setting of  the Union Station is a nice effect that creates an honest portrayal of tension through the waiting game of a stakeout.  Watching each person go by as a possible accomplice to the kidnapping might come off as boring, but credit must be given to director Rudolph Mate, who had previously been nominated for five Oscars in Best Cinematography, for giving the film a dynamic look to keep the action moving.

William Holden in Union Station

While UNION STATION is a surprisingly easy and brisk watch (80-minute runtime), the film shows weakness in its probability.  This is a fault that probably lies more with the age of the film.  The mastermind behind the kidnapping isn’t all that bright as his men get taken one by one with each instructed contact to ransom the money.  The use of the kidnapped heiress as a blind girl is a clever decision that help with the ease of keeping her locked up with minimal difficulty, but there is still an element of treating the female as completely helpless, with which I’m sure many blind people might take issue.  That is the tiniest of complaints as the other female character in the film is portrayed as strong and brave in her efforts to thwart the villains.

Sadly, UNION STATION did not come with any extra features on the Blu-ray and one might be better off finding an Olive Films production box set to enjoy this lively crime thriller.


Video: (MPEG-4 AVC 1080p, 1.34:1) For the age, this is a pretty decent transfer.

Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio Mono) The audio is fine, however the original recording wasn’t the best.  When action is happening away from the camera it can be hard to hear at times.

No extra features.


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