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February 15, 2014

Movie Review: Man in the Dark (Blu-ray, Twilight Time)

The 3D format has been a huge tool used to draw in moviegoers to some of the biggest blockbusters over the past few years with movies like The Avengers, The Hobbit and other big budget films utilizing the gimmick to wow audiences. In a way it's made a comeback, but you know what? The format had so much more of impact when it first came out in the 1950's. William Castle used it and so did Universal for the classic monster flick, Creature from the Black Lagoon. While 3D was used for science fiction and horror the majority of the time it made one its earliest appearances was in the film-noir Man in the Dark. Twilight Time has done something special in bring this enjoyably nostalgic slice of 50's gimmickry to Blu-ray in a nifty new release.

Lew Landers' Man in the Dark follows the journey of a man named Steven Rawley (Edmond O'Brian, White Heat, The Wild Bunch), a former tough who's had his brain re-wired not to commit crimes. The urge to commit any kind of shenanigans has basically been plucked from his noggin. Great idea, right? Not so much. When Rawley isn't cooped up by a bunch of wise guys he’s being either chased by them, or the cops, all over town. The biggest challenge for him is knowing who his enemy is and whether there’s anyone out there to trust

 Man in the Dark has an appeal that even folks that aren't to adept at noir, or even fans for that matter, will find some enjoyment in the film. To me, it really felt like feature length Twilight Zone episode - which as a huge Twilight Zone fan made it a delight. The dream sequences that pop up from time to time that Steve Rawley is experiences really adds the feel of the classic show. I even felt some horror elements, liberally scattered through-out that are most evident in the pursuit of Rawley by goons and the cops at a local carnival. The carnival has this robotic gap toothed woman that's down-right creepy. That's not to say there isn't humor. It often seems everybody is channeling the great Edward G. Robinson...even the actresses. The performances aren't bad, but they are appropriately unique to Rawley's world.

The extras consist of an isolated score, the 2D version and an excellent trailer starring Edmond O'Brian. The trailer is an absolute hoot as it shows just some glimpses of behind the scenes action with O'Brian trying to sell it talking to the camera. The audio and video quality are superb and has no visible digital noise reductiom. The black and white colors pop as does the surprisingly effective 3D. If you have a 3D TV you'll definitely be please: if not the 2D works out just fine.

 Man in the Dark is a big surprise. I didn’t expect it to really be as fun or as fast-paced as it is. While it is campy and over-the-top as other noirs, Man in the Dark is still a clever little diamond in the rough that begs a viewing.

Pick up the limited edition (3000 units) of Twilight Time's Blu-ray release of Man in the Dark directly from Screen Archives while supplies last.

Screencaps come courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop!

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