The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)
Blu-Ray Company: Twilight Time
Starring: Jason Robards, George Segal, Ralph Meeker, David Canary, Bruce Dern, Jean Hale, Jan Merlin, Clinton Ritchie, Jack Nicholson, Harold J. Stone, Frank Silvera, Joseph Campanella, Richard Bakalyan, Charles Dierkop, John Agar, Joe Turkel, Reed Hadley, Alexander D’Arcy
Plot: Gangsters against gangsters and the ultimate mystery of one of Chicago’s most famous and infamous gangster criminal moments. Al Capone and his thugs and the showdown that leads to the ordeal. 1929 Mr. Capone finally establishes himself as the boss by his thug’s. He sends them to do the ultimate massacre and takeover. This film explores the lead up to the reality and the history that took place. Fictional telling or a true event. This film explores what possibly happened.
My Review and Thoughts:
Yippee. I know that's not the professional way to start a movie review out, but you know what, this is my website, my blog, and I don't care, because, I am utterly happy. Twilight Time Blu-ray has released Roger F-ing Corman, master and Guru of all things low budget, drive-in, b-grade mastery. This is one of his personal beauties and trips into a historical crime moment.
I think something that stands out with this film is for the time period it was edgy. For a mainstream movie to be bloody and violent in the way it was. To me it shows you that Roger Corman can transcend, gimmicky drive-in flare and produce and direct a film that leaves a lasting impression. The acting, along with the tight direction and the overall gangster reality, plays with the viewers, and gives them true entertainment. I think something that needs to be talked about is, you have to realize, Hollywood, of how the gangster films of the 30s 40s 50s and even into the 60s ended up playing that safe style of gangster. When a person was shot, there was no blood, they just held there chest and fell. There was no bullets flying into people, or blood splatter, and that's where this film differs in the approach of cinema. To me, this was a pioneering film, in that it showed in the mainstream department, with top actors, and displayed the violence, in graphic detail for its time.
This was written by Howard Browne. Browne had only written one other movie before St. Valentines. But he was already a stable in the TV word, writing for many programs, started back in the early 50’s. From the TV shows Cheyenne, Maverick, which would lead into him writing his first feature film, also a gangster film, 1961’s Portrait of a Mobster. His last movie he would write, would also be another gangster film 1975’s Capone. Browne had a talent at creating the drama of the characters he brought to life. He was able to make the players human and seem real. He was able to express the bad guys in ways that showcased an emotional ordeal, even though these people where the bad guys, the viewer sometimes rooted for them, or wanted to see what happened next. Better yet, at times he scripted his characters to the point you couldn’t stand them, and so you wished them to die; that was just his amazing talent in able to craft his script and the characters in his plots. Now this is where I have to depart from the movie and praise Browne in all his writing glory. If you know me, I Iove to read, and books are my first and foremost love. I read and read and read. Well Howard Browne is a master word player in the art of creating Sci-fi stories. When he was not writing TV, or movies, he was the editor and also wrote for the publications of, Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures. Amazing Stories has been around since the early 20’s and is still strong today giving an outlet, to many writers, with the mind of an imagination. Sadly Fantastic Adventures did not make the long run like Amazing Stories did, but if you’re lucky you can still find these wonderful magazines around. If you ever get a chance look up Browne’s books. His writing talent is amazing and he has written many memorable books. Sadly I think he is a forgotten icon of word. His book Thin Air is a really good one, and I highly recommend.
The film has a narration by Paul Frees. A legend in his own. A composer, songwriter, actor and yes voiceover, plus a writer. Frees is an interesting character or at least some of the truths that supposed to be about him. It is said that he was an undercover agent for the Bureau of Narcotics in the years of the 60’s. There is a book written by Peter Guralnick that talks about this reality. I find this concept very entertaining. His voice was one that was used throughout his many years. He had a voice that was one of those you could not overlook, and that is why, Hollywood used him often to fix dialogue and also for narration. It was his voice work on radio that got him his beginning. Now if you go to Disneyland and Walt Disney World you can hear his voice on the Haunted mansion Attraction. Sadly he died at the very young age of 66, but his career is unbelievable. Over 300 performances under his belt. Started in the 40’s and went strong until his death. For us inner kids, will know him in the cartoon world as the voice of Boris in Rocky and Bullwinkle, Capt. Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin, John Lennon and George Harrison in The Beatles cartoon, The Thing in Fantastic 4 and just countless others. He was a pioneering voice man that shined and gave the world of cinema both small and large, a gift that one remembers, every time a film he did, is popped in. He had a mastery, from voice over, dubbing or narration, he did it all.
Now the historical reality of this movie, is that it's based on 1929's Chicago Mass Murder of seven Northside Gang members, who were brutally gunned down and was given the order's to do so, by Al Capone, which was followed out by his thug George “Bugs” Moran. That is what most believe and accept as the truth. St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is like Jack the Ripper, we know many involved or could have been involved, but no one was ever charged with the crime.
One, only has to look to the cast of this film to showcase perfect talent throughout their long careers. The amazing Jason Robard’s, who was a true icon of the acting world and still is a person that left an iconic reality upon the business of filmmaking. He plays the main character thug, leader Al Capone. He gives a dark persona and also life to this man of violent means.
The extraordinary George Segal who really doesn’t need any introduction to true movie lovers. He has graced the film world throughout his vast career of comedy or dramatic roles. Passionate actor that knew what he wanted and how to accomplish it. Still acts strong today as of this writing in the TV show The Goldberg’s. Also starring the brilliant David Canary. Canary is most famous for playing on the long running TV show Bonanza but in reality, it would have to be his long run as Daytime Soap Opera actor on All My Children. On a side note for all you Star Trek buffs and movie trivia lovers, Canary was in the lead to take over the iconic character Spock. There had been some type of disagreement with contracts and it is said, through, firsthand accounts and also biography books, that Canary was one of the number one choices to take over the role. Also starring in St. Valentine’s the top notch Ralph Meeker who starred in two of my favorite films, 1957’s Paths of Glory, which might I add was directed by one of my top ten favorite director’s Stanley Kubrick. The second feature Meeker starred in, and which I remember him most for, would be the cult film-noir classic Kiss Me Deadly and if you haven’t seen that, what are you waiting for. Also the great underrated Bruce Dern is one of the victims. Dern needs no write up on his acting mastery. His career has flourished both big and small and no matter what he does, he aces it.
Plus watch out for the very small part of acting legend and icon, Jack Nicholson. Any of you movie buffs and movie trivia fiends will know that Roger Corman gave the acting world the legend Jack Nicholson. Starring in many such Roger Corman cult drive-in classics. Jack’s first movie was produced by Roger Corman, 1958’s The Cry Baby Killer. The first movie he starred in, was directed by Corman. The b-grade, drive-in, late-night, cult classic, The Little Shop of Horrors. Including ST. Valentines, Jack acted in 6 films for Corman, including The Terror. I feel that is something that needs to be said, is that Corman, gave an outlet for so many writers, directors, and stars to come and create there career’s. Corman should always be look to, as a pioneering father in cinema. He brought to life so many actors and actresses, directors, producers, writers to the world of cinema. Directing over 50 movies and producing over a, whopping 400 films. He gave chances, to now, Academy Award winning, actors and directors. One in particular is, the amazing James Cameron.
Now I have to pin point someone who has a small part in this, and that is actor, Joe Turkel. Who is Turkel you say. Turkel is a character actor that has made himself known, maybe not in name form, but in acting certain parts. Many will know Turkel as the Bar Tender in Stanley Kubrick’s Masterpiece of cinema The Shinning. All one has to do is look at this man’s resume, for he has been in some of the greatest films of all time. The Shinning, Blade Runner, Paths of Glory, The Killing, The Sand Pebbles. Often playing a bad guy, tough guy or a side character, and is often uncredited in many of his roles. He started acting in the late 1940’s and his career expanded all the way to late 90’s. But it was always the key parts, Lloyd the Bartender in The Shining, Dr. Eldon Tyrell in Blade Runner. He has one of those memorable faces and iconic body emotions that make you remember him. I enjoyed him in the 1990 Horror/Sci-fi The Dark Side of the Moon. I just feel these side characters, who have acted countless years, deserve to be recognized, and that is why I wanted to mention him.
Acting veteran and character actor icon, Dick Miller pops up also in St. Valentines. Miller needs no introduction to true movie lovers. Been around for many years and is always playing key figures, especially in some of my favorite films of all time, Rock and Roll High School, The Howling, Gremlins, The Terminator, Explorers, The Burbs, Demon Knight and so many, many more. He has graced both small screen and big screen with his talent. He is also a regular that was in many, upon many of Roger Corman films. He was a basic standard in Roger’s, films. He is also iconic to the B-movie horror world. Fans, honor him and respect him.
There are so many wonderful character actors through this film. Many character actor legends. Actors who have graced countless films from small too big. To add all the experience of each actor, small and big together in this film, would be an acting total of over 4 thousand 4 hundred acting roles in film, both big and small. This scale of big actors and character actors is amazing in how so many played in this film.
Now to trace how Browne wrote this film is to look at his TV credit on the CBS Playhouse 90. There was an episode titled Against the Wall which was also written by Browne and premiered in 1958. I think what is amazing is looking behind the research Corman did for this film. He mastered the imagery and the mass murder by following and studying and looking over the crime photos. I love how the independent film world came together with Hollywood to create this film. Corman the ultimate master of independent film making, very seldom entered the mainstream world of filmmaking, but St. Valentine’s Day was one of those times. The movie had a high budget for its times and also for Roger Corman. Corman took his beauty of filmmaking and crafted his excellence of the indie reality nature, and mixed it in, with the high glamour of Hollywood. Now it is said Corman had some disagreement with this reality of filmmaking. It is said Corman was disgusted with the amount of waste in money for creating this film.
In my viewpoint, this is one of the greatest gangster films and many agree with that reality. Many people, put it on their top, 20 or top 10 list. It’s in my top 20 gangster films of all time. Twilight Time Blu-ray has brought this film out, so that it had a nice, tight, beautiful and extraordinary means, to express, to a modern generation, the art-form of this film and subject in history. I think this was a right choice for the special edition Blu-ray through the product by Twilight Time. I hope Twilight Time adventures into other Roger Corman films. He is a director that has given so much to the world of cinema, and the love of movies and deserves an outlet like only Twilight Time can give.
This might end up being one of my favorite Blu-ray's of this year. Twilight Time always ends up releasing great films that seem to never get positive outlets and I think they did a wonderful job with this film. Roger Corman to me is an icon. A master. A true pioneer of cinema. A father of independent movie making. A low-budget guru of simplistic perfection and thankfully Twilight Time has honored one of his greats on Blu-ray.
This is where I'm probably going to differ from many other people who see this and view it and rate it for the audio and video.
This has been out on VHS and DVD. It's been shown on TCM and AMC and other television channels. I've seen it in many different ways, some really horrible bootleg-videos and so it's been around the block, but something needed to be done. If one film in my personal opinion needed a new approach and outlet, then it would be this release. It deserves a clarity that only people who know how to honor a film can do. The company Twilight Time has done this Roger Corman classic, Justice.
For fans of criminal history, Roger Corman and good, old school gangster films; this is the best that it has ever been seen. Twilight Time did another fantastic amazing job on the video. This is the first time I've ever seen this with such clarity, in the way that it looks, fresh and new. The film has aged as would expect but now through amazing work, the colors vibrant. If I was going to pick apart nitty and gritty things, then there are small moments of damage, but nothing in my viewpoint that needs to be pinpointed, because of all the other viewings I have seen. This is a masterpiece of video and audio compared to any of the other outlets of this film. The audio is stunning, but the restoration and beauty of the film itself, showcases a perfection. This is one Blu-ray that should be owned.
I found no real mentionable flaw in this. Twilight Time aced this department. From what, is out there on VHS or DVD, or just the television version, it's like comparing a fly to an eagle, it has no baring. This is the eagle.
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 2.37:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.35:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Music: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
As always with any Twilight Time Blu-ray, you get the isolated music score, which is always a plus. If you've read my past reviews, you know, that I am a movie buff, along with being a music buff. Specifically soundtracks and music scores and so that's the clarity of what Twilight Time offers with their extras.
Now the music was composed by various members of the art-form of music. Conducted by Lionel Newman. Newman was a brilliant, music genera master, in his own reality. Gifted in the art-form of supplying memorable music scores and tunes for many wonderful films and also for TV shows that most will remember for its music. First movie for me that really comes to mind, besides this one that he has worked on, would be the horror classic, The Omen, followed equally by the Sci-fi masterpiece Alien. I mean just looking at the scores he has conducted, The Omen which is one of the greatest and always spooks me anytime I hear it, showcases his amazement. He was the uncle to music man, Randy Newman. He won an Oscar for the amazing 1968 Hello Dolly. He was the music supervisor for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. That should tell you his mastery. 11 Academy Award nominations and 1 win. He crafted his art-form over decades upon decades. He crafted composing music and soundtracks all the way back into the start of the 1930’s. He mastered his talent through both small and large, from the TV series Mash, to The Green Hornet and music supervisor on Land of the Giants, Lost in Space, Batman, and Planet of the Apes. He was the conductor for The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre alongside Fred Steiner. Now Newman also was a part of another movie that Twilight Time graced the Blu-ray world with. He was the conductor on Flaming Star starring Elvis Presley, you can read my review here: FLAMING STAR REVIEW Steiner like Newman really needs no introduction in the department of the legacy in music. Steiner composed for countless TV series, Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, and Hogan’s Heroes, Star Trek, Tiny Toon Adventures and many others. Now he will always be remembered by me and by many, with one tune, that still is one of the iconic, music openings to any TV series, the theme to the long running Perry Mason TV show and movies. Sadly, Steiner was uncredited in St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The music is a great treat to listen to. The isolated score aces the product.
You Also get:
Roger Corman Remembers (1080p; A little over 3 minutes) A small short of Roger Corman talking about and reminiscence.
Fox Movietone News (480i; A Little over 4 minutes) Nice archival newsreel footage giving and talking about such figures as Al Capone
Original Theatrical Trailer (480i; a little over 2 minutes)
Isolated Score Track is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.
This is another forgotten about classic. A classic in the sense of old school gangster films. This is a film trying to tackle the criminal reality of the true story of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. No one really knows the whole truth, we can only speculate. Roger Corman speculated and did his version, of what he thought happened and it was in my viewpoint a brilliant depiction. This is a must own Blu-ray by Twilight Time.
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