Blu-ray Review: Where the Sidewalk Ends - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), a recent limited edition (3,000 units issued) Blu-ray release, is not the first Otto Preminger-directed film that boutique label Twilight Time has issued. Both Bonjour Tristesse (1958) and Bunny Lake is Missing (1965) have emerged in high definition thanks to TT. Adapted from William L. Stuart’s 1948 novel Night Cry by screenwriter Ben Hecht (winner of the first-ever Academy Award for screenwriting for 1927’s Underworld), Sidewalk is bolstered by a knockout lead performance by Dana Andrews.

Andrews plays hard-boiled, hot-headed police detective Mark Dixon. After accidentally killing a murder suspect (Craig Stevens) during a typically harsh confrontation, Dixon makes the unscrupulous decision to cover up his mistake. Paine, as Dixon’s bad luck would have it, was a respected war hero. He tries to frame gangster Tommy Scalise for Paine’s death, but it’s cabbie Jiggs Taylor—Paine’s widow Morgan’s (Gene Tierney) father—who winds up a suspect. To say Dixon has created a real mess for himself is a grand understatement.

Preminger handles Dixon’s tangled web of lies with aplomb, no matter how coincidence-based Hecht’s screenplay becomes. Dixon falls in love with Morgan, which naturally spurs him to try even harder to clear her father’s name while also protecting his secret. It’s a pulpy feast for noir fans, with Andrews’ tough, uncompromising performance standing out as the highlight. 

where sidewalk BD.jpg Celebrated cinematographer Joseph LaShelle lensed Where the Sidewalk Ends and Twilight Time’s Blu-ray gives his work the treatment it deserves. LaShelle, a nine-time Academy Award nominee (and one-time winner, for Preminger’s Laura), obviously knew very well how to make the most of black-and-white imagery. His evocative work is presented perfectly on this remarkably clean 1080p transfer.

Not too much to say about the crisp DTS-HD MA mono soundtrack, aside from the fact that it sounds great, especially for its age. The Cyril Mockridge score is offered as an isolated DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack.

The main extra feature is film historian (and film noir expert) Eddie Muller’s audio commentary track. The film’s theatrical trailer is present as well (in standard definition).

Perhaps a minor entry in the filmography of Otto Preminger, Where the Sidewalk Ends is nonetheless an interesting film noir. Twilight Time’s limited Blu-ray release is available, while supplies last, via Screen Archives.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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