Open Secret

Overview

John Reinhardt's Open Secret (1948) never even made it to VHS tape, much less to laserdisc; its arrival on DVD is, thus, a complete and delightful surprise, especially in a bargain-priced edition. Alpha Video's release is mastered in full-frame (1.33:1) off of what can best be called a serviceable 16 mm print -- there's some slight frame-jitter and noise on the soundtrack, but the contrast is good and there's a lot of detail, even in the night shots and scenes set in darkened rooms in which a lot of the action ...
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Overview

John Reinhardt's Open Secret (1948) never even made it to VHS tape, much less to laserdisc; its arrival on DVD is, thus, a complete and delightful surprise, especially in a bargain-priced edition. Alpha Video's release is mastered in full-frame (1.33:1) off of what can best be called a serviceable 16 mm print -- there's some slight frame-jitter and noise on the soundtrack, but the contrast is good and there's a lot of detail, even in the night shots and scenes set in darkened rooms in which a lot of the action takes place. The movie is a little more complicated (in terms of a plot that involves social strife as well as a mystery and two murders) than the requisite Alpha six chapters can break down easily or adequately, but just having this release in a watchable edition is kind of a treat. And the soundtrack -- which includes a score by Herschel Burke Gilbert that was later re-orchestrated for television use (including The Adventures of Superman) -- is mastered at a nice full volume level, which overcomes some of the noise in the playback of the print.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
John Reinhardt's Open Secret is a highly underrated movie, dealing with post-World War II anti-Semitism. In terms of production values and even the scope of its script, it pales next to Elia Kazan's Gentleman's Agreement -- but on another level, it succeeds where Gentleman's Agreement fails. The Kazan movie, for all of its good intentions, seldom addresses the working-class side of anti-Semitism. Apart from the one scene in the restaurant in which a drunken patron nearly provokes a fight with the character played by John Garfield, the side of life addressed by Kazan's movie is mostly confined to the educated and elite classes, in decidedly upper-middle-class and upscale parts of New York. Open Secret, by contrast, addresses anti-Semitism at the level of the street, where push can not only come to shove, but to much more dire consequences. In many ways, the plot is an extension of (and almost a sequel to) the 1930s Warner Bros. drama Black Legion: It's story set in an industrial town, among lower-class factory workers and merchants who get pulled into acts of violence, sometimes knowingly and other times against their best judgment. Even the backstory about the character whose fate starts the plot rolling -- a factory worker who resented being moved to a shift and section in which he was only working with "foreigners" -- recalls Black Legion. In addition to covering a class of Americans that Kazan's movie (but not Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire) virtually ignores, Open Secret is also unusual in raising the spectre of a new, virulent breed of postwar anti-Semitism, where most of the bigotry depicted in Kazan's movies is old-line and long-established. Open Secret focused on the fact that, among the working classes, there was resentment over the postwar revelations about German treatment of the Jews and the sympathy evoked. As more than one character points out, there have been Jews and other "foreigners" living there a long time without trouble -- only now they are increasingly under siege. The movie has the structure and the elements of film noir, and was presented as a mystery and marketed as a crime movie -- it also has numerous flaws in its structure, an inevitable result of a low budget, quick shooting schedule, and short running time, as well as the need to maintain the structure and pacing of a thriller. The string of violent confrontations at the denouement seem unrealistic, but amid that and other problems with the movie are some compelling elements, mostly embodied in the character of Harry Strauss (George Tyne), the good-natured, working-class Jew who can't understand what has happened to the town in which he was born and lived his whole life, and to the people around him; and Sheldon Leonard's Detective Frontelli, another man of immigrant stock, is also at a loss as to what to do about the violence and vandalism that has swept over his town. Both men find their concerns and their actions enabled by their contact with Paul Lester (John Ireland), a decent, two-fisted, regular joe who, like his vanished friend Stevens (Charles Waldron Jr.), knows when he sees something wrong. In later years and other movies, it would be the Strausses and the Frontellis that would act on their own, but in its time, Open Secret had to be structured in this way as a plea for reconciliation.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/23/2004
  • UPC: 089218436290
  • Original Release: 1948
  • Rating:

  • Source: Alpha Video
  • Region Code: 0
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:08:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 65,449

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Ireland Paul Lester
Jane Randolph Nancy Lester
Roman Bohnen Locke
Sheldon Leonard Mike Frontelli
George Tyne Harry Strauss
Morgan Farley Mitchell
Ellen Lowe Mrs. Locke
Anne O'Neal Mrs. Tistram
Arthur O'Connell Carter
John Alvin Ralph
Bert Conway Mace
Rory Mallinson Hill
Helena Dare Mrs. Hill
Leo Kaye Bartender
King Donovan Fawnes
Tommy Noonan Bob
Charles Waldron Jr.
Technical Credits
John Reinhardt Director
Jason Bernie Editor
Henry Blankfort Screenwriter
John Bright Screenwriter
Stanley Frazen Editor
Herschel Burke Gilbert Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Guffroy Gilbert Musical Direction/Supervision
George Robinson Cinematographer
Frank Satenstein Producer
George C. VanMarter Art Director
Max Wilk Screenwriter
Earl B. Wooden Set Decoration/Design
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Chapter 1 [10:20]
2. Chapter 2 [12:29]
3. Chapter 3 [11:58]
4. Chapter 4 [12:42]
5. Chapter 5 [10:01]
6. Chapter 6 [10:10]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Index
   Catalog
      View Catalog
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