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Town without Pity

Overview

Gottfried Reinhardt's Town Without Pity looks every bit as gritty as it did in 1961, telling the tale of four American G.I.'s on trial for raping a teenaged girl in a small German town, circa 1960. Despite its having been an international production, and dealing with a difficult subject matter for its time, the movie has always had strong resonances with American audiences, partly because of the presence of Kirk Douglas in the starring role and by virtue of its title song (co-authored by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned ...
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Overview

Gottfried Reinhardt's Town Without Pity looks every bit as gritty as it did in 1961, telling the tale of four American G.I.'s on trial for raping a teenaged girl in a small German town, circa 1960. Despite its having been an international production, and dealing with a difficult subject matter for its time, the movie has always had strong resonances with American audiences, partly because of the presence of Kirk Douglas in the starring role and by virtue of its title song (co-authored by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington), which was sung by Gene Pitney, and which became a major chart hit. The film-to-video transfer on the DVD is about as perfect as one could hope for, with barely a blemish in the source and all manner of detail that was never clear on the old TV presentations of the movie. United Artists must have kept the negative to this picture in great condition, because even the scenes in near darkness -- in the army barracks, the dimly lit prison compound corridors, and the home of the victim in the penultimate segment -- are beautifully rich in their tones, while the daylight exterior shots portray the drabness of the postwar German setting in vivid detail. There may be some minor flaws in either the source or the transfer for a few seconds just ahead of 19 minutes into the movie, but it will take a fairly sharp-eyed viewer to be bothered by that -- the film overall is so well represented here, that it has regained much of its 40-year-old potency. The disc opens on the menu automatically, and the selections include a French-dialogue track and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish, along with the original trailer, which is far more overheated than the movie itself.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Original theatrical trailer; English: Mono; French: Mono; English, French & Spanish language subtitles
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Town Without Pity deserves credit for trying to tackle some explosive subject matters -- several explosive subject matters, actually. For a film in 1961 to take on rape, let alone gang rape, let alone gang rape by U.S. servicemen stationed abroad took guts. For it to also take on the hypocrisy and pettiness of a community affected by this heinous act and then to further address the issue of the victim's potential "complicity" took even more guts. Unfortunately, what could have been a truly fascinating, in-depth look at the complexities of these issues comes off instead as overblown and overwrought, a film with a lot of posturing and theatrics instead of a serious consideration of the issues. As a result, much of Town feels exploitive rather than insightful. It's still powerful stuff, mind you, and that sheer power will be enough for many viewers. Gottfried Reinhardt's direction is uneven; when he connects, he makes the material jump, but when he misses, it seriously affects the film's impact. And it was a major miscalculation to use constant voiceover narration, a tactic which quickly becomes grating. Kirk Douglas does a splendid job as the defense attorney trying to save his guilty clients from the death penalty, Christine Kaufmann does quite well as the victim and E.G. Marshall is solid as her lawyer. Perhaps the most surprising work comes from Frank Sutton (TV's Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle) as one of the rapists and the best work from a magnetic Robert Blake as one of the other violators. And yes, Gene Pitney's hit song does indeed come from this movie -- unfortunately, played so frequently that it becomes as annoying as the narration.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/5/2002
  • UPC: 027616873040
  • Original Release: 1961
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Language: English, Français
  • Time: 1:43:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kirk Douglas Maj. Steve Garrett
E.G. Marshall Col. Pakenham
Robert Blake Jim
Richard Jaeckel Bidie
Christine Kaufmann Karin Steinhof
Frank Sutton Chuck
Mal Sondock Joey
Barbara Rutting Inge Koerner
Hans Nielsen Karl Steinhof
Karin Hardt Frau Steinhof
Gerhart Lippert Frank Borgmann
Max Haufler Dr. Urban
Siegfried Schürenberg Burgermeister
Alan Gifford Gen. Stafford
Rose Renee Roth Frau Kulig
Stefan Schnabel
Teddy Turner
Eleanore van Hoogstraten Frau Borgmann
Gerd Vespermann
Fred Durr
Gernot Duda
Ingrid van Bergen Trude
Technical Credits
Gottfried Reinhardt Director, Producer
Werner Achmann Set Decoration/Design
Walter Boos Editor
Erwin C. Dietrich Screenwriter
Hermann Haller Editor
Kurt Hasse Cinematographer
George Hurdalek Screenwriter
Jan Lustig Screenwriter
Eberhard Meischner Producer
Albert Nagel Makeup
Silvia Reinhardt Screenwriter
Dimitri Tiomkin Score Composer
Rolf Zehetbauer Art Director, Set Decoration/Design
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Title/Fun in Town
2. By the River
3. Initial Reactions
4. The Defense
5. Questioning Karin
6. Making the Rounds
7. "Crazy, Stupid & Sick"
8. Worries and Pleas
9. The First Witnesses
10. Human Nastiness
11. The Tide Turns
12. One Last Plea
13. Garrett Explains Law
14. Karin's Meltdown
15. Attempting Escape
16. "No Sex, No Death"
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Spoken Languages: Français
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: None
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