The Big Clock
Universal's DVD release of John Farrow's The Big Clock doesn't have a commentary track or any newly or specially conceived supplement -- but it doesn't have a premium price, either. The movie, which never made it to laserdisc, has come out on the studio's mid-priced "Noir" collection line. The one bonus feature that is present is very exciting; the trailer is so cleverly put together that it would be worth seeing in any case, structured as it is around the film's star, Ray Milland and his dramatization of the film on a radio series called Suspense. That's fine and well done, and entertaining, but the real treat for movie, radio, and television buffs is the appearance with Milland of Anton Leader; also sometimes known as Tony Leader, he was a major director/producer on radio and later on television, and something of linchpin in Irwin Allen's organization in the 1960s, as well as the director of Children of the Damned, the underrated mid-'60s sequel to the original Village of the Damned. To finally be able to put a face alongside the name -- and when the man was in his prime -- is a remarkable piece of good luck concerning a movie whose plot partly hinges on the day-to-day ubiquitousness of radio. Now, past that piece of pop-culture minutiae, the movie looks great; while there might be a better transfer to be done, this full-screen (1.33:1) release is acceptable -- not quite on a par with, say, Roy William Neill's The Black Angel (in the same DVD release cycle), but close. The sharpness isn't quite what it should be, but even the dark shots have useful picture information. The sound, though fairly low in volume level, is mastered very sharply and effects such as intercom buzzers leap out. As to the movie, it holds up extremely well today, mostly owing to its vision of power and its corrupting influence, which was decades ahead of its time. The 95-minute feature has been given 18 chapters, which are more than adequate to the task of breaking down the plot. In addition to the trailer, the only other bonus features are French and Spanish subtitles.