Hangmen Also Die! – Cohen Media Group (Blu-ray)
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1943
Director: Fritz Lang
Writers: John Wexley, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang
Cast: Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan, Anna Lee, Gene Lockhart, Dennis O’Keefe, Margaret Wycherly, Nana Bryant, Lionel Stander
Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Approximate Running Time: 135 Minutes 43 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $39.98
"This noir-like espionage thriller is set in occupied Czechoslovakia and revolves around the successful plot by the Czech resistance to assassinate Deputy Reich-Protector of Bohemia and Moravia "Hangman" Reinhard Heydrich and the hunt by the Gestapo to track down the killers." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "Restored in 2012 by the Restoration Department Pinewood Studios UK utilizing the best of the surviving archive film elements that included some original 1943 nitrate."
Hangmen Also Die! comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 41.2 GB
Cohen Media Group Feature: 31.8 GB
Arrow Academy Feature: 38.1 GB
The source used for Cohen Media Group’s transfer is the same source that Arrow Academy used for their transfer. And though Arrow Academy’s release dedicated 6.3 GB more to the main feature than Cohen Media Group’s release, The differences between these two transfers are minimal.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have also been included. There are no issues with distortion and though there is mild background noise, it is never intrusive. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include 2014 Theatrical re-release trailer (1 minute 45 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), 1942 German Newsreel (7 minutes 58 seconds, LPCM mono German, no subtitles), Restoration Before and After Comparison (5 minutes 1 second, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Story of a Hangman: Robert Gerwath on Reinhard Heydrich (28 minutes 33 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary with Richard Peña, Director Emeritus of the New York Film Festival.
Other extras are previews of other films also released by Cohen Media Group.
Extras on Arrow Academy’s Blu-ray/DVD Combo release include 2014 Theatrical re-release trailer (1 minute 45 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Restoration Before and After Comparison (5 minutes 1 second, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Story of a Hangman: Robert Gerwath on Reinhard Heydrich (28 minutes 33 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with Richard Peña, Director Emeritus of the New York Film Festival, reversible cover art and a booklet with cast & crew information, an essay about Hangmen Also Die written by Gerd Gemunden and information about the transfer.
Upon its initial release, Hangmen Also Die! was one of those rare examples where a film that was based on real-life events was released while the original sources were still fresh in the news headlines. Without a doubt, Hangmen Also Die's greatest strength is that the two main creative talents behind it, Fritz Lang and Bertolt Brecht, both fled Germany when the Nazis rose to power. Another strength of Hangmen Also Die! is the ability to balance real life with fictional events.
The premise is rock solid, the narrative is meticulously constructed, and pacing is never an issue as Hangmen Also Die! does a superb job of allowing key moments to fully resonate. The characters are well defined and their motivations are never in doubt. It should be noted that this film has no grey area; it is crystal clear who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.
Not to be overlooked or undervalued are the performances. The standout performances were by Brian Donlevy (Kiss of Death) in the role of the fugitive assassin and Gene Lockhart (The House on 92nd Street) in the role of Emil Czaka, an opportunist who is only out to save his own skin. Other notable cast members include Dennis O’Keefe (Woman on the Run), Lionel Stander (Once Upon a Time in the West) and Anna Lee (How Green Was My Valley) in the role of Masha Novotny, a woman who inadvertently becomes entangled in the manhunt following the assassination.
From a production standpoint, there is not an area where Hangmen Also Die! does not excel. Visually, Hangmen Also Die! is an extraordinary espionage/thriller hybrid that often foreshadows a style that is often employed for Film Noirs. Key moments in Hangmen Also Die! include a scene right after the assassination where a potential witness, a cab driver, jumps out of a window. Another standout moment includes the sequence of events that involve several characters who are all co-conspirators in having a traitor exposed.
Hangmen Also Die! gets a solid release from Cohen Media Group that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and comes with a pair of insightful extras, recommend.
Cohen Media Group