The Film (4/5)
John Payne stars as Ernie Driscoll, a former professional boxer turned cab driver due to a potential career-ending eye injury. Ernie finds himself in trouble with the law in the 1953 Film Noir, 99 River Street. He is married to a woman Pauline Driscoll (Peggie Castle) who is tired of living in poverty and wants the finer things in life. No longer interested in her husband because he’s poor, she has an affair with a jewel thief Victor Rawlins (Brad Dexler) with the chance to become rich. She is later killed by Rawlins and found in the back of Ernie Driscoll’s cab. He’s been framed for murder and spends the majority of the film trying to clear himself by catching Rawlins before he gets caught by the police. He gets help from an aspiring actress, Linda James (Evelyn Keyes). Rawlins is also being targeting by a gang also interested in the jewels. This leads to the bloody climax at the location of the film’s title, 99 River Street.
This is a very good, hard hitting Film Noir with John Payne’s character Ernie Driscoll being a tough, nose to the grindstone, no nonsense type of man. His rival, Victor Rawlings is a sadistic murderer who has no problem beating women just the same as men. This has some surprising gore due to characters being punched out like crazy and being shot at. The director wanted his film to stand out from similar movies from this era with a little gore to the story, and it really did. He keeps the film moving along at a brisk pace not letting up on the suspense, especially toward the climax.
Kino Lorber brings 99 River Street out of MOD confinement and into the world of Blu-ray and the results are excellent. It is presented in 1:33:1, boasting a new 1080p transfer, with an MPEG 4 AVC encode. The film’s image quality is excellent overall. The contrast is quite solid, and just blows the darker, greenish hue that the MGM DVD-R had. Film grain is present, with great texture and black levels. I found it very pleasing to the eye.
The audio quality for the movie is the usual Kino DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0. The dialog and other sounds such as gunfire, dramatic music were perfectly ‘sound’.
Kino provides us with some cool supplements for 99 River Street; there is an audio commentary by film historian (and Noir guru) Eddie Muller
Trailers for 99 River Street Trailer, Hidden Fear, Shield For Murder, He Ran All the Way
99 River Street is a gritty, in your face, no holds barred thriller which should please those who are interested in the Film Noir genre and for those who like the classics from yesteryear. A solid film, with excellent picture quality, excellent audio quality and a commentary track for this movie makes this a terrific release.