Connect with us

Home Entertainment

Violent Saturday DVD Review

12237575865_ea865b1492_zDirector: Richard Fleischer

Starring: Victor Mature, Richard Egan, Stephen McNally, Virginia Leith, Tommy Noonan, Lee Marvin, Margaret Hayes, J. Carrol Naish, Ernest Borgnine

Running Time: 90 minutes

Rating: 12

Extras: Making of feature by Nicolas Saada and a video appreciation by William Friedkin

Masters of Cinema’s new release, VIOLENT SATURDAY, takes us back to a time when the gangsters were sharp, the dames were dubious and low lifes were everywhere.

Released in 1955, Richard Fleischer’s crime drama certainly doesn’t skimp on the pulp and violence (as you might expect from its title), but it leans more towards small town melodrama with some unpleasant undercurrents, than full blown film noir.

This genre merging is helped by the film’s look as much as its plot. VIOLENT SATURDAY is shot both in colour and CinemaScope (an anamorphic wide lens) and presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.55:1 for home release. Add in some fantastic locations in Arizona and you’ve got a stunning sense of place, reminiscent of the intense hues and impressive vastness of westerns.

The story follows a trio of would-be bank robbers who settle on the small mining town of Bradenville for their crime, and the resulting violence that will change a number of lives irrevocably. It’s the typical outsider trope – another western convention. But what makes VIOLENT SATURDAY riveting is the level of detail. We spend a good deal of time learning about this community…and things sure ain’t as rosy as you might expect.

In fact, Bradenville is a pretty dysfunctional town. Everyone has a secret or a foible. Apparent pillar of the community, bank manager, Harry (Tommy Noonan) is actually a peeping tom and spends his time hanging around outside the window of local nurse, Linda (Virginia Leith). Linda meanwhile, is the object of alcoholic mine owner Boyd’s attention (Richard Egan). Well, he’s considering it (she seems quite keen), but it’s really because his wife, Emily (Margaret Hayes) is too busy with her own “hobbies” (the latest is country club stud, Gil, played by Brad Dexter). Even unassuming librarian, Elsie (Sylvia Sidney) is busy sorting out her own five-fingered discount to help pay off her bank debt. Perhaps the most typical “heroic” character is Shelley (Victor Mature), but even he has an inner conflict as his son doesn’t respect him (he’s not a war hero like all the other dads).

And outside all these tangled and soap-ish webs is Amish leader Stadt (Ernest Borgnine) who heads up his community on an isolated farm. This location features later on and it’s the setting of the film’s shoot-out climax, in which Shelley will have a chance to prove himself to his son and pacifist Stadt will also have an important choice to make.

VIOLENT SATURDAY completely pulls you in with its intricate plotting. And the baddies offer more than simple two-dimensional characters too. A real treat is a young Lee Marvin as drug addict, Dill. He makes his mark pretty much as soon as he arrives in town, crushing a boy’s hand under his boot on the sidewalk. But he’s troubled by his failed marriage and often can’t sleep, instead keeping his bank-robber buddies awake with his musings. Western veteran Stephen McNally and J. Carroll Naish complete the gangster trio. They’re villains with a real sense of menace and icy cruelty.

Part film noir, part western and part soap opera, VIOLENT SATURDAY does a great job of exploring issues around community, respectability, crime and American morals. And it looks bloody fantastic too.

Extras: Film buffs will enjoy the making of feature from Nicolas Saada, while the video appreciation from THE EXORCIST and THE FRENCH CONNECTION director, William Friedkin offers a new critical perspective.

[usr=4] VIOLENT SATURDAY is released by Eureka’s Masters of Cinema Series April 28 on DVD and Blu-ray.

Claire Joanne Huxham comes from the south-west, where the cider flows free and the air smells of manure. She teaches A-level English by day and fights crime by night. When not doing either of these things she can usually be found polishing her Star Trek DVD boxsets. And when she can actually be bothered she writes fiction and poetry that pops up on the web and in print. Her favourite film in the whole world, ever, is BLADE RUNNER.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Latest Posts


More in Home Entertainment