DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Stuart Heisler
Humphrey Bogart, Eleanor Parker, Raymond Massey
Writing Credits:
Liam O'Brien, Vincent Evans

Former WWII flying ace Matt Brennan takes a position as a test pilot for a commercial aircraft corporation and bumps into his old girlfriend, Jo Holloway, who now works as a receptionist for the company.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 6/22/2021

• Two Shorts
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Chain Lightning [Blu-Ray] (1950)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 22, 2021)

Between its title and the presence of Humphrey Bogart as its star, I expected 1950’s Chain Lightning to offer a crime-related story. Nope – instead we find Bogart as a test pilot.

Matt Brennan (Bogart) flew fighters in World War II, and now he attempts to turn that experience into a job with manufacturer Leland Willis (Raymond Massey). He gets the assignment to pilot a new craft called the JA-3.

Complications ensue, however, as aviation scientist Carl Troxell (Richard Whorf) wants to stall the mission to give him more time to develop the JA-4, a craft Matt thinks won’t be safe. Also, Matt re-encounters old flame Jo Holloway (Eleanor Parker) and needs to deal with ghosts from his past.

Woof – that sounds like a whole lot of potential melodrama. With the tagline “There’s a New Bogart Thrill In the Sky”, one would hope to get more of an action flick than anything else, but since the movie comes with a secondary promise of “that special brand of Bogart romance” as well, one should probably anticipate a fairly heaping helping of gooey material as well.

As it happens, an awful lot of Lightning follows that path – far too much, especially because the connection between Bogart and Parker doesn’t register. They create a couple without much zing, so we never quite buy their love affair.

It doesn’t help that Lightning tries desperately to invoke memories of Casablanca. The film opens with a long flashback to WWII, where we see Matt in action and his affair with Jo.

This section of the movie flops for a few reasons. In addition to the absence of chemistry between Bogart and Parker, the first act also sputters because it seems wholly unnecessary.

Did Casablanca falter because we didn’t spend 20 minutes with Rick and Ilsa pre-WWII? No – we eventually got some brief flashbacks, but the “present day” portions of the film told us everything we needed to know.

Rather than stay in the “modern” sections and give us the appropriate exposition, we find ourselves stuck with slow, unneeded material from the war. These scenes feel like filler, as though the filmmakers figured they needed to pad the running time to get to feature length.

Not that matters improve once we reach “present day”, for Lightning never gets any better. The connection between Bogart and Parker never improves, and the potential thrills remain less than scintillating.

Somewhere in this mess, there’s a decent story to be told, but the end result plods and bores. Essentially a lazy reworking of Casablanca, Lightning turns into a dud.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Chain Lightning appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Very few issues materialized in this satisfying transfer.

For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. I noticed slight softness in a few shots, as some elements appeared slightly ill-defined. Those instances were exceptions, though, as the majority of the flick was pretty tight and nicely delineated.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering marred the presentation. Edge haloes failed to appear, and the film came with a nice layer of grain.

Source flaws were totally absent. Some archival war footage looked a bit rough, but material shot for the film lacked issues.

Contrast succeeded, blacks were dark and firm, and shadows seemed fairly good. I felt pleased with this appealing image.

We got a perfectly adequate DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack for Lightning. Like most films of the era, speech sounded somewhat thin, but the lines always remained easily intelligible, and they lacked edginess.

Effects were also a bit trebly and without much range, but they seemed fairly concise and didn’t suffer from significant distortion. The score fit in with the rest of the audio, as the music felt reasonably lively. This turned into a more than acceptable mix for a 71-year-old movie.

In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc includes two shorts: Bear Feat (6:53) and So You Want to Be an Actor (10:56). “Feat” brings back the 3 Bears from an earlier short in the short-tempered father’s attempts to train wife and son to work in the circus. It provides a fun romp.

As for Actor, it comes as part of the “Joe McDoakes”, as we follow the foibles of the title character (George O'Hanlon, later famous as the voice of George Jetson). While not without humor, the short lacks much real inventiveness.

Despite its apparent emphasis on high-flying action, Chain Lightning never kicks into gear. Instead, it mixes lackluster aircraft scenes with turgid melodrama. The Blu-ray boasts very nice picture as well as appropriate audio and a few supplements. Even Bogart buffs seem unlikely to find much to enjoy here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main