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Lewis Milestone
Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Walter Huston
Writing Credits:
Robert Rossen

After two years under German rule, a small Norwegian fishing village rises up and revolts against the occupying Nazis.

Rated NR.

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

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 2/22/2022

Gun to Gun Short
To Duck… Or Not to Duck Short
• Trailer


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Edge of Darkness [Blu-Ray] (1943)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 15, 2022)

1930’s World War I-based All Quiet On the Western Front remains director Lewis Milestone’s most famous film, and it acted as a strong anti-war effort. 1943’s Edge of Darkness finds Milestone with World War II as his subject matter, but he leaves his prior pacifism on the shelf for this one.

1n 1940, the German army occupies the small Norwegian fishing village of Trollness. Two years later, it remains a base for 150 Nazi soldiers.

Since the Germans came, the locals used minor forms of sabotage and transgression to snipe against their occupiers, but as time passes, they decide to pursue broader action. Led by fisherman Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn), the Norwegians decide to take up arms against their oppressors.

I find WWII movies made during the conflict to offer an intriguing subgenre. Given the nature of that event, most didn’t even pretend to address the subject matter in an objective manner, so they could veer into the realm of propaganda.

Those that don’t go that way still come with a clear POV, and Edge falls into that category. While I don’t think I’d classify it as true propaganda, it clearly displays an attitude intended to stir pro-war sympathies.

Which I can’t regard as a bad thing – again, due to the circumstances of WWII. While most wars exist for questionable reasons, that doesn’t prove accurate for WWII, which offered as close to a true fight between good and evil as we can find.

Of course, that simplifies matters, as the presence of the Soviet Union on the Allied side ensures some real moral ambiguity. Nonetheless, the battle against the Axis powers – and especially Nazi Germany – led to a war with greater “noble purpose” than usual.

It becomes especially interesting to contrast Edge to Milestone’s Western Front, given the differing attitudes of the time. WWI led to much bitterness and dissatisfaction with the human cost of that conflict in the face of little purpose, whereas WWII enjoyed greater – in not universal – popular support.

Due to his work on Western Front, Milestone feels like an odd choice for the rah-rah Edge, and he seems less effective here. Whereas the Milestone of Western Front managed to give us a tale with nuance and thematic depth, Edge offers a more straightforward and less subtle piece.

Again, I get the reason for this, as no one really involved wanted anything even vaguely anti-war in 1943. A potentially inspirational story like this made sense in that period.

Nearly 80 years later, however, Edge seems less compelling. While interesting as an artifact of its era, the end result doesn’t give us an especially dynamic experience.

Much of the problem stems from the development of the narrative, as it feels oddly unconcerned with the occupation and rebellion at its core. Instead, Edge often veers toward romantic melodrama.

I get that if you cast Errol Flynn as a lead, you probably want to use him as a love interest, and some of that seems fine for Edge. However, too much of the film rambles along these interpersonal paths and the main story can feel lost.

Other issues with tone impact Edge as well. The movie ricochets from drama to comedy with alacrity – and without a lot of logic. Too much of the film can play as strangely whimsical.

I do like the basic plot of Edge, and it occasionally rouses to life. Parts of the film manage to wring tension and passion out of the main story, especially as we get to the climax.

Edge also comes with a more than capable cast, as in addition to Flynn, we find “names” like Ann Sheridan, Ruth Gordon, Walter Huston and Judith Anderson. Flynn feels a bit flat as our lead, but the others manage more than competent performances.

Ultimately, unfortunately, Edge just leaves me a bit cold. The film feels too long and too unfocused to deliver the dynamic drama it promises.

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

Edge of Darkness appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a consistently pleasing presentation.

Sharpness usually appeared good. The film suffered from a few slightly ill-defined shots – such as our introduction to Koenig - but the majority of the flick demonstrated nice delineation.

I saw no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and the movie lacked edge haloes. In terms of print flaws, Edge looked clean, and grain appeared natural.

Blacks appeared deep and rich, while low-light shots demonstrated fine definition and clarity. This ended up as a solid image that lost a few points only due to the occasional soft shot.

Although the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Edge didn’t demonstrate anything special, it worked fine for its era and genre. Speech seemed slightly thin but was good for its age, as lines remained intelligible and clear.

Music demonstrated reasonable range. The score didn’t impress, but it appeared acceptably bright.

Effects came across as reasonably accurate. Though they had little heft, they were clean and didn’t suffer from substantial distortion or other concerns. The audio appeared positive for its era.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find two vintage shorts: Gun to Gun (17:37) and To Duck… Or Not to Duck (6:40). With Gun, we find a live-action Western, while Duck gives us an animated Looney Tunes cartoon.

Gun focuses on a conflict between a ranch owner who battles over an unfair tax. It lacks much to make it compelling, though I’m happy to see Lupita Tovar, as I liked her in the Spanish-language Dracula from 1931.

A Chuck Jones-directed affair, Duck shows Elmer Fudd’s efforts to kill Daffy. It comes from the era in which Daffy acted more as manic loon and less the exasperated second banana to Bugs he’d become, and it offers a pretty strong cartoon.

A World War II film shot during World War II, Edge of Darkness manages to avoid too many pitfalls of the emphasis on propaganda found in this genre. Unfortunately, the movie also does not deliver much real intrigue or drama, as it feels strangely flat too much of the time. The Blu-ray comes with pretty positive picture and audio as well as minor supplements. Edge gives us a decent tale of rebellion but it doesn’t exploit the topic as well as it could.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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