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Michael Curtiz
Joan Crawford, Zachary Scott, Sydney Greenstreet
Writing Credits:
Robert Wilder

A corrupt small town sheriff manipulates local candidates to the state legislature but he eventually comes into conflict with a visiting carnival dancer.

Rated NR.

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

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 3/14/2023

Curtain Razor Cartoon
• “Crawford at Warner” Featurette
• “Breakdown of 1949” Reel
• Radio Adaptation
• Trailer


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-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
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Flamingo Road [Blu-Ray] (1949)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 21, 2023)

As a kid, I remember the TV series Flamingo Road, a 1980s nighttime soap opera in the mold of hits like Dallas and notable mainly because it made Morgan Fairchild a star. Taken from Robert Wilder’s 1942 novel, the story hit the movie screen first with this 1949 cinematic adaptation.

Lane Bellamy (Joan Crawford) dances in a carnival. She finds herself stranded in a small Southern town of Boldon City, a place run by Sheriff Titus Semple (Sydney Greenstreet).

Lane launches a romance with Deputy Fielding Carlisle (Zachary Scott), but Semple disapproves of her and gets her sent to prison on a trumped-up charge. When she gets out of jail, she marries local businessman Dan Reynolds (David Brian), a choice that sends her back into additional conflict with Semple.

If you think that sounds like a convoluted plot, you read it correctly. Road packs a slew of soap opera elements into its 94 minutes and chases elements in that regard.

These fall into two camps. We focus on the various love interests and their conflicts as well as Lane’s attempts to wreak revenge on Semple.

We also get plenty of political machinations, most of which seem superfluous in terms of the main plot. However, since these allow us more time with Greenstreet, I won’t complain.

One of the most enjoyable character actors in Hollywood history, Greenstreet doesn’t seem especially convincing as a small-town sheriff, especially since he barely attempts a Southern accent. However, Greenstreet owned oily roles like Semple, so he makes his scenes a hoot.

Greenstreet’s elements also distract from the tedium of the love triangle – or love rectangle, I guess. To summarize: Fielding and Lane love each other, but she’s with Dan while Fielding marries superficial socialite Annabelle Weldon (Virginia Huston) for political purposes.

These elements fail to connect. The romantic moments feel half-hearted and never manage to engage the viewer in a particularly compelling manner.

Lane’s crusade works better, though only moderately so. Road needed to make this through-line tighter, whereas it only sporadically dallies in this domain.

It doesn’t help that Crawford seems far too old for the part. When we first see her, she performs as a sexy dancing girl next to women probably half her age, and this feels like a bad choice.

44 at the time, Crawford looked 15 years older, and the movie’s attempts to make her look softer/sexier fail. Crawford brings heft to the part, but she simply can’t fulfill the role’s physical demands, so we never buy her as the beautiful babe the movie needs.

At times Road brings some good moments, and it engages political commentary that remains relevant today – maybe more than it did 74 years ago. Unfortunately, the movie can’t meld its different themes in a cohesive manner.

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

Flamingo Road appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For the most part, the image worked well.

Sharpness usually seemed positive. The movie occasionally went with “soft focus” and other techniques in a failed attempt to hide Crawford’s age. Despite these exceptions, most of the movie delivered accurate visuals.

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. This became a clean image, and with natural grain, I saw no signs of egregious noise reduction.

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

We got a perfectly adequate DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack for Road. 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 74-year-old movie.

When we move to extras, an animated short from 1949 called Curtain Razor runs seven minutes, 17 seconds. Porky Pig acts as a talent scout in this amusing short.

Crawford at Warner spans 12 minutes, nine seconds and offers notes from film historians Richard Barrios, Molly Haskell, and Jeanine Basinger, author Bob Thomas, and daughter Christina Crawford.

As implied by the title, the featurette looks at actor Joan Crawford’s time at Warner Bros. in the 1940s. It gives us a good overview.

A Radio Adaptation of Flamingo Road lasts 23 minutes, 38 seconds. It brings back Joan Crawford and David Brian from the film’s cast.

Given its brevity, obviously this version of the story chops off a lot of the material from the movie. This doesn’t necessarily seem like a bad thing, though, so this turns into an interesting rendition of the tale.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, we end with Breakdown of 1949. This blooper reel occupies 10 minutes, 25 seconds.

It mixes outtakes from a few different WB films. I don’t normally like compilations such as this, but the sight of legends like Gary Cooper and Bette Davis as they goof around makes the piece enjoyable.

A mix of romance, melodrama and thriller, Flamingo Road sporadically kicks to life, mainly when it features the ever-compelling Sydney Greenstreet. However, the end result sputters too often and feels less coherent than it needs to be. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture and audio as well as a mix of bonus materials. Expect a spotty tale here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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