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Sleep My Love (Blu-ray Review)

Sleep-My-LoveOlive Film’s will release another title from the classic film noir era on April 15.  This time its 1948’s Sleep My Love, starring Claudette Colbert, Robert Cummings, Don Ameche and Raymond Burr.  It’s helmed by German director Douglas Sirk, later known for his Hollywood melodramas in the 1950s.  The film received a lukewarm response upon its release, with some complaints and criticisms that still hold up on it today.  Douglas Sirk even acknowledged the film as a failure.  Looking back, its not a perfect film, but its definitely not the catastrophe its director made it out to be.  Most of the pleasantries come from a great hook and some wonderfully nightmarish photography from the film’s DP Joseph Valentine.  So, now, let’s take a look at this 66 year old film.

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Film 

Alison Courtland awkes on board a train headed to Boston.  She has no clue or recollection how she got there.  Inside her purse she finds a gun.  With the help of the train staff, she is put into contact with her husband who is in the middle of reporting her missing.  Alison and Richard have been having a rocky patch in their marriage and we discover that she has had some issues with sleepwalking and the night before she was found with her husband’s gun and accidentally shot him in the hand.  Alison is put on a flight home with a man named Bruce Elcott who starts to fall in love with her and wants to see more of her when they get back to New York.  Upon her return to New York she is seen by a Dr. Rhinehart, whom we later discover is no doctor at all, but a photographer named Charles Vernay.  All of a sudden, things aren’t exactly what they seem and Alison’s sleepwalking may be the result of foul play.

Initially, this little noir film had me locked in and completely gauged my interest.  It had an incredibly intriguing premise and central mystery.  Unfortunately, the more the film kept going, it started to come unraveled with some rather unbelievable and far-fetched twists and turns that rendered it a bit wonky.  At times however, it was able to ramp up the suspense in some sequences, which includes a pretty terrific Hitchcock-like sequence of Alison almost sleepwalking off a balcony.  When you put the plot itself all together, I like the basis of what the film and villain characters are going for, I’m just not buying “how” they are going about it.  Its a bit of a stretch and something that may have held up better and been slightly more credible in 1948 than in 2014.

Speaking of Hitchock, star of Saboteur and future star of Dial M For Murder, Robert Cummings plays Bruce Elcott in here that is our 2nd lead.  He exudes all the charm and star quality he was proven to have back in the day.  Our lead is Claudette Colbert, who gives a very very 1948 performance.  While she’s only 7 years older than Cummings, they seem kind of a weird pairing together as she seems far more advanced in the way she carries herself.  I’m not saying I don’t buy into them as a couple from an age differential, its more the way their introductory scenes play out and how Elcott becomes obsessed for her.  Also, for a little fun, there’s a small role of a detective played by television legend (and also the star of a legendary Alfred Hitchcock motion picture) Raymond Burr.

There is a fantastic premise and a few solid suspense sequences, but overall Sleep My Love can never make good on its initial mystery set up.  It’s solution is too “out there” to get on board with to enjoy seeing it completely play out.  It also could maybe have been silly but more bankable with a stronger performance from its lead.  She’s comes off a little too happy and over-expressive in her performance.  Its a solid film, but nothing you really have to see.  As a part of a film noir marathon it wouldn’t be a showstopper, but definitely a little treat.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:37.1

Clarity/Detail:  To compare to another Olive Films noir title, this is a much rougher print that Cry Danger was in.  There’s a lot less detail and a much softer image.  Things are rather smooth and its a very dark image.

Depth: Its a pretty flat image.  There is a couple great images like when you look up or down the staircase or when Alison is perched atop the balcony.

Black Levels:  This is really dark film.  Darkness consumes this transfer and there is a lot of detail hidden and cover by it.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: This transfer features a lot of grain, specs, dirt, streaks and scratches.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 1.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: As was with Cry Danger, this is a mono track where everything is essentially blended together, but there is a distinction between voice, effect and score.  There is a slight analog hiss present throughout but that’s the nature of the beast.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clean and clear.  The only problematic areas would be source related ones that come when characters raise their voices too loud.

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Extras 

No extra love for this one.  The movie is all you get.  They do provide a case, labeled with cover artwork, to keep it in though.

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Summary 

Needing a film noir fix?  This is an ok place to start.  Olive Films presents Sleep My Love in a middle of the road presentation and zero supplemental materials to enjoy.  With the pricepoint this film is currently at, it should be as to no surprise that this is for fans of the film and collectors only right now.  I do enjoy that while they aren’t putting extras on these titles in April, Olive Films is using some wonderful cover artwork.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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