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Step By Step (Blu-ray Review)

This month from Warner Archive Collection sees a pair of classic noir tales being restored and brought to the Blu-ray format for the very first time. One of those is 1946’s Step By Step. It was one of the last films directed by Phil Rosen who had done a good handful of the popular Charlie Chan films. Rosen’s career has 143 directorial credits to his name which is an insane amount of films, but that was the way the studio workhouse produced back in those early days. You’ll be able to pick this one up and add to your collection when it releases on July 20th. You can pre-order it using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review.

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Film

The stars of 1945’s Dillinger are reunited in this fast-paced espionage thriller from director Phil Rosen. Lawrence Tierney (Born to Kill, Reservoir Dogs) stars as Marine veteran Johnny Christopher, who meets and is immediately drawn to the beautiful Evelyn Smith (Anne Jeffreys; Riffraff, Trail Street). Evelyn’s new job as secretary to a U.S. senator in California soon brings unexpected intrigue and trouble for her and Johnny. The machinations of a sinister group of Nazi spies lead to mysteries and mistaken identities, and the two soon find themselves framed for murder!

Step By Step is a nifty little thriller that you can see informing things that occur in many mysteries that would come. Stuff that would be tropes are fresh and more new here. Accidentally picking up a piece of information the bad guys want without knowing it. Meeting a woman who disappears but then finding another woman who claims to be that woman and has never met you. A staged scenario where people are acting normal but you know they know they aren’t. Those are three biggies that are the make-up of Step By Step.

A young, studly Lawrence Tierney leads this cast. And its quite the shocker for someone like myself. I can’t recall ever seeing him in a film this young. I’m used to the rather aged, worn, gruff bully of man that didn’t give a shit and tough talked anyone. Here he’s heroic, suave and romantic. And he pulls it off quite well, too. There’s nary a frame he doesn’t appear in and he is able to carry the load with a relative amount of comfort and ease.

With Step By Step, you get classical, talented noir filmmaking. The camera’s language is quite on point here with really nice visual cues and the ability to make its moments interesting. This was a fun blind spot to see, and see it in such good quality. And at just 61 minutes, it doesn’t ask much and keeps itself running and moving from start to finish.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Step By Step arrives on Blu-ray with a rather beautiful looking transfer that probably is a 2K one (Information was not provided). Details and sharpness are strong and grain is kept intact. It has a very nice contrast to it and well kept film print look to it overall. This is a very satisfactory image.

Depth:  Depth of field works out quite well here with very good spacing and scale on display in the film. Movement is natural and cinematic with no issues regarding motion distortion.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and provide a palette of many different shades and tints that hold on and carry good texture and pattern information throughout. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are a white/gray and are consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are clear and visible from any reasonable distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Step By Step has a really nice mono track to accompany the video. Its very well balanced and mixed with vocals being the pronounced leader of the mix. There’s a solid analog foundation that adds to the classic feel of the film. There layering and depth allows for the film to have a nice warm engaging feeling.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with a bit of an analog hiss as a base.

Extras

Warner Short Drama: The Trans-Atlantic Mystery (HD, 21:24)

Warner Cartoon: The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (HD, 7:33)

Summary

Step By Step is a solid little noir thriller/mystery that runs quite quickly at just over an hour in length. This Blu-ray comes with a terrific presentation of the film. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the film is the creativity when it comes to the extras. Sure, Looney Tunes cartoons have been included on these before, but a short film mystery from the pre-TV days is a really cool touch. Definitely a solid recommend for you noir collectors out there.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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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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