Behind Locked Doors

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

When private detective Ross Stewart (Richard Carlson) seeks to bring someone to justice, he will go to whatever extremes he has to in order to make sure justice is indeed served. It seems as though a corrupt judge has decided to attempt to avoid being detained and punished by hiding out inside a mental hospital. Since Stewart intends to make sure he is brought to justice, he infiltrates the asylum as a patient and never reveals his true identity to anyone except Kathy Lawrence (Lucille Bremer), the woman who placed him there. So once he has been allowed inside he begins to gather evidence and tries to find out whatever he can in an effort to make sure the judge is given what he deserves. But soon he finds himself in the middle of a serious problem, as the official inside the hospital discover who he is and plan to keep him inside for as long as they can. And with the help of the massive ex-boxer The Champ (Tor Johnson), the doctors just might be able to do just that. But Stewart has no intentions of remaining inside the asylum longer than he has to, so the tension hits a new high as he tries to make his escape.

This is another release in Kino’s impressive noir collection and this one certainly deserves a place in any noir collection. As the package states this bears more than a passing resemblance to Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor, although this movie predates Fuller’s film of course. I like both movies and have no plans to compare them or claim one is better than other, but I will say this is an excellent example of noir and is one all fans of the genre should view. I love the storyline used in this film and I think it has the potential for a modern remake if the proper talent was involved. The atmosphere of the sanitarium is perfect for a movie like this one, since shadows and hallways seem right at home in the genre. The production had very little resources, but they more than made up for the lack of funds by using what they did have well. Another example of powerful low budget filmmaking, which the film noir genre seems to be filled with. I recommend this release as a rental to fans of film noir, but since the disc lacks supplement it is hard to recommend a purchase unless you’re a die-hard noir fan.

This film was directed by Oscar “Bud” Boetticher, who accomplished much in film though he usually helmed films inside the genre of westerns. While he might have been known for his westerns, Boetticher manages to deliver a terrific film noir with this movie which I think stands as a credit to his skills as a director. This film was made on a shoestring budget also so that made things even tougher for Boetticher, but he still came through with flying colors. The visuals are impressive, especially the use of shadows and the tone of the film is set using them. While modern films use more camera movement and odd placement of the cameras, this era in film noir used composition for visual strike and that technique is used very well here. As I mentioned above Boetticher was better known for his westerns, but he has added an excellent volume to the library of classic film noir. If you want to see more of Boetticher’s movies I recommend Black Midnight, Comanche Station, and the classic television series Maverick. The cast in this film is terrific and includes Richard Carlson (King Solomon’s Mines), Thomas Browne Henry (How To Make A Monster), Lucille Bremer (Ziegfeld Follies), and the always impressive Tor Johnson (Plan 9 From Outer Space, Night Of The Ghouls).

Video: How does it look?

Behind Locked Doors is presented in a full frame transfer, which retains the original aspect ratio of the film. This is a black & white film, so contrast is vital to the image and this transfer shines in that respect. This is a very dark movie and as such the shadows are darker than usual, but this is intentional so don’t fret about it. I never saw lost detail or overly light regions, so I would say the contrast is almost perfectly tuned here. The source print shows some age signs, but this is to expected from a film that is over fifty years old.

Audio: How does it sound?

The original mono track is utilized for this title and I think the results are acceptable, since the movie isn’t audio driven. The music sounds wonderful in this mix and shows no distortion signs at all, which surprised me. The minimal effects also come through well, but again the mono format doesn’t allow for much audio punch. The dialogue is what matters here and this mix makes sure it sounds clear and crisp at all times. I didn’t notice the usual mono hiss and I never had to adjust the volume due to inconsistencies.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This release contains no bonus materials.

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