Man in the Vault

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Tommy Dancer (William Campbell) leads a rather plain life, he works as a locksmith and spends his free time at a bowling alley. Although he doesn’t have a life of adventure and excitement, Dancer seems satisfied and doesn’t seem to desire much more. His desire for a quiet, normal life is confirmed when he is offered the chance to take part in a heist. A notorious mobster named Willis Trent (Berry Kroeger) approaches Danger about a crime, one which would have an immense payoff. But in order to access the loot, Trent needs to get inside a safety deposit box, not a simple task. Dancer’s skills as a locksmith are well known, so Trent is sure he is the man to crack the box and unleash the goods. Despite the promise of cash and excitement, Dancer turns down the offer and doesn’t seem interested. But Trent is determined to have Dancer involved, even if by force, so he pulls Dancer’s female friend Betty (Karen Sharpe) into the situation. Given no other choice, Dancer agrees and while the mobsters think the situation is in hand, Dancer has some plans of his own…

I had never heard of Man in the Vault before this review, but I don’t mind a good potboiler from time to time, so I was pleased to check it out. Man in the Vault is a rather simple movie, it doesn’t have lofty aspirations, but it is solid entertainment. I can appreciate a film that doesn’t want to be complex or epic, as sometimes, you just want a basic, but enjoyable tale. That is what we have here and while the movie is good, it isn’t great and doesn’t do much to stand out. That is the real problem with Man in the Vault, as I’ve seen a lot of crime films from this era that have similar elements. Even so, it might not be that original, but it is well crafted and if you’re a fan of the genre, its worth a look. All the staples and yes, cliches are in place, with double crosses galore, not to mention shady females. And with a duration of just over seventy minutes, the film never slows down and doesn’t ask for a lot of time. William Campbell, Karen Sharpe, and Anita Ekberg headline the cast and of course, I enjoyed Ekberg’s performance more than the others. This might not be a crime classic, but it is a fun watch and at Paramount’s low price, worth a chance.

Video: How does it look?

Man in the Vault is presented in 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen. I didn’t expect much here, but to my delight, the movie looks terrific. The print is in good condition, with only minor woes to mention and the image isn’t hindered by debris or grain. I wouldn’t call the image crystal clear, there is some softness, but the visuals are never blurred or muddy. For a movie of this low profile, the print has held up well and time hasn’t been too harsh on these elements. The black & white visuals come across smoothly, with accurate contrast that doesn’t veer off the desired path often. In the end, I give kudos to Paramount for this presentation, as for a low priced catalog release, this is a great visual effort.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is a mono soundtrack from the 1950s, so while it doesn’t tickle the eardrums, I think we knew that would be the case. This is a crime thriller with some noir elements, so of course the music is overly dramatic. The tunes sound clean and loud in this track, with only a few instances of shrill presence. The sound effects are well tasked also, but this is mono, so the gunshots won’t seem like they’re buzzing your lobes. No problems with dialogue though, with clear vocals from start to finish here. This disc also includes English subtitles, though no other language or subtitle options.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes no bonus materials.

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