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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Big Night'
(John Barrymore Jr., Joan Lorring, Preston Foster, Howard St. John, et al / DVD / NR / 2012 / Warner Bros. Archives)

Overview: A lonely adolescent seeks revenge on the man who mercilessly beat his father.

DVD Verdict: A teenager on the verge of becoming a man watches his father get beaten to a pulp by a gangster. This leads to the teen going on a short odyssey for vengeance, where he discovers some ugly things about himself and his father.

This is a short Bmovie without much story, concentrating on the passionate lives of hard folks living in a 1950s cityscape. The teen is enraged, but he's also idealistic; in a night club he hears a woman belting out a torch song and is entranced; later when he gets to meet her, the teen tells her how beautiful he thinks she is, even if she is, you know, a black woman. The look of pain on the singer's face rips the heart out of the white teen, who for all his idealism still can't get over the fact that the singer is Negro, and he was transported by her.

This film has one of the great film noir lines ever. The father, a broken man who lost his wife when she ran out on him with another man, and who had chances to marry again but remained in love with that betrayer, tells his son, "Some men are like that. Sometimes a man loves one woman in the whole world. If she turns out to be the wrong one...well, it's just tough." That's the sense of this film: haunting loss that comes back and smacks you down, day after day. Strong stuff. (This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media.) This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.