From the MGM vaults, Kino Studio Classics presents 'He Ran All The Way,' a misleading title for what is predominantly a home-invasion thriller starring John Garfield, in his last film, as Nick Robey, a loser in life whose bad decisions spiral out of control, which is unfortunate because the character comes across like a decent fellow when given the chance.
One morning, Nick's mother (Gladys George), who is not happy that her son is unemployed and freeloading, wakes him in a feverish state due to a combination of alcohol and nightmares. He seems surprised to find a gun in his possession. Al (Norman Lloyd) is waiting outside Nicky's mom's apartment and wants him, and the gun, for a job: stealing a company's payroll. Nick doesn’t feel lucky after his dream, but ignores his instinct because he needs the money.
When the robbery goes south, Al gets wounded and captured but Nick escapes to a local pool. While there, he meets Peggy Dobbs, who acts younger than Shelley Winters looks at 31. Due in part to his fear of getting caught by the cops, he acts very aggressive towards her, yet she still is interested in him. He offers to escort her home, and she accepts. Nick thinks he's found a hideaway, only to find out Peggy lives with her parents and younger brother.
To stay free, Nick takes the family hostage for the night, but things grow complicated in the morning when Nick's identity makes the papers. He lets most of the family go about their usual routine to limit suspicion while keeping one member with him at all times. He even buys a big turkey dinner to show his misguided gratitude, but they reject his offer.
The father (Wallace Ford) schemes to free his family, as does Peggy except her motivation is unclear, which makes the story more interesting. Is she sacrificing herself by running off with Nick because she feels guilty about bringing him home or is she interested in him romantically?
Just as compelling for history buffs is what happened to a few crew members in conjunction with the House Un-American Activities. Garfield was blacklisted for refusing to name names and died the following year from coronary thrombosis, which some blame on the stress caused by the blacklist. Director John Berry and co-screenwriter Hugo Butler were uncredited during the film's initial release because of the blacklist. Dalton Trumbo, who was cited for contempt of Congress and became part of the Hollywood Ten for his refusal to testify, was the other co-screenwriter and the film was based on his novel of the same name, but he remains uncredited.
'He Ran All The Way' is a pleasant, but familiar home-invasion story. The pacing is a bit slow by today's standards but the characters keep it interesting. Nick is sympathetic thanks in part to Garfield's portrayal, and Winters makes Peggy mysterious. The film also features the work of two Hollywood legends, cinematographer James Wong Howe and composer Franz Waxman, so it's great that Kino is making the material accessible again.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Kino Lorber Studio Classics is releasing 'He Ran All The Way' on a 25GB Region A Blu-ray disc in a standard blue keepcase. The discs boot up directly to the menu screen.
The video has been given a 1080p/AVC-MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 1.33:1. The opening credits suffer from shudder and scratches down the right side of the frame, but the image vastly improves after that. There's great detail right from the opening scene as beads of sweat can be seen on Nick's face and in later scenes overhead shots show the texture of the cracked pavement.
Wong was well known for his use of shadows and deep focus, and this Blu-ray protects his work. Blacks are dark and inky, and objects appear with great clarity and a sharp focus.
The image also reveals a wide spectrum of gray shades throughout. There's a natural amount of film grain present with occasional specks of black and white being the image's main flaw.
The audio is in DTS-HD Master Audio English Mono. The dialogue is consistently clear. The orchestra playing Waxman's score sounds a bit compressed, but still comes through when it needs to help punctuate the drama. The sound mix exhibits a good balance. There is a very faint hiss, but otherwise the track sounds free of defect or wear.
"He Ran All The Way' is a competently made, entertaining thriller. The A/V components offer a satisfactory HD experience. While Kino doesn't normally add features, it is a shame there's not one exploring the Hollywood blacklist considering the number of men it affected who worked on this film.