Twilight Time announced this past week that May 16 will be the street date for a newly minted Blu-ray presentation of director Roy Ward Baker’s 1953 film noir masterpiece, Inferno.
Geraldine Carson (played by Rhonda Fleming in all of her Technicolor radiance) has it all, beauty, wealth and a marriage to business tycoon Donald Whitley Carson III (played by Robert Ryan in one of his greatest screen performances). But she wants IT ALL … and that opportunity arises in the opening sequences of Inferno when Donald breaks his leg while out riding in a remote spot in the Mojave Desert.
With her lover, Joseph Duncan (William Lundigan), an ingenious plot is hatched on the spot. They will ride for help and just keep riding … poor Donald, who is something of a bully, a heavy-drinker and a pampered weakling, despite his tough businessman persona, will simply die. She knows he doesn’t have the fortitude to survive a broken leg and the harsh desert environment. It’s the perfect murder!
They cover their tracks, create a false trail — miles from his real location — and even go to the local authorities for help. Who diligently look in the wrong place! Nothing. The desert got him!
The lovers need only wait … the first storm will wipe out all of the evidence. But, Donald isn’t the weakling that they imagined. When it finally dawns on him that they are not coming back with help, he plans his revenge and that means that he must survive. Hate and betrayal can be a mountain-moving motivator.
This is where Robert Ryan shines. His character has to undergo a metamorphosis and take on each new challenge … his wealth and power mean nothing in this hostile place; he can’t snap his fingers and order this or that to be done. Set his own leg, find water, find shelter and find a way out of the slot canyon that he has been abandoned in are just some of the tests that will be thrown his way.
Eventually Donald realizes that wealth, power and even hate and revenge are not important. It can be a simple thing that has far more value than money, such as an act of friendship (a nice turn by Henry Hull as a desert rat by the name of Elby), or the sense of real accomplishment … or even a cool glass of water.
Meanwhile, Geraldine and Joseph need to make sure that the storm and the desert did the job. Will their murderous plan succeed or will Donald survive yet another attempt on his life … Inferno is the perfect film noir for this sort of treachery.
Bonus features for this Twilight Time limited edition Blu-ray release of Inferno includes commentary from film historian Alan K. Rode (author of “Charles McGraw: Film Noir Tough Guy” and the author of the blog site, “One Way Street;” aka: alankrode.com), who is joined by Robert Ryan’s daughter, Lisa Ryan.
Other nuggets include both 3D and 2D presentations of the film, the original theatrical trailer and the newly-prepared featurette titled, “A New Dimension of Noir: Filming Inferno in 3D.” Pre-orders — on a first come, first serve basis — begin on May 3.