• Naked Alibi (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: November 5th, 2019.
    Director: Jerry Hooper
    Cast: Sterling Hayden, Gloria Grahame, Gene Barry, Marcia Henderson
    Year: 1954
    Purchase From Amazon

    Naked Alibi – Movie Review:

    Made for Universal Pictures in 1954 by director Jerry Hooper, Naked Alibi follows an honest cop named Police Chief Joe Conroy (Sterling Hayden) who has been tasked, at the beginning of the picture, with uncovering the truth behind the shady dealings of Al Willis (Gene Barry). On the surface, Willis’ bakery business seems on the up and up, but Conroy knows that Willis is up to something. When Conroy figures Willis is the culprit behind a recent murder, catches up to him and gets more aggressive than a cop should, especially when a photographer is nearby. The next day, there’s a front-page photo of Conroy giving Willis a beating in the local newspaper and he’s found himself in some hot water.

    Conroy, however, is certain of his position on the matter and decides to set out to clear his name. He starts tailing Willis, without even trying to hide it, in hopes that ramping up the pressure on him will get him to crack. This leads Willis to split to Border City, Mexico, much to the dismay of his wife and those in his employ. Ever determined, Conroy follows him south of the border but shortly after he hits the streets showing Willis’ photo to anyone who will look at it, he’s lured into a back alley and beaten up by three men. A kid named Petey (Billy Chapin) helps him out and soon enough, Conroy is being nursed back to health by Mariana (Gloria Grahame), a beautiful nightclub chanteuse who he doesn’t realize is connected to his target. When Mariana starts to fall for Conroy, things get even more complicated from there on out, and we’ll leave it at that.

    If Naked Alibi occasionally deals in genre clichés it’s still very much a movie worth seeing if you’ve got an affinity for vintage noir pictures. The cinematography from Russell Metty is quite nice, frequently rife with shadows and atmosphere. If the streets of Border City clearly exist only on a soundstage and its population surprisingly Anglo for a Mexican town, the score from Hans J. Salter and Frank Skinner is quite effective. The story twists and turns quite nicely, and while seasoned fans of the genre might see some of these twists and turns coming, and find the finale a little predictable, it’s still a fun ride to take.

    A big part of what makes this one work, really, is the performances. Gene Barry makes for a great villain. He’s pretty sadistic here, treating Grahame’s character like an unwanted possession rather than a human being, and clearly capable of the crimes Hayden’s lead accuses him of. He makes the part his own and proves a fine villain. Likewise, Sterling Hayden makes for a great ‘hero’ of the story. He has strong screen presence and has no trouble throwing his weight around on camera and making it look believable. He’s well cast in this role. In the middle of all of this is, of course, the beautiful Gloria Grahame. She’s gorgeous here, but so too does she often look very tired under her makeup, you can see the bags under her eyes in a few scenes. It’s both a sign of her hard living and completely appropriate to the character she plays, and you feel for her plight as the story progresses even as the truth about all that’s going on starts to unfurl.

    Naked Alibi – Blu-ray Review:

    Kino Lorber brings Naked Alibi to Blu-ray framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taking up 23GBs of space on a 25GB disc. Overall, this is a very nice transfer. There’s some mild print damage here and there but the key word there is mild, we’re talking occasional small white specks. Grain is thick here, but not in a bad way, it just gives the film a lot of texture. There’s very strong depth and detail throughout. Contrast looks good here, occasionally a bit brighter than you might expect, but we get strong black levels and nice whites with a detailed greyscale throughout. No noticeable issues with compression to report and the picture is devoid of any noticeable edge enhancement or noise reduction, it looks very much like film from start to finish.

    The only audio option offered here is a 16-bit DTS-HD Mono option in the film’s native English. Optional subtitles are available in English only. It’s a clean track, with nice, audible dialogue and some appreciable depth to the score. No problems with any hiss or distortion to complain about either, the audio here is just fine.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary track with film historian Kat Ellinger. Like a lot of Ellinger’s tracks this one covers the role of women in the film and some of the sexual political that play a part in the picture, which makes it more than just a ‘fact track.’ At the same time, she also covers a lot of biographical details, talks about some of the onset issues that occurred with Graham and some of the other stars, talks about the themes that the picture explores, gives some information on the cast, crew and studio behind the film and more.

    Aside from that, there’s a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Kino Lorber film noir properties (It Always Rains On Sunday, 99 River Street, Shield For Murder and Hidden Fear), menus and chapter selection.

    Naked Alibi– The Final Word:

    Naked Alibi is worth seeing for Sterling Hayden and Gloria Grahame alone, but there’s more to recommend here than just their work. The story might not be the most riveting and the style not the most original, but the cinematography is quite good and the movie paced quite briskly. Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray is a welcome one, a release that should please noir fans quite a bit thanks to a very strong presentation and a decent audio commentary as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Naked Alibi Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I haven't seen this one, and coincidentally, I'm expecting it to arrive today. Really looking forward to it. Grahame looks sexy as hell on the cover!
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      She steels the show in this one, you'll definitely dig it.