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Harper Blu-ray Review


“Harper” starts strong but ends with a whimper.

In the 1966 L.A. set neo-noir/film noir “Harper,” the gum chewing private eye Lew Harper takes on a missing husband case from a wealthy woman named Mrs. Sampson. His investigation leads him to an encounter an eclectic cast of characters that include a creepy cult leader, the sexpot daughter of Mrs. Sampson, an alcoholic movie star, a hunky private pilot, and a drug addict jazz singer. As the case unfolds, Harper finds himself facing great danger as people begin to wind up dead. On top of that, Harper is going through a divorce with his soon to be ex-wife Susan.

In the first half of “Harper,” I was on board with this homage to film noirs of yesteryear mostly in part due to Paul Newman’s performance as Lew Harper. Even though the character is somewhat of a bum, you still can’t help but root for him (most likely because one of the coolest actors of all time is portraying him). It doesn’t hurt that the character himself is rather fascinating. He cracks wise, he says a lot with his expressions, he’s dedicated to his job, etc.

Newman isn’t the only notable actor here, however, as the supporting cast includes the likes of Robert Wagner, Lauren Bacall, Janet Leigh, Arthur Hill and Shelley Winters. One would think that a movie with such a big cast would see some of the talent being wasted in parts, but that’s not the case here. There are no small roles in this movie and everyone gets a chance to shine. It’s easily one of the film’s greatest strengths.

Where the film doesn’t fare so well is with the script. Writer William Golden does a fine job of setting up the story and establishing the characters, but the story drags on and delves into a convoluted “who can you trust?” type of movie. I could have done without some of the dopey 60’s isms ala the dialogue, dancing, and score as well.


Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? This Technicolor film has been given a nice clean transfer.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? A quality track all-around.

Extras: “Harper” theatrical trailer and a solo commentary by screenwriter William Goldman that provides a lot of helpful screenwriting information.

March 3, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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