Timeless Media Group has dug up the complete, unedited Shout At The Devil. The 1976 adventure film had previously gone unreleased on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States, though it had been available in other territories. Adapted from the book by Wilbur Smith, it starred Lee Marvin and Roger Moore at the heights of their ’70s fame. Set in East Africa before World War I, it is a strange amalgam of differing genres and somewhat a relic of a time. What starts out as a lighthearted comic adventure turns deadly serious, as the two men end up united in a vendetta against a German Officer.
Irish-American Flynn O’Flynn (Lee Marvin) and Sebastian Oldsmith (Roger Moore) meet by accident and team up in German-controlled East Africa for a series of poaching raids. Oldsmith is a penniless but educated English gentleman, played in stereotypical fashion by Moore. Moore seems to be acting in a different movie at times from Marvin, who hams it up as a roaring alcoholic. For the first 90 minutes, Flynn is played as little more than comic relief as he continues to take advantage of the younger Oldsmith.
Shout At The Devil was intended as a grand adventure film, meant to effectively combine action, comedy, and eventually serious pathos. The first ninety minutes seem like a different film from what comes in the more serious final hour. It works best in full action mode as Flynn and Oldsmith repeatedly come into conflict with the commanding German Officer, Herman Fleischer. They have skirmishes on land, sea, and even air. The comic touches, mostly by Lee Marvin, are a little hammy but help fill out the narrative.
When the film goes wrong is after Oldsmith marries Flynn’s daughter, Rosa (Barbara Perkins). They share instant chemistry from the moment they first meet. Rosa falls in love with Oldsmith as she nurses him back to health from malaria. The romance is a bit accelerated but tolerable. It is what happens after their marriage and eventual response to a horrific tragedy that quickly changes the entire tone of the story. The final hour deals with a death vendetta against Fleischer and his German battleship.
Shout At The Devil works at times but some viewers will be jarred by the dramatic shifts in tone. The unique chemistry between Marvin and Moore works in spite of a sprawling story that never fully knows what it wants to be. Peter Hunt’s competent direction works far better in handling the lengthy action set pieces than the emotional drama.
The 2.35:1 Panavision film receives an acceptable transfer from solid film elements, albeit hit with some questionable processing. Shout At The Devil runs 149 minutes, encoded in AVC on a BD-25. The 1080P video encode averages 18.34 Mbps for the main feature. Aside from one instance of light banding, the compression handles the largely grain-free picture quite well without artifacting.
On the bright side, Timeless Media Group has struck a fairly recent telecine transfer from pleasing secondary elements, if not the original negative. Little hints of positive debris (the white chips and spots) indicate the film elements are one or two steps removed from the negative. The print quality is consistently excellent with few signs of film damage or even mild detritus.
Aside from some soft second-unit shooting, Shout’s cinematography takes full advantage of filming on location in Malta. The picture quality is incredibly sharp with impressive depth for Panavision lenses. Its clarity is outstanding, highlighting the natural setting of what is supposed to be East Africa.
Two problems rise to the surface. Without question, the 1976 film’s transfer has been low-pass filtered. That extra processing robs the picture of finer detail, stripping much of the high-frequency content from close-ups. It also leaves a waxy, dull texture to facial features and other exposed areas of skin. Lee Marvin has never looked younger without his wrinkles, given his advancing age when Shout At The Devil was filmed. Needless to say, this transfer is not particularly faithful to the movie’s original grain structure.
The other problem will likely be more noticeable to the average viewer. Primary colors are particularly saturated, pushing a bold, vibrant palette. The entire color timing has a strong magenta push, leaving a strong red tint to all flesh-tones. Roger Moore and others walk around Africa looking like lobsters. It is a problem common to all exterior shots.
Despite the digital noise reduction and questionable color correction, Shout At The Devil’s video quality has turned out better than expected. It will not satisfy ardent videophiles but is sure to please the film’s original fans. The clean, vivid presentation is bolstered by eye-pleasing cinematography.
Shout At The Devil’s original mono soundtrack is presented in 2.0 DTS-HD MA quality. The score by composer Maurice Jarre sounds perfectly fine in the limited spatial mix. Sound effects and their fidelity are slightly limited, the gunfire and explosions lack the impact and power of a modern recording. There are no technical problems and the dialogue is kept intelligible, even during the more chaotic battles. The mix has a little more presence to the sound than other movies from its era, though no attempt has been made to spread the mix beyond its mono origins.
No subtitles have been included by the Timeless Media Group.
As a combo pack, this set does include a DVD. The sole extra feature is a photo gallery of still shots.
Photo Gallery – This feature runs by itself, automatically advancing the still pictures every few seconds.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.