Escape in the Fog Blu-ray Review


Moonlight in a New Disguise

For a film with no aspirations beyond a bottom-of-a-double-bill run, Escape in the Fog may hold the distinction of being the first PTSD film – particularly as it released during WWII. Nina Foch, superlative in My Name is Julia Ross, finds herself on leave after the stresses of combat. She suffers from violent dreams that find her screaming in her sleep. Acknowledgment of such stresses were rare at a time when propaganda needed to sell infantryman on the glamour of combat.

Escape in the Fog doesn’t entirely understand what it’s doing though. The psychological science wasn’t there yet. So, it uses trauma in a bizarre way, with Foch witnessing an upcoming murder in her dream. She can see the future, all because she was on board a boat sunk by enemy forces. Weird. Then again, Foch’s was a woman in the mid-1940s. Using her as a mentally weak pawn made sense for that time.

Escape in the Fog served its purpose, a dutiful, government-appeasing spy feature without any adventurous undertones

The rest follows a derivative path through the thriller genre, wholly dripping with wartime cinema tropes. It’s a story of spies chasing documents, secret Navy ships, Germans living among us, and Foch who is relegated to off-screen irrelevancy before the climax. Escape in the Fog comes from the perspective of a man’s world, after all.

It’s often dry. San Francisco as depicted here suffers from improbable fog, super-imposed over the image or piped onto the set to a suffocating degree. That’s the totality of the atmosphere, otherwise rudimentary and preying on those dated fears of leering Germans living among Americans. Some foreign flavoring comes from a setting in Chinatown, likely more a place of convenience as the backlot set happened to be there.

Most of Escape in the Fog focuses on drawn out scenes of people on phones, or unnecessarily extended takes. That’s rough going in a movie that barely breaks an hour in length. As a minor piece in the Columbia catalog (and minor is probably assigning too much prominence), Escape in the Fog passes by in a blur, something to rile an audience on edge from real world circumstance. In that, Escape in the Fog served its purpose, a dutiful, government-appeasing spy feature without any adventurous undertones.

Video

Mill Creek includes Escape in the Fog on a one-disc triple bill (seems appropriate) with two other ‘40s noirs, this included in a three-disc pack of nine total genre entries. That’s a lot of numbers…

Because of the fog, this one needs plenty of space to breathe, but it’s not given. The fog is a boiling nightmare of compression and artifacts, taking the hearty grain and pulverizing detail.

Scenes away from the San Francisco exteriors perform better. It’s a fine master, sharp and detailed. Texture rises. Grain still poses a challenge, more digital than organic, but outside of adverse weather, holds up to acceptable levels. At only an hour long, there is a benefit of space given to this short cheapie.

The best of Escape in the Fog comes in terms of black levels. Sitting in the back of a taxi at night, Otto Kruger’s black suit doesn’t succumb to crush. Flawless drops to pure black suck up no visible detail. Shadows keep their presence and dominance. Plus, contrast sticks out, dynamic, and with no fault in gray scale. A clean source print helps too, with a few stray hairs at the frame’s bottom and occasional scratches well within parameters.

Audio

Superlative clarity doesn’t do justice to the DTS-HD mix. This is wonderful, with smooth, unobstructed dialog sounding cleaner than films twice its age.

The same goes for the score, punctuated by pure highs and needed lows in order to capture tone. Like the print, damage is readily avoided, from hissing to popping. Nothing impedes this track.

Extras

None of the discs in this collection feature extras.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Escape in the Fog
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Movie

Routine wartime thriller Escape in the Fog finds only menial thrills, but stumbled on PTSD decades before the diagonsis – but uses it for fantasy.

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