The Miami Story Blu-ray Review


Dud Story

Five idealized American civilians team up to take down a crime syndicate in the plodding, corny Miami Story. It’s a crude, cheap, even manipulative work, casting ire on Cuban-Americans, and making an ex-mobster turned Indiana farm man into the prototypical United States hero.

Miami Story pins everything on broad patriotism – it’s your duty as a citizen to stomp on crime, and where there’s will, there’s a solution. This doesn’t always come down to the police (although Miami Story glorifies detective work too), but people doing the right thing. In this case, local leaders bring in Barry Sullivan to KO a Cuban mobster infiltrator.

a platform for quick profits, cheap violence, and lurid Americana

All of this plays artificially, with unintentionally comic tough talk and even some camp (the mob leader, frustrated, asking “Where’s my pants?!” to no one in particular). Miami Story wants to project the greatness of the middle class, inspire others to action to clamp down on post-WWII organized crime, but plays out insincere. Exaggerated characters, crummy action, and stock footage hardly create intended atmosphere.

Blame it all on producer Sam Katzman, a master of exploiting trends. After producing a flurry of westerns in the ‘40s, Katzman followed the business forward, soon jumping into some cruddy sci-fi (and one classic with Earth vs. the Flying Saucers), and onward with teen hot rod spectacles before his death in the early ‘70s. Miami Story follows his methods, cheap and quick, with a strong-eyed lead in Sullivan, battering mob women to get his way.

With a “pulled from the headlines” rawness, Katzman’s only goal was butts in the seats. Paired with some government posturing (before the story starts, then Senator George A. Smathers boasts to audiences about the good they can do together), Miami Story isn’t honest. That’s the fault here. It’s not truly concerned with people, their cities, or organized crime – it just uses them as a platform for quick profits, cheap violence, and lurid Americana. To place it as a noir is to do so only as a copycat, with unoriginal use of shadows and salacious themes. Blah.

Video

Easily the worst of Mill Creek’s Noir Archive, the transfer for Miami Story looks pulled from the public domain. There’s little instance of detail or definition. The pervasive softness and middling resolution barely qualifies this for a Blu-ray release. It’s more DVD.

While setting aside the battered stock footage, even the original material suffers from significant degradation. Scratches and dirt run through the projector untouched. Miami Story didn’t get much – if any attention – in this transfer process.

Gray scale is okay, as much a compliment as such a disc will get. Black levels manage some depth. That’s not enough to hide the crushing compression artifacts though, rendering grain invisible behind a plethora of ugly digital blocking.

Also, the aspect ratio seems wrong, based on some unusually tight framing and pans around the frame.

Audio

If the print exhibits fading and age, it comes as little surprise to find the audio does too. Raw dialog runs through a worn, scratchy soundtrack. DTS-HD is nice, if no savior to this rotting effort.

The limited score offers no range, thin and dry.

Extras

As with the rest of the Noir Archive Blu-ray set, no bonuses appear.

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.

The Miami Story
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Producer Sam Katzman dropped Miami Story into theaters to exploit the rise of organized crime post-WWII and it’s a total dud.

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