Arthur Franz (Monster on the Campus) plays Dan Corbett in New Orleans Uncensored, an ex-Navy man who heads to New Orleans to purchase a ship from war surplus. He’s seeking the American dream – he wants to buy a boat, work his way up, and begin a company that hauls timber.
Corbett is a man’s man in a man’s man movie. New Orleans Uncensored features burly, dock working men punching each other, a number of sizable brawls, and all sorts of masculine threats. A booming narrator speaks of pure New Orleans, beginning the film with how splendid the city looks in New Orleans Uncensored’s post-war economic boom. And, it’s American. The voice over doesn’t leave that out, speaking of the port’s importance and unvarnished purity.
That’s where Corbett is needed. Turns out that glossy exterior is a ploy for all manner of underworld happenings. It’ll take Corbett – that infallible, military-raised, man’s man – to snuff out crime. Mostly, it’s preposterous.
Director William Castle, before gaining notoriety for theatrical stunts with material like The Tingler, cranked out this dramatic blubber, made for an audience of unions, service men, and blue collar workers. Castle cranks up the stock footage (but admirably depicts fresh New Orleans scenery too), filling in blanks as Corbett marches to a beat so righteous, maybe he deserves a few shots to gut; Corbett’s a third-grade tattle tale.
Cinema loves heroism, but New Orleans Uncensored goes beyond that. The villain is named Zero (Michael Ansara), as if subtly would somehow diminish this story. Corbett learns to box as to amp up his fighting potential. Then, even with government and police on the case, Corbett takes on Zero single-handedly in the climax.
Screen great Beverly Garland co-stars, one of 13 credited roles in 1955 alone. New Orleans Confidential came before her stint as a horror queen in material like The Alligator People, so she’s relegated to fawning over Corbett. Even she knows he’s perfect, enough to excite some of the guys in the crowd with her swooning. Castle knew he needed a woman for marquee value.
This comes draped in patriotism, book-ended with that mighty narration, throbbing with idealism. Anyone who does wrong will get their comeuppance. That plays into the post-war market with a message duty, and now plays with an obviousness only meant to exploit audience’s wallets rather than spur on a grandiose statement on western perfection. Castle knew how to get people in the seats; the (thematically) louder, the easier.
Fairly routine if right on the edge of something great, Mill Creek includes New Orleans Uncensored on a disc with two other movies in the Noir Archive 2. That tight space causes problems for this grain structure. Noisy and chunky, the imagery chokes on this transfer’s digital-ness.
Underneath appears to be a pleasing master, maybe not in the greatest of resolutions, if able to scrounge up fidelity. Shots of New Orleans at its best (and some messier spots too) show accurate definition. A junkyard near Corbett’s boat offers such an opportunity. This transfer holds up.
Accurate gray scale keeps sunlight intense, with the humid heat of the city seemingly visible. Nightfall brings dense black levels, and gradients pull together without excessive banding. That’s odd given the grain’s compression.
All scenes of chaos on the docks hold firm, showing age only by way of slightly hardened treble. It’s a lot to process with shouting and stock punching sounds. A few lines were recorded live (including a then senator), hollowing out compared to the rest. That’s fine and natural in the analog way.
Scoring likewise holds up, clean and firm.
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New Orleans Uncensored
William Castle plays up unions, patriotism, and military purity in New Orleans Uncensored, a corny story of right in a city of wrong.
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