In January of 1955, the Kraft Television Theater aired a production written by a young Rod Serling (creator of The Twilight Zone). It was one of the few live television plays to be rebroadcast live. Patterns was so successful that it was turned into a major motion picture reusing the director, writer, and a great deal of the cast. The Film Detective has recently released the film version on BD-R. Is it worth a look? Read on to find out.
Patterns is basically a psychological drama, but in a business setting. Rod Serling has a great grasp on the characterization and realistic nuances of daily life. Even though the movie is 60 years old the story has not aged a day. In fact, a great deal of the interactions seem very similar to the modern movie Whiplash. Obviously this is directed very much like a stage play so there are long takes with single shots of character soliloquies. It isn’t overly cinematic, but I do think the story and acting keeps it grounded and very interesting. The costumes and some speaking mannerisms are firmly placed in the 50’s, but the concept and ideas put forth in the movie seem timeless.
The film is about a brand new hire at a large corporation in New York. Engineer Fred Staples (Van Heflin) is introduced as being from a small town, but having the capacity for brilliance. We get to see his first day on the job. Everett Sloane is introduced as the company CEO Mr. Ramsey, and Ed Begley as Bill Briggs. After the character introductions, we jump forward around 18 months to catch up with the business and see how the new hire is coming along.
One of the things I love about Rod Serling’s writing is that he doesn’t talk down to the audience. The characters aren’t stupid, but they do things that a real human would do and feel. The concept of motivation seems to have a great deal of weight to his writing. Patterns has a great tone that is carried throughout the film. It’s this depth and complexity, that helps Serling make his points about reality. The characters become more sharply focused, much like the film 12 Angry Men. It really is a shame that this movie is not talked about much as it really has quite a bit to offer. Patterns is a really good film with a solid cast.
Audio and Visuals:
Patterns is shot in black and white. There are scratches and marks present, but nothing that is so noticeable that it takes away from the film. The last few minutes of the movie has a noticeable drop in quality, but it is probable that is from the source reel and nothing that could be done about it. The film grain seems consistent and the picture quality is decent for the time period. This is a public domain movie, so it is reasonable to think that it has never looked this good.
English subtitles are included. The sound comes through DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 in mono. There is no score, the dialogue comes through very clear with the exception of the last few minutes of the film. It is the same area that has a picture quality issue. It’s not horrible quality, just a noticeable drop that is worth pointing out. It did not effect my enjoyment of the film.
There are no special features on this release.
Patterns Final Thoughts:
I loved this movie. Don’t get me wrong, Patterns does have some negatives. The Film Detective did release it on a BD-R which I generally stay away from. The audio and picture quality is solid but not spectacular, plus there are no special features included at all. However, public domain films typically don’t get very good releases and it’s great that Patterns exists in any form on Blu-ray. I think if you are interested in Rod Serling, classic black and white television shows, or just want to sit back and watch a great dialogue heavy character driven plot then this release was made for you. I recommend picking it up on Amazon. It is a fine addition to any collection.
Note: This Blu Ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.