The Good Die Young Blu-ray Review: The Transfer Deserves Better

Four men from different walks of life. Four men who were strangers four weeks ago. Four desperate men. Four men with guns. Four women whose lives will never be the same now that their husbands have met. The Good Die Young is an odd little heist film. It spends most of its 100-minute runtime developing its characters, letting us know who these men and their wives are. Letting us understand how these up-to-now law-abiding citizens have decided to rob the post office.

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There’s Mike Morgan (Stanley Baker), a boxer who never quite hit the big time. His loving wife Angela (Rene Ray) makes him give up the sport after one last fight. But the fight breaks his hand and it has to be amputated. Then her good-for-nothing brother runs off with their entire savings. An ex-boxer with only one hand is nobody’s first choice for employment.

Joe Halsey (Richard Baseheart) takes leave from his job in America to fetch his wife Mary (Joan Collins) from London. She went to visit her sick mother and has never come back. His employer gives him hell for the two years he took off (to fight in World War II), and seems to expect he should never take leave again. He arrives in London to find his manipulative mother-in-law doing everything she can to poison their marriage so she can have Mary to herself.

Eddie Blaine (John Ireland) remained in the service after the war and has been promoted. His wife Denis (Gloria Grahame) is an actress on the downside of her career. She treats him with contempt and is obvious about her stepping out on him.

All three of these men are in the midst of difficult times. They’ve come home from the war to find a country that didn’t expect them to live. Those who stayed behind found success and they don’t want to share. They are good men. They served their country. They love their wives. They work hard.

The fourth man, Rave (Laurence Harvey), is a sociopath. He too served his country and won medals, but it is highly implied he really enjoyed the killing. He doesn’t work. He married Eve (Margaret Leighton) for her money. He spends his days drinking, gambling, and womanizing – spending all the money Eve will give him. When she hires a detective to spy on him and discovers his infidelities, she cuts him off.

The film begins with the four men in a car, outside the post office, preparing for the heist. Rave gives them guns, which the others do not want. He said there would be no violence. A voiceover says something similar to what I wrote in my first paragraph. It is an exciting scene, tense. We don’t know what is about to happen. The film needs that opener because it then flashes back, telling us each man’s story. Frankly, I don’t know that anyone would stick around until the end if there wasn’t that promise of excitement from the beginning.

Not that these characters aren’t interesting. Not that each actor doesn’t do a wonderful job playing them. But I’m not sure there is enough oomph there to compel an audience along. The film is broken into three nearly equal parts – developing each character, putting them together, and then the heist itself. That’s an hour before anything exciting happens.

When I started watching the film today, I quickly realized I had seen it before. Everything was instantly familiar. But I checked my logs and I never marked it as watched. As the film drew on, I found myself increasingly unfamiliar with what was happening on screen. I did start the film sometime in my past, but apparently, I never finished it.

Again, I’m making this sound worse than it is. The characters are interesting on their own, and the actors are all terrific. I think I’d appreciate the film more if we spent more time with just one couple (personally, I love every minute spent with Mike and Angela). With the film giving (more or less) equal time to everyone, no one feels quite fully developed.

Once the heist begins, things move along at an exciting clip. Once guns enter into the equation, our three good men are reluctant to begin, but Rave is having a great time. Guns a-blazing he steals the money and does his best to leave the others behind. Good men aren’t meant for success. The Raves of the world will run them down every time. All for a few dollars more.

MGM (via MOD distribution) presents The Good Die Young with a very basic Blu-ray presentation. They’ve provided no information on the transfer. It looks okay, if a little muddled. But it is definitely nothing to write home about. There are no extras. As far as I can tell, this is the first time the film has been released on Blu-ray in the United States. It did receive a British release from BFI. Reviews of that disc indicate a much clearer transfer and it comes with quite a few extras. It is still available so if you have a player capable of playing Region 2 disks, I suspect that’s the way to go. As it is, the film is worth watching and this new disk is serviceable.

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Mat Brewster

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