Release Date(s)1985 (November 7, 2017)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Shout! Factory/Shout Select)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B-
Although it was underappreciated upon its initial theatrical release and only now getting its first U.S. Blu-ray upgrade, Into the Night has consistently managed to find new fans over the years, despite its poor box office reception. This noir-ish L.A. tale follows Ed Okin (Jeff Goldblum), an average working stiff who can’t sleep, and a mysterious woman named Diana (Michelle Pfeiffer). Strangers to each other and meeting by accident, they soon find themselves on the run from Iranian gangsters, as well as a psychotic hit man (David Bowie), both of whom are hot on their trail for a collection of smuggled emeralds.
Most of Into the Night’s appeal, besides its fine genre qualities, is its cast, which is littered with familiar faces. Jeff Goldblum is an unlikely but likeable leading man, while Michelle Pfeiffer is pitch perfect as a woman in distress who you genuinely come to like over the course of the film. Early starring roles for both actors, they make for a dubious but amiable screen duo. Landis also takes the opportunity to stuff the film with cameos. In fact, this may well be the most cameo-heavy film of his career. The list includes the likes of Rick Baker, Jonathan Demme, Lawrence Kasdan, Jack Arnold, Paul Bartel, David Cronenberg, Carl Perkins, Jake Steinfeld, and Don Siegel, just to name a few.
An unusual but highly entertaining entry from John Landis, Into the Night has always been much more popular in Europe where crime capers, even those with a sense of humor, seem to do better business. It’s an effective comedic thriller, but it’s not so funny that it can’t be taken seriously, and vice versa. With terrific performances, beautifully-shot L.A. nightscapes, and an enjoyable narrative, it’s a real shame that it wasn’t more appreciated in its time.
Shout Select presents their Collector’s Edition of the film with what is being advertised as a “NEW Restored Master.” The fact that they’re not mentioning the source likely means this is from an older master that they’ve attempted to improve as much as possible. It’s uneven, for sure, at times looking quite good, but at other times looking soft and lacking in fine detail. Light grain is present throughout with deep black levels, the latter being perhaps too deep during certain moments. Overall brightness and contrast levels are satisfying and there are very few film artifacts leftover. The color palette is also not as rich as it perhaps could be. Even in daytime scenes, trees and skylines are a little anemic. Skin tones sometimes waver as well. The sole audio option provided is an English 2.0 mono DTS-HD track with subtitles in English SDH. For a soundtrack without much in the way of dynamic speaker activity, it’s surprisingly lively. The score and music tracks throughout the film have plenty to offer in terms of fidelity while dialogue is quite audible and clear as well. However, sound effects don’t always have a strong bite to them, even gunshots. I personally had no major qualms about the presentation while watching it, but anyone expecting a 4K restoration from the ground up is likely to be disappointed. It’s a good upgrade, albeit a marginal one, but don’t expect perfection.
The extras are brief but there’s some great new material shot exclusively for this release by friend of The Bits Cliff Stephenson, which includes two interviews: John Landis: Back Into the Night and Jeff Goldblum: Requiem for an Insomniac. Both are excellent and give some nice insight into the making and release of the film, particularly Landis’ segment. Also included is the music video for B.B. King’s “Into the Night”, as well as the film’s original theatrical trailer.
Finally on Blu-ray with a nice set of extras to go with it, Into the Night is likely to receive a newfound appreciate by younger film fans who don’t know much about John Landis outside of The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London, and Trading Places – all of which are arguably his hardest-hitting films on popular culture. Into the Night was likely never destined to have that kind of an impact, but now it can find further recognition in an era where hidden gems like it have new life breathed into them.
- Tim Salmons