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  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
  • Gallery of production stills and promotional posters
  • French theatrical trailer

Port of Shadows

Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Marcel Carné
Starring: Jean Gabin
1938 | 90 Minutes | Licensor: Studio Canal

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #245 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: July 20, 2004
Review Date: March 3, 2009

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Down a foggy, desolate road to the port city of Le Havre travels Jean (Jean Gabin), an army deserter looking for another chance to make good on life. Fate, however, has a different plan for him, as acts of both revenge and kindness render him front-page news. Also starring the blue-eyed phenomenon MichŤle Morgan in her first major role, and the menacing Michel Simon, Port of Shadows (Le Quai des brumes) starkly portrays an underworld of lonely souls wrestling with their own destinies. Based on the novel by Pierre Mac Orlan, the inimitable team of director Marcel Carnť and writer Jacques Prťvert deliver a quintessential example of poetic realism and a classic film from the golden age of French cinema.

Forum members rate this film 8.2/10


Discuss the film and DVD here   


Port of Shadows is presented in the aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this dual-layer disc.

While itís obvious restoration has been done on the film it still shows its age and the picture quality varies throughout. At times it can look fairly sharp and clean, with nice definition and detail, and then it can suddenly look soft, fuzzy and dark, but this looks to have more to do with the source materials. But the sudden changes are rather striking. At its worst the image becomes dark and grainy, halos surrounding every object. General damage, such as marks, debris, and tears, do appear through the entirety of the film, though also vary. At times they lightly rain through, while during other sequences they become more prominent and obvious.

The digital transfer itself is fine. I didnít notice any artifacts, though they could have been hidden by some of the issues with the print. Contrast is pretty solid, though some of the more damaged sequences do present scenes that are either more dark than they should be, or even lighter.

The picture is a little disappointing and it doesnít present the gorgeous black and white photography in the way it deserves, but itís not a deal breaker in any way. I think Criterion did what they could with it at the time and for a 70 year old film it still looks pretty good as a whole.


All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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The filmís French Dolby Digital mono track actually fairs a little better. There is still some damage evident with some background noise, and it can come off a little harsh at times, but overall I found dialogue and music to sound adequate with a surprising bit of range. Not great but it appears the audio track was in better shape.



Unfortunately this release is almost featureless, simply containing a theatrical trailer and a fair sized navigable photo gallery that includes and production and publicity photos along with poster art with preceding text descriptions. It at least comes with a thick 30-page booklet, though itís only that thick because of the photos and the rather large text. Still, it contains a decent short essay by Luc Sante, and an excerpt from director Marcel Carneís autobiography where he discusses getting the film made.



The source materials look to have been in fairly rough shape and Iím sure Criterion did what they could with the transfer. I am disappointed there wasnít more about this film or even Marcel Carne on the disc, essentially giving us a barebones release. The disc was discontinued a year or so ago but will become available again from Criterion on March 10, 2009. It is a wonderful looking film and itís a shame the transfer sort of limits this. I give it a bordering recommendation if you can find it for a good price.

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