Miller's Crossing

The Coens' double-crossing mobsters get a timely reappraisal in high-definition

Joel and Ethan Coen’s ‘handsome film about men in hats’ (as cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld once described it) has never been one of the most widely acclaimed of the filmmaking siblings’ movies. And yet, following a quick office poll, this beautifully shot and often wickedly funny mix of gangster and film noir tropes ranks up with the Coens’ very best work among the HCC team.

Intricately plotted and brilliantly acted, the film stars Gabriel Byrne as Tom Reagan, the right-hand-man to Irish crime lord Leo (Albert Finney) in an unnamed prohibition-era city. As if crippling gambling debts and trying to prevent a gang war breaking out with an Italian mob boss wasn’t causing Reagan enough problems, he’s also carrying on an affair with O’Bannon’s main squeeze, Verna (Marcia Gay Harden).

Picture: It might not be quite as immediately eye-catching a hi-def transfer as that of the recently released The Big Lebowski, but Miller’s Crossing at least makes it debut on Blu-ray without an obvious digital tinkering. Unlike the aforementioned disc, there’s no trace of egregious noise-reduction and colour-boosting here. Instead we have a beautifully nuanced and very film-like image, with excellent shadow detail and clarity. There’s some aliasing in a handful of scenes, but overall this is impressive treatment of a catalogue title.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: The disc doesn’t disappoint in the audio department either, delivering some wonderful atmospherics through the surround speakers that really benefits from the accuracy of the panning in the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. On top of that, the dialogue (as important here as in every Coen brothers film) sounds clean and natural, and is positioned perfectly in the mix, while Carter Burwell’s haunting score has probably never sounded so good outside of the studio where it was recorded.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: Sadly Fox hasn’t taken the opportunity to boost the supplementary features count with this Blu-ray release. Instead, fans get the same meagre offerings that previously appeared on DVD – all presented in 480p. Pick of the extremely slim bunch is a 17-minute chat with cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld, although there are also a few nuggets of interesting info to be found in the nine-minutes of ‘Interview Soundbites’ with Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden and John Tuturro. Finally, there’s a gallery of 20 behind-the-scenes photos and trailers for Miller’s Crossing and Raising Arizona.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: The Coens’ gangster film is ripe for reappraisal on this gorgeous Blu-ray outing

20th Century Fox, All-region BD, £20 approx, On sale now