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Wet Asphalt DVD Review

Written by Sham

DVD released by Dark Sky Films

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Directed by Frank Wisbar
Written by Will Tremper
89 minutes
Not Rated

Horst Buchholz as Greg Bachmann
Martin Held as Cesar Boyd
Maria Perschy as Bettina
Gert Fröbe as Jupp
Heinz Reincke as Der Blinde
Inge Meysel as Gustl
Peter Capell as Donnagon

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The Movie:

I have a soft spot for black and white films.

Some of my all-time favorite movies include Universal’s Monster Collection, specifically Frankenstein, The Mummy, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. I even enjoyed Oscar-winning films such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Night of the Hunter, and The Three Faces of Eve. The silent films from the 20’s also intrigued me, like Rupert Julian’s Phantom of the Opera and Wallace Worsley’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The thing I loved most about black and white movies was that they usually relied on gripping stories rather than gripping effects (unlike today’s modern movies), and every film I have mentioned relied on the gripping story.

Every one of them.

Wet Asphalt, a post-WWII German film from director Frank Wisbar, doesn’t have a story gripping enough to keep an 89 minute film constantly interesting.

What would have worked as a short film ends up being an extremely lousy motion picture in the end – one that isn’t worth one’s time, money, or patience. And ultimately, a promising idea never reaches its fullest potential.

Greg Bachmann (Horst Buchholz – Voyage of Terror), a jail mate who’s just been released, has been assigned as the assistant of yellow journalist Cesar Boyd (Martin Held – Le Serpent). When a news deadline impends and no story stems, Cesar comes across a story of his own. A fake story. A story about a blind Nazi soldier who emerges from a bunker years after the end of WWII.

While Greg becomes curious as to how this story was retrieved, interest in the story escalates. The public becomes so fascinated with Cesar’s article that more rumors begin circulating. Eventually, all of the lies come together when Greg discovers the truth. But will the truth stop the riots, or have the citizens become more engrossed in their revolts than the story’s resolution?

Do yourself a favor, and don’t watch the movie to find out.

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There weren’t any performances in Wet Asphalt that impressed me. Horst Buchholz seems bored with his character, and there isn’t one moment where Martin Held doesn’t overact as the insincere Cesar Boyd. The best performance in the entire film comes from Maria Perschy (Zombie Flesh Eater) as Bettina, Cesar’s daughter and Greg’s future love interest. She has a striking onscreen presence, and she knows how to carry a scene without overacting. Her character is never the main focus nor is she too underused.

But when most of the characters are media stereotypes and banal protagonists, I didn’t care who was used more often and who wasn’t. It just didn’t matter.

There isn’t even a shred of suspense as the lies spin out of control. The riots seem staged and unthreatening, and when the viewer has no compassion towards the characters, they aren’t going to care what happens to them. And most of all, the direction is mishmash with the source material, which is a shame as Frank Wisbar showed promise as a director before his death in 1967, as with writer Will Tremper who died in 1998.

Promise is the only thing the movie and its crew had going for it.

Wet Asphalt is a missed opportunity if I ever saw one.

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Special Features:

If you don’t count subtitles as a special feature, then this DVD is chock full of nothing because Dark Sky Films could’ve done more with this release.

The movie is old, sure, and special features for this movie may have been hard to find, if even available. But they could’ve thrown in an interactive menu if a trailer wasn’t available. They could’ve made a cast and crew biography with a list of film credits, or trailers for other Dark Sky Films releases.

But unfortunately, they did none of these things. This is a missed opportunity.

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Video and Audio:

Presented in its original 1:33:1 aspect ratio, video quality is impressive to say the least. For a movie from 1958, Dark Sky Films have done a good job at cleaning up most of the artifacts. There is the occasional spot of grain, but that leaves me wondering if it’s a quality of the DVD or the movie itself.

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The audio sounds good, too. However, Wet Asphalt’s English dubbing is very amateurish, and rarely do the lips synch with the dialogue. The important thing, though, is the voices are clearly heard, and there is no popping or hissing, two big distractions that often occur in older films.

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Movie – * ½ / ***** – Wet Asphalt had potential, but it didn’t even come close to it.

Picture – *** ½ / ***** – For an older film, the picture is very decent.

Audio – *** ½ / ***** – The dubbing is sloppy, but the audio sounds good.

Special Features – 0 / ***** – Even a trailer would’ve been better than nothing.

Overall – ** ½ / ***** – Wet Asphalt is not a good film, and because there isn’t any bonus material on the disc, the DVD suffers as well.

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I cannot recommend Wet Asphalt to you. It’s all buildup with no payoff, like opening your biggest Christmas present only to find out it’s a pair of socks.

So let’s just chisel this in concrete.

Avoid Wet Asphalt.

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