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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


(aka 'Reign of Terror')

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/mann.htm
USA 1949

 

Anthony Mann’s The Black Book (1949). One of the great unacknowledged forms of noir is costume drama. I can’t think of a better example than this campy, hugely enjoyable thriller about the French Revolution—-also known as Reign of Terror, with Robert Cummings, Richard Basehart, and Arlene Dahl--brilliantly shot by John Alton, the greatest noir cinematographer. I even prefer it to Mann’s more conventional noirs in contemporary settings, many of them also shot by Alton.

From Jonathan Rosenbaum's article 'Ten Overlooked Noirs' on DVDBeaver HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: October 15th, 1949

Reviews                                                        More Reviews                                            DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC vs. VCI Classic Noir Vol. 3 - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL vs. Sony Pictures (Screen Classics by Request) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL vs. Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC

 

1) Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP LEFT

2) VCI Classic Film Noir - Vol. 3 - Region 0 - NTSC TOP MIDDLE

3) Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL TOP RIGHT

4) Sony - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM LEFT

5) Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM MIDDLE

6) Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

Distribution Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC VCI Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC

Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox

Region 0 - PAL

Sony Pictures

Region 0 - NTSC

Koch Media

Region 2 - PAL

Film Chest

Region 0 - NTSC

Distribution Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC VCI Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC

Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox

Region 0 - PAL

Sony Pictures

Region 0 - NTSC

Koch Media

Region 2 - PAL

Film Chest

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:28:30  1:26:36 1:25:45 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:29:24 1:25:51 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:28:24
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.83 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.40 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.19 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 9.19 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.64 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Alpha Video

Bitrate: VCI

Bitrate: Punto

Bitrate: Sony

Bitrate: Koch Media

Bitrate: Film Chest

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0) , Italian dub (Dolby Digital 2.0) Dolby Digital Mono (English) Dolby Digital Mono (English), Dolby Digital Mono (German) Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Subtitles None None Italian, None None German, None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Alpha Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: November 18th, 2003

Keep Case
Chapters: 9

Release Information:
Studio: VCI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by
Alan K. Rode + Arlene Dahl

• Arlene Dahl phone interview

• Photo Gallery

• The Amazing Mr. X
 

DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009
Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: April 9, 2008
Keep Case

Chapters 8

 

Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: January 3, 2012
Keep Case

Chapters 9

Release Information:
Studio:
Koch Media

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Gallery

Book-style case in German with photos

DVD Release Date:
December 6th, 2013
 Book-style Case

Chapters 12

 

Release Information:
Studio: Film Chest

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None


DVD Release Date:
June 24th, 2014
Keep Case

Chapters 6

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Film Chest - Region 0 NTSC (June 2012): We gave Film Chest some 'love' for their restoration of The Strange Woman, but this is... disastrous. Aside from the transfer being interlaced, it looks like it may have come from a 16mm print, and the audio is almost as poor sounding scratchy with inconsistencies. No extras, no subtitles, single-layered, inferior source - 'pass'.

***

 

ADDITION: Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL (April 2014):  Just like Italian release and the Sony, this German disc features an uncut version of the film - all previous public domain releases including the ones from Alpha and VCI featured censored UK cut. See the last capture of a scene that is only available in the longer version. Notably the Koch contrast looks much better - where the Sony is decidedly green. It's on a dual-layered disc with a very high bitrate. Koch is the best - it has an optional German DUB and optional German subtitles. It also offers a stills gallery with posters and comes in a beautiful book-style case with photos and an essay. This is the best, IMO despite having 4% PAL speedup.

  - Gary Toozer

 

***

ADDITION: Sony - Region 0 NTSC (April 2012): Following their welcome release of The Amazing Mr X, Sony Pictures through their made-on-demand service, made available The Black Book aka Reign of Terror. We were able to compare this release to previous incarnation from Alpha, VCI and an Italian release from Zero Film. Just like Italian release, this disc features an uncut version of the film - all previous public domain releases including the ones from Alpha and VCI featured censored UK cut. See the last capture of a scene that is only available in the longer version. Compared to Italian disc, Sony release has better contrast and the image is opened up on all sides. There is also no PAL speed-up. This is the best the film looked on digital media and we are highly recommending this release.

  - Gregory Meshman

ADDITION: Punto - Italian - January 2010: The PAL sources Italian DVD is step up from the alpha disc even if they use their artwork on the package. However, compared to VCI disc, the image has less information on the sides, but the grain is more natural even though print is marred by marks and specks. The sound is another issue - the English soundtrack from time to time is replaced by the Italian dub (which is also available on the disc), so unless you can speak Italian, this disc is not recommend for the first time viewers of the film.

 - Gregory Meshman

***

Alpha vs VCI: While the newer VCI looks far superior - it also a deficiency that is stated as a caveat on the DVD box cover. The VCI transfer is from a source that is laced with disruptive splices. These tend to skip short sequences leaving gaps and producing a highly undesirable presentation. So while it has sequences that look infinitely superior to the Alpha transfer - it doesn't flow smoothly at all. It also appears to be from censored print (2-minutes missing). It comes in a Double Feature package with a very weak transfer of The Amazing Mr. X - compared HERE.

With the Alpha Video, I can't recall when I've seen a DVD image this poor - if there is an inferior one out there I don't think I've seen it. Everything is skewed to the left, cropped - the transfer is filled with 'combing' and the image is so hazy it is virtually unwatchable. I'll bet that a VHS tape is superior. No subtitles, no extras, weak audio. I assume this rarity has fallen through the cracks and entered 'Public Domain' territory, which is truly a shame. This DVD has only one redeeming feature: it's price.

The VCI has some extras - a commentary by Alan K. Rode + Arlene Dahl, a phone interview with her (poor audio quality) and a photo gallery. Gregory says - "The Reign of Terror commentary is very good. I just read a book by Alan Rode about Charles McGraw, so I was looking forward to his commentary and it didn't disappoint. Especially were nice contributions from Arlene Dahl taken from the phone interview that is also present in complete form on the disc."

So you know what you are getting yourself in for if you decide to purchase either DVD. The film is certainly very worthwhile but without a superior source - this may be as good as it gets.

 

Gregory Meshman and Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus


 

Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL
 

 

Koch Media Region 2 - PAL
 

 

Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC

 


Screen Captures

 

1) Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) VCI Classic Film Noir - Vol. 3 - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL THIRD

4) Sony - Region 0 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL - FIFTH

6) Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) VCI Classic Film Noir - Vol. 3 - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL THIRD

4) Sony - Region 0 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL - FIFTH

6) Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) VCI Classic Film Noir - Vol. 3 - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL THIRD

4) Sony - Region 0 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL - FIFTH

6) Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) VCI Classic Film Noir - Vol. 3 - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL THIRD

4) Sony - Region 0 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL - FIFTH

6) Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) VCI Classic Film Noir - Vol. 3 - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL THIRD

4) Sony - Region 0 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL - FIFTH

6) Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) VCI Classic Film Noir - Vol. 3 - Region 0 - NTSC SECOND

3) Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL THIRD

4) Sony - Region 0 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL - FIFTH

6) Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

 

This scene is missing from all public domain prints, including from Alpha and VCI DVDs.

 

1) Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox - Region 0 - PAL TOP

2) Sony - Region 0 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Koch Media - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Film Chest - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

Distribution Alpha Video - Region 0 - NTSC VCI Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC

Punto Zero Film / 20th Century Fox

Region 0 - PAL

Sony Pictures

Region 0 - NTSC

Koch Media

Region 2 - PAL

Film Chest

Region 0 - NTSC


 



 

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Gary Tooze

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