Directed by Allen Baron
USA 1961

Swift, brutal, and black-hearted, Allen Baron's New York City noir Blast of Silence is a sensational surprise. This low-budget, carefully crafted portrait of a hit man on assignment in Manhattan during Christmastime follows its stripped-down narrative with mechanical precision, yet also with an eye and ear for the oddball idiosyncrasies of urban living and the imposing beauty of the city. At once visually ragged and artfully composed, and featuring rough, poetic narration performed by Lionel Stander, Blast of Silence is a stylish triumph.

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Theatrical Release: April 1961

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DVD Comparison:

Alive Film - Region 0 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

(Alive Film - Region 0 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Alive Film - Region 0 - PAL Criterion Collection (Spine #428) - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:13:57 (4% PAL speedup) 1:17:33
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.1 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.66 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:

Alive Films

Bitrate:

Criterion

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB: German (Dolby Digital 2.0)   English (Dolby Digital mono)
Subtitles German, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Alive Film

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Director Allen Baron commentary
• trailers

DVD Release Date: May 12th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Requiem for a Killer: The Making of “Blast of Silence” (59:56)
•  Rare on-set Polaroids
•  Locations revisited in 2008
•  Theatrical trailer
•  12-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty and a four-page graphic-novel adaptation of the film by acclaimed artist Sean Phillips (Criminal, Sleeper, Marvel Zombies)

DVD Release Date: April 15th, 2008

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 16

 

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1- NTSC - March 08': This Criterion is touted as a 'DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION' although the most appealing aspect for many Criterion fans will be that the 4:3 ratio film is NOT pictureboxed (see our description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review). The Criterion is progressive and dual-layered, and hence the image quality towers above the frugal Alive Film single-layered edition from Germany. The Criterion still shows some infrequent noise but it is easy to state that this is the best digital image of the film to date... and possibly ever. As usual the Criterion has clear mono audio (weak in spots) and optional English subtitles.

Criterion offer some supplements: Requiem for a Killer: The Making of “Blast of Silence” is almost an hour long and humorously starts with Baron admitting that he didn't even know what 'Cannes' was when the film was attempted to enter but fell short of the deadline. The featurette has some interesting and amusing production anecdotes but I found it a bit long. There are two gallery sections of static photography: Rare on-set Polaroids are somewhat worn but add to the pragmatic creation of the film. There is also Locations revisited in 2008 which shows some past shots compared to modern ones often with Baron in the present image. A theatrical trailer is included and a 12-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty and a four-page graphic-novel adaptation of the film by acclaimed artist Sean Phillips.

So nice to have this Noir gem in a competent, complete package and it is wonderful news indeed that Criterion appears to have abandoned pictureboxing.  

***

ON THE ALIVE EDITION: Weak image on a single-layered DVD of a frugal film production - a film now regarded as a noir masterpiece. There is some dirt and contrast boosting, but it tends to suit the film experience without unduly impinging on the its gritty 'feel'. There are some minor blemishes, but nothing to complain about. Audio sounds as a quasi-indie production would, but dialogue is all clear and audible. Complimenting the original English track there is a German DUB and German subtitles offered.

70-year old Baron does an admirable job with the commentary (in English) - his memory is very good and his ad-hock presentation is refreshing. He details many experiences in producing Blast of Silence on a minimal budget ('Guerilla filming'). It is amusing and honest. There are also some trailers as well.

Overall this is a very 'cool' little film and a worthwhile DVD until someone comes out with a superior offering.

Gary W. Tooze



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Subtitle Sample of Criterion

 

 


 

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(Alive Film - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Alive Film - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Alive Film - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 

 


(Alive Film - Region 0 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution Alive Film - Region 0 - PAL Criterion Collection (Spine #428) - Region 1- NTSC




 

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