(aka 'The Grim Reaper')

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
Italy 1962


  The brutalized corpse of a Roman prostitute is found along the banks of the Tiber River. The police round up a handful of possible suspects and interrogate them, one by one, each account bringing them closer to the killer. In this, his stunning debut feature—based on a story by Pier Paolo Pasolini—Bernardo Bertolucci utilizes a series of interconnected flashbacks to explore the nature of truth and the reliability of narrative.


Bertolucci's first feature, a whodunit about a whore's murder, offers more than filmographic interest. The joint passages of time and adolescence are realised in its combination of febrile sexual alertness and the elaborate reconstruction of each defendant's day, always returning to the doomed woman dressing while the same rainstorm rages. Also intriguing are the portraits of the gormless young soldier on leave, accosting literally every female he meets; the ageing prostitute; and the gay witness to the crime.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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Theatrical Release: September 19th, 1962

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC

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Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 272 - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:33:03 
Video 1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.45 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.


Audio Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Exclusive interview with director Bernardo Bertolucci (16:35)
• Essay by film critic David Thompson

DVD Release Date: February 1st, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 16




The first 20 minutes or so of the film are a shade more hazy compared to the final hour plus. I suspect it is directly a condition of the print although this is the only blemish on this strong, progressive and anamorphic transfer from Criterion. Contrast is at the DVD production company's high standard and the image is very clean. There are optional English subtitles.

There is a 15 minute interview with Bertolucci as an extra feature. He has a phenomenal memory for the production of the film and remarks that he is slightly embarrassed as it is not up to his later standard. I wish it was longer or a full commentary. Plus there is a good liner notes essay by film critic David Thompson.

I enjoyed this film - dark shadowy shots of Rome. Fabulous pacing - the hallmark of a great director.


Gary W. Tooze



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Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 272 - Region 0 - NTSC


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