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(aka "Il gatto a nove code" or "Cat o' Nine Tails' or 'Die neunschwänzige Katze' or 'Le chat à neuf queues' or 'The Cat o' Nine Tails")

 

directed by Dario Argento
Italy/France/West Germany 1971

 

While walking home with his adopted daughter Lori (Cinzia de Carolis), blind former journalist-turned-crossword puzzle designer Franco Arno (Karl Malden) overhears two people in a car discussing blackmail (he gets Lori to take a surreptitious look at the car but she can only make out one of the men) on the same night that someone breaks into the Terzi Institute and makes off with some genetic research. When one of the men Dr. Calabresi (Carlo Alighiero) meets a mysterious death in front of a train and Lori identifies him to Arno from a newspaper picture, Arno approaches journalist Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus) about looking into the connection between the death and the break-in at the institute where the dead man worked. When they discover that a photograph taken of the victim reveals a hand pushing him in front of a train (and the photographer is subsequently murdered), Giordani starts to take Arno seriously. His investigations into the Terzi Institute introduce him to Anna Terzi (Catherine Spaak), the director's adopted daughter/perhaps mistress, who reveals that the genetic research has to do with the chromosome that denotes psychopathic behavior. Arno and Giordani realize that Calebresi was blackmailing someone connected with the institute who is now out to quiet any one else who might know his or her secret. A hastily-made follow-up to the success of Argento's THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, CAT O'NINE TAILS was critically-panned at the time of its release and tended to be overlooked between BIRD, the elusive FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET and Argento's genre quantum leaps DEEP RED and SUSPIRIA (the fact that CAT was only subsequently available on panned-and-scanned tapes of the cut TV version and bootlegs of the widescreen Japanese-subtitled laserdisc probably kept it from being revisited until it was released on DVD). More recently (and not just in light of some of Argento's more recent flops), CAT has started to earn a better reputation. Franciscus and Arno are engaging leads (with more chemistry than Franciscus and Spaak but it might be argued that she is supposed to be icy rather than wooden) and the mystery fairly diverting (although it is predicated on the notion of chromosomal imbalance causing psychosis) and amusing (including a Hitchcockian comic car chase and some other humorous bits). While Enrico Menczer's cinematography is not as visually striking (although the Techniscope compositions are nicely composed) as Argento's work with other cinematographers, the murders are striking and Ennio Morricone's main theme "Lullaby in Blue" is a nice compliment to his work on the previous Argento film.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 21 May 1971 (USA)

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Comparison:

Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC vs. 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

01 Distribution
Region 2 - PAL
Blue Underground
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Arrow
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:51:36 1:46:50 (4% PAL speedup) 1:51:44.739 1:51:45.656
Video

2.34:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.27 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.86:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.5 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,125,031,587 bytes

Feature: 32,598,368,256 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,470,370,497 bytes

Feature: 22,402,787,328 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 21.99 Mbps

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

Bitrate:

 

Anchor Bay Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

 

01 Distribution

 

Bitrate: BU

Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:  Arrow

Blu-ray

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 2.0

Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2060 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2060 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1069 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1069 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio Italian 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles none none English (SDH), French, Spanish, none English (SDH), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.34:1

Edition Details:
• TALES OF THE CAT - interviews with director/co-writer Dario Argento, co-writer Dardano Sachetti, and composer Ennio Morricone (4:3; 13:53)
• International Trailer (16:9; 1:52)
• U.S. Trailer (16:9; 1:38)
• 60 and 30 second TV Spots
• 55 and 30 second Radio Spots
• Radio interviews (from 1971) with James Franciscus (8 mins)
• Radio interviews (from 1971) with Karl Malden (8 mins)
• Poster and still gallery
• Cast & crew biographies and filmographies

DVD Release Date: 10 July 2001
Amaray

Chapters 27

Release Information:
Studio: 01 Distribution

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.86:1

Edition Details:
• none

 

DVD Release Date:
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Blue Underground

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,125,031,587 bytes

Feature: 32,598,368,256 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• "Tales Of The Cat" - Interviews with Writer/Director Dario Argento, Co-Writer Dardano Sacchetti, and Composer Ennio Morricone (13:54)
• 2 Theatrical Trailers (US, International)
• 2 TV Spots (1:00/:30)
• 2 Radio Spots (1:00/:30)
• Radio Interviews with Stars James Franciscus (7:35) and Karl Malden (7:50)

Blu-ray Release Date: May 31st, 2011
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio:
Arrow

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,470,370,497 bytes

Feature: 22,402,787,328 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 21.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
Dario's Murderous Moggy - Dario Argento Interview (10:31 in 1080P)

• Luigi Cozzi: the Cat O' Nine Tails in Reflection (16:24 in 1080P)
Sergio Martino - the Art and Arteries of the Giallo (24:05 in 1080P)
Original Theatrical trailer (1:44 in 480i)

Double sided fold out poster
World Exclusive booklet with brand new writing


Blu-ray Release Date: September 26th, 2011
4 Sleeve art options with original and newly commissioned art work Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - May 11': Despite the arrow having a smaller file size and bitrate there are few differences in the image quality. The Arrow may have a shade more noise and skin tones can, at times, look a bit warmer but other wise the dual-layered release is an efficient one. It supports The Cat O' Nine Tails colors well and the brightness level matches the Blue Underground transfer.

Arrow have gone with linear PCM 2.0 channel tracks for both Italian and English at 1536 kbps. I can't say I noticed a big difference between the DTS-HD Master but the LPCM may be a bit weaker in the high-end - otherwise this is another tie. Arrow do have a different subtitle translation that does not precisely follow the English language - and it somewhat précised beside the more literal Blue Underground. Both Blu-rays are region FREE.

Arrow have some very nice, self-produced, extras with a 10-minute Dario Argento Interview entitled Dario's Murderous Moggy, 16-minutes of Luigi Cozzi reflecting back on The Cat O' Nine Tails and 25-minutes of Sergio Martino discussing in an interesting piece entitled The Art and Arteries of the Giallo. These three video featurettes are all in 1080P. There is an original theatrical trailer and the package - '4 Sleeve art options with original and newly commissioned art work' - contains a double sided fold out poster and booklet. Pretty solid and fans will appreciate the extra attention to detail which is becoming an Arrow Hallmark.

Arrow have come up with a comparable Blu-ray release. For most, a double-dip is unnecessary as it simply boils down to the extras. We suggest buying the least expensive for your geographic region. I do like the Arrow details...

***

ADDITION: Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - May 11': Blue Underground comes through again for Argento fans. Their 1080P transfer is significantly brighter and more detailed than  the DVD releases. Colors are authentic with skin tones reaching natural hues. The image quality is clean and consistent as we've come to expect from the distributor - with a fine sheen of grain giving it some texture. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate and easily the definitive digital version of the Argento classic.

Audio is presented in a more robust DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo at 2060 kbps. The effects have some depth - and the perception of separations. There are no drop-outs or hiss and the crispness of the sounds adds atmosphere to a film that is already drenched by the visuals. Blue Underground have included optional subtitles in a yellow font with placement separating the characters (see sample below) and my Momitsu has verified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

Extras include all from the 2001 Anchor Bay edition - with nothing new. - but there is still enough worthy of indulging with the 15-minute 'Tales of the Cat' interviews and audio only segments with James Franciscus and Karl Malden.

Certainly this is recommended - I have always been fond of the film and now to have it looking so stellar is a wonderful treat. We definitely endorse!   

 -Gary Tooze

***

ON THE DVD: The Anchor Bay DVD sports a progressive, dual-layer, anamorphic transfer. The English opening credits are scratchy and seem to have been spliced in from a different print. After the credits, the presentation improves dramatically (although don't expect SUSPIRIA-like colors). The Italian print source for the body of the film is the likely reason for the use of English subtitles for Italian text inserts (but there is evidence of one or two alternate takes - see capture 7 where Malden spells out different words in English and Italian and has different mannerisms and the print quality changes on the Italian disc). The end credits are in Italian. The English, French, and Italian tracks are cited on the cover as Dolby 2.0 Surround but the AC3 tracks themselves are not actually flagged as such but their does appear to be slight stereo separation between the two tracks so it may be possible that it was intended as a surround remix but not flagged as such during the DD encoding. The extras include a new documentary featuring Argento, screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti, and composer Ennio Morricone as well as the usual US and international export trailers (the latter places emphasis on the box office figures and ranking of Argento's previous film THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE), TV spots, radio spots, and still gallery (including stills from scenes not present in the final cut such as one that resolves the fate of lead Franciscus' character - and that of Spaak - left ambiguous in the final cut). The most interesting extras are two eight minute vintage 1971 radio interviews with stars Franciscus and Malden about the film. Blue Underground's subsequent DVD release is a port of the Anchor Bay release.

The Italian disc from 01 compares poorly to both the US DVDs and the previous Italian DVD from Medusa which sported an anamorphic transfer and included Italian 5.1 and mono tracks as well as Italian and English subtitles. The films starts with English credits at 2.38:1 while the body of the feature is cropped to 1.86:1 and is non-anamorphic. There are no extra features.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


Menus
(
Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

 

 
 

 

 

 

Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

Two different takes used for English and Italian versions (also note shift in print quality)

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

1) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

1) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

1) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

1) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

1) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-rays

Sound:

Blu-rays

Extras: Arrow Blu-ray
 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

01 Distribution
Region 2 - PAL
Blue Underground
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Arrow
Region FREE -
Blu-ray


 




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Gary Tooze

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