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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Madam Kitty" )

 

directed by Tinto Brass
Italy/West Germany/France 1976

 

Captain Wallenberg (Helmut Berger, CONVERSATION PIECE) is assigned the task of training twenty German women for employment in the brothel of Madam Kitty (Ingrid Thulin, WILD STRAWBERRIES). Unbeknown to her, Wallenberg has had her club fitted with listening devices to keep tabs on the loyalties of Nazi soldiers (but Wallenberg also uses it for some blackmail on the side). One of the girls, Margheritia (Teresa Ann Savoy, CALIGULA) falls for Hans (Bekim Fehmiu, THE EXECUTIONER), a soldier who plans to defect. When Margherita learns that Wallenberg overheard Hans' plans and had him murdered, she plots revenge with the help Kitty's help. John Steinber (TENEBRAE), Tina Aumont (TORSO), Rosemarie Lindt (WHO SAW HER DIE?), Paola Senatore (EMMANUELLE IN AMERICA), Luciano Rossi (DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT), and Howard Hawkes vet John Ireland (PERVERSION STORY) - in a role originally cast for Richard Crenna - also appear. Whereas Charlotte Rampling and Dirk Bogarde graduated from Visconti's THE DAMNED to Liliana Cavani's THE NIGHT PORTER, Thulin and Berger took the leads in SALON KITTY. Although SALON KITTY is not as well-regarded now as THE NIGHT PORTER, it was at the time a grander production with sets by James Bond series designer Ken Adam, cabaret numbers, an international cast, and its X-rating in the US (although the film was trimmed to 112 minutes) meant a great deal of notoriety. While Berger and Thulin seem to dub themselves (although Thulin's singing is voiced by Annie Ross), Savoy's voice dubbing artist is miscast (she fares better in the Italian dub). The leisurely set-up is all right; once the plot gets moving, however, some of the extended bits of naughtiness featuring uncredited extras make the film drag. For better or worse, the film brought Brass to the attention of PENTHOUSE publisher Bob Guccione (who passed away this year) as the person to direct his all-star cast, multi-million dollar, Gore Vidal-scripted CALIGULA (as much inspired by PLAYBOY's co-producing of Roman Polanski's X-rated MACBETH as by FELLINI-SATYRICON), but that's another incredibly labyrinthine story unto itself. Savoy, Steiner, and Giancarlo Badessi went on to appear in Brass' CALIGULA. Supporting player Salvatore Baccaro made a career out of appearances in the line of "Nazisploitation" films following this (usually under the name "Sal Boris") as well as an appearance as Frankenstein's monster in FRAKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS (where he was billed as "Boris Lugosi"). Brass recovered from the disaster of CALIGULA by returning first to his nouvelle vague-ish roots with the 16mm ACTION before going on to a run of strikingly designed, more personal works of arthouse softcore erotica such as THE KEY, ALL LADIES DO IT, TRA(SGRE)DIRE, THE VOYEUR, and, more recently, MONAMOUR. Brass returned to themes of Nazi decadence and thuggery more recently with SENSO 45 (BLACK ANGEL), which relocates Camillo Boito's novella (previously adapted by Visconti in 1954) to the German-occupied WWII Venice of Brass' own youth.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 21 January 1977 (USA)

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Comparison:

Blue Underground (2-disc Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Argent Films (UK) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Blue Underground (Limited Edition) DVD Screen Caps!

1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Blue Underground

Region 0 - NTSC

Blue Underground
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Argent Films
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 2:13:00 2:13:11.149 2:13:09.606
Video

1.84:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.66 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 41,585,623,671 bytes

Feature Size: 37,219,731,456 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Disc Size: 24,399,567,479 bytes

Feature Size: 21,825,650,688 bytes

Average Bitrate: 15.50 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

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

Bitrate:

Blue Underground (Limited Edition)

 

Bitrate:

 

Blue Underground (Blu-ray)

 

Bitrate:

 

Argent Films (Blu-ray)

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono; Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1081 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1081 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 1079 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1079 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1675 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1675 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 848 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 848 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 888 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 888 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 938 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 938 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB
Subtitles English, English (for restored scenes), none English for Italian version - English (SDH), French, Spanish, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Blue Underground

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.84:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• International Trailer (16:9; 3:55)
• US Trailer (16:9; 1:48)
• Tinto Brass Biography
• DISC TWO:
• Inside Salon Kitty: interview with Tinto Brass (16:9; 14:47)
• Designing Salon Kitty: interview with production designer Ken Adam (16:9; 18:00)
• 3 Radio Spots (1x 60 second; 2x 30 second)
• Poster & Still Gallery
• Ken Adam's Production Design Gallery
• Jost Jakob's Costume Design Gallery
• DVD-ROM: The Story of Salon Kitty (pdf)

DVD Release Date: 24 June 2003
Amaray

Chapters 29

Release Information:
Studio: Blue Underground

 

Disc Size: 41,585,623,671 bytes

Feature Size: 37,219,731,456 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• Inside Salon Kitty: interview with Tinto Brass (14:48)
• Designing Salon Kitty: interview with production designer Ken Adam (18:01)
• 3 Radio Spots (1x 60 second; 2x 30 second)

• International Trailer (3:55)
• US Trailer (1:49)

Blu-ray Release Date: November 23rd, 2010
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 29

Release Information:
Studio:
Argent Films

 

Disc Size: 24,399,567,479 bytes

Feature Size: 21,825,650,688 bytes

Average Bitrate: 15.50 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• Interview with Tinto Brass (23:48)

• Theatrical Trailer (4:06)

• Argent Films Trailers

Blu-ray Release Date: May 9th, 2011
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 18

 

Comments

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

ADDITION: Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - (May 2011) - This is also the Director's Cut of Salon Kitty which includes the scenes previously cut by producers due to their strong content. The scenes have been reinserted by director Brass, with short parts of dialogue never available in English. These are presented with English subtitles.

This UK 1080P transfer is comparable although only single-layered with a modest bitrate. It shows more noise than the Blue Underground - but it would be more dependant on how discerning you, or your system is. Colors support each  HD release. Audio offers original (Italian), English and foreign language (French and German) DUBs - all in uncompressed.

A 24-minute interview with Brass is offered as an extras and there is a theatrical trailer and a whack of Argent Film trailers.

NOTE: The Blue Underground release no longer appears to be available from Amazon in the US (but is purchasable from the Amazon Canada link) - the Argent Films is an opposing hi-def choice at a sleight cheaper price at the writing of this review. 

***

ADDITION: Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - (November 2010) - This is the same uncut release of the film - also from Tinto Brass' source print. Colors make the most dramatic shift - especially in skin tones (of which, there are a lot) which lose their orange hue. Compression artefacts present on the LE DVD are lessened/eradicated by the strong Blue Underground dual-layered 1080P transfer that sports a high bitrate. There is slightly more information in the frame and everything tightens up essentially improving the appearance from a video-look to representing film with some wonderful textured grain - now a common trademark of BU Blu-ray editions (no DNR here!).

Audio stays with the original mono for both lossless English and Italian options. It sounds decent although less remarkable by having no real range. There are a few instances of depth and the music definitely improves. There are English subtitles for the Italian track and optional English (SDH), French and Spanish available. The translations appear to occasionally differ from the 2-disc DVD release from 2003. My Momitsu has verified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

Extras lose the superfluous galleries and PDF files but retain the Inside Salon Kitty - 15-minute interview with Tinto Brass, Designing Salon Kitty - 18-minute interview with production designer Ken Adam and the 3 Radio Spots (1x 60 second; 2x 30 second) and two trailers (all as discussed by Eric below).

Blue Underground have developed a strong reputation with the HD output disc transfers and this ranks as another that makes a demonstrative step beyond the DVD editions (in regards to a/v). Fans of Brass and his very 'adult films' should definitely consider picking this Blu-ray up. It gives good... 'presentation'!

 -Gary Tooze

***

ON THE DVD: Released in 2003, Blue Underground's limited edition DVD has remained the definitive edition of the film as it was completely uncut and featured both the English track (with subtitles for scenes not dubbed into English) and the Italian track with full English subtitles as well as a host of original extras on disc 2 (the single-disc edition reproduced only the contents of disc 1). The elements are clean but not spotless. Encoding is at the mercy of the lengthy film's intentionally soft and grainy cinematography of Silvano Ippoliti (the consistent style of his work for Brass compared to his slicker work for other directors indicates that the look is a stylistic choice of Ippoliti and Brass). Some racier bits (which may not even have been part of the Italian original) look rougher than the surrounding footage. Edge enhancement is present but not distracting but the grain has not been over-scrubbed (lending some nice texture to the sharper close-ups and medium shots). The musical number roughly a half-hour into the film reveals that differences in sharpness between the static close-ups shot afterwards and the softer zoom shots (as with CALIGULA, Brass shot several sequences with multiple cameras equipped with zoom lenses).

Mono Italian and English tracks evince a little hiss but are fine overall. In an early scene, a piano starts playing long before a character's hands touch the keys, but this occurs on both the composited English/Italian track and the uncut Italian track so it may have been intentional. Curiously, there is some additional dialogue on the English track where none was recorded for the Italian versions of the scenes. Unlike some recent Blue Underground foreign films, the subtitles here are not dubtitles and reveal how the English and Italian tracks differ (sometimes, one is more eloquent than the other and vice-versa). The first disc affords a high bitrate to the feature and only includes the international and US trailers as extras. The substantial extras are on disc 2, including interviews with Brass and production designer Ken Adam as well as radio spots, extensive still galleries, and a DVD-ROM supplement. The publicity stills gallery mistakenly includes a couple stills of Berger and Thulin from Visconti's THE DAMNED (as well as the iconic Berger-in-Dietrich drag image). While the UK Argent Films release features an exclusive interview, it lacks the rest of Blue Underground's supplements (as well as the Italian track with optional English subtitles. The Scandinavian Another World Entertainment edition also features English subtitles for the restored scenes (in addition to optional Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish for the feature) but it is an NTSC-PAL conversion and is also lacking substantial extras. Reportedly the shorter 112 minute US version is available on DVD in Japan.

 -Eric Cotenas

 


Menus


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Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT)
 

 

 

 

Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


 

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

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

Subtitle sample


1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


1) Blue Underground (Limited Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Argent Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

BU Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras:

2-disc DVD

 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Blue Underground

Region 0 - NTSC

Blue Underground
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Argent Films
Region FREE -
Blu-ray

 



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