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|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
Dressed to Kill (Unrated Cut) [Blu-ray]
(Brian De Palma, 1980)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Filmways Pictures, Inc.
Video:MGM / Arrow Films / Criterion Collection Spine #770
NOTE: The Criterion 'Second Printing' has the exact same technical transfer (bitrate etc. - see stats in red), menus, audio and supplements (listed below) as the first! Only the image quality differs (see our comparative captures) and the labeling on the back of the case (see below.)
Region: FREE!Region 'B' Region 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:45:00.961 1:45:00.794/ 1:45:16.810 / 1:45:16.852
Disc Size: 38,191,459,463 bytes /49,380,544,752 bytes / 46,263,385,604 bytes/ 46,084,570,867 bytes
Feature Size: 33,342,259,200 bytes /33,786,230,784 bytes / 22,805,194,752 bytes/ 22,626,379,776 bytes
Video Bitrate: 36.01 Mbps /36.99 Mbps / 25.21 Mbps/ 24.99 Mbps
Chapters: 16 / 12 / 23
Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: September 6th, 2011 / July 29th, 2013 / ('Second Printing') September 8th, 2015
Video (all 3):
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3957 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3957
kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit /
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps /
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), French, Spanish, none
English (SDH), none(same as Criterion)
• The Making of Dressed to Kill Documentary Including
Interviews with Brian De Palma, Angie Dickinson, Nancy
Allen, Dennis Franz and More! (43:51 in 480i)
• Symphony of Fear: Producer George Litto discusses
his working relationship with Brian De Palma (17:36)
between De Palma and filmmaker Noah Baumbach (19:25)
Description: Writer-director Brian De Palma “maintains a
fever pitch from start to finish” (Leonard Maltin) with this
“steamily libidinous and extremely bloody thriller”
(Newsweek)! Starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson and
Nancy Allen (in a Golden GlobeŽ-nominated performance), this
taut psycho-sexual chiller is a razor-sharp tale of passion,
madness and murder that’s as “scary as the devil [with]
suspense to spare” (Playboy)!
Because fetishizing requires the dislocation and amplification of objects from their surroundings, a quick rundown of the formal dildos and vibrating bullets on De Palma's kink counter: creamy, coordinated couture, complete with sonically active jewelry and heels; razor fixation (reminiscent of Argento, though predating the astonishing moment when blaze meets bulb in Tenebre); manhole steam illuminated by porn shops' traveling marquee lights; the sighs of a masturbating woman merging with the prurient bloom of Pino Donaggio's best score (even if De Palma probably wanted something closer to his former collaborator Bernard Herrmann's score from Taxi Driver); the choreography of the Phil Donohue split-screen, with exactingly timed parallel turns; "What's the going rate on running red lights?"; a jerry-rigged time-lapse camera hidden in a shoebox; the way the trannie psycho's name Bobbi is spelled; the fact that it's the only one of De Palma's "red period" films whose palate is overwhelmingly blue.Excerpt from Eric Henderson at Slant Magazine located HERE
The movie owes a great deal to Hitchcock, perhaps too much for one to be able to judge it entirely on its own merits. It's possible that if one is a Hitchcock student, with a special knowledge of Psycho and Vertigo, one will resent all of the so-called quotes and references that Mr. De Palma includes in Dressed to Kill. But that, I think, is to underrate what the writer-director has pulled off in this case, which is not an imitation but a film made by someone who has studied the master and learned, in addition to style, something far more important, that is, a consistent point of view. Among other things, the De Palma camera appears to have an intelligence of its own.Excerpt from Vincent Canby's review at The NY Times located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
I guess we can assume that Dressed to Kill can only look so good in digital. The previous DVDs had the same soft-focus look as this new MGM Blu-ray. The 80's had some pretty unremarkable film stocks but the director's early films frequently seems to look this way. De Palma's Body Double had the same visual style (ditto for Obsession and Sisters - maybe Blow Out the exception?) - frequently looking kind of faded and smokey. Noise still exists although to a lesser degree. The image quality is fairly thick and grainy. It never achieves a glossy, pristine appearance and this is probably very accurate to the theatrical. I thought it was consistent and looked fine although no depth or overly vibrant colors exist - except possibly the blood streaks and splatters.
The transfer are quite similar technically - Arrow has a small advantage. The only difference seems to be that the Arrow is marginally brighter. It has the same smokey, film-like appearance and without prior knowledge I'd be hard-pressed to chose one over the other although the region 'B' might be a bit dirtier. The Arrow may appear a notch sharper, due to the brighter visuals, but I'm uncertain as to which is more theatrically accurate. Colors on the MGM may be a minutely richer - skin tones cooler on the UK release - but again this is minor and most viewers systems would have difficulty identifying this to the degree that it would matter when watching the film. This looks like a great transfer to me - faithful and without notable flaws of any kind.
Wow. The Criterion is advertised as a "New, restored 4K digital transfer of director Brian De Palma’s preferred unrated version, supervised by the director...". It is extremely different from the other two Blu-rays (both with max'ed out bitrates). It shows more information the frame - mostly on the side edges - and seems vertically stretched (or the other two or horizontally stretched.) This makes the Criterion faces thinner and taller and the Arrow and MGM faces fatter. It is also more faded and has a yellow/green tinge to it. The Criterion has a less robust technical transfer for the film - with a decent, but lower bitrate. I never saw this theatrically so its hard for me to categorically state this Criterion transfer is not accurate. The Criterion transfer skin tones are cooler. I will say it gave me a new viewing experience. It is also the unrated-cut of the film. NOTE: The round (?) lamp behind Michael Caine (below capture) is oval in the Criterion 1080P, but strangely, at times, the Criterion ratio looks more 'right' to me - at other times the Arrow and MGM appear more natural. The more I look at it though - the more the Criterion appears correct to me.
NOTE: It has been reported by another site that the horizontal 'squishing' (vertical stretching) of the Criterion (First Printing) starts at about 22-minutes and continues to the end of the film. Criterion's official statements:
Criterion (Second Printing): The ratio issues have been corrected. The Criterion doesn't seem to have as rich black levels as the Arrow/MGM. Some might presume this to be more the director's intent - it could also be the less technically robust transfer. There seems to be more information in the frame than the MGM/Arrow (side edges) but less than the first edition with the 'slight anamorphic compression'. It looks very good in-motion if a shade 'lighter', and the appearance of being marginally softer than the first twoBlu-rays.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio gets a bold DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3957 kbps. It sounds strong and this would be highly notable in Pino Donaggio's score - often reminiscent of Herrmann. Like many thing De Palma - it is somewhat over the top and it runs in ebbs and flows beside the building tensions. There are some subtleties in the separation and depth is always there when called upon. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
As well as a 5.1 bump (similar but not as robust as the MGM), the Arrow includes a linear PCM of the original mono at 1536 kbps. It's nice to have the option. I didn't notice much of a difference in the surround regarding Pino Donaggio's powerful score. The LPCM is predicatbly flatter but authentic and there are optional English (SDH) subtitles on the region 'B'-locked disc.
No bump for Criterion - they stay mono with a linear PCM 1.0 channel transfer. It. obviously, sounds flatter, and a bit tinny, but Pino Donaggio's score sounds very good, although somewhat hollow lacking the depth of the other two. Again this may be much more accurate or to the filmmakers liking and/or original production. It is region 'A' with optional English (SDH) subtitles.
NOTE: The Criterion Second Printing has the exact same mono audio transfer and subtitle option as the first!
Supplements appear to duplicate the previous SE DVD from a decade ago. It has the substantial "The Making of Dressed to Kill" which includes interviews with De Palma, Dickinson, Allen, the producer George Litto, and more you mention their most notable memories of the production. There are the two separate featurettes that deal with the specific censorship aspects of the three versions (unrated, R, and Network TV cut) and the MPAA rating and blown-out media hype it obtained. Keith Gordon's 6-minute appreciation is till here, and an animated gallery and theatrical trailer - now in HD.
Arrow add four of the excellent Fiction Factory documentaries by Robert Fischer about Dressed to Kill. Symphony of Fear spends 17-minutes with producer George Litto discussing his working relationship with Brian De Palma and the director’s skillful way of creating suspense. Dressed in White is 1/2 hour with star Angie Dickinson on her role in the film scene by scene and why she was chosen to play Kate Miller. Dressed in Purple has 23-minutes with star Nancy Allen taking the viewer back to the shooting of Brian De Palma’s film DRESSED TO KILL and talks about her character, Liz, the costumes designed by Ann Roth, and her co-stars Angie Dickinson, Keith Gordon and Michael Caine. Lessons in Filmmaking has 40-minutes with actor Keith Gordon (also director of films like A MIDNIGHT CLEAR and THE SINGING DETECTIVE and TV shows like WILD PALMS and DEXTER), remembering his days as a very young actor for Brian De Palma and how participating in the movie DRESSED TO KILL turned for him into invaluable lessons on filmmaking. The Making of a Thriller is the same documentary as on the MGM - the making of Dressed to Kill featuring writer-director Brian De Palma, George Litto, stars Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz running almost 3/4 of an hour. We also get the 5-minute Unrated, R-Rated Comparison featurette that is alo on the MGM Blu-ray. Slashing Dressed to Kill has 10-minutes with Brian De Palma and stars Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon discussing the changes that had to be made to avoid an X-rating. We also get the original theatrical trailer. The package itself has a wonderful reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanel Marsh and there are liner notes - a 36-page Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Maitland McDonagh, illustrated with original archive stills and promotional material.
Criterion really load-up on the extras (22 Gig worth). We have a new, 20-minute, conversation between De Palma and filmmaker Noah Baumbach where the director discusses his creative choices in making the film. There are also new, Criterion produced, interviews with actor Nancy Allen (16:11), producer George Litto (12:12), composer Pino Donaggio (15:41), shower-scene body double, ex-Penthouse model, Victoria Lynn Johnson (8:42), and poster photographic art director Stephen Sayadian (10:15). I like listening to Nancy Allen plus Victoria Lynn Johnson also had interesting input (me being a male, and all). Litto discusses producing three De Palma films; Obsession, Dressed to Kill and Blow Out. The Making of “Dressed to Kill,” is the same 2001 documentary featuring writer-director Brian De Palma, George Litto, stars Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz etc. that is found on the Arrow. We get a new (again, Criterion produced), 10-minute profile of cinematographer Ralf Bode, featuring filmmaker Michael Apted and video artist Peer Bode remembering Dressed to Kill discussing the working methods of the late cinematographer. In the Keith Gordon 'appreciation' - it may be an excerpt from the Arrow Lessons in Filmmaking (I honestly don't remember but it does sound familiar) with the director discussing the many filmmaking techniques on display in Dressed to Kill. There is also "Slashing Dressed to Kill" from 2001 about the different versions of the film and the cuts made to avoid an X rating - an excerpt of the one found on the Arrow and MGM Blu-rays. The Criterion offers a gallery of storyboards by De Palma and a trailer. The package itself has a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Michael Koresky.
NOTE: The Criterion Second Printing has the exact same menus and supplements (listed above) as the first!
MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Arrow Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Criterion- Region 'A' - Blu-ray
What an amazing package from Arrow! With all the great digital supplements, artwork and liner noteseasily make it the definitive version to own. Going through these extras continues putting the film in a unique category of suspense and Hitch homage. It never seems to get old - even when you know the plot so well. Surely the sign of a competent filmmaker. Absolutely recommended!
First Edition: What can we say. Criterion didn't simply duplicate the other two Blu-rays and add some extras. They gave us a whole new presentation (both audio and video - with questions!) and many new supplements - produced in-house. Further delving into the film, continues to produce appreciation although the Criterion's attempt was bold - fans have spoken and are unhappy. One we can easily recommend to those fans looking for a new angle of their viewing and extra features.
Second Edition: The newer, 'second printing' Criterion has removed the fatal image issue and it looks more in-line with a preferred ratio. It's remains a wonderful package with the supplement additions. Certainly one fans can, now, feel confident in owning.
September 1st, 2011
July 4th, 2013
July 29th, 2015
September 8th, 2015
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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