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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Deathtrap [Blu-ray]


(Sidney Lumet, 1982)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner Bros. Pictures

Video: Warner Archive



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:56:10.004

Disc Size: 23,986,514,822 bytes

Feature Size: 23,693,948,928 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps

Chapters: 33

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1671 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1671 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none








Description: If you were a famed mystery playwright with a devastating string of recent flops, what would you do for a can't-miss thriller script? Beg for it? Pay for it? Or would you kill for it? You would if you were Sidney Bruhl, the leading character in Ira Levin's dazzlingly funny, deliciously scary, Broadway-smash-turned-movie-hit Deathtrap. Michael Caine starts as Bruhl and Christopher Reeve stars as Bruhl's one-time student, who's written a play so flawless "even a gifted director couldn't ruin it" ...and who requests Bruhl's production help. And Dyan Cannon is Bruhl's loving wife, who doesn't want the student helped to an early grave. Sydney Lumet directs Deathtrap's hairpin twists with such drop-dead wit and delightful dread that you'll stop laughing only long enough to gasp in surprise.



The Film:

DEATHTRAP is a wonderful windup fiction machine with a few modest ambitions: It wants to mislead us at every turn, confound all our expectations, and provide at least one moment when we levitate from our seats and come down screaming. It succeeds, more or less. It's a thriller that depends on all sorts of surprises for its effects, and you may continue reading in the confidence that I'll reveal none of them.

That doesn't leave me much to write about, however. Let's see. I can tell you something about how the movie begins. Michael Caine plays a very successful Broadway playwright whose latest mystery is a total flop. We see him at the outset, standing at the back of the house, a gloomy witness to a disastrous opening night. (It's a Broadway in-joke that the play he's watching is being performed on the stage set of DEATHTRAP.) Caine gets drunk and goes home to his farmhouse in Connecticut and sinks into despair. There is perhaps, however, some small shred of hope. In the mail the next day Caine receives a manuscript from a former student (Christopher Reeve). It is a new thriller, and Caine sees at once that it's a masterpiece. It could run for years and earn millions of dollars. As he talks with his wife (Dyan Cannon) about it, he slowly develops the idea that he could steal the play, kill Reeve, and produce the hit himself.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times located HERE

Sidney Lumet provides another of his film adaptations of Broadway successes -- in this case Ira Levin's 1978 clever Broadway murder mystery that starred John Wood in a triumphant turn as down-on-his-luck playwright Sidney Bruhl. Wood's brittle airiness is replaced in the film version by Michael Caine's smoldering bitterness. Sidney Bruhl is a successful writer of Broadway mystery plays who was at one time considered the Neil Simon of Broadway mystery writers. Unfortunately, Bruhl is now struggling to live up to his own reputation, suffering through a series of four consecutive flops. But then Bruhl comes upon the manuscript of a brilliant suspense drama written by unknown writer Clifford Anderson (Christopher Reeve). Bruhl, desperate for a hit play, invites Clifford to come to see him, telling him that he is interested in collaborating with him on the play. Actually, Bruhl plans to murder Clifford and pass off Clifford's play as his own. What Bruhl doesn't know, however, is that Clifford has some surprise plot points of his own up his sleeve.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE


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

Deathtrap appears pretty solid on Blu-ray from The Warner Archive.  The image detail advances over SD. This is only single-layered but has a decent bitrate. Colors seem tight and  contrast exhibits consistently strong black levels. I see no signs of manipulation and it is an impressive representation of the theatrical with the help of a well-maintained source print. This Blu-ray has pleasingly sharp visuals for the limited stage sets in the film.  By modern standards this holds up well - and bodes as a great sign for future Warner Archive Blu-ray releases.
















Audio :

The audio is rendered in a DTS-HD Master stereo at 1671 kbps. It doesn't have any flaws and some of Johnny Mandel's score benefits from the lossless transfer. There isn't a strong sense of mood established by the background music but Lumet's pace and camera seem to do more for the atmosphere. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

The only supplement is a trailer.



Always a fun, suspenseful thriller, film to watch every couple of years. Caine is such an amazing actor - he can carry most of the film on his shoulders. Of course, the play is brilliant and is translated effectively to the screen. In fact, you frequently get the impression you are watching a live play. (Anyone catch Gregory Peck as one of the actors on stage?)  Deathtrap is a neat piece of cinema to have on Blu-ray in my opinion. Something you can really curl up to with a load of popcorn - certainly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

December 8th, 2012


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 5000 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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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