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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Murderer Lives at Number 21 aka L'assassin habite... au 21 [Blu-ray]

 

(Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1942)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Continental Films

Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #57

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:22:53.041

Disc Size: 24,515,001,059 bytes

Feature Size: 23,921,995,776 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 11

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 20th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio French 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Ginette Vincendeau on The Murder Lives at Number 21 (13:18)
• A
fully-illustrated booklet, including the words of Henri-Georges Clouzot, an essay by Judith Mayne, another by Christopher Lloyd and rare imagery

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: One of the most revered names in world cinema, Henri-Georges Clouzot, made a remarkably self-assured debut in 1942 with the deliciously droll thriller The Murderer Lives at 21 [L’Assassin habite au 21].

A thief and killer stalks the streets of Paris, leaving a calling card from “Monsieur Durand” at the scene of each crime. But after a cache of these macabre identifications is discovered by a burglar in the boarding house at 21 avenue Junot, Inspector Wenceslas Vorobechik (Pierre Fresnay) takes lodging at the infamous address in an undercover bid to solve the crime, with help from his struggling-actress girlfriend Mila (Suzy Delair).

Featuring audacious directorial touches, brilliant performances, and a daring tone that runs the gamut from light comedy to sinister noir, as well as a subtle portrait of tensions under Nazi occupation, this overlooked gem from the golden age of French cinema is presented in a beautiful new high-definition restoration.

 

 

The Film:

Clouzot's first feature, an engaging serio-comic thriller, with Fresnay as a whimsical police inspector who poses as a pastor to infiltrate the boarding-house where a Jack the Ripper killer is hiding out. The moderately ingenious mystery is boosted by the fantastical characterisations, and there are nice touches of black humour (like the toy working models of the killer made by one of the suspects).

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

A thief and a killer stalks the streets of Paris, frustrating the gendarmes even more for literally leaving a calling card at the scene of each crime. They've had a break, though - a burglar found a cache of these cards in the attic of a house he was robbing. Unfortunately, it's a boarding house, requiring Inspector Wenceslas Wens (Pierre Fresnay) to enter undercover. None of the residents seems particularly likely - there's Professor Lalah-Poor (Jean Tissier), artist Colin (Pierre Larquey), Dr. Linz (Noel Roquevert), spinster and would-be writer Mlle. Cuq (Maximilienne), former boxer "Kid Robert" (Jean Despeaux), and his nurse Vania (Huguette Vivier) - with owner Mme. Point (Odette Talazac) and valet Armand (Marc Natol) seeming equally harmless. And if Wens's job doesn't seem hard enough, his girlfriend Mila (Suzy Delair) soon shows up, figuring she can crack the case and that the publicity from doing so can only help her singing career.

Give Stanislas-André Steeman's novel to a half-dozen different filmmakers and they'll probably come back with as many different tones; that description allows for everything from broad door-slamming farce to a taut psychological thriller. Clouzot - who, in addition to directing, collaborated with Steeman on the screenplay - opts for something in between. I'm not certain that the case is actually solvable for the audience, but it probably is. The audience just doesn't spend a lot of time working on it; not only do the filmmakers pull off the Agatha Christie tricks of populating the house with characters who all seem charmingly insignificant and not clearly favoring any of them, but they make sure that we spend as much time watching the detectives as the suspects.

Excerpt from Jay Seaver at eFilmCritic located HERE

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

The Murderer Lives at Number 21 arrives on Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema arm of Eureka in the UK.  The image quality looks extremely thick with a flat, waxy appearance and very little grain showing through. Contrast is a shade muddy and nothing is demonstratively crisp. This is cited as a 'new Gaumont restoration of the film'. Not having seen the film previously - I can't comment on its pre-restoration appearance. On the positive the visuals are consistent throughout and once accepting of the video - I enjoyed the presentation. This Blu-ray image may have some digitization resulting from the restoration - it's hard to know where the fault lies. To my eye it looks excessively scrubbed.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is in the form of a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps. Dialogue is audible and clear without major flaws. The original music is composed by Maurice Yvain and is supported with some minor depth as the score bounces pleasantly or atmospherically with the onscreen activity. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

One of my favorites, Ginette Vincendeau, discusses The Murder Lives at Number 21 for about 15-minutes and we also get one of Masters of Cinema's fully-illustrated booklets, including the words of Henri-Georges Clouzot, a 2007 essay by Judith Mayne, another by Christopher Lloyd and rare imagery. Excellent!

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Stated in the liner notes as a “clever cocktail of humor and drama” is an accurate way to describe The Murderer Lives at Number 21. I'd almost use the term 'playful' as the film effortlessly shifts between the emotions eliciting suspense and wry smiles. This is definitely a thoughtful effort with subtle, embedded, Clouzot touches - recognizable even in such an early work. I think this was an interesting choice for MoC to release on Blu-ray. I look forward to other impressions on the video but, regardless, I am very pleased to have seen the film and to have indulged in the supplements (I could listen to Vincendeau all day!)

Gary Tooze

May 1st 2013


 

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.

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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