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The Murderer Lives at Number 21 aka L'assassin habite... au 21 [Blu-ray]
(Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1942)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Continental Films
Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #57
Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,515,001,059 bytes
Feature Size: 23,921,995,776 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: May 20th, 2013
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio French 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
English (SDH), none
• Ginette Vincendeau on The Murder Lives at Number 21
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].
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).
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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