|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
The Killers [Blu-ray]
(Robert Siodmak, 1946)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video: Carlotta / Arrow Academy
Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:42:23.762/ 1:42:24.429
Disc Size: 40,643,131,655 bytes/ 47,280,531,425 bytes
Feature Size: 29,678,862,336 bytes / 31,920,602,688 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps / 34.99 Mbps
Chapters: 20/ 12
Case: Transparent Slimmer Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase / Transparent case with reversible sleeve featuring one of the original posters and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw
Release date: October 8th, 2014 / December 8th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 817 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 817 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 822 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 822 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), none
• Hemingway / Siodmak (23:08
- French only)
• Isolated Music & Effects soundtrack to highlight Miklós
Rózsa's famous score
The first Universal production supervised by Hellinger, a one-time reporter turned film producer, this definitive film noir is at least as powerful as his earlier crime movies, The Roaring Twenties and High Sierra. The Killers, which features a now famous musical score (later used in the "Dragnet" TV series) by Miklos Rosza, is also notable as Burt Lancaster's film debut. The ace crime director Siodmak uses the bare bones of Hemingway's terse story to build a taut and fascinating tale of murder, robbery, and betrayal. It also features one of the genre's most celebrated femme fatales.
This is the kind of noir thriller the word quintessential was minted
for. ‘Tense! Taut! Terrific!’, ran the poster headline for Robert
Siodmak’s 1946 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s dark tale of two killers
who arrive in Palookaville to top a former prizefighter. It might have
added ‘Doom-laden! Curious! And Resigned!’.
Directed by Robert Siodmak, The Killers boasts a script by an uncredited
John Huston and a great score by Miklos Rozsa (later mined for the theme
for Dragnet). A box-office smash, the film played round-the-clock
at New York's Winter Garden theater, where over 120,000 patrons saw the
film in the first two weeks. While Siodmak was widely praised for his
economical direction, most of the press and public focused their
attention on the two new newcomers: Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Killers is premium Noir territory and the new Carlotta Blu-ray doesn't disappoint with a dual-layered transfer and max'ed out bitrate. The image quality shows a consistent layer of grain, film-like thickness, and contrast has some nice layering. There is a shade more information in the frame than the Carlotta SD but still less than the Criterion. 1080P transfer has a lot of character and even shows some depth. It's gorgeous although I felt, at time, that black levels could have been more inky. This Blu-ray offers rich visuals (kudos to the film) and Ava Gardner, in HD, is worth the price alone. Visually this is very appealing.
NOTE: As Michael Brooke confirmed: "The clean-up of Universal's HD master was a joint Arrow-Carlotta effort, so Arrow's disc will look pretty much identical (minor and probably invisible encoding issues aside)." (Thanks Michael!) As anticipated, the image quality is virtually exact with only a very discerning eye seeing differences in imperceptible noise/grain. It looks magnificent!
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Typically flat mono track via a lossless DTS-HD Master at a puny 817 kbps. It all sounds good - with some perceived depth and consistency in the dialogue. The iconic Miklós Rózsa score (The Lost Weekend, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Double Indemnity) adds so much to the film experience - demonstratively in uncompressed. There is a weak, out-of-sync, French DUB and, fully, optional French subtitles. MyOppo was able to switch on the fly with the remote's 'Subtitle' button identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Arrow's liner PCM , mono track, is minutely more robust but, like the video differences, they are negligible. There is an optional 'Isolated Music & Effects soundtrack' on the UK Blu-ray and those who appreciate Miklós Rózsa score will appreciate this - also in uncompressed mono. There are fully, optional English subtitles (SDH) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
The only supplements not in French is the half-hour The Killers Radio version with images of the film shown in the background and a trailer (both have French subtitles). There is quite a lot of other supplements with a piece on Hemingway / Siodmak, another on Herve Dumont, an excellent on entitled Expressionism in Black and White on Miklós Rózsa's music. Andre Tarkovsky's The Killers short is salso here but no English subs.
This is where there are the most significant differences. Aside from the aforementioned, isolated Music & Effects soundtrack, Arrow have produced a number of supplements themselves including a 54-minute video entitled Frank Krutnik on The Killers, where the author of In a Lonely Street, which introduces the film, offers a detailed commentary on four key scenes. It is excellent. We also get, by Arrow, the 1/2 hour Heroic Fatalism, a video essay adapted from Philip Booth s comparative study of multiple versions of The Killers (Hemingway, Siodmak, Tarkovsky, Siegel. Included are three archive radio pieces, totalling over an hour, inspired by The Killers: the 1949 Screen Director's Playhouse adaptation with Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters (29:57); a 1946 Jack Benny spoof (10:10); the 1958 Suspense episode Two for the Road (29:10) which reunited original killers William Conrad and Charles McGraw. Arrow add a stills and posters gallery as well as trailers for The Killers (1:47), Brute Force (2:15), The Naked City (1:52) and Rififi (2:45). The package contains a reversible sleeve featuring one of the original posters and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw and a collector's booklet containing new writing by Sergio Angelini and archive interviews with director Robert Siodmak, producer Mark Hellinger and cinematographer Woody Bredell, illustrated with original production stills. What a wonderful collection of extras!
Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Another impressive, Criterion-like, package from Arrow who just continue to improve marking themselves as tops in the industry. With their advanced supplements (including isolated score, optional English subs, collector's booklet) the Arrow Blu-ray of The Killers is distinguished as the best purchase for fans of this iconic, must-own, film. Our highest recommendation!
October 16th, 2014
November 27th, 2014
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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