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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Last Embrace [Blu-ray]


(Jonathan Demme, 1979)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Taylor-Wigutow Productions

Video: Signal One Entertainment



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:41:42.137

Disc Size: 24,659,742,143 bytes

Feature Size: 24,014,601,792 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 26th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080P / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English (HoH), None



• Audio commentary by film expert David Thompson

Lobby cards and Stills Gallery
Original theatrical trailer (2:54)





Description: This taught thriller, from the acclaimed director of Silence of the Lambs, stars Roy Scheider (Jaws, The French Connection) as Harry Hannan, an ex-government agent fearing for his life and unable to trust even his closest friends after the violent death of his wife.

Infused with the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock, and featuring outstanding performances by John Glover, Christopher Walken and Charles Napier, Last Embrace is a stylish, edge-of-your-seat experience that you will never forget.



The Film:

A delicious excursion into the world of Hitchcockian suspense. A taut, complex conspiracy thriller, it sees Scheider - a former 'agent' for an assassination firm - threatened by mental breakdown (guilt over his wife's death), by his former employers who find him dangerously superfluous, and by an obscure Hebraic society bent on revenge for some unknown reason. Scheider is admirably haunted as the justifiably paranoid gunman (who gets involved with a strange, duplicitous femme fatale), the whole thing is beautifully shot by Tak Fujimoto, and Miklós Rosza's stunning score augments Demme's careful control of atmosphere and set pieces. But what finally impresses is the way that the various references to Hitchcock and other classic thrillers are never used as an end in themselves; rather, they simply add resonance and depth to a film that works perfectly well in its own right.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

More than any other new director Mr. Demme recognizes good actors and knows how to use them. As the besieged Harry Hannan, Mr. Scheider is like an uncertainly delicate watch spring. You can never be sure if one more turn of the screw will be smooth or if it will result in a total crackup. No other leading actor can create so much tension out of such modest material. As the young woman who befriends Harry Hannan, Janet Margolin is unexpectedly fine, but it's the sort of role that offers a good deal more than is originally promised.

The supporting cast is made up of some of the best actors available in New York and Hollywood, including Sam Levene, John Glover, the Oscar-winning Christopher Walken, David Margulies and Lou Gilbert, as well as Charles Napier and Marcia Rodd, who were so memorably lunatic in Mr. Demme's "Handle With Care."

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE


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

Last Embrace gets a single-layered transfer to Blu-ray from Signal One Entertainment in the UK. It has a supportive bitrate for the 1 3/4 hour feature, and is transferred in 1080P in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It looks quite thick but the heaviness appears natural and film-like. Generally the visuals supply decent detail and some consistent texture. Thee is no noise and colors (reds and yellows) are rich and tight. All seems in order with the video.




















Audio :

Audio comes in a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 2304 kbps (24-bit). It sounds rather unremarkable with the film testing via effects in few instances. But the iconic Miklós Rózsa score (The Killers, The Lost Weekend, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Double Indemnity) adds significantly to the film experience - demonstratively in uncompressed establishing mystery and suspense.  There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Signal One include an audio commentary by film expert David Thompson and it goes pretty deep with Demme, potential leading ladies considered (Teri Garr) and plenty on the Hitchcock referencing by the director. It significantly added to my appreciation. I was very keen on what Mr. Thompson was reporting about the production. There is also a short Lobby cards and Stills Gallery and a theatrical trailer.



Admittedly, I struggled a bit with Last Embrace getting kind of confused about what was transpiring - much is left unsaid. But upon second viewing - with David Thompson's commentary - I really began to enjoy the characterizations and atmosphere. This is an excellent film from Demme - even with certain scenes un-shot due to budget and timing. I do see 'The Master' in this and I am actually looking forward to another viewing! Signal One Entertainment has made great choice for Blu-ray in Last Embrace and the commentary adds immense value. Not your usual thriller, but one of those lucky finds that you will revisit. Absolutely recommended!  

Gary Tooze

October 20th, 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 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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