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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Spotlight On A Murderer aka "Pleins feux sur l'assassin" [Blu-ray]


(Georges Franju, 1961)




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Champs-Élysées Productions

Video: Arrow Video



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

Runtime: 1:32:34.924

Disc Size: 25,549,257,777 bytes

Feature Size: 20,809,924,608 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.859 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 29th - 30th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



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



English, none



Vintage production featurette from 1960, shot on location and including interviews with Georges Franju and actors Pascale Audret, Pierre Brasseur, Marianne Koch, Dany Saval and Jean-Louis Trintignant (27:14)
Original theatrical trailer (3:33)
Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris Fujiwara






Description: When the terminally ill Count Hervé de Kerloquen (Pierre Brasseur, Goto, Isle of Love) vanishes without trace, his heirs are told that they have to wait five years before he can be declared legally dead, forcing them to devise ways of paying for the upkeep of the vast family château in the meantime. While they set about transforming the place into an elaborate son et lumière tourist attraction, they are beset by a series of tragic accidents if that s really what they are...

The little-known third feature by the great French maverick Georges Franju (Eyes Without a Face, Judex) is a delightfully playful romp through Agatha Christie territory, whose script (written by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac of Les Diaboliques and Vertigo fame) is mischievously aware of the hoariest old murder-mystery clichés and gleefully exploits as many of them as possible.

They re equally aware of the detective story's antecedents in the Gothic novel, a connection that Franju is only too happy to emphasise visually at every opportunity thanks to his magnificent main location. A young Jean-Louis Trintignant (The Conformist, Amour) is amongst the Kerloquen heirs.



The Film:

Characteristically, Franju's adaptation of a story by Boileau-Narcejac (the creators of Vertigo and Les Diaboliques) negates suspense in favour of a highly pleasurable succession of strange images. An eccentric château-owner (Brasseur) dies, peacefully encased with his favourite wind-up miniature ballerina behind a mirror. With his body unaccounted for, the greedy heirs are legally obliged to wait five years, and devise a son-et-lumière to raise funds for the upkeep of the expensive château. Meanwhile, a murderer in their midst begins eliminating future rivals... Franju creates some wonderfully atmospheric monochrome textures, extracts another haunting score from Maurice Jarre, and throws in plenty of absurd humour, as well as a typically fetishistic line-up of doll-like women. The actors are encouraged into striking attitudes, so that emotional conviction is sacrificed for surreal effect. With its unconventional blend of narrative pulp and visual sophistication, the film was a commercial flop, rarely to be seen outside France, until eventually the rediscovery of the original negative gave it a new lease of life.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Robed like a wizard, the dying patriarch (Pierre Brasseur) pads around the lavish manor, reaches under a doll’s skirt to turn it on (cf. Siegel’s The Lineup), sinks contentedly in his throne. No inheritance then for the greedy family members, who move into the medieval castle and turn it into a "son et lumière" spectacle for tourists, not a good idea. The lake must be drained, armors and jousts become canned sounds for the floor show, murmurs waft out of the loudspeakers installed in every chamber. When an ancient legend is recounted on empty spaces before a gawking audience, is it technology at the service of phantoms or vice-versa? Into the scheme wanders a mysterious murderer, like the dead raven dropped amidst the dinner table finery. "We’re not in the Dark Ages anymore!" The model is Magritte, starting with the levitating first view of the palace and continuing to Jean-Louis Trintignant’s quick change of costume behind an obelisk; Orphée for the mirror doors and William Castle for the electrocuting floodlights. A double-edged extravaganza from Franju, an attack on the vulgarization of the past that nevertheless brings out the medium’s most virtuosic apparatus and closes on a jaunty step at a funeral march.

Excerpt from located HERE

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


This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond to the best of our knowledge.


NOTE: As Michael Brooke informs us on Facebook in regards to Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.' Spotlight on a Murderer is the same situation.


Spotlight on a Murderer gets a solid transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow.  It is single-layered with a supportive bitrate for the 1 1/2 hour feature. Contrast is nicely layered in the 1080P rendering. There is some pleasing depth in the 1.37:1 frame.  It's very clean with a few light surface scratches and speckles. This Blu-ray has solid detail and come texture. It provides a consistent and rewarding presentation in-motion.


















Audio :

Arrow transfer audio in a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps (16-bit) in the original French language. The effects are fairly passive but there is enjoyable original music by Maurice Jarre (The Tin Drum, The Man Who Would Be King, The Damned etc.) that comes across very well via the lossless rendering adding a beautiful layer onto the film's mysteries. It is another of his pleasant scores. There are optional English subtitles for and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.


Extras :

Arrow add a 27-minute vintage production featurette from 1960, shot on location and including interviews with Georges Franju and actors Pascale Audret, Pierre Brasseur, Marianne Koch, Dany Saval and Jean-Louis Trintignant. It is in French with English subtitles. There is also an original theatrical trailer and the package has a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain and, for the first pressing only, a liner notes booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris Fujiwara. A DVD is also included (NTSC for both packages) signifying it as 'Dual-Format'.



I thoroughly enjoyed Spotlight on a Murderer! While certainly a different film from Franju's Eyes Without a Face, - this, his third film, is so intriguing.
Family secrets, a missing cadaver, red herrings etc. I thought it was brilliant. Great performances of curious characters by Pascale Audret, Marianne Koch, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Dany Saval. It's a fantastic choice for Arrow to release on Blu-ray. I suggest this is one hidden gem that most will really enjoy and we give it a very strong recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

 May 27th, 2017


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.

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Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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Gary W. Tooze






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