Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 6th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1968
Director: Richard Fleischer
Writer: Edward Anhalt
Cast: Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, George Kennedy, Mike Kellin, Hurd Hatfield, Murray Hamilton, Jeff Corey, Sally Kellerman, William Marshall, James Brolin
BluRay released: November 15th, 2016
Approximate running times: 116 Minutes
Aspect Ratios: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Twilight Time
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95
The Boston Strangler was directed by Richard Fleischer who’s other notable films include, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Compulsion, 10 Rillington Place, Mandingo and Ashanti. Key collaborators on The Boston Strangler include, screenwriter Edward Anhalt (Panic in the Streets, The Young Savages), cinematographer Richard H. Kline (Soylent Green, The Fury) and composer Lionel Newman (The Sand Pebbles, Planet of the Apes).
The plot for this film is based on a series of killings which took place in the early 1960’s and the killer responsible for these crimes was given the moniker The Boston Strangler. In all there were thirteen victims and when the dust settled the police find themselves a prime suspect in Albert DeSalvo, Since then new evidence has come up that suggests that the police may have gotten the wrong man and that there might have been multiple killers.
Narrative wise the thing that immediately grabs you is that there is a dual narrative going on. Where most films find a central protagonist character. This film is just as much about the polices POV of the events which unfold as it is Albert DeSalvo’s tell to tell. With these two narratives colliding for the final act, where law enforcement integrates their suspect.
From a production stand point this film does not miss beat and in many instances, it was well ahead of its time! And right from the get go it is quickly apparent that what is about the unfold is unlike anything that has come before and many have tried to imitate since. And nowhere is this more evident than this film’s visuals. Most notably this film’s use of split screens and panels within panels.
This film features a solid cast who are all very good in their respective roles. The standout performance comes from Tony Curtis (Houdini, Some Like it Hot) in the role of Albert DeSalvo. This is a classic example of an actor playing against type and delivering a performance that far exceeds expectations. Other notable cast members include, Henry Fonda (Once Upon a Time in the West) in the role of John S. Bottomly, the man put in charge of a task force to catch The Boston Strangler, George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke) and Sally Kellerman (MASH) in the role of Dianne Cluny, the only victim to survive The Boston Strangler’s assault.
The Boston Strangler comes on a 50 GB dual layer (44.4 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape. Details look sharp, colors look accurate and black levels remain solid throughout. Grain look natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD stereo mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear, balanced and robust when they need too. Range wise both audio mixes serve up very satisfying audio experiences. Included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, an option to view the Twilight Time catalog, an eight page booklet with an essay about the film written by Julie Kirgo, teaser (45 seconds) and trailer for the film (2 minutes 55 seconds), Fox Movietone Newsreel (3 minutes 23 seconds), two featurettes – the first one featurette titled Real Killer, Fake Nose (31 minutes 14 seconds) and the second featurette titled AMC Backstory (21 minutes 30 seconds), an interview with filmmaker William Friedkin titled Split-Screen Personality (22 minutes 21 seconds), an option to listen to a Isolated music & effects track and an audio commentary with film historians David Del Valle and Steven Perros.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Real Killer, Fake Nose include, Max Fleischer, Walt Disney, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Richard Fleischer and an overview of his career as a filmmaker, The Boston Strangler & casting Tony Curtis in the lead role, shot on location during bad weather, the look of the film, camera equipment used & a wiliness to use new film techniques (panel shots and split screen) and how the film was a box office success.
The extra titled AMC Backstory is a vintage featurette for the film and it contains some information cover in the other extras included for this release.
Topics discussed in the interview with William Friedkin include, Tony Curtis, Richard Fleischer, the cast and his thoughts about The Boston Strangler. He also mentions how he was interested in directing The Boston Strangler and that he did not get the job due to his lack of experience at the time.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the cast, Richard Fleischer, visual techniques used for this film, the real life events and other production related topics.
Overall The Boston Stranger gets a definitive release from Twilight Time, highly recommended.
Note: This Blu-Ray release is a limited-edition release of 3,000 copies.