Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 14th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 11th, 1971
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Luigi Collo,Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi
BluRay released: May 31st, 2011
Approximate running times: 112 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: Dolby Digital Surround Italian, Dolby Digital Surround French, DTS-Mono English, DTS-HD Dolby Digital Surround English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: A blind-man named Franco Arno overhears two men arguing near the Terzi Institute. Unable to see who the two men, he has his adopted daughter Lori look at the men and described them to him. The next morning, Arno visits the Terzi Institute to see if anything happened the night before. And while at the institute he meets a reporter named Carlo Giordani, who has been assigned to write a story about a murder that happened last night. Unable to gain any headway in obtaining information about the story he is writing, due to everyone one of his leads turning up dead. He reluctantly teams up with Arno, one of the few induvial with knowledge about the killer’s identity, that has not been murder yet. Will they persistence uncover the killers’ identity or will they become the next victims?
Dario Argento has been called the Italian Alfred Hitchcock, though his style more resembles Brian De Palma’s. The Cat O’ Nine Tails was Dario Argento’s second film and it was part of his Animal Trilogy. The other two films’ in this trilogy are The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Four Flies on Grey Velvet. Ennio Morricone composed the scores for these three films known as the Animal Trilogy.
While most of his contemporaries were working on shoe string budgets, Dario Argento’s resources were much larger because of his father producer Salvatore Argento. And because of this Dario Argento was able to hire American stars giving his production a more international appeal?
Dario Argento has referred to The Cat O’ Nine Tails, as his least favorite film as a director. And though, The Cat O’ Nine Tails doesn’t have the gore and violent set pieces, that have become synonymous with his later giallo’s. It more than makes up for its lack of visceral tone with its lush visual style.
The Cat O’ Nine Tails is arguably one of Dario Argento’s more experimental films. It was only his second film as a director and he was still finding himself as a filmmaker. In this film he uses several visual motifs, that he would return to many times throughout his career. Most notably, a shot of the killers’ eyeball and a subjective POV camera that stalks its victims, while concealing the identity of the killer.
Two standout scenes in this film include, an extremely well executed train death and the films tour de force finale. The combination of Dario Argento’s direction, the editing and Ennio Morricone’s score, make this film’s finale, one of Dario Argento’s best endings.
James Franciscus is laid back in the role of Carlo Giordani and Karl Malden in the role of Franco Arno, conveys a great deal of emotion through his facial expressions and his tone of voice. They make a great team and both actors delver solid performances.
Dario Argento’s previous film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage,featured a more structured story-line, while The Cat O’ Nine Tailsmoves from one event to the next in a more fractured way. Ennio Morricone’s score starts off sweet, before transcending into some of his darkest jazz improvisations. Overall The Cat O’ Nine Tails may not be one of Dario Argento’s more popular films, still it is a fascinating Giallo unlike anything Dario Argento had done before or since.
The Cat O’ Nine Tails comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This new transfer from Blue Underground has been sourced from the original camera negative. And the end result is easily one of the biggest leaps that any title that Blue Underground has re-released on BluRay, when compared to what they had previously released on DVD. Colors have never looked more vibrant then they now do, flesh tones look healthy and black levels look consistently strong throughout. There is a natural looking layer of grain throughout and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with four audio options, a Dolby Digital Surround mix in Italian, a Dolby Digital Surround mix in French, a DTS-Mono mix in English and a DTS-HD Dolby Digital Surround mix in English. The two English audio mixes are in the best shape out of the audio mixes included with this release. They sound clean, clear and balanced throughout. It should be noted that even though the two other mixes, Italian and French sound slightly fuller then the two English audio mixes. That they also has some mild instances of background noise that varies in degree throughout. Range wise all of these audio are rather limited. This release comes with three subtitle options, English SDH, French and Spanish.
The Cat O’ Nine Tails was released on DVD in 2001 by Anchor Bay and released on DVD in 2007 by Blue Underground. The majority of the extras from these releases has been carried over for this new release from Blue Underground. Extras not carried over for this release from those previous releases include talent bios, a poster & stills gallery and liner notes.
Extras for this release include the U.S. trailer (1 minute 38 seconds), the International trailer (1 minute 51 seconds),two radio spots, two T.V. spots, radio interviews with James Franciscus & Karl Malden and a featurette titled Tales of the Cat (13 minutes 54 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), which includes interviews with writer / director Dario Argento, co-screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti and composer Ennio Morricone. The featurette is a well rounded discussion that does a superb job putting each of the three participants roles in this production in perspective. Overall another strong BluRay from Blue Underground.