Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 27th, 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: September 26th, 2011
Approximate running times: 112 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £24.99
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.
Note: This review is based on a test disc and may not be representative of the final product.
The Cat O’ Nine Tails comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. When compared to Blue Underground’s Blu-Ray of The Cat O’ Nine Tails, this new Blu-Ray release from Arrow Video follows the trend that their previous Blu-Ray releases of titles also released by Blue Underground on Blu-Ray. While myself and countless other reviewers were very happy with how Blue underground’s transfer looked, there were a handful of people were not as satisfied. So if you were someone in the latter group, then you should stop reading, since this transfer does not improve upon the aforementioned Blue Underground release and this release also features many of the things that have plagued the majority of Arrow Video’s Italian film releases on Blu-Ray, most notably the use of DNR. And while there are many instances in which Arrow’s Video’s transfer is comparable to the aforementioned Blue Underground transfer, the bulk of the transfer though looks drastically different. Just look at the flesh tones and color saturation, also black levels are not as strong and in many instances darker moments lack clarity.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD Mono mix in English. The two audio mixes included with this release far a lot better, then the transfer, as they sound clear and balanced throughout. Range wise though these audio mixes are rather limited, they do a fairly good job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and understand.
Extras for this release include the Italian language (with English subtitles) trailer for the film (1 minute 44 seconds) and three interviews, the first interview with Dario Argento (10 minutes 31 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), the second interview with Luigi Cozzi (16 minutes 24 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and the third interview with Sergio Martino (24 minutes 5 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles). Topics covered in the Dario Argento include how this is his least favorite film from his Animal Trilogy, why this film had a more American cinema feel to it and the cast, most notably Karl Malden. Topics covered in Luigi Cozzi include the origins of the film, it’s distribution history and the visual look of the film. The Sergio Martino interview in not so much about The Cat O’ Nine Tails and the film’s of Dario Argento as is it about the Giallo genre in general. In this segment Sergio Martino covers the various genre clichés, most notably how these films are often labeled as misogynist. Also included with this release include a four sleeve art options with original and newly commissioned artwork, two-sided fold out poster and a collectible booklet featuring brand new writing by Alan Jones, author of Profondo Argento. Overall yet again another Arrow Video release in which the extras trump the audio / video presentation.
Note: Arrow Video are also releasing The Cat O’ Nine Tails on DVD.