Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 27th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1961
Director: Georges Franju
Writers: Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac, Georges Franju, Robert Thomas
Cast: Pierre Brasseur, Pascale Audret, Marianne Koch, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Dany Saval, Jean Babilée, Georges Rollin, Gérard Buhr, Maryse Martin, Serge Marquand, Lucien Raimbourg, Robert Vattier, Jean Ozenne, Philippe Leroy
BluRay released: May 29th, 2017 (UK), May 30th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running time: 95 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono French
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £24.99 (UK)
Spotlight on a Murderer was co-written and directed by Georges Franju whose other notable films include, Head Against the Wall, Eyes Without a Face and Judex. Key collaborators on Spotlight on a Murderer include, screenwriters Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (Diabolique, Vertigo) and composer Maurice Jarre (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago).
At the heart of this murder mystery is a tale rooted in greed and it is said, that leads to several characters untimely demise. The narrative is well constructed and pacing is never an issue as key moments are given an ample amount of time to resonate. Another strength of the narrative is its effectiveness in regards to red herrings and its tongue and cheek approach to the story at hand.
Performance wise the cast are good in their respective roles. With this film’s most memorable performance being Dany Saval (Strip-Tease) in the role of Micheline, the girlfriend of one of the count’s heir’s. Other notable cast members include, Jean-Louis Trintignant (The Conformist), Philippe Leroy (The Frightened Woman) and Marianne Koch (A Fistful of Dollars) as three of the count’s heirs.
Content wise, though this film has all of the ingredients that one would associate with a murder mystery. This film has more a Gothic vibe going on and nowhere is more evident than when it comes to the film’s atmospheric visuals. Ultimately Spotlight on a Murderer is an underrated film that has languished in obscurity for far too long.
Spotlight on a Murderer comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The transfer for this release was digitally restored by Gaumont from original films elements. Contrast, grey and black levels remain strong throughout. Details look crisp, there are no issues with compression and grain remains intact.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in French and included with this release are removable English subtitles. There are no issues with background noise or distortion, dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 33 seconds, in French with English subtitles) and a 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 minutes 14 seconds, in French with English subtitles).
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a forty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Cinema Insolate written by Chris Fujiwara, an essay titled Spotlight on a Murderer written by Raymond Durgnat, an essay titled Spotlight on Boileau, Narcejac, Franju and Their Last Murderer written by Francis Lacassin and Raymond Bellour and information about the restoration / transfer. Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo. Overall Spotlight on a Murderer gets a solid release from Arrow Academy.