Newest Updates - Quick View
- Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
- "The Big Knife"
- Monoprice Monolith M300 Earphones
- The Differences Between Home Theater and High-End Audio . . . Two Decades On
- ECV: "Sticks and Stones"
- Stuff You Really Want for Christmas 2017!
- MartinLogan Wireless Ensemble Bravado Loudspeaker
- Paradigm PW Soundbar / PW 600 Loudspeakers / Monitor Sub 8 Subwoofer
- The Problem with Blind Testing
- Living Colour: "Shade"
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 / C3 v.3 / ADP3 v.3 / Sub 1 / PBK Home-Theater Speaker System
- Monitor Audio Silver RX6 / RX Centre / RXFX / RXW-12 Home-Theater Speaker System
- Anthony Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Reference 3.5 Loudspeakers
- Explaining HDMI while Solving the Cause of Blue-Screen Nightmares
- Jienat: “Mira”
- Back Cover
- Peter Gabriel: "Scratch My Back"
- Paradigm Reference Signature S6 v.3 Loudspeakers
- Beat Kaestli: “Invitation”
- Paradigm Reference MilleniaOne / Seismic 110 Home-Theater Speaker System
An Oddity from an Unexpected Source
Arrow Films AA011/A-TM
We have the Criterion Collection to thank for a 21st-century interest in French film director Georges Franju (1912-1987). The release of the black-and-white horror film Eyes Without a Face (1959) singled out Franju as a most interesting artist, and his Judex (1963), also reissued by Criterion, also proved worth watching.
Now from Arrow Films, known primarily for the release of splatter/shock movies, comes Spotlight on a Murderer (1961), the black-and-white film Franju made right after Eyes Without a Face. A neat, tidy murder mystery in the Agatha Christie vein, it’s well acted and beautifully photographed, but overall, fairly ordinary.
The Comte Hervé de Kerloguen (played by Pierre Brasseur), a rich old man who knows he’s dying, chooses to succumb behind a two-way mirror in the great hall of his chateau. Were he alive, he could see out, but no one on the other side can see in. Summoned by a lawyer, his relatives assemble. Each wants the inheritance, but it can’t be released without a body. The young relatives explore the castle, but one by one they begin having fatal accidents. Or are they murders?
Along the way, several of the relatives decide to feature the castle in a sound-and-light show. It’s the scenes of this event that provide the most tension, and give Franju a chance to feature one of his passions: microphone and sound systems used in a cool, clandestine way. Other Franju signatures pop up: birds (a statue, some dead crows, a very live owl), ugly little cars, and beautiful young women.
The cast is most appealing to watch. Would that they had better lines to say. Jean-Louis Trintignant is perhaps the most famous, though Marianne Koch and Dany Saval make impressions.
Arrow seems to want to be for horror what Criterion is for mainstream films. Spotlight on a Murderer is given a spiffy transfer in crisp, properly contrasted black-and-white. Except for a few damaged frames, it looks like a Criterion release. The sound is quite good, considering its age. Maurice Jarre’s quirky little main theme comes across well. The only extra is a half-hour fluff piece featuring interviews with Franju and several of the actors.
If you want to expand your knowledge of Franju’s films, rent this one. You’ll probably enjoy almost every minute -- and then have little desire to watch it again.
Be sure to watch for: That light-and-sound show is impressive. At one point, you hear a horse and see the drawbridge illuminated. It’s so impressive that you can easily imagine the horse and rider as if they were right in front of you.
. . . Rad Bennett