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The Boston Strangler(1968)
In 1962, elderly women are being strangled to death in their homes in the metropolitan Boston area. Panic starts to ensue not only in the general population, but also within the police forces in the Boston area, they who start to apprehend and question every known sexual criminal. Based on the true story, the film follows the investigators path through several leads before introducing the Strangler as a character. It is seen almost exclusively from the point of view of the investigators who have very few clues to build a case upon...
For more about The Boston Strangler and the The Boston Strangler Blu-ray release, see The Boston Strangler Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 19, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, George Kennedy, Mike Kellin, Hurd Hatfield, Murray Hamilton
Director: Richard Fleischer
» See full cast & crew
The Boston Strangler Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 19, 2013
Richard Fleischer's "The Boston Strangler" a.k.a "L'Etrangleur de Boston" (1968) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French label Carlotta Films. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; conversation with director William Friedkin; and Robert Fischer's documentary film "Real Killer, Fake Nose", featuring interviews with Mark Fleischer, director of photography Richard H. Kline, and actress Sally Kellerman. In English, with optional French subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Richard Fleischer's The Boston Strangler is effectively divided into two somewhat uneven sections. In the first a sadist (Tony Curtis, Some Like It Hot, Sweet Smell of Success) kills a number of different women. After each murder, the victim is profiled by a group of detectives. However, the faces of the victims are rarely shown. The entire section looks and feels like a documentary feature.
The second section is completely different. After the killer is captured, the detectives consult prominent medical officials and begin profiling the killer. The process confuses a lot of people because the killer has split personality. What this means is that only one part of him is aware that he has killed. There is another part of him that knows absolutely nothing about the killer. While the detectives question him, he sees flashbacks from the murders and becomes paranoid.
The film is based on Gerold Frank's novel about Albert DeSalvo a.k.a The Boston Strangler. DeSalvo killed a number of women in Boston in the early 1960s. He was arrested in 1964 and sentenced to life in prison in 1967.
That period from 1964 to 1967 is essentially ignored in the film, which is a shame because it is arguably the most fascinating part of the entire case about The Boston Strangler. There are a couple of reasons why. One has to do with the fact that in the film the dramatic transformation DeSalvo undergoes once he is captured happens very quickly. There is a short sequence where it is implied that he enjoyed being a husband and father just as much as he enjoyed killing, but his normal side is far from believable. The other side, the one which the killer controls, gets a lot more attention in the film. In Frank's book, DeSalvo's good side is carefully analyzed.
Another reason is the overdramatization of the killings. In the first section, Fleischer often splits the screen and shows the killings from a variety of different angles. Sometimes there are four or five different boxes in which something important happens. Some of these split screens are very stylishly done, but there are a few that are seriously overdone.
There are also small segments in the film in which unneeded political statements are produced. In one such segment a detective visits a popular gay bar and approaches a customer. The short exchanges between the two men very quickly target very familiar stereotypes.
The cast is very good. Curtis looks appropriately cold and calm. The best sequences are the ones where he casually talks to the women. Henry Fonda plays a knowledgeable detective who always tries to see the big picture. George Kennedy is a believable old-fashioned cop who prefers to follow orders.
The Boston Strangler was lensed by cinematographer Richard H. Kline (Robert Wise's The Andromeda Strain, Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat). His framing and use of light are particularly good in this film, especially in the first section where the camera is essentially a casual observer.
The sound mixing is also very interesting. In the split screens often times there are multiple sound effects that are incredibly well positioned, at times creating the impression that these effects are in fact coming from different directions. The sound effects were done by Don J. Bassman (James Cameron's The Abyss) and David Dockendorf (George Roy Hill's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).
The Boston Strangler Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Richard Fleischer's The Boston Strangler arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French label Carlotta Films.
The high-definition transfer is pleasing, but it is somewhat inconsistent. Where there is plenty of light, detail and clarity are typically very good (see screencapture #5). However, there are small portions of the film where depth isn't overly impressive. Shadow definition, in particular, lacks the type of sharpness one would expect to see from a strong high-definition transfer (see screencapture #13). On the other hand, the film does have stable organic look. There are no traces of excessive degraining. Also, heavy noise does not overwhelm the grain. Edge-enhancement is also not a serious issue of concern. Generally speaking, colors are stable and natural, but saturation could be more convincing. Lastly, there are no serious stability issues to report in this review. Also, there are a few minor flecks that pop up here and there, but large debris, cuts, or damage marks are nowhere to be seen. All in all, the Blu-ray release clearly represents a good upgrade in quality over the old R1 DVD release Twentieth Century Fox produced some years ago. However, I feel that there is still room for some minor improvements. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Boston Strangler Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and French DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. For the record, Carlotta Films have provided optional French subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The lossless English track represents a major step up in quality. The sound is unquestionably clearer and sharper. This is very easy to hear if one compares the footage with the split screens. Here the sound effects are better isolated. The dialog is also crisper. There are no problematic distortions or audio dropouts.
The Boston Strangler Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Boston Strangler Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The events chronicled in Richard Fleischer's The Boston Strangler are well known, but I still think that the film is quite unpredictable. It is shot in a way which I think will surprise quite a few viewers that haven't seen it before. Kudos to Carlotta Films for bringing it to Blu-ray. I must also say that I really enjoyed the supplemental features. The interview with the very enthusiastic William Friedkin, in particular, is outstanding. RECOMMENDED.
The Boston Strangler Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Upcoming Richard Fleischer Titles Detailed - February 20, 2013
French label Carlotta Films has detailed its upcoming Blu-ray releases of Richard Fleischer's Violent Saturday (1955), starring Victor Mature, Richard Egan and Stephen McNally, and The Boston Strangler (1968), starring Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda and George Kennedy.The ...
• Two Richard Fleischer Films Heading to Blu-ray - January 11, 2013
French label Carlotta Films has revealed that it is planning to bring to Blu-ray two classic American films directed by Richard Fleischer: Violent Saturday (1955), starring Victor Mature, Richard Egan and Stephen McNally, and The Boston Strangler (1968), starring ...
The Boston Strangler Blu-ray Screenshots
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