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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:04 am 
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The Murderer Lives at 21

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One of the most revered names in world cinema, Henri-Georges Clouzot, made a remarkably self-assured debut in 1942 with the deliciously droll thriller The Murderer Lives at 21 [L'Assassin habite au 21].

A thief and killer stalks the streets of Paris, leaving a calling card from "Monsieur Durand" at the scene of each crime. But after a cache of these macabre identifications is discovered by a burglar in the boarding house at 21 Avenue Junot, Inspector Wenceslas Vorobechik (Pierre Fresnay) takes lodging at the infamous address in an undercover bid to solve the crime, with help from his struggling-actress girlfriend Mila (Suzy Delair).

Featuring audacious directorial touches, brilliant performances, and a daring tone that runs the gamut from light comedy to sinister noir, as well as a subtle portrait of tensions under Nazi occupation, this overlooked gem from the golden age of French cinema is presented in a beautiful new high-definition restoration.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• A new and exclusive video interview with French film scholar Ginette Vincendeau about Clouzot and his debut
• An essay about the film by scholar Judith Mayne
• An extract about Occupation cinema from scholar Christopher Lloyd's book about Clouzot
• Newly translated interview extracts about the making of the film by Clouzot
• A short testimonial by Jean Cocteau
• Rare imagery


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:47 am 
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Finch wrote:
Fernando Croce's review of The Murderer Lives at 21:
Quote:
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Thin Man Goes to Vichy France, just about, though not without a lament for Paris under the Occupation ("How the faithful city has become a harlot," recites the bogus padre at dinner.) It opens with a creaking door then introduces the subjective slasher-cam for the murder of the moneyed barfly, "M. Durand" is the name on the killer’s calling card. Pierre Fresnay and Suzy Delair are the sleuthing duo at the center, he’s a darting dandy out of Doyle and she’s a chanteuse waiting to be discovered "like America before Columbus," a fizzy performance modeled after Stanwyck in The Mad Miss Manton. They know the killer’s location but not his identity, a joke diffused through the Hitchcock of Juno and the Paycock in the boarding house that Fresnay infiltrates under clerical guise. The toymaker with faceless dolls (Pierre Larquey), the limping abortionist (Noël Roquevert) and the fakir-gigolo-artiste (Jean Tissier) are the key suspects, though Clouzot’s ebullient viper’s nest is vast enough to encompass a failed novelist working on a policier ("set in a haunted castle"), a blind boxer with a nurse in black lingerie, and acerbic hints of colonial pasts: "If one returns from hell, one prefers to forget." "No one returns from hell. Cheers!" A curiously slaphappy whodunit that includes a dash of Lubitschian sleight-of-hand while name-checking the Vampire of Düsseldorf, fascinating for the screwball-comedy force with which it tries to keep at bay the malignant suspicions of an epoch of beasts. With René Génin, Jean Despeaux, Marc Natol, Hughette Vivier, Odette Talazac, and Louis Florencie. In black and white.

This appears to be the first time this has appeared in an English-friendly release, no? I'm struggling to find out too much about it. It looks quite the rarity.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:15 am 

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I was fortunate to record it back in 1986 during an amazing week of BBC matinees (!) of lesser-known 1930s & 40s French movies. I wouldn't put it among Clouzot's major works but it's a stylish comedy-thriller, with heaps of noir atmosphere.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:20 am 
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As a thumbnail sketch it's a Gallic variant on an Ealing comedy who-dun-it.
Retour a la vie - or at least Clouzot's contribution - would make a great extra.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:29 am 
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Has any more info come to light on possible extras, or (if its going to be a barebones disc) at least what specifically is going to be in the booklet? The current listing is fairly vague. In other news, a clip was also put up on YouTube last week.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:44 am 
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Whatever the extras will be they won't be the same as on the forthcoming Gaumont edition as they are still working on the supplements.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:54 am 
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Based on my review copy, the disc contains a 13-minute video discussion by Ginette Vincendeau (shot in HD, presumably exclusively for this edition), and the booklet contains essays by Judith Mayne (on the film itself) and Christopher Lloyd (on the historical background, specifically the challenges faced by the film industry in operating under Nazi occupation). There's also a rather intriguing "oral history" of the film, assembled from various separate interviews given by Clouzot, star Suzy Delair and source novelist Stanislas-André Steeman, and a nice little coda in which Jean Cocteau discusses his and Pablo Picasso's reaction when they saw it together on its original release (they both liked it).

I daresay changes are possible at this stage, but I'm assuming all that is set in stone now.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:05 am 
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Thanks! Those sound pretty fascinating. :D


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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 6:52 pm 
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Beaver.


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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 7:18 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:50 pm
Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.


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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 8:15 pm 
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Hmmm. The transfer doesn't look stunning from the screencaps. Hope this is one of those that looks better in motion.


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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 8:57 pm 
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Rats - this sure looks like another French DNR mess that this time MoC got stuck with. Let's hope it's not as bad as Children of Paradise and is better in motion.


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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 9:43 pm 
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Funny how Gary calls it a positive that the image is "consistent" and that "once he gave in and 'accepted'" the video, he enjoyed the presentation.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 5:09 am 
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Don't blame Gary, I'm sure he/s trying to make the best of a not ideal situation.

Let's all wait and see when we get the goddam disc.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 5:58 am 
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Companies are going to have to start rejecting these kinds of 'restorations'. It doesn't do their reputations any good and the culprits might get the message.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 7:11 am 
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I'm playing the checkdisc now, and I'm not convinced that it's a DNR smear-job - I can certainly see what looks like authentic film grain, there's plenty of facial detail, and I'm very happy to confirm that it looks considerably better in motion than the Beev's screencaps suggest. The image is certainly a tad soft, but it's still obviously HD.

In fact, given this film's production circumstances, which are described in detail in the extras (film stock was so limited that Clouzot had to put up with a shooting ratio of something like 2:1, which must have been a challenge and a half for a perfectionist like him), I'm actually pleasantly surprised that it looks as good as it does.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 7:41 am 
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Thanks for that, Michael. I was about to email Eureka and amend my preorder to the DVD.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 7:43 am 
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RossyG wrote:
Companies are going to have to start rejecting these kinds of 'restorations'. It doesn't do their reputations any good and the culprits might get the message.

People are going to have to stop jumping to unwarranted conclusions based on a few screen caps seen on a computer monitor, too.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 8:04 am 
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I was actually basing it on the text of the review. It's not as if Gaumont don't have form.


Last edited by RossyG on Thu May 02, 2013 8:16 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 8:12 am 
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Finch wrote:
Thanks for that, Michael. I was about to email Eureka and amend my preorder to the DVD.

Don't get me wrong - this is not going to be anyone's idea of a demonstration-quality transfer, and my comments are based on a quick spin rather than actually watching it from beginning to end, but the Beaver grabs look significantly softer than what I've got playing in front of me.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 9:31 am 
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Essay by Christopher Lloyd... as in Doc Brown or as in Modern Family?


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 9:53 am 
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It's such an unusual name that it has to be one of those.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 10:41 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
the Beaver grabs look significantly softer than what I've got playing in front of me.


Wouldn't be the first time the Beev's caps nearly deterred people from buying MoC discs (La Vie de Jesus, anyone?), but then one ought to know better than merely going by Gary's grabs.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 10:47 am 
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I was reacting less to the screen grabs, which I feel from personal experience with other discs should be taken with a lot of caution - motion is what counts -, but to the description in Gary's article. Gary has of lately been far more forgiving than in the old days and if even he now states that it doesn't look good, it's clearly a reason for concern.
I'm pleased to hear Michael B's assessment and will not change my pre-order.


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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2013 7:55 pm 
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Can we all stop obssessing about Gary's (or anybody else's) screens and their relative worth? We all know they are only one part of a review, and the whole thing is turning into a fucking broken record. It is always down to the experience of the disc , god knows how often I've made the mistake of taking screens or indeed lower rez DLs at face value.

I had a PM from Nabob part of which refers to comments from Jerome Soulet on a French website. Among other things he mentions this title along with the Pialats was done just recently on a new 2k scanner recently obtained by Eclair. So there may be some teething and tuning issues. On the other hand his post also confirms he is very very clearly aware of website concerns with degraining and image softening/filtering.

I absolutely refuse to comment on this disc until I have it in my hands. There is presently a commercial French dvdr plus fansubs up at the usual backchannels and to call this image soft would be an understatement. This was taken from a "good" source just over three years ago. The new MoC could be nothing but an improvement. But I have a strong suspicion any 2k harvest for this would have to have been taken from 2nd gen or later elements


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