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
Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac, Robert Thomas, Georges Franju
Initially a commercial bomb when it was released in France in 1961, Georges Franju's Spotlight on a Murderer has finally been given its due over the years and is now being given a high-def Blu-ray release courtesy of U.K. distributor Arrow Films. Franju adapted the film from the team of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (Diabolique, Vertigo) and, indeed, it is impossible to watch the film without thinking of those predecessors.
The film centers around the terminally ill Count Hervé de Kerloquen (Pierre Brasseur, Goto, Isle of Love), who vanishes without a trace a mere 24 hours before his physicians had expected his death. With a fortune at stake, his heirs are told that without a body they must wait five years to declare him dead. Devising a plan to pay for the legendary estate's upkeep until such time as they can stake a claim to their expected inheritance, the family members develop the estate into an elaborate son et lumière tourist attraction, but before long the attraction leads to fatal accidents for several of the cousins. While one cousin smells a rat, he struggles to get anyone to believe him.
Spotlight on a Murderer is a wonderfully creative, occasionally demented piece of cinema that continues to hold up nicely despite having been made over 50 years ago. The wonderfully atmospheric music is courtesy of Maurice Jarre, while D.P. Marcel Fradetal's lensing is creepy and sublime. Roger Briacourt's production design is spot-on, while the film's humor is darkly gleeful.
A wonderful, still somewhat under-appreciated gem, Spotlight on a Murderer is a marvelous release from Arrow Films and the kind of film that it's a joy to discover when perusing their catalogue. Arrow's packaging is sublime here with the vintage production featurette, in particular, being absolutely captivating. Among the 2017 releases from Arrow, Spotlight on a Murderer is one of my absolute favorites.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the feature, restored by Gaumont
- Uncompressed French Mono 1.0 PCM Audio
- Optional English subtitles
- 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
- Original theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic