Boston is in a panic as a maniac stalks the streets, strangling women in their own homes. Thefirst half of the film follows the police investigation, headed up by Henry Fonda and GeorgeKennedy. A huge task force tracks down lead after lead, picks up suspect after suspect, all to noavail. The second half of the film shifts to Tony Curtis, who is the killer, only he doesn’t knowit: he suffers from a multiple personality disorder. The question, when he finally is caught, iswhe…her Fonda can get him to realized what he has done.
The violence, while not completely unheard of in 1968, is still stronger than one is used toseeing in a film starring Henry Fonda and Tony Curtis. The latter turns in a very strongperformance, and the police investigation is compelling. Where the film really shows its vintage,however, is through its use (and overuse, and misuse) of split-screen. The frame is constantlybeing broken up into multiple images, and sometimes the effect is very strong (such as when thetechnique is demonstrating how widespread the fear in the city is), while in other cases it is purewanking. In either event, though, the film is unflaggingly interesting to watch.
The audio comes in both 2.0 stereo and the original mono. As remixes go, the stereo isn’tbad at all, with minimal inappropriate use of the rear speakers. There isn’t that much to hear interms of surround, but this is largely a quiet film, with very little background music (enhancingits pseudo-documentary feel). The sound is very solid, then, factoring in the age of the film.
All prints from 1968 should look this good. There is no damage, and no specklingwhatsoever. The grain is virtually non-existent, as is the edge enhancement. The colours are verymoody and dark, but never muddy, and boast terrific blacks. And given all the split-screen, onecan only imagine what a mess this would be were it not presented in 2.35:1 anamorphicwidescreen.
The principle extra is a “Backstory” episode on the film, and in 20 minutes fills in a decentamount of background. The Movietone newsreel of the premiere is in poor condition, andmissing a lot of the audio. The other extras are the theatrical trailer and teaser, and trailers forother thrillers and Henry Fonda movies. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.
Though dated, the film is still a gripping procedural, and Curtis’ performance is one tosee.
Special Features List
- Backstory: The Boston Strangler
- Movietone Newsreel
- Theatrical Teaser and Trailer
- Bonus Trailers