The Boston Strangler

The Boston Strangler (1968)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, George Kennedy, Murray Hamilton
Extras: Featurette, Newsreel, Teaser, Trailer

Based on the real events happening in the early 60s in the greater Boston area, ’The Boston Strangler’ is a high profile production about Albert DeSalvo and his killing spree that shook the city to its core. Directed by Richard Fleischer the film is wonderfully paced and uses split screen techniques to great effect to show the same moments from different angles at the same time – and that long before Quentin Tarantino re-discovered the technique for his own use. The top tier cast, including Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis, George Kennedy and Murray Hamilton among others, helps to give the film credibility as we watch the horrifying events unfold. The visual style of the film is often almost documentary in nature, adding to the feel that you are watching the actual events rather than a feature film based upon them.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is presenting ’The Boston Strangler’ in its original widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio in a transfer that is free of blemishes and defects. No grain is distracting from the viewing experience and only the dated color palette and production design remind you that you are watching a film that is actually over 35 years old. Throughout, colors are perfectly reproduced and blacks are deep and solid, which adds to the visual impact of some of the effects Fleischer is creating. The transfer looks a bit soft at times, which may be a result of the original production limitations and no edge-enhancement mars the picture. The compression is free of artifacts, making this a great viewing experience.

The original stereo audio track is provided on this DVD as well as mono tracks in French and Spanish. Audio is clean and clear without hiss or distortion. As a result of the film’s age, the audio sounds a tad harsh at time but never distractingly so. The dynamic range is also audibly limited and crescendi come across as a bit limited, but once again it is all within the technical abilities of the original production.

As a bonus feature the DVD also contains the 20-minute AMC Backstory production ’The Boston Strangler’ from 2001, covering the making of the movie as well as its impact with a fair distance. It is filled with recent interviews and is a great retrospective piece on the movie.

Also included are the original Movietone newsreels about the Boston Strangler murders, though entirely without audio. The movie’s theatrical teaser and trailer are also included on the release.

’The Boston Strangler’ is once again a super-low priced, high quality release from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Given the quality of the movie and the production, as well as the quality of the DVD, the $14.95 price tag that this DVD carries is almost too low for its own good. There can be no question that thriller fans should give this disc a check up some time, and other studios should taking notice at how Fox is treating their smaller catalog titles. With a proper dose of respect!