The Man With Nine Lives

The Man With Nine Lives (1940)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Boris Karloff, Roger Pryor, Jo Ann Sayers

In 1940, Boris Karloff was at the height of his career and in "The Man With Nine Lives" he played a dark, brooding scientist in an interesting tale showcasing the predicament when scientists have to decide what is more important – the live of a few or the lives of many.

Dr. Leon Kravaal (Boris Karloff) has been frozen in ice for ten years. After being reanimated he realizes that by accident he has found the formula for cryogenics that allows for people to be frozen while still being alive. As he tries to duplicate the accident he needs lab rats but with nothing but humans around, he begins to run his forbidden experiments on them – for a greater good, of course.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is presenting "The Man With Nine Lives" in its original fullframe aspect ratio on this DVD. The black and white image is of decent quality, although the source material shows serious signs of damage and deterioration. Scratches and speckles are evident, occasionally registration is lost and especially in dark scenes the grain is excessive and black levels break up altogether. With a bit of care I am sure a better presentation could have been wrought from this classic movie, although despite its shortcomings it is definitely watchable.

The audio comes as mono track in English that is clean and clear. Frequency response is limited and hasn't been improved for this transfer, giving the movie a harsh-sounding quality throughout. Dialogues are understandable and never drowned out but the music in particular suffers form the limited frequency response and dynamic range.

No extras are included on this release at all. In fact, the release is so Spartan that Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has included the individual subtitle options directly on the main menu. DVDs don't get any more lackluster and loveless than this.

"The Man With Nine Lives" is a great film that has a lot to say, even in this day and age, about the value of human life over progress. It is a shame that Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment didn't care at all for this film and simply slapped it on a disc without ever giving it a second thought or look. Not even the low $14.98 price point can smooth that over.