Blu-Ray Review: Spotlight on a Murderer

A title sequence can give you an insight into what is likely to come. Gaumont is the first and oldest film company in the world. Its logo is in many ways a badge of honour and a guarantee of quality. The studio has brought us classics like 8 ½, Possession, Rififi, La jetée, l’atalante and Betty Blue. Whilst they’ve dabbled in the international market, their biggest success has been in French cinema. Spotlight on a Murderer, released by Gaumont in 1961, won’t be familiar to many but is an impressive murder mystery.

With only a few days left to live, the terminally ill Count Hervé de Kerloquen (Pierre Brasseur) simply vanishes into thin air. His heirs gather on the huge estate to hear the reading of his will but are dismayed when they’re informed they’ll have to wait for five years until they can inherit. Jean-Marie (Jean-Louis Trintignant) concocts a plan to open-up the grounds to tourists in order to pay for the upkeep. Whilst plans are enacted, along with his girlfriend Micheline (Dany Saval) he’s determined to discover the truth.

Following-on from the atmospheric Eyes Without a Face, director Georges Franju produces a mix of gothic horror and murder mystery in Spotlight on a Murderer. As with Eyes…, he works with writers Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac; whose books were also adapted for Vertigo and Les Diaboliques. The ensemble cast keeps you guessing until the very end and the châteaux itself is a beautiful backdrop to the suspense. Spotlight on a Murderer is an engaging mystery thriller where the outcome is uncertain until the very end.

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

First Pressing Only: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris Fujiwara

Spotlight on a Murderer is released on Blu-Ray and DVD by Arrow Video on Monday 29 May.

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