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Experiment in Terror Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 31 Richard Gallagher

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Posted January 11 2013 - 01:42 PM

Experiment in Terror, an original and exciting thriller from director Blake Edwards, arrives on Blu-ray with a gorgeous black & white transfer from Sony and Twilight Time. Set in San Francisco, the film chronicles an extremely shocking series of events which ensue after Kelly Sherwood (Lee Remick), a bank teller, is accosted in her garage by a psychopathic killer (Ross Martin) who demands that she help him rob the bank of $100,000. He warns her that if she does not cooperate or if she goes to the police he will not hesitate to kill her and her younger sister, Toby (Stefanie Powers). Chillingly, the deranged man makes it clear that he knows a great deal about Toby - where she goes to school, who her boyfriend is, and the details of her daily schedule. It is clear that he is terribly serious.





Experiment in Terror
Studio: Twilight Time/Columbia Pictures
Year: 1962
Rated: Not Rated
Program Length: 123 Minutes                Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p Black & White
Languages: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English SDH

The Program

Experiment in Terror, an original and exciting thriller from director Blake Edwards, arrives on Blu-ray with a gorgeous black & white transfer from Sony and Twilight Time. Set in San Francisco, the film chronicles an extremely shocking series of events which ensue after Kelly Sherwood (Lee Remick), a bank teller, is accosted in her garage by a psychopathic killer (Ross Martin) who demands that she help him rob the bank of $100,000. He warns her that if she does not cooperate or if she goes to the police he will not hesitate to kill her and her younger sister, Toby (Stefanie Powers). Chillingly, the deranged man makes it clear that he knows a great deal about Toby - where she goes to school, who her boyfriend is, and the details of her daily schedule. It is clear that he is terribly serious.

In spite of the threats, Kelly contacts an FBI agent named Ripley (Glenn Ford) and tells him about the plot. They have a clandestine meeting at the bank in downtown San Francisco, but Ripley has very little to go on because Kelly has not gotten a look at the intruder. All she is able to tell Ripley is that the man has difficulty breathing and may be asthmatic. Ripley is faced with the dilemma of trying to protect Kelly and Toby without letting her adversary know that the police are involved. The case gets even more complicated when an odd woman named Nancy Ashton (Patricia Huston) comes to Ripley with vague concerns about being involved with someone who has committed crimes. This leads to a very spooky scene involving an apartment full of mannequins.

While Ripley tries to find clues about the identity of the sociopathic bank robber, the crook embarks upon a reign of psychological terror to keep Kelly in line. He calls her at home and at work, issues various instructions to her, and never fails to remind her that both she and her sister will pay the ultimate price if she crosses him.

Beautiful Lee Remick is thoroughly believable as Kelly, a woman who is understandably shaken to the core by the threats but who demonstrates considerable intestinal fortitude (Remick's next film, The Days of Wine and Roses, also directed by Blake Edwards, earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination). Stefanie Powers is sympathetic as Toby, and Glenn Ford is his usual sturdy self as FBI agent Ripley. The real revelation here is the performance of Ross Martin, who is probably best-known for his role as Artemus Gordon in the television series "The Wild Wild West." Edwards had previously used Martin in a mostly light-hearted role as the friend and business partner of the title character in the successful but ill-fated television series "Mr. Lucky," so his chilling performance here as a cold-blooded brute came as a surprise to many.

Another star of Experiment in Terror is the city of San Francisco, where virtually all of the exteriors were filmed on location, including such iconic sites as Fisherman's Wharf and Candlestick Park.

As is the case with all Twilight Time releases, this Blu-ray is a limited edition of 3,000 copies. Click here for ordering information.

The Video

Sony has provided Twilight Time with another first-class Blu-ray transfer. Blake Edwards had already developed a relationship with cinematographer Philip Lathrop on the television shows "Peter Gunn" and "Mr. Lucky," and Lathrop's work on Experiment in Terror is exceptional. The images are extremely sharp and detailed. Viewers who would like to see what some of the San Francisco exteriors look like today will have no problem reading the street signs and finding the locations with Google Street View (hint: Kelly's house is located at the intersection of Glenbrook Avenue and St. Germain Avenue, and it has not changed much in the past fifty years). Black levels are generally deep and solid, and shadow detail is excellent. The framing appears to be proper and the video is pleasingly film-like throughout.

The Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack is very good. Dialogue is confined to the center channel and is clear and intelligible. The surround channels are used primarily to provide an expansive soundstage for Henry Mancini's remarkable and evocative musical score, and the audio also adds some punch to the sounds of sirens blaring and tires screeching during pursuits through the streets of San Francisco. As is typically the case with Twilight Time releases, there also is an isolated score track.
The Supplements

There are just a few extras here. In addition to the isolated score track, there are two theatrical trailers and two television spots.

It is interesting to note that trailers attempted to make a mystery about the fact that Ross Martin was playing the psychopath. Indeed, Martin's name does not appear in the opening credits and his face is obscured for the first half of the film. I am not sure that this gimmick had much effect, because film critics at the time were not reluctant to mention Martin's performance.

The on-screen catalogue of Twilight Time releases shows that Pony Soldier, In Like Flint, and Nicholas and Alexandra are scheduled to be released in February.

Included with the disc is an excellent and informative 8-page illustrated booklet written by film historian Julie Kirgo.

The Packaging

The single disc is packaged in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

The Final Analysis

Experiment in Terror is a riveting thriller which features an outstanding cast, wonderful cinematography, a superb musical score and more than a few chilling and suspenseful moments. This is another outstanding Blu-ray release from Twilight Time.

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable

Release Date: January 15, 2013


Rich Gallagher

#2 of 31 JohnS

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Posted January 11 2013 - 09:21 PM

Richard, Thanks for the good review. Never seen this and sounds like something I'd like. Going to order it.

#3 of 31 Robin9

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Posted January 12 2013 - 12:27 AM

Mmmmm. This is where it becomes difficult. I've bought several Twilight Times Blu-ray discs and have been very pleased with all of them. So far the high cost has not been a big deterrent because the BRDs have either been a major upgrade on the DVD or . . . . there has been no DVD at all! The DVD of Experiment In Terror is very good. Will this BRD provide a substantial improvement? Suddenly Twilight Times' higher costs come into play. If this BRD was going for about $14.25 I'd upgrade without a second thought. I don't worry about $30.00 for something I can't find anytwhere else - The Sound And The Fury is a good example - but $30.00 for possibly a very small improvment . . . . I'll watch the DVD again before I make my decision.

#4 of 31 RobHam

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Posted January 12 2013 - 06:02 AM

Mmmmm. This is where it becomes difficult. I've bought several Twilight Times Blu-ray discs and have been very pleased with all of them. So far the high cost has not been a big deterrent because the BRDs have either been a major upgrade on the DVD or . . . . there has been no DVD at all! The DVD of Experiment In Terror is very good. Will this BRD provide a substantial improvement? Suddenly Twilight Times' higher costs come into play. If this BRD was going for about $14.25 I'd upgrade without a second thought. I don't worry about $30.00 for something I can't find anytwhere else - The Sound And The Fury is a good example - but $30.00 for possibly a very small improvment . . . . I'll watch the DVD again before I make my decision.

Robin - although I've already been told off once for taking threads on this board off their specific track, I think you've touched on something here that I think may be a dilemma for many. I have several thousand movies on DVD, and a growing BD collection - many of which are "upgrades" from the DVD version. The decision to upgrade is now based on solid reviews of the BD rather than having a punt on the basis that the BD is bound to be better than the DVD - too many costly mistakes in the past. With Twilight Time discs, my experience has thus far been very good. However I agree with you in respect of it being difficult to quantify a "want" againt a financial cost - a movie will mean something different, and therefore have a different worth, to each potemtial consumer. For instance, Experiment in Terror isn't one I'd consider paying 2x the normal price of a BD release, but Nicholas & Alexandra is - to each their own, I guess.

#5 of 31 Nelson Au

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Posted January 12 2013 - 06:16 AM

Great review, thanks! I've been hoping this would get to blu-ray! There was a thread discussing this film a few years ago. I too have the DVD. It does indeed look great. Being that San Francisco is my home town, I have to have this on blu-ray! As I do most films I like that are set in San Francisco. I'm sure it will improve picture quality. I will be trying to order it today and I'll give my impressions when I get it compared to the DVD. I expect better contrast and shadow. And good grain too and a sharp image. I have posted a link to a very cool site before, but I'll do it again here. It's a site that identifies all the filming locations in San Francisco of classic noir and classic films up to the late 1960's. This link goes straight to the Experiment in Terror section. http://reelsf.com/pa...-in-terror-1962

#6 of 31 bryan4999

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Posted January 12 2013 - 06:29 AM

Great review, thanks! I've been hoping this would get to blu-ray! There was a thread discussing this film a few years ago. I too have the DVD. It does indeed look great. Being that San Francisco is my home town, I have to have this on blu-ray! As I do most films I like that are set in San Francisco. I'm sure it will improve picture quality. I will be trying to order it today and I'll give my impressions when I get it compared to the DVD. I expect better contrast and shadow. And good grain too and a sharp image. I have posted a link to a very cool site before, but I'll do it again here. It's a site that identifies all the filming locations in San Francisco of classic noir and classic films up to the late 1960's. This link goes straight to the Experiment in Terror section. http://reelsf.com/pa...-in-terror-1962

That's a cool site - I am surprised they don't list the locations for "What's Up, Doc?".

#7 of 31 Nelson Au

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Posted January 12 2013 - 08:19 AM

Bryan, I think What's up, Doc is not included because he only focuses on classic films of the crime and noir genre and I guess 1968 is his cut off date. Though I've never seen Petulia, it does seem to not exactly fall into that category.

#8 of 31 bigshot

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Posted January 12 2013 - 08:19 AM

I got this one. It's a no brainer. Fantastic film, great acting, wonderful soundtrack and a beautiful transfer.

#9 of 31 JohnS

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Posted January 12 2013 - 07:26 PM

That's a cool site - I am surprised they don't list the locations for "What's Up, Doc?".

The stairs that are damaged in the movie are still damaged today if you drive by them.

#10 of 31 Richard Gallagher

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Posted January 13 2013 - 01:36 PM

Originally Posted by Nelson Au 

I have posted a link to a very cool site before, but I'll do it again here. It's a site that identifies all the filming locations in San Francisco of classic noir and classic films up to the late 1960's. This link goes straight to the Experiment in Terror section.

http://reelsf.com/pa...-in-terror-1962


Thanks for the link. That's a wonderful site.


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#11 of 31 bigshot

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Posted January 14 2013 - 06:01 AM

Watched this with a bunch of friends last night. The image quality and sound are spectacular. As good as any b&w movie I own on bluray. Totally worth the high price tag, as The Big Heat was too.

#12 of 31 rsmithjr

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Posted January 15 2013 - 03:28 AM

I was surprised (pleasantly) when the sound was in stereo (mainly Henry Mancini's wonderful score). The original release was definitely not. Bravo to Sony/Twilight time for making a substantial improvement to this film.

#13 of 31 lukejosephchung

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Posted January 16 2013 - 09:17 AM

I was 6 years old when this was filmed and am a San Francisco native still living in the house I moved into that year...after hearing this review's description of not only Blake Edwards' tension-filled plot, but the various on-location exterior shots done for this movie, I've pulled the trigger and gotten this from TTE's website today...looking forward to seeing the San Francisco of my childhood in this...Posted Image



#14 of 31 TheVid

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Posted January 17 2013 - 08:55 AM

I watched this blu-ray last night, and having had the dvd for years, was completely immersed once again. It's worth the upgrade for the stereo remix alone. Does anyone know if the NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA blu-ray will have stereophonic sound? I saw it in a reserved-seat engagement in Kansas City, when it was released theatrically, and it was monophonic. Were there theatrical prints in stereo? It's one film that sure could do with a stereophonic remix, even if it was originally released in mono.

#15 of 31 Craig Beam

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Posted January 17 2013 - 12:55 PM

Ordered my copy last night.... can't wait!

#16 of 31 Nelson Au

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Posted January 20 2013 - 04:20 AM

My childhood too Luke. I watched this disc the last two evenings, I would venture to guess Robert Harris would approve. I was amazed by the close-ups of Lee Remick and Ross Martin and the details of their skin and hair are nice and sharp. It was a very enjoyable viewing and the film holds up so well. The score is terrific too.

#17 of 31 Richard Gallagher

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Posted January 20 2013 - 12:51 PM

Originally Posted by Nelson Au 

My childhood too Luke.

I watched this disc the last two evenings, I would venture to guess Robert Harris would approve. I was amazed by the close-ups of Lee Remick and Ross Martin and the details of their skin and hair are nice and sharp.

It was a very enjoyable viewing and the film holds up so well. The score is terrific too.


RAH just posted his comments a few hours ago. Unsurprisingly, he loves the transfer and the audio.


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#18 of 31 Robert Harris

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Posted January 20 2013 - 01:29 PM

Originally Posted by TheVid 

I watched this blu-ray last night, and having had the dvd for years, was completely immersed once again. It's worth the upgrade for the stereo remix alone.

Does anyone know if the NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA blu-ray will have stereophonic sound? I saw it in a reserved-seat engagement in Kansas City, when it was released theatrically, and it was monophonic. Were there theatrical prints in stereo? It's one film that sure could do with a stereophonic remix, even if it was originally released in mono.

Nick and Alex was magnetic monaural, even in 70mm.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#19 of 31 theonemacduff

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Posted January 20 2013 - 04:43 PM

Mono? Darn. Seems a bit cheap. Weren't a lot of big productions in those days released in stereo? I know 2001 was, and I seem to recall seeing Grand Prix in stereo too. In any event, N&A is a no-brainer buy for me as I love Schaffner's films (yes, even The Boys From Brazil, which has a bravura opening 20 minutes or so that plays almost without dialogue), and it has Freddie Young as DP. Apparently there are different versions of N&A in circulation, some longer than others. Anybody have any detailed information?

#20 of 31 Douglas R

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Posted January 20 2013 - 09:10 PM

Nick and Alex was magnetic monaural, even in 70mm. RAH

Not so. I saw it in stereo when I was living for a time in Sheffield, north of England, and here's the advert:





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