A few words about…™ The Leopard Man – in Blu-ray

Typical of RKO, we should presume that the original negative was printed to death, which means that the new Blu-ray is imperfect, but still nicely represents the film 4 Stars

Mention the name of Val Lewton to any fan of the cinema, and you’ll generally receive a knowing smile or nod, as he was one of the unsung B picture heroes of the 1940s at RKO.

Between 1942 and 1946, he was the man behind a series of horror/thrillers that are little gems of his field.

Nine of them.

Cat People (1942) – Jacques Tourneur – Criterion Blu-ray
I Walked with a Zombie (1943) – Jacques Tourneur
The Leopard Man (1943) – Jacques Tourneur – Shout Factory Blu-ray
The Seventh Victim (1943) – Mark Robson
The Ghost Ship (1943) – Mark Robson
The Curse of the Cat People (1944) – Shout Factory Blu-ray
The Body Snatcher (1945) – Robert Wise – Shout Factory Blu-ray
Isle of the Dead (1945) – Mark Robson
Bedlam (1946) – Mark Robson

The third, The Leopard Man, is being released courtesy of Scream Factory, and for those who have not yet discovered the world of Lewton, it’s an interesting part of the ethos. That noted, it’s not one of the best of the series, possibly because it simply doesn’t stand the test of time as well as the others.

Typical of RKO, we should presume that the original negative was printed to death, which means that the new Blu-ray is imperfect, but still nicely represents the film, as directed by Jacques Tourneur, and shot by Robert De Grasse, who also photographed The Body Snatcher, and is further know for his noir work.

With four of the nine currently represented on Blu-ray, and five to go, all licensed by Warner Bros., we should presume that the rest will be arriving in the near future. But it’s not yet time to give away your DVDs.

Image – 3.75

Audio – 4.25

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Definitely

Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

29 Comments

  1. The only drawback to this, an otherwise sometimes terrifying little film, is the 10-minute finale, which I find to be unfortunately anti-climactic. But I savor everything that comes before it, which contains not one, but two really scary nocturnal walks, for which Lewton is justifiably revered.

  2. Cranston37

    As much as we praise Val Lewton when talking about films like The Leopard Man, I hope we also pay some heed to Jacques Tourneur as another name who's work deserves your full attention…

    Or his dad, who arrived in the film capitol of the new world, in 1914.

  3. Robert Harris

    Or his dad, who arrived in the film capitol of the new world, in 1914.

    The funny thing is I posted about Jacques hoping it would find a HTF member who wasn't familiar with his work, and I end up finding out about someone I wasn't familiar with in Maurice.

    I love it 😉

  4. Cranston37

    As much as we praise Val Lewton when talking about films like The Leopard Man, I hope we also pay some heed to Jacques Tourneur as another name who's work deserves your full attention…

    How's about we at least mention Cornell Woolrich, without whom this film would not exist. I find this a top entry in the Lewton cycle and I actually watch this more than any of the others, so am looking forward to getting it.

  5. haineshisway

    How's about we at least mention Cornell Woolrich, without whom this film would not exist. I find this a top entry in the Lewton cycle and I actually watch this more than any of the others, so am looking forward to getting it.

    And the book 'Leopard Man' is based on, 'Black Alibi,' is available on Kindle for $4.99.

  6. haineshisway

    I find this a top entry in the Lewton cycle and I actually watch this more than any of the others, so am looking forward to getting it.

    Yeah, I'd only put Cat People and The 7th Victim ahead of The Leopard Man.

  7. I sincerely hope I Walked With A Zombie and The Seventh Victim get their due on Blu in the near future. Love both movies, but positively despise the lackluster DVD's . Here's to hoping for more Lewton on Blu, even though Isle of the Dead was canceled from Shout!'s line-up.

  8. FWIW I purchased the Japanese IVC Blu of I Walked with a Zombie years ago as a filler until Warner embarked on a proper restoration. I am happy to say the image is one of the better transfers which were made from the dupe 35 exhibition prints owned and managed by IVC and the French distributor for RKO . It bodes well for a new Warner 2k master for Shout Factory. Leopard Man was of course the most egregiously battered source in the old Warners Lewton box. Anything would have been an improvement.

  9. The scene with the girl calling to her mother and pounding on the door to be let back in must have traumatized millions of kids when this movie was shown repeatedly on TV in the 50s-60s.

  10. mackjay

    The scene with the girl calling to her mother and pounding on the door to be let back in must have traumatized millions of kids when this movie was shown repeatedly on TV in the 50s-60s.

    Oh, yeah. What you might find of interest is sometime in the early 60's, "Famous Monsters of Filmland" published an interview with Robert Bloch. He was asked what were the scariest scenes in movies he had seen growing up. The first one he mentioned was the little girl's voice coming from behind the door in THE LEOPARD MAN.

  11. The more you see this, the more it grows on you and despite being a lesser film it's still a great one due to the power and atmospherics. If they must be doled out one by one then so be it, but this is a great time to be a Lewton and Tourneur enthusiast.

  12. Spencer Draper

    The more you see this, the more it grows on you and despite being a lesser film it's still a great one due to the power and atmospherics. If they must be doled out one by one then so be it, but this is a great time to be a Lewton and Tourneur enthusiast.

    Lewton was the crown prince of atmospherics

  13. Just got word mine will be delivered tomorrow! Can’t wait! One of my favorites! Now please give us THE SEVENTH VICTIM and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. Love to see some supplemental material on Darby Jones (if you’re listening SHOUT FACTORY).

  14. Shout Factory reported on FB that The Body Snatcher was one of their few recent releases with disappointing sales. This Doesn't sound good for the rest of the series. I'm sure the high price and not releasing the Lewton Films in sets like their Universal sets or at least double features is affecting the sales. I had to pass because of this. I like these films and previously owned the complete series Laserdisc set but don't like them enough for $22-$25 a film. People always complain about and exaggerate the price Laserdiscs used to cost but this 9 film series was $99.99 in a box and I purchased it preorder for $79.99. 20% off for preorders was common for laserdisc at a couple stores. I would gladly buy the whole series on Blu Ray for that price.

  15. ahollis

    I will still support these releases in hopes of more. We can’t complain that our favorite title is not being released if we don’t support.

    I have a tendency to wait until the week of or even a few days after release to order a title but I pre-ordered this way in advance specifically to show support for the title and hopefully other Lewtons.

  16. ahollis

    I will still support these releases in hopes of more. We can’t complain that our favorite title is not being released if we don’t support.

    I disagree as to sell a product you need to make the pricing reasonable enough to your consumer base. I don't think paying $27.00 for a 66 minute "B" film is reasonable. A majority of fans of these classic films are on fix incomes. I can't blame them for not shelling out monies for them.

  17. It looks beautiful. They have obviously cleaned it because there is no spec of dirt or scratches anywhere. Bonus material is minimal. There is the awesome commentary by William Friedkin. He is a national treasure. I never get tired of watching this film. These Val Lewton films get better every time I watch them. They are packed with good acting, textured scripts, and precision directing. They are so believable and real. Thanks, Shout Factory! First rate in all departments. I know there are complaints that these are expensive and should be in a boxed set or double features, which I understand. But these are handled by Shout Factory with such loving care, I think we should support them.

  18. warnerbro

    It looks beautiful. They have obviously cleaned it because there is no spec of dirt or scratches anywhere. Bonus material is minimal. There is the awesome commentary by William Friedkin. He is a national treasure. I never get tired of watching this film. These Val Lewton films get better every time I watch them. They are packed with good acting, textured scripts, and precision directing. They are so believable and real. Thanks, Shout Factory! First rate in all departments. I know there are complaints that these are expensive and should be in a boxed set or double features, which I understand. But these are handled by Shout Factory with such loving care, I think we should support them.

    I think many of us support Shout Factory the best we can based on our disposable income. I've bought several of their releases including The Body Snatcher, Universal Horror Collection Volume 1, Return of the Vampire, This Island Earth and some others. At their price point, tough decisions have to be made, especially, for retirees like myself. To ignore one of the reasons why sales are down is turning a blind eye to the problem.

  19. Has anyone inside information about whether SHOUT! plans to continue with Lewton releases? I am not a Facebook or Instagram, etc. person so I have to rely on forums here and elsewhere.

  20. Both commentaries are very good. The new one is more informative on the background and history, however, there's something about the Friedkin commentary that I love. His love for Val Lewton and this film in particular is beautiful and infectious.

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