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Black Book

1.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Cummings
  • Directors: Anthony Mann
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All RegionsAll Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Alpha Video
  • Release Date: Nov. 18 2003
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 1.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0000D1FG4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,244 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

During the French Revolution, a moderate politician must protect himself from an army of cut-throats.

Customer Reviews

1.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 10 2004
Format: DVD
The plot is fairly interesting. The acting is quite good. It informs you, albeit scantily, of a time in French History that, at least I, had not much knowledge of.
This is a true "B" film and yet, as has been proven time-and-again by Anthony Mann (T-Men, Raw Deal, He Walked By Night, Winchester '73 etc.), he manages to put his stamp on a film and raise it beyond what most directors could.
I feel sorry for, what must be, John Alton's (cinematographer extraordinaire - Painting With Light) deft-touch in lighting. However, you would never be able to tell by this poor, poor quality transfer of both the visual and audio.
Personally, I do not find the film worthy of repeated viewing even IF it was of pristine quality regardless of what Mann & Alton bring to it.
I don't expect the greatest from Alpha-Video (oldies.com) because they transfer whatever they can get their hands on, as is, from Public Domain.
Sometimes, as with "The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers", you get an "A" film with fairly good visual and sound quality overall, and sometimes you get barely acceptable.
If you want to see prime Mann & Alton, I would suggest: T-Men, Raw Deal, He Walked By Night. One of the best Alton photographed films out there is: The Big Combo (directed by Joseph H. Lewis).
Quality of DVD: *1/2 /**** Sound: *1/2 /**** Plot: **/**** Acting: ***/**** Cinematography: ***/**** Direction: ***/****
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Format: DVD
Reign of Terror, or The Black Book, is one of the great Anthony Mann's very best pictures - a nightmarish tale of the French Revolution shot in the style of a film noir expressionistic nightmare with superlative production design from William Cameron Menzies. But I'm loathe to say any more that might encourage you to buy this disc simply because this is without doubt the very worst DVD I have ever seen - the poor contrast and appalling definition ruining John Alton's brilliant cinematography, while the variable transfer speed makes slurs of many of the witticisms. This is a neglected masterpiece crying out for the kind of treatment that MPI have given the Sherlock Holmes films, but whatever you do, don't make the mistake of thinking this terrible transfer from Alpha/Gotham is worth the low price - it isn't, and that's a real crime against cinema.
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By A Customer on Feb. 4 2004
Format: DVD
Although this is a truly great classic film-noir period piece with some fine acting and suspensful script, the quality of the DVD (I would hate to see the copy in VHS) is almost too painful to watch. The backgrounds are all too dark to recognize, any details of footage is lost in the poor transfer quality, it's an all-around a terrible disappointment. I would recommend not purchasing any DVDs from this company despite the very inexpensive price. If you want to throw your money away, donate it to some worthwhile organization----do not buy this DVD!
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Format: DVD
This movie is a gem, but to view it in these poor conditions (the frame is off-center, the blacks are light grey and the pictures fuzzy) is really an offense to the original material. Don't be fooled by the low price. Even if it was free I would still hesitate.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2.9 out of 5 stars 44 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Very Cheap Rip-Off Feb. 4 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Although this is a truly great classic film-noir period piece with some fine acting and suspensful script, the quality of the DVD (I would hate to see the copy in VHS) is almost too painful to watch. The backgrounds are all too dark to recognize, any details of footage is lost in the poor transfer quality, it's an all-around a terrible disappointment. I would recommend not purchasing any DVDs from this company despite the very inexpensive price. If you want to throw your money away, donate it to some worthwhile organization----do not buy this DVD!
48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of Mann's best films: one of the very worst DVDs ever Feb. 19 2004
By Trevor Willsmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Reign of Terror, or The Black Book, is one of the great Anthony Mann's very best pictures - a nightmarish tale of the French Revolution shot in the style of a film noir expressionistic nightmare with superlative production design from William Cameron Menzies. But I'm loathe to say any more that might encourage you to buy this disc simply because this is without doubt the very worst DVD I have ever seen - the poor contrast and appalling definition ruining John Alton's brilliant cinematography, while the variable transfer speed makes slurs of many of the witticisms. This is a neglected masterpiece crying out for the kind of treatment that MPI have given the Sherlock Holmes films, but whatever you do, don't make the mistake of thinking this terrible transfer from Alpha/Gotham is worth the low price - it isn't, and that's a real crime against cinema.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Butchered Print of a Great Film is a Disgrace! Aug. 18 2008
By Steven Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is a comment on the Synergy Entertainment release of Anthony Mann's "The Black Book" (AKA "Reign of Terror"). This splendid film just can't get any respect on DVD! The running time of this version is 75 minutes, making it 14 minutes shorter than the version on Alpha Video! Critical scenes are missing, with Synergy imposing its own fade outs on entire sections. Even the previous reviewer who called this version "passable," noted the gaps in continuity. Visually, the print is much softer than Alpha's, with many jumps and splices, with much more of the picture area cropped off, and it goes in and out of focus. I previously thought that the Alpha release was the worst transfer of a movie I had ever seen, but this travesty put out by Synergy is a total disgrace, and should be avoided at all costs!
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Unique, Original Hybrid.. July 27 2012
By Archmaker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This completely unorthodox, unusual film, demonstrates that in the hands of brilliant talent even seemingly screwy ideas can be realized into marvelous entertainment and even art. Anthony Mann and his cinematographer, John Alton, took all the trappings of film noir and made a period piece about the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution and, on an obviously very slim budget, created a fast paced, exciting, thriller. It rips along with incredible tension and atmosphere created by a fine cast and the skill of the two aforementioned gentlemen. The limits in scope due to budget contraints, is more than made up for by the film noir elements: all light and shadow, camera angles and focus. And it works marvelously, the deep blacks and slanted light fitting perfectly for the mood of terror for the eponymous era.

The cast is uniformly excellent, with Richard Basehart a nicely fanatical Robespiere, Arlene Dahl stunningly gorgeous, a stalwart Bob Cummings, and most especially Arnold Moss, as a slyly duplicitous Foucher. Other fine performers are here in small rolls: Norman Lloyd, Buleah Bondi, Charles McGraw etc. There is enough actual history to ground the fictional melodrama in reality, and the violence and fear of the era is certainly captured.

This fine, strange film has finally gotten an acceptable transfer in this Sony addition. The prior DVD release of this title, as many have pointed out, was atrocious. This version is a vast improvement. Slightly grainy at times on BluRay player/big screen but perfectly viewable. And unless they create a BluRay version, this is likely the best we're going to get. I would give it 4 stars for the limitations of the film, but I give it 5 here because Mann and Alton did so much with so little, and it is like no other film you're likely to see.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, VERY bad DVD Jan. 21 2004
By Montjovent Pascal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie is a gem, but to view it in these poor conditions (the frame is off-center, the blacks are light grey and the pictures fuzzy) is really an offense to the original material. Don't be fooled by the low price. Even if it was free I would still hesitate.



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