In Cold Blood Blu-ray Review
The correctly framed widescreen 2.35:1 1080p, MPEG-4/AVC presentation of this film will leave you anything but cold. Shot in black and white the print has seen some better days, there is the odd speckle to be seen and some brightness fluctuations but nothing which will ever make you take your eyes off the screen. As is to be expected of a film of this age and the film stock in use at the time there is a subtle level of grain apparent throughout the whole of the feature. This grain becomes more apparent in the whiter areas of the frame, the outdoors of the wind-brush swept dusty plains or the bright clouded skies for instance. Some light noise is also apparent during these scenes.
Contrast is acceptable with pristine whites and deep blacks which on occasion do exhibit some crush. It's not there all the time, and only fleeting when it happens but some scenes, such as Smith and Hickock laying low in the hotel, their night hitch-hiking and some scenes in the Clutters basement do swallow up all, or some, of the detail. This flattens the image somewhat during those times. They are fleeting though and everything else seems top notch with excellent use of shadows whilst Smith has a flashback to one of his mother's drunken escapades, the shadowy corners of his father's rodeo shack, the detail in the wood and items stored in the warehouse near the end of the film. During those scenes not exhibiting any level of crush there is superb feeling of dimensionality and this film does, at times, display some of that elusive 'pop' factor.
The encoding is good but there is a very subtle level of enhancement around far too many objects for my liking. It's not excessive, as has perhaps been seen on some more recent releases, but it is consistently there. Apart from that I cannot fault it. A very good watch, good depth and excellent detail on show in the offices, the rooms within the Clutter house and of the street scenes in which our players walk or drive down.
What would have been a mono track to begin with has been given the full force Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for this release. Purists will say that the original mono track should have been included and they would be right on this matter, but the 5.1 mix is treated with some respect and is nothing less than what this film deserves.
Jones' score thunders out from the frontal array with good bass lines and some nice jazz styles integrated into the mix, at times this score widens the usually narrow front stage. When collecting bottles by the highway' Jones introduces some of his own glass bottles to the score and every subtle note coming from the glass being tapped is easily distinguished. This section of the score actually reminded me somewhat of Doolittle playing his self-constructed musical instrument in Dark Star.
Dialogue is crisp and clean and whilst being somewhat quieter than the backing score still rings through to be easily heard, all of which is locked firmly to the centre channel.
There is little to no LFE usage, but as mentioned before Jones' bass lines do pump throughout the first two thirds of the feature. Surround use is incredibly slight and this is where I think the track has had the respect it deserves. What has been placed there, ever so subtly, is ambiance from typewriters in back offices of police stations and some of Jones' score. It is slight but it is there and I for one thought it was a good mix of an old mono based track, not forced or in your face.
Well there's BD-Live, which itself failed to download any updates, and nothing else on this disc whatsoever. A crying shame if ever there was one.
In Cold Blood is one of these films that you stumble across every now and again and are more than glad you did so. It was interesting to see some well known faces ply their trade on the big screen. I believe this is one of Quincy Jones' better scores; with some serious swinging jazz and excellent themes towards the end of the feature. Brooks has only really ever done better in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and although he was derided a little for the use of locations and props in the film it still has to be said that In Cold Blood is slightly unusual for its time, a little ground breaking and worthy of being selected for 'preservation' in the US National Film Registry.
Good character acting from Blake, Wilson and Forsythe coupled with good video and an excellent audio track make this Region free UK disc worthy of picking up and adding to your collection. It's a film I will happily go back to and watch time and again, still gaining enjoyment from each and every scene contained within it.
As a set it's obviously let down by the lack of extras and as a story it's simply clamouring out for some good bonus material to be included on there. Because of that then the overall score drops a little, even though I still heartily recommend this tale of woe.
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