by Tony Dayoub
In a move which came to quite a surprise even to loyal fans of Warner Archive, the most prolific of the MOD (manufactured-on-demand) DVD labels, two of their most recent releases have debuted on Blu-ray. Gypsy (1962) had previously been released in anamorphic widescreen on DVD. In my opinion, the more interesting title is Sidney Lumet's clever Deathtrap (1982), which had only been released on full-frame DVD back in 1999. Based on a stage play by Ira Levin, Deathtrap's theatrical roots show fairly prominently. Literally a drawing room mystery, it's mostly set in one large, open study. The script is rife with mordant humor, and has a teeny-tiny cast anchored by Dyan Cannon (Heaven Can Wait), Christopher Reeve (playing against type while at the height of his Superman popularity), and Michael Caine, during one of his most fertile acting periods. The witty esprit-de-corps between the three actors is perhaps the best reason to recommend the film, a minor Lumet movie with a cult following due to this very reason.
But since what most of you want to know is how well Warner Archive fares in the brand new world of MOD Blu-ray, I've decided to post some screen captures from the copy they sent me (all in 1080p if you click). The newly remastered transfer is now presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Deathtrap's beautiful grain is deliberate, a quality of the subtle cinematography by Lumet's then longtime DP, Andrzej Bartkowiak (Falling Down), that I'm elated they preserved.