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Black Book

28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

France in 1794 is in upheaval and Robespierre is fueling the panic.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Cummings, Richard Basehart, Richard Hart, Arlene Dahl
  • Directors: Anthony Mann
  • Writers: Aeneas MacKenzie, Phillip Yordan
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: Synergy Ent
  • DVD Release Date: April 3, 2008
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00176X7OM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,008 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black Book" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 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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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2004
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.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Steven Baker on August 18, 2008
Format: DVD 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!
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Montjovent Pascal on January 21, 2004
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 5, 2006
Format: DVD
"We're living in a perpetual state of violence. The people have become a bloodthirsty mob that thrives on human lives. Each day this monster must reach its quota. There is only one man who can control this beast and that man must be dictator Robespierre!" The man speaking is, of course, Maximilien Robespierre (Richard Basehart).

It's Paris, 1794, and for all practical purposes Robespierre rules France. He not only has sent his enemies to the guillotine, he keeps finding new enemies. He has a black book in which he lists his friends and his enemies and what they have done. He has marked those who will kiss the blade, and among them are many who think they are his friends. Then the book goes missing just 24 hours before he expects to be acclaimed dictator of France. He is determined to find the book.

But there are a few brave freedom-fighters struggling to bring Robespierre down. Among them are Charles D'Aubigny (Robert Cummings) and Madelon (Arlene Dahl), a woman who had cast Charles aside but who now must work with him. D'Aubigny takes on the role of Georges Duval, the butcher...the prosecutor...of Strasbourg who Robespierre has named to find the black book within 24 hours. There are many twists and turns before the truth comes out, before Charles and Madelon learn to trust each other again, and before France is saved...well, before France is saved for Napoleon.

Although the DVD picture and audio are in bad shape, even for a movie in the public domain, the film has a lot of visual style. Paris with its cobblestone by-ways, crowded hovels and turnip-strewn streets never looked more picturesque. Director Anthony Mann keeps things moving with a noir approach that features high angle shots, low angle shots, off-kilter close-ups and lots of mysterious shadows.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James D. ODell on August 17, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
After reading disgruntled reviews of two other DVDs of this classic film, I decided to take a chance on one that had not been reviewed. While the intensity of the excellent acting holds interest, and the atmosphere, start to finish, is suitably jarring, suggestive of that particularly horrific period in French history, black-out breaks in the action (original to the film, or the result of splicing and editing--hard to tell which)detract from the presentation a bit. In the climatic conclusion, when the arch villain gets his comeuppance, we see him addressing the angry mob, hoping to bluff his way out of the situation. In the complete version, Robespierre is shown getting shot in the throat, but in this cut, in an instant, he goes from speech to speechless, a bandage wrapped about his neck sans visual explanation. If I had not seen the full scene on a TV broadcast, I would not have known what happened. Still, the image is easy on the eyes. Facial expressions and other details are clear and readable. Overall, a good effort to preserve all of the elements of the original film.

Jim O'Dell
Camarillo, CA
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