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Blast of Silence (The Criterion Collection)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Allen Baron, Molly McCarthy, Larry Tucker, Peter H. Clune, Danny Meehan
  • Directors: Allen Baron
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: April 15, 2008
  • Run Time: 77 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0012Z363A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,132 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Blast of Silence (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored digital transfer
  • Requiem for a Killer: The Making of "Blast of Silence"
  • Rare on-set Polaroids
  • Photos of locations in 2008
  • Booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Raffety and a four-page graphic novel adaptaion of the film by acclaimed artist Sean Phillips

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Swift, brutal, and black-hearted, Allen Baron s New York City noir Blast of Silence is a sensational surprise. This low-budget, carefully crafted portrait of a hit man on assignment in Manhattan during Christmastime follows its stripped-down narrative with mechanical precision, yet also with an eye and ear for the oddball idiosyncrasies of urban living and the imposing beauty of the city s locations. At once visually ragged and artfully composed, and featuring rough, poetic narration by Lionel Stander, Blast of Silence is a stylish triumph.


New, restored digital transfer

Requiem for a Killer: The Making of Blast of Silence (2007)

Rare on-set Polaroids

Locations revisited in 2008


PLUS: An essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty and a four-page graphic-novel adaptation of the film by award-winning artist Sean Phillips

(Criminal, Sleeper, Batman: Jekyll & Hyde)


Somewhere between film noir and The Sopranos lies Blast of Silence, a concise, compelling psychological portrait of a low-level hit-man, shot in 1961 on a shoestring budget with New York City grit. This is the sort of movie, unique but out of sync with its time, that Criterion practically exists to rescue. Accompanied by an avant-jazz soundtrack and hard-boiled Beat narration from the gloriously gravel-voiced Lionel Stander, the blue-collar assassin wanders through the city at Christmastime, revolted by human contact but sucker enough to think a girl he once knew might redeem him. Writer/director Allen Baron stepped into the lead role when he lost Peter Falk; while he's certainly not as expressive an actor, his face has an uncomfortable mixture of yearning and defensiveness that suits the character to a T. Stylishly framed images and sharp, staccato editing, combined with the almost documentary feel of the performances and settings, wrap the entire movie in an alienated tension. This being a Criterion release, it's got fantastic extras: A relaxed interview with the chatty, garrulous Baron, which is combined with a short documentary from 1990 in which Baron went back to all the locations used in Blast of Silence and reminisced; Polaroid photos from the set that look like lost Weegee photographs; a loving essay by critic Terrence Rafferty; and more. But the movie doesn't need any of this to make its mark--it's an American classic, as crucial to the launch of independent film as Cassavetes. Highly recommended. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

This is a movie that film enthusiasts will love.
Beautiful, stark and depressing photography - which I guess describes the film as a whole as well.
K. Gordon
There's a bit of sadness in his misanthropy and you will not soon forget this film.
J. Krall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Jones on April 28, 2008
Format: DVD
This movie was not like any other I have ever seen, but I haven't seen them all and I haven't seen all of Cassavetes' work, which keeps being mentioned in connection with it. Dated? Not to me unless you are referring to the Village Gate scene and I prefer to call that "period" rather than "dated."

I'd recommend this movie to anyone who happens to be reading about it--you are obviously interested in noirs and this, for being a little past the noir period, is about as noir as you can get. Unforgettable, too.

The extras on the DVD were terrific. Wish that Criterion Collection movies weren't so expensive, but I must admit they are worth it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daniel S. on April 28, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
**** 1961. Written and directed by Allen Baron. Frank Bono, a hitman, arrives in NYC in order to kill the mobster Troiano. While he's carefully preparing the hit, he meets Lorrie, a girl he knew when he was at the orphanage. I sincerely admit that I hadn't heard of this motion picture before last night and wouldn't have had the curiosity to take a look at it if a different collection than Criterion had released it. I simply had confidence in the team who already made me discover such great movies as Sidney Gilliat's Green for Danger - Criterion Collection or Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls - Criterion Collection. In short, BLAST OF SILENCE is a film noir that deserves to be rediscovered. Far away from the Hollywood dream machine, Allen Barron shot a realistic film noir whose mood can be compared to the films of Jules Dassin of the late 40's or the first motion pictures of the French New wave. Highly recommended.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Clare Quilty on April 22, 2008
Format: DVD
A hitman comes to the city at Christmastime. He carefully stalks his victim, ruminates in hotel rooms, haggles over weaponry, courts an old flame and eventually undertakes the job.

Allen Barron wrote and directed this anxious thriller, and also plays the hitman. His 77-minute 1961 noir is slim in plot, running time and budget, but rich in the inspiration it clearly offered to Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola.

"Blast" feels like a movie that's dated by today's standards but was probably unlike anything else around in 1961, at least this side of French New Wave ~ though it's interesting that Godard's "Breathless" was being filmed at the exact same time as "Blast."

Barron uses stark black-and-white photography and on-the-fly New York locations to great effect: The storm that serves as a backdrop to the climax is apparently real and is reportedly the only hurricane to strike the east coast during the entire 20th century. On the other hand, one scene shot in the Village Gate features a man who may possibly be the most abrasively monotonous nightclub singer ever committed to film.

The tiny apartments, narrow hallways and buildings of blank windows predict "Taxi Driver," and one tremendously awkward date smacks of Travis Bickle. The clubs and cars and gangsters seem a little like outtakes from "Raging Bull," and one particular assassination could've served as a test sketch for a later killing that appeared in "Godfather Part II." One nearly expects to spot Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes, or the gang from "Who's That Knocking at My Door," bickering in the background during other scenes.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Cole on February 1, 2009
Format: DVD
I liked the film but mostly as a camp B movie and low budget first film. The Criterion DVD quality is excellent. The extras are very good.

I love the NYC tracking scenes. The City and the photography is the real star of the film. Like Kubrick's Killer Kiss, you see the director's photography background.

The narration is terrible and never needed to be included. Without all that nonsense it would have had some mystery to it and could have been mistaken for French or Italian noir. The written narration itself wasn't really bad but the spoken delivery was just bad and total cornball and all in all was not needed at all. It took away all the mystery.

The Conga player should have irritated Bono enough to get taken out back and shot---that would have been "cool man." The film's problems can be excused as bordering on parody of 50's noir films and TV. Reminded me of various less supernatural Twilight Zone episodes and I almost expected Rod Serling at the end...."Frank Bono....blah blah...is now in the "Twilight Zone." Also reminded me of the 1948 film and TV series, "The Naked City" at times.

I like most of the music (except the horrid Conga player singing his obnoxious "avante garde" poetry.) I can only excuse it as a parody of 50's Greewich Village.

I noticed that the film's composer lifted or imitated a riff from Bernard Hermann's North by Northwest---the scenes where Franky is trailing the Fatman and also when Franky is escaping the scene of the hit. You also hear it twice in the excellent Documentary. I wonder if Baron even realizes it? He probably does. At that point, the soundtrack shifts from the jazz sound and goes orchestral, with a very close imitation of the famous, high-tension, Hermann riff.
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