Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Designated Victim – Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Maurizio Lucidi
Writers: Augusto Caminito, Fulvio Gicca Palli, Aldo Lado, Anthony La Penna, Maurizio Lucidi, Antonio Troiso
Cast: Tomas Milian, Pierre Clémenti, Katia Christine, Luigi Casellato, Marisa Bartoli, Ottavio Alessi, Alessandra Cardini, Enzo Tarascio, Carla Mancini, Bruno Boschetti

Release Date: November 9th, 2021
Approximate running time: 100 Minutes 41 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"A disillusioned advertising executive is lured by a decadent Count into a bizarre plot to kill each other's unsavory relatives. Stefano, a partner in a company that makes high-end commercials, wants to sell his share of the business and move to South America with his girlfriend, Fabienne. However his wife, in whose name the shares are registered, won't agree to the sale. Stefano goes to Venice with Fabienne for the weekend to escape his worries. There he meets the mysterious Count Tiepelo. Hearing of Stefano's business problems the Count tells him about his own brother who is making his life miserable. The Count then makes a startling suggestion - that he will kill Stefano's wife if Stefano kills the Count's brother. More amused than shocked, Stefano laughs off the idea.

Then one day Stefano receives a phone call from the police; his wife had been found strangled and he is the prime suspect. From that moment on Stefano's life becomes a living nightmare as he discovers the true extent of the web the Count has woven around him. Finally, for Stefano, there is only one way out." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “brand new 4K restoration from original negative.”

More information about the transfer, "This 4K restoration of The Designated Victim was made by the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna, in collaboration with Surf Film, using the original reversal negative and audio elements. The work was carried out at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in Bologna in 2021."

Here's information about the extended version, "Existing now only on an old Italian VHS release, there was an alternate edit of The Designated Victim.

As an extra feature we offer this extended version, which includes clips taken from that VHS. The Quality of these inserts is obviously very poor compared to the new master and their aspect ratio does not match the original film, hence the black bars down each side of the clips. The VHS inserts were not part of the original 4K restoration as no film materials could be found for them.

We hope you find this extended cut of interest. The complete feature can be watched in this alternate version, or, if preferred, the sections with the inserts can be selected via navigating the chapter markers on your handset."

Here is an example of a VHS insert.

The Designated Victim comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45.8 GB

Feature: 22 GB (101 Minute Verison), 19.5 GB 105 Minute Extended Version)

Mondo Macabro gives a detailed explanation about the source used for this transfer that perfectly sums up what to expect. The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape. The colors look correct, the details look crisp, the black levels look very good and the image looks organic. That said, there are a few darker moments where the image is not as crisp.

Audio: 4.25/5

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and a LPCM mono mix in English. Both audio mixes are in great shape. There are no issues with distortion or background hiss; dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and, range-wise, ambient sounds and the score are well-represented. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a Mondo Macabro preview reel, English theatrical trailer for The Designated Victim (3 minutes 32 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Slam-out an alternate titled trailer for The Designated Victim (3 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Italian theatrical trailer for The Designated Victim (3 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with removable English subtitles), alternate English language credits (2 minutes 9 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), an interview with Balthazar Clémenti who discusses his father actor Pierre Clémenti (27 minutes 42 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an interview with screenwriter and assistant director Aldo Lado who provides a detail overview of The Designated Victim’s production history (48 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary by Fragments of Fear (Peter Jilmstad and Rachael Nisbet) and an extended version of The Designated Victim (104 minutes 52 seconds, LPCM mono Italian with removable English subtitles).

Summary:

If the plot of The Designated Victim sounds familiar, that is because it is liberally borrowed from the Alfred Hitchcock film Strangers on a Train, which was adapted from a novel written by Patricia Highsmith. Though there are many similarities between Strangers on a Train and The Designated Victim, there are enough differences in The Designated Victim, like the film’s ending. Also, there are only two killings in The Designated Victim; both are committed off-camera and only the aftermath is shown.

The Designated Victim is directed with a tremendous amount of style. The Designated Victim’s greatest asset is the scenic Venice locations. The most memorable moment in The Designated Victim is a scene where Stephan is in his office trying to forge his wife’s signature. Matteo, who has just been savagely beaten by his brother, shows up unannounced. Stephan helps clean up Matteo’s wounds, thus creating an unbreakable bond between the two. Also, the plot is flawlessly paced to give each new revelation its maximum effect.

The Designated Victim features a superb cast. With the most memorable performance being Pierre Clémenti (Partner, The Conformist) in the role of a mysterious count named Matteo whose seduction of Tomas Milian’s (Almost Human, The Tough Ones) character Stefano drives the narrative. That said, it is refreshing to see Tomas Milan, who’s known for portraying larger-than-life personas, in a more passive role. Besides the well-rounded cast and picturesque cinematography, one must not overlook composer Luis Enrquez Bacalov's pitch-perfect score. Ultimately, The Designated Victim is a criminally underrated Italian thriller that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. 

The Designated Victim gets an exceptional release from Mondo Macabro that comes with a solid audio/video presentation, two versions of The Designated Victim and a trio of insightful extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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