Blast of Silence [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1961]

The first and best feature film from director Allen Baron, Blast of Silence is a lean and hard-boiled slice of film noir from the early Sixties, a time when the genre was imagined to be all but dead. While the film received little notice on its original release, it has earned a potent cult following since it was rediscovered in the Eighties, and now Blast of Silence makes its DVD debut in a handsome edition from the Criterion Collection. Blast of Silence has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the digital rendition of the picture is superb, capturing the sharp edges of Merrill Brody's camerawork and reveling in the shabby beauty of the New York City locations. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono and while it sometimes reveals the limitations of the film's low budget, the sound is as present and full-bodied as the circumstances permit. The dialogue is in English, with optional subtitles in English but no multiple language options. Bonus materials with this edition include Requiem For A Killer: The Making of Blast of Silence, a fascinating documentary in which Baron revisits the locations where the movie was shot and talks about how the project came to be. Also included is a gallery of Polaroid snapshots taken during the shoot to keep track of continuity, another gallery of stills featuring "then and now" pictures of the filming locations, and the original Blast of Silence trailer. As usual, Criterion has also included a well-designed booklet with the package, featuring a fine essay by Terrence Rafferty and a graphic interpretation of the movie from comic artist Sean Phillips. Blast of Silence deserved a decent home video presentation decades ago, but for fans of idiosyncratic crime films, this DVD was well worth the wait and comes highly recommended.
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Special Features

  • Requiem for a Killer: the making of "Blast of Silence"
  • Rare on-set Polaroids
  • Photos of locations in 2008
  • Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Terrence Rafferty and a four-page graphic-novel adaptation of the film by acclaimed artist Sean Phillips (Criminal, Sleeper, Marvel Zombies)


Blast of Silence
A few days in the life of a murderer go under the microscope in this offbeat and intense low-budget film noir, the first feature from director Allen Baron. Frankie Bono (Baron) is a hired killer from Cleveland who travels to New York City a few days before Christmas on an assignment. Bono, a bitter loner who has few friends and little use for relationships with others, has been brought to the Big Apple to rub out Troiano (Peter Clume), a second-rate mobster. After a less than pleasant encounter with Big Ralph (Larry Tucker), a rotund underground gun dealer, Bono begins casing out Troiano and discovers his target is out of town for a few days, giving him some time to kill. Bono bumps into a childhood friend who thinks he could use a friend and introduces Frankie to Lorrie (Molly McCarthy), but when she invites him to her flat for dinner, the evening doesn't go well and Bono feels more alienated than ever. While keeping tabs on Troiano, Bono runs into Big Ralph again, with consequences that put the hit man and his career in great danger. Blast of Silence features a distinctive and highly dramatic second-person narration read by Lionel Stander (whose name does not appear in the credits); the narration was written by the then-blacklisted Waldo Salt under the name Mel Davenport. Director Allen Baron originally cast Peter Falk as Frankie Bono, but ended up playing the lead after Falk dropped out to take a better paying role in the crime drama Murder Inc. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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    Allen Baron - Frank Bono
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    Molly McCarthy - Lorrie
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    Larry Tucker - Big Ralph
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    Peter Clume - Troiano
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    Danny Meehan - Petey
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