A Perfect Murder

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 2
  1. Andrew Davis (Director), Patrick Smith Kelly (Screenwriter), Michael Douglas (Lead Actor)
  2. Peter Macgregor-Scott (Producer), Dariusz Wolski (Director of Photography), Ellen Mirojnick (Costume Designer), Debra Schutt (Set Decorator), Philip Rosenberg (Production Designer)
Running Time 103 minutes Other Extras Menu Sound & Animation
Alternate Ending (with or without Director's Commentary)
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Andrew Davis

Warner Home Video
Starring Michael Douglas
Gwyneth Paltrow
Viggo Mortensen
David Suchet
Sarita Choudhury
Case Snapper
RRP $34.95 Music James Newton Howard

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ?
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes

Plot Synopsis

    There are not many remakes that surpass the original. A Perfect Murder certainly doesn't. In this case, Dial M For Murder is the original. A Perfect Murder is mediocre at best. Each viewing got more and more boring, and I had to sit through it three times by the time I had gone through all of the audio commentaries.

    I cannot explain fully why A Perfect Murder grated on me so; all of the components of a great movie are there; decent story, decent actors, good acting, excellent cinematography, great costumes, great set design, and great music. It just did not work for me.

    Michael Douglas plays Steven Taylor, a Wall Street tycoon who is a control freak, much like most of the other characters he has played in the past. Gwyneth Paltrow plays his wife, Emily. Emily is having an affair with David Shaw (Viggo Mortensen), a painter. Steven Taylor wants his wife dead, and David is just the man to do it.

    I'd describe more of the plot, but frankly, I just couldn't be bothered, it's just so boring. It is of note, however, that this is the first DVD from Warner Home Video which was supposed to be day-and-date with its VHS release, hence the $34.95 RRP. It didn't quite make it, but only missed the release date by a week.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is superb, and nearly perfect.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The other side of the disc carries a Pan & Scan version of the movie.

    The transfer was crystal clear and razor sharp throughout. Shadow detail was spot on at all times. No low level noise was present at all.

    The colours were all perfectly rendered with no under or oversaturation noted.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. A few of the rapid pans seemed to lose a little definition, though not having seen the theatrical release of this movie, I am unsure as to whether this is a film issue or an MPEG issue. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some image wobble in a few scenes. Film artefacts were few and far between, as would be expected for such a recent transfer.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue was pretty much always perfectly clear and audible.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The musical score by James Newton Howard was exemplary, and another superb effort on his part. I am yet to hear a musical score from this composer that I haven't loved.

    The surround channels were not particularly used, with this movie being basically a front soundstage presentation with little except music in the surrounds.

    The .1 channel was not used much except for some of the music.


    An excellent collection of extras are present on this disc.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    This is a new subheading under Extras which I will include in all my future reviews (where possible) which will compare the extras available on the Region 1 disc to those available on the Region 4 disc.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on; Cast & Crew Biographies and Production Notes. Everything else is there. Go figure.


    The main menu has some animation and sound which is very effective. It is 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - Andrew Davis (Director), Patrick Smith Kelly (Screenwriter), and Michael Douglas (Lead Actor)

    This is a chequered commentary. Michael Douglas' comments have clearly been cut-and-pasted into this track, whilst the Director's and Screenwriter's contributions are in the much more traditional format of commenting on the movie whilst they are watching it. There are some good bits, but these are few and far between. All-in-all, this is a somewhat disappointing commentary.

Audio Commentary - Peter Macgregor-Scott (Producer), Dariusz Wolski (Director of Photography), Ellen Mirojnick (Costume Designer), Debra Schutt (Set Decorator), Philip Rosenberg (Production Designer)

    This is also of the cut-and-paste variety, with Peter Macgregor-Scott teamed with Dariusz Wolski, Philip Rosenberg teamed with Debra Schutt and Ellen Mirojnick pasted in on her own. This is even more disappointing than the first audio commentary track, and I didn't feel that it was time well spent at all.

Alternate Ending

    This is an excellent extra, especially since there is an optional running commentary along with the ending. This is well worth the time spent watching it, and I have to agree with the choice they made of leaving this ending off the movie.


    Dial M For Murder is a much better version of this story. The disc itself, however, is pretty good, and there are lots of extras on offer, so if you liked the movie, you will like it's presentation on DVD.

    The video quality is superb.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras present are comprehensive, and the equivalent of the extras on the Region 1 version of this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
24th May 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer