Grand Slam (Ad Ogni Costo) (1967) (NTSC)

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Released 24-Oct-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Poster And Stills
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 119:21
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:02) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Giuliano Montaldo
Studio
Distributor
Stomp Visual Starring Janet Leigh
Robert Hoffmann
Klaus Kinski
Riccardo Cucciolla
Georges Rigaud
Adolfo Celi
Jussara
Miguel Del Castillo
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Sergio Bardotti
Ennio Morricone


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    I was not aware of this film before choosing it for review, but since it has been likened to one of my favourite 1950s films, I thought I would give it a go. The 1950s film I am referring to is Rififi, a classic French heist thriller featuring a great ending and a stunning heist scene where not a word of dialogue is spoken for what seems like an hour. There is talk of a new DVD release of that film in a special edition which I am greatly looking forward to and would love to review.

    But, back to this film. This film, Grand Slam or Ad Ogni Costo, was made in 1967 and owes a significant debt to Rififi but is certainly not a copy and stands as a very good film in its own right. It was released under many different titles, but my favourite is the Spanish title, Diamantes a Gogo. It was an Italian/German/Spanish co-production and could probably be termed a Spaghetti heist thriller if such a sub-genre exists. The cast is truly multi-national with two great US actors, Edward G. Robinson & Janet Leigh combined with European actors of varying nationalities, such as the Austrian, Robert Hoffman, the German, Klaus Kinski and Italian actors Riccardo Cucciolla & Adolfo Celi (who many will recognise from Thunderball). The director and most of the crew are Italian and the score is by Ennio Morricone. It was filmed on location in Rome, New York, Rio De Janeiro (where most of the action takes place), Spain and London.

    The story of this film involves an aging teacher living in Rio De Janeiro, Professor James Anders (Edward G. Robinson) who concocts a plan for a daring heist to steal $10 million worth of diamonds from a company located straight across the street from his school. He has noticed that they get regular shipments and that they will remain in the safe throughout Carnivale. Accordingly, he uses his contacts to recruit a crack team including a technician, a playboy, a safe cracker and a military man to lead the team. The military man is Sgt Weiss (Kinski), a psychopath who rules the team with a iron fist. The playboy's job is to woo a pretty young woman, Maryanne Davies (Janet Leigh), who works at the diamond company in order to obtain a key required during the robbery. In a similar way to Rififi, the actual heist scene requires silence due to the sophisticated alarm system which has been installed, the Grand Slam 70 (hence the title).

    Whilst this is not a great film like Rififi, it is certainly of high quality and features some great scenes, nice cinematography (especially the use of close-ups) and some interesting relationship drama between the team members. The acting is generally sound, although I felt Kinski was a bit over the top for this style of film. The build up to the heist could have been better edited as it feels just a tad slow.

    If you enjoy a good heist film, this one is definitely worth seeing.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good but certainly not without issue. It is also presented in NTSC so ensure your system can play NTSC before purchasing.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Some of the close-ups, especially of Janet Leigh, show the softness which can regularly be found in close-ups of female stars during this period. Shadow detail was quite decent considering the age of the film, and considering that some important scenes occurred at night this was appreciated. There was grain throughout which was generally not too bad but was heavier at 61:40. The bitrate was quite high.

    The colour was very good for the age of the film but did show some dullness.

    Artefacts included quite a lot of flecks, specks and lines, especially toward the edges of the frame. Some examples can be seen at 7:15, 27:24 (a splodge at top left), 67:50 (a vertical line) and a bad section at 14:05. There was also some edge enhancement and mild aliasing at 24:08 on a grille, 42:14 on a fence and on steps at 115:10.

    There are no subtitles which was annoying as some dialogue was difficult to understand.

    The layer change occurs at 58:02 and is not noticeable.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is average.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French. Overall, the sound was a bit thin and sometimes mildly distorted. The Carnivale scenes were quite shrill and piercing.

    Dialogue was sometimes difficult to understand but mostly reasonable. Many of the actors were obviously dubbed and sometimes they did not seem well synched. This was minor and not overly distracting.

    The score of this film by Ennio Morricone is good without being up to the standard of his greatest scores. It is fairly standard 60s style light orchestral for the most part however some sequences such as around 107:00 show his greatness. There was some distortion in the music here and there.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A small selection of extras are included.

Menu

    The menu included music, stills and a nice diamond motif plus the ability to select scenes and languages.

Theatrical Trailer (3:53)

    A long trailer which includes quite a few plot spoilers and an annoying voiceover.

Poster & Stills Gallery

    Approximately 40 stills including 10 international posters for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The locally released edition is exactly the same as that available in Region 1. The disc is coded for all regions.

Summary

    An entertaining Italian heist film in the tradition of Rififi.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is average.

    The disc has a couple of minor extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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