The Big Knife appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an acceptable but erratic image.
Sharpness became a largely positive element, as the movie mostly displayed good definition. Occasional soft spots emerged – like a scene on the beach – but the majority of the film offered appealing delineation.
I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and the image lacked edge haloes. In terms of print flaws, I noticed a few small spots but nothing substantial.
Knife did seem grainier than expected. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed clear and smooth, with good contrast. This was a decent but not great image.
I felt less happy with the dated LPCM monaural audio of Knife. Dialogue remained intelligible but the lines could show edginess and sound somewhat brittle at times.
Music played a fairly small role in the proceedings and seemed fine with quieter bits, but louder bursts demonstrated shrillness. Effects had little to do in this chatty film, so they offered acceptable clarity.
Knife came with a noisier than expected track. Popping and crackling appeared at times, and I also noticed occasional bouts of static. For its age and ambitions, this wasn’t a terrible mix, but it showed more problems than I’d anticipate.
As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from film critics Glenn Kenny and Nick Pinkerton. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at the source play and its adaptation, director Robert Aldrich’s career, cast and crew, historical context and cinematic techniques.
Kenny and Pinkerton combine to create an informative commentary. They cover a good range of subjects and do so in an interactive manner. We get a solid examination of the film here.
A 1977 featurette called Bass on Titles runs 33 minutes, 46 seconds and offers a chat with title credit designer Saul Bass. He discusses aspects of his career, with an emphasis on specific work. Bass gives us nice insights, though much of the running time provides examples of his titles, so we don’t get as much commentary as I’d like.
In addition to the film’s traiiler, we locate a period TV promo. It goes for four minutes, 59 seconds as actor Jack Palance introduces us to other cast members. We also get a couple of glimpses behind the scenes. It’s a fun curiosity but nothing memorable.
A booklet completes the package. It includes essays from Nathalie Morris and Gerald Peary as well as photos and credits.
Despite a good array of talent on both sides of the camera, The Big Knife fails to gain traction. It seems self-involved and melodramatic too much of the time. The Blu-ray offers erratic picture and audio along with a couple of useful bonus features. Knife fails to make much of a positive impact.