The Boston Strangler appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This wasn’t a terrible presentation, but it lacked luster.
Sharpness was one of the iffier elements. Even close-ups could look a bit tentative, and wide shots tended to be fairly soft and ill-defined. At best, the movie showed passable clarity but that was about it. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but noticeable edge enhancement could be seen during parts of the movie. Source flaws remained minor, as I saw a few small specks and nothing more.
Strangler used a fairly restricted palette, so this meant a set of colors without pop. Some of this appeared to be intentional, but I thought the hues appeared drabber than they should. Black levels seemed fairly deep and rich, while shadows demonstrated good clarity. This was a good enough presentation for a “C-“ but it lacked real strengths.
On the other hand, I felt relatively impressed with the film’s Dolby Stereo soundtrack. Sound spread modestly to the sides, mainly due to directional dialogue; the movie featured a fair amount of speech placed firmly on one side or another.
Not much else occurred. The film included little music, so that wasn’t a factor. Effects occasionally broadened to the sides, but they usually stayed pretty centered. The soundscape opened up more than expected for a 46-year-old flick – mainly due to the dialogue – but this wasn’t a particularly engrossing environment.
Audio quality seemed dated but good. Dialogue sounded reasonably natural and distinct, and speech largely lacked evidence of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.
Effects seemed slightly thin but came across as acceptably realistic and clear. Again, music was essentially a non-factor, as the flick included precious little score. This wasn’t a great mix, but it was satisfactory for its age.
Only a few extras appear. Backstory: The Boston Strangler runs 21 minutes, 30 seconds and includes comments from producer Richard Zanuck, director Richard Fleischer, cinematographer Richard H. Kline, and actors Tony Curtis and Sally Kellerman. We learn about the film’s path to the screen, how the director and cast came onboard, various visual techniques and performances, censorship issues and the movie’s release. “Backstory” doesn’t dig into the production with much depth but it still gives us a decent overview.
For a period piece, Fox Movietone News lasts three minutes, 27 seconds. From the 1960s, this clip shows aspects of the Strangler crimes and investigation. Unfortunately, much of the audio remains lost, so it lacks as much value as I’d like.
We get both the teaser and trailer for Strangler. The disc also tosses in promos for From Hell, Don’t Say a Word, One Hour Photo, My Darling Clementine, The Grapes of Wrath and Joy Ride.
Despite a fine cast, The Boston Strangler provides a limp thriller. It lacks much substance or drama and limps along across its 116 minutes. The DVD offers mediocre visuals along with generally positive audio and a few minor bonus materials. There’s a good movie to be made on the subject but this isn’t it.
Note that this version of The Boston Strangler comes as part of a 10-DVD set called “The Henry Fonda Film Collection”. It also includes The Grapes of Wrath, Jesse James, The Return of Frank James, The Longest Day, The Ox-Bow Incident, Drums Along the Mohawk, Immortal Sergeant, and Daisy Kenyon. It appears that the Strangler DVD simply duplicates the original disc from 2004, though.