Mr. Topaze appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Due to flawed elements, this became a blah presentation.
According to this set’s booklet, the best available print suffered from color-related issues, with a “magenta push”. While the transfer balanced these as best as possible, the end result wound up with a dull palette.
Indeed, Topaze occasionally felt nearly monochromatic, as the hues leaned heavily toward a bland brown sensibility. Though a few slightly more vivid tones emerged at times, the colors still seemed flat and drained. The characters came with yellow complexions that made them look like they had jaundice.
Sharpness seemed erratic but generally positive. Though the movie could go somewhat soft at times, it usually manifested reasonably good accuracy.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain leaned toward the heavy side, and that could give the movie more of a gauzy feel than usual.
Print flaws also became a distraction, as occasional signs of nicks, lines and marks occurred. Though never dominant, these popped up with some frequency.
Blacks were decent – albeit more than a little inky – and shadows seemed acceptable, though a day for night shot looked rather thick. Though this might represent the best that could be done with a problematic source, the film nonetheless looked pretty iffy.
Similar thoughts greeted the mediocre LPCM monaural soundtrack of Topaze, as never came across with strong fidelity. Speech remained intelligible, but the lines showed more than a little edginess and roughness.
Music offered fairly decent clarity, but effects displayed some distortion ala the dialogue. Occasional pops marred the mix as well. Even for its era, this became a less than impressive mix.
A few extras round out the set, and we open with a 1951 short film entitled Let’s Go Crazy. It goes for 33 minutes, 15 seconds and features Peter Sellers in no fewer than five different roles.
One of Sellers’ earliest screen appearances, Crazy offers sketches co-written by Sellers and fellow Goon Spike Milligan. A mix of comedy and music, it seems like something more from the 1930s than the 1950s and it rarely actually entertains, but it offers an interesting view of a young Sellers.
The Poetry of Realism runs 13 minutes, 18 seconds and provides a “video essay” from film critic Kat Denninger. She gives notes about playwright Marcel Pagnol and his work, with an emphasis on aspects of Topaze. This becomes a semi-dry but still informative piece.
Next we get an interview with actor Leo McKern’s daughter Abigail. In this 20-minute, 16-second chat, the younger McKern discusses her father’s career and related domains.
Though Abigail touches on some good stories, the overall result seems rambling. She just rushes through too much too quickly for this to become a particularly coherent discussion.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find promos for Film Movement releases The Belles of St. Trinian’s and School for Scoundrels.
The package also provides a booklet. It mixes photos, credits and essays from BFI curator Vic Pratt and Sellers biographer Roger Lewis. The booklet becomes a good addition to the set.
Peter Sellers’ directorial debut, Mr. Topaze occupies a unique place in movie history. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it a good movie, as it feels slow and disjointed. The Blu-ray comes with flawed picture and audio as well as few bonus features. I’m glad I watched Topaze given its place as Sellers’ only formal directorial effort, but the movie itself doesn’t work.