Film Title: The Leopard Man
Release Date: 1943
Rating: NOT RATED
Runtime: 66 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Distributor: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Audio Formats: DTS- HD MA 2.0 Mono
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.37:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 07/30/19
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Cast: Dennis O’Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell, James Bell, Margaret Landry, Abner Biberman, Tuulikki Paananen, Ben Bard
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Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“The Leopard Man” was a 1943 RKO Pictures thriller blended with drama, horror and a slight touch of film-noir. The movie was directed by Jacques Tourneur. Tourneur is best known for also directing the films “Cat People” (1942), “I Walked with a Zombie” (1943), “Out of the Past” (1947), “Curse of the Demon” (1957), and “The Comedy of Terrors” (1963).
The film was based on the novel “Black Alibi” written by Cornell Woolrich. The screenplay was adapted by Ardel Wray and Edward Dein. The film was produced by Val Lewton, best known for also producing such films as “The Ghost Ship” (1943), “The Seventh Victim” (1943), “The Body Snatcher” (1945), “Isle of the Dead” (1945), and “Bedlam” (1946). Lewton had actually produced two other films with this film’s director (“Cat People” and “I Walked with a Zombie”) before collaborating once again on this film.
The story here revolves around a guy bringing his girlfriend a black leopard to upstage a woman she dislikes. The whole plan backfired when the cat becomes frightened by the type of dancing the woman is performing, leaving one waiter clawed and the wild cat on the loose. The small New Mexico town is already in fear of the escaped animal but things get worse when a victim turns up. It appears that the person has been killed by the leopard but no one can be quite for sure. This leads to the whole town becoming on edge and one angry man who let the boyfriend borrow the leopard, to begin with.
“The Leopard Man” features performances from Dennis O’Keefe, Margo, and Jean Brooks, along with a supporting cast of Isabel Jewell (as a fortune teller), James Bell (as “Dr. Galbraith”), and Abner Biberman as the owner of the black leopard (oddly named “Charlie How-Come“). It’s the type of film that will leave you guessing up until the end.
Movie Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
“The Leopard Man” on its Blu-ray Disc debut is in Black & White and presented in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio, just as it was shown theatrically.
According to IMDb, this was shot on 35mm film using spherical lenses. This has received a new 4K scan of the original film elements. This looks rather sharp, especially to be from 1943, and no I didn’t rhyme that on purpose. There’s a great amount of film grain preserved in this 4K scan and it’s pretty impressive. Some scenes can seem a tad bit softer than others, especially during scene transitions or fades. It’s not at all bothersome, in fact, it’s quite common in older films. Some of the scenes with the leopard can look rather impressive but that cat didn’t like to sit too still for long, as you’ll soon learn.
It’s worth noting that there are some occasional scratches, specks of dirt, hairs, and other visual imperfections left on the film print – as this was just a scan and not a restoration. It looks good, in my opinion, left this way. The only real problem here that I had was during a scene that takes place in what is supposed to be a pitch-dark alleyway. During this scene (as seen HERE and HERE in screenshots) there’s some obvious problem where it becomes slightly too bright. It only lasts for well under 10 seconds but it’s enough to catch your attention.
All and all, this is an above-average and somewhat exciting Black & White high definition presentation that most certainly does the 1943 film justice. Fans should for sure be pleased.
Video Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Audio here is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono. There were only a few occasions that I heard any pops or such in the audio mix, aside from that it was a pretty much clean presentation. There’s no hiss really here and it sounds pretty good for a 1946 film and only to be in Mono. The music comes across effective and the same is to be said for the sound effects. Dialogue is delivered spot-on all throughout, very important – as it is what drives this film. All and all, “The Leopard Man” on Blu-ray gets a solid lossless Mono sound mix that does the film justice.
Audio Quality Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release include the following:
- NEW Audio Commentary with Filmmaker/Film Historian Constant Nasr
- Audio Commentary with Filmmaker William Friedkin
- Theatrical Trailer (1:05 – HD)
- Still Image Gallery (8:36 – HD) plays like a slideshow. So, just sit back and watch.
Overall the bonus materials here only include two audio commentary tracks (one new), the theatrical trailer, and a still image gallery. It’s not a whole lot but then again this is a 1943 film and it is enough material in terms of extras to keep fans somewhat pleased.
Bonus Materials Rating: 1.75 (out of 5)
“The Leopard Man” was a unique film that relied on you (the audience) being just as afraid as the townspeople in New Mexico where it was set in, afraid that a killer was on the loose. You suspect that it’s the black leopard, as does everyone, at first but there are some reasons to later believe it could actually be a human killing as well. It’s enough suspense to leave you pretty captivated and it offers some good performances, namely from Dennis O’Keefe, Jean Brooks, and Margo. Lastly, the film’s title is a bit misleading in ways as it is actually a reference to the stage name of the guy (shown above) who owned the black leopard – “The Leopard Man” – hence the film’s title. And no I’m not giving you a “spoiler” there by any means.
In terms of video quality here you get a pretty impressive new 4K scan that certainly does this 1943 film justice, visually. The audio mix is solid as it can be for a Mono configuration and seems rather clean for the most part. The bonus materials are only comprised of two audio commentary tracks, the theatrical trailer, and an image gallery but it’s enough to still likely leave fans engaged after the film in terms of extras.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.25 (out of 5) for video quality
4 (out of 5) for audio quality
1.75 (out of 5) for bonus materials