• Short Night Of Glass Dolls (Twilight Time Releasing) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: October 16th, 2018.
    Director: Aldo Lado
    Cast: Mario Adorf, Barbara Bach, Jean Sorel, Ingrid Thulin
    Year: 1971
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Aldo Lado (Night Train Murders), 1971’s Short Night Of Glass Dolls (also known as Malastrana) tells the strange story of Gregory (Jean Sorel of Fox With A Velvet Tail and A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin), an American reporter who is working in Prague and whose body is found dead in a garden as the movie opens. The corpse is brought to the hospital and wheeled down to the morgue for an autopsy but as this happens we hear Gregory’s mind, evidently still alive somehow, pontificating on how he came to be murdered.

    It starts with Mira (Barbara Bach of The Unseen), Gregory’s beautiful girlfriend who goes missing under very unusual circumstances. When he comes home and finds she isn’t there he starts searching the city for her but he comes up empty handed. As he starts properly investigating her disappearance he comes to understand that Mira’s disappearance mirrors several other similar cases that have taken place in the area in the recent past. As he begins to put together the pieces of this strange puzzle he uncovers a conspiracy of sorts… the kind you shouldn’t get too close too.

    Lado’s directorial debut is a very good film indeed. While it’s not necessarily a Giallo in the traditional sense but it has enough in common with the genre that it should appeal to fans. What it lacks in gratuitous sex and violence it more than makes up for with an interesting and inventive premise told from an unlikely point of view and a fantastic ending that makes the deliberate buildup all worthwhile. The story is also very well written. As Gregory goes about his investigation and encounters the various players involved or possibly involved in the plot, each one is given sufficient motivation as to have involvement in what happened to Mira. There’s nobody you meet in the film and immediately say ‘nope, not it’ and dismiss and this helps aid a lot in terms of building suspense and not only holding your attention but in keeping you thinking throughout the film.

    Jean Sorel makes for a dashing enough male lead here. He looks good on camera and carries himself well in the picture. As such, it’s never a stretch to buy him in the part and it’s fair to say that this is actually one of his better and more nuanced performances. Barbara Bach looks great here and does fine in her role but it’s not exactly a starring turn, more of a cameo. The camera loves her though, and Lado makes good use of her screen time.

    Just as interesting are the locations. Lado makes excellent use of Prague’s streets and uses some distinctive color choices to ensure that there’s always something interesting on screen to look at. The story toys with the theme of the bourgeoisie exploiting the proletariat class, so setting the film in the then communist nation is an appropriate decision and one that ties into the way that blood is used throughout the film. Adding to all of this is one of Ennio Morricone’s fantastic scores, a collection of compositions that perfectly heighten the tension in the film and that are just as arresting and evocative on their own as they are when incorporated into the film itself. It’s a bit slow and a little out there by the time it’s all over, but for attentive viewers with a taste for the unusual, Short Night Of Glass Dolls is top notch.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Short Night Of Glass Dolls arrives on Blu-ray from Twilight Time Releasing on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up just under 30GBs of space. The movie is framed at 2.35.1 widescreen with a transfer that appears to mirror the one that 88 Films used for their release a few years ago, the colors are a tad different than those we saw on the Camera Obscura release (now out of print). There’s a lot of depth to the film and the transfer boasts excellent color reproduction and very strong black levels. At the same time, the image shows no obvious noise reduction or compression artifacts nor does it suffer from any edge enhancement. Skin tones look perfect and texture is also very, very strong. Short Night Of Glass Dolls looks beautiful here.

    As to the audio, you’re offered the choice of English or Italian language tracks, both in DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with removable subtitles available in English only. Both tracks sound quite good and the score really gets a nice upgrade in depth and clarity from the lossless audio. No problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are nicely on both tracks.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary track with film historians David Del Valle and Matteo Molinari. It’s an enjoyable talk with the two participants talking about Lado’s directing style, the locations that are used in the film, the score, the productions values and the various performers that inhabit the picture. Lots of information in here delivered at a good pace.

    The disc also contains English and Italian language theatrical trailers, the film’s isolated score track in DTS-HD 2.0 format, an interactive Twilight Time catalogue, menus and chapter selection. Inside the case is a full color insert booklet reproducing some classic poster artwork and containing an essay from Julie Kirgo. Here she aptly describes the film as a ‘thinking person’s giallo’ and then goes on to talk about what sets this one apart from the many other entries in the genre.

    Note that the extras on the Camera Obscura release do remain exclusive to that disc.

    The Final Word:

    Short Night Of Glass Dolls holds up well, a twisted and involving mix of Giallo style trappings with a psychological thriller style execution shot with loads of style and performed by a solid cast. Add to that a killer score and this is one Eurocult fans should enjoy, particularly as presented here. The audio and video are top notch and the commentary adds some additional value to the release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Short Night Of Glass Dolls Blu-ray screen caps!