• The Key (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: January 9th, 2017.
    Director: Tinto Brass
    Cast: Frank Finlay, Stefania Sandrelli, Franco Branciaroli, Barbara Cupisti
    Year: 1983
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    The Key – Movie Review:

    In 1983, director Tinto Brass adapted Junichiro Tanizaki's infamous erotic novel from 1953, Manji, released in western territories as The Key (La Chiave in Italian). The film takes place during Mussolini's reign in Italy during the Second World War, and focuses on a beautiful woman named Teresa Rolf (Stefania Sandrelli from Black Belly Of The Tarantula). She’s married to her husband, Nino (Frank Finlay of Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce). Together they are celebrating their twentieth year of marriage, though it's painfully obvious that Nino is much older than his wife.

    As Nino's sexual prowess begins to fade in his older years, he finds that jealousy turns him on. In order to keep his relationship with Teresa interesting, he encourages his wife to seduce their son-in-law to be, Laszlo (Franco Branciaroli), who Teresa is obviously very physically attracted to.

    When Teresa obliges Nino's wishes, things take a turn to the kinkier side, and some fetishistic photo shoots occur, among various other sexual escapades, in which the sultry Teresa finds herself partaking in. She seems to enjoy herself, but whether or not any of this revelry will do anything to save her marriage or not remains to be seen. Complicating matters is the presence of her daughter Lisa (Barbara Cupisti Of Lucio Fulci's New York Ripper and Dario Argento's Opera, among others). She is, understandably, none too pleased with the recent activity with which her mother and fiancé have become involved.

    And oddly compelling and lavishly shot production, The Key is one of Brass' most accessible works with well-established characters, a tightly scripted and erotically charged plot, and of course, plenty of tastefully shot sexual hijinks. His well celebrated obsession with women's asses is once again paraded throughout the film. It’s somehow quite fascinating to watch the film’s characters delve deeper into sexual decadence in a steamy and intriguing plot set against one of the most politically difficult times in Italy's colorful history. In that respect, it could justifiably draw comparisons to the director’s earlier political sex film, Salon Kitty.

    The cast are all quite good here. Understandably, Stefania Sandrelli gets the most attention from Brass’ camera and she makes the most of it, but the supporting players are all solid here as well. Production values are on par with Brass’ other films from this period, which means that the movie looks fantastic, is features some gorgeous cinematography and on top of that boasts an excellent score from none other than Ennio Morricone.

    The Key – Blu-ray Review:

    The Key takes up 24.8Gbs of space on the 50GB Region B locked disc. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer is framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and it looks rather dated. The movie has always had a bit of a soft look to it but as you watch it you can’t help but wonder how much better it could look if it were given a new 4k or even 2k transfer with improved color correction. Either way, it definitely does beat the previous DVD editions of the movie, even if detail is never mind blowing. There’s no print damage to note and the image is always clean. There aren’t any compression issues to note. It looks okay, but definitely not as good as it could.

    Audio options are provided in 16-bit English and Italian LPCM 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles offered in English that translate the Italian language track and English SDH options for the English track. The film plays far better in Italian than it does in the dubbed English version, so that’s the ideal option here. However, both tracks sound just fine, offering decent range, clear dialogue and proper balance.

    There are menus and chapter selections here but outside of that the only extra on the disc is the film’s original theatrical trailer. Arrow has supplied some reversible cover sleeve art for this release.

    The Key – The Final Word:

    The Key is one of Tinto Brass’ better films, a compelling drama with excellent performances, fantastic production values, a great score and plenty of heat. Arrow’s Blu-ray release offers a modest but welcome improvement over the DVD editions that have come out over the years, but it is disappointingly light on extras.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Key Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I love this film and so thankful to have this Blu-ray. Tinto Brass' DVDs have some the worst PQ you'll find on the format so even though the Blu-rays have some issues, they are by far the best way to see these films. I sure hope we get MIRANDA before physical media dies and fingers crossed for upgrade to films like THE KEY, LOLA and CHEEKY.