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Blue Manhattan
cast: Robert De Niro, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, Allen Garfield, and Paul Bartel

director: Brian De Palma

87 minutes (18) 1970
Prism DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Brian De Palma began his career with low-budget independent comedies rooted in late 1960s' counterculture. Greetings (made in 1968, and noteworthy as the first film ever awarded an X rating from MPAA) dealt with three men, one of who was Jon Rubin (Brian De Palma), in the days before he was drafted to Vietnam. This film is the 1970 sequel, usually known as Hi, Mom! and occasionally Confessions Of A Peeping Tom. Here it goes under the name of Blue Manhattan, renamed when Troma (more usually associated with The Toxic Avenger and suchlike schlock) picked up the rights. Jon returns from Vietnam to a rundown apartment in Greenwich Village. There he indulges his interest in voyeurism...
   Blue Manhattan, under whichever title, will come as a surprise to people used to De Palma's slicker, less politically aligned, more genre-based studio work. However, traces of the later work can be found here: the pitch-black comedy, the interest in the process of filmmaking (hence the voyeurism angle), and the adventurous camerawork. De Niro looks remarkably like Travis Bickle in this film, and a few names-to-be appear during the course of the film. The most celebrated part of Blue Manhattan is the 17-minute Be Black, Baby film within a film, which would be pretty incendiary now, let alone in 1970.
   The DVD varies between full-frame and partial letterboxing, though the presence of reel-change marks indicates that this is an open-matte transfer of the cinema print, with the masking varying according to the source material. The picture is very soft, to the point where some scenes (such as the opening credits) seem out of focus. The sound is Dolby digital 2.0 mono. There are no extras at all, unless you count a 12-chapter chapter selection. This is not a good DVD by any means, but it's justifiable for both the film's rarity (this is the first time it has been commercially available in the UK) and the disc's cheapness. You can pick it up for less than �5. Certainly well worth a look for De Palma fans.
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