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Brian De Palma
Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning
Writing Credits:
Brian De Palma, Louisa Rose Synopsis:
A fledgling Staten Island journalist witnesses a brutal murder in the neighboring apartment of a French-Canadian model, but the police do not believe that the crime took place.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 10/23/2018

• 2018 Interview with Actor Jennifer Salt
• “The Autopsy” Featurette
• “Brian De Palma at the AFI” Audio Interview
• “Margot Kidder on The Dick Cavett Show” Excerpt
• Photo Gallery
• Radio Spots
• Booklet


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Sisters: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1973)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 9, 2020)

One of Brian De Palma’s earliest feature films, 1973’s Sisters offers a psychological horror tale. The story involves Danielle (Margot Kidder), a lovely young model who once was rather attached to her sister Dominique.

It appears that they continue to share a close relationship, though Dominique may not be all that "with it". The stuff starts to hit the fan when aspiring reporter Grace (Jennifer Salt) seems to witness a nasty attack by one of the sisters on a young man.

At first no one appears to believe Grace but she's tenacious and refuses to give up on her investigation. Eventually she becomes ensnared to greater and greater degrees until she gets in harm's way herself.

Whether fair or not, De Palma received persistent comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock, and those manifest here. The most obvious Hitchcock references in Sisters stem from Rear Window and Psycho.

In fact, these links become so blatant that it seems almost shameless. De Palma never appeared to mind overt theft, however, so I guess it's no surprise to see it here.

Despite the lack of originality inherent in Sisters, it does work relatively well and it creates a moderately creepy and compelling tone. Actually, the movie works best at its start, as our entrance to the tale comes through a phony TV shows called Peeping Toms.

This Candid Camera-style program introduces Danielle and her soon-to-be lover Philip (Lisle Wilson). It does so in a clever and provocative manner.

After that creative opening, the movie continues on a moderately smooth path for a while, but I must admit I start to lose interest once Grace becomes involved. The character doesn't seem very appealing, and the plot's development feels too obvious.

For a while, that is, as I will admit that the story takes one unexpected twist that I didn’t expect. Otherwise, Sisters seems pretty predictable much of the time.

Anyone familiar with Hitchcock should be able to anticipate much of what occurs, as almost all of the "shocking" turns don't become surprising at all. The execution of the plot feels only moderately stylish and compelling.

Ultimately, I'd rather watch real Hitchcock than De Palma's imitation. Nonetheless, Sisters makes for a modestly entertaining experience.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Sisters appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though dated, the image appeared generally good.

Sharpness usually seemed solid. Occasional instances of softness interfered at times, but those moments appeared modest and largely appeared related to the original photography.

I saw no examples of moiré effects or jagged edges, and the presentation seemed to lack evidence of edge haloes. Source flaws also failed to create any distractions, and grain remained natural, without signs of digital noise reduction.

Colors came across as fairly full. The movie opted for a reasonably natural palette that largely appeared acceptably dynamic.

Black levels usually stayed fairly deep and dense, while shadow detail showed positive consistency. Ultimately, Sisters provided a more than acceptable visual presentation.

As for the LPCM monaural soundtrack of Sisters, it was perfectly adequate for its era but not much better than that. Speech sounded intelligible and clear, though the lines suffered from a somewhat boxy sound.

The movie offered a moody score, and these elements came across reasonably well. While the music lacked great range, it seemed clear enough.

The effects represented the source elements in a competent manner. These elements offered reasonable accuracy without great punch. All of this was good enough for an age-adjusted “C+“.

Under “Interviews”, we find four segments, and these start with a 2018 chat with actor Jennifer Salt. In this 24-minute, six-second reel, she covers her relationship with director Brian De Palma, aspects of her career, and aspects of the Sisters production. Salt offers a good collection of insights.

With The Autopsy, we locate a 26-minute, 30-second program that includes archival comments from De Palma, editor Paul Hirsch, producer Edward Pressman and actors Charles Durning and Bill Finley.

“Autopsy” looks at the movie’s roots and path to the screen, story/characters, cast and performances, various cinematic techniques, music, and the Hitchcock comparisons.

While not a succinct overview of the production, “Autopsy” still acts as a pretty good “making of” piece. It gets into a nice variety of topics and offers a mix of useful notes.

With Brian De Palma at the AFI, we find a running audio program. Like a commentary, this 1973 interview plays along with the movie. De Palma talks about his career, with a strong emphasis on Sisters.

Most discussions of this sort tend toward kiss-uppery, but this one gives us a more blunt appraisal. While the panel offers some praise, they also question his choices, a fact that makes this an engaging and informative view of Sisters.

Finally, Margot Kidder on The Dick Cavett Show comes from 1970 and spans eight minutes, 55 seconds. They discuss Kidder’s then-nascent career.

Guest Gloria Swanson fills a fair amount of the running time as well, while Janis Joplin (!) sits at the side and looks bored. Nothing especially interesting materializes, but how can you dislike a panel with Kidder, Swanson and Joplin?

In addition to four Radio Spots, we find a Photo Gallery. It includes 160 stills that mix promo shots, images from the set and ads. This turns into a solid compilation.

Sisters brings a moderately chilling and compelling piece of faux Hitchcock. If nothing else, it certainly demonstrated the path down which Brian De Palma would walk for most of his career. The Blu-ray provides generally positive picture along with adequate audio and a reasonable selection of bonus materials. Fans of De Palma's work may want to give this one a spin, but I'd recommend a good Hitchcock film in its stead.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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