On the cover of Grand Slam there's a quote from Roger Ebert that says "One of the best heist movies". You know what? For once in his life Mr. Ebert just may be right. Grand Slam is without a doubt a top notch heist movie and about as good as they get. It's all too entertaining and before you know it, the end credits roll and it's time to go home. But don't be so sad there little buckaroo… because of the magic of DVD and the hard workin' folks over at Blue Underground you can enjoy Grand Slam whenever you like in the privacy of your own home. What a glorious time to be alive!
For those of you who only know Grand Slam as an inexpensive breakfast treat at Denny's, boy are you in for a surprise! The real Grand Slam is actually an extremely well executed heist movie that also happens to sport an all star cast. Present and accounted for are the likes of Edward G Robinson, Robert Hoffman, Klaus Kinski, and the adorable Janet Leigh. The story pits a retired teacher against about 10 million dollars worth of diamonds. The only thing that stands in the way of the eclectic group of 4 gents he hires is the key holder (Leigh) and the aforementioned Grand Slam. What pray tell is The Grand Slam you ask? Well, it happens to be the latest in high tech security alarms, and extremely high tech it is (well at least for 1967 it is). Set against the joyful backdrop of Rio de Janeiro right smack in the middle of Carnival Grand Slam has a subtle and unassuming opening act followed by a very suspenseful and extremely well executed second. If one thing's for sure, when all is said and done, the ending is guaranteed to knock you on your ass and leave you slack jawed and wide eyed (not a guarantee).
Director Giuliano Montaldo is able to hold everything together nicely. He's given knockout performances from all involved (especially the always-wonderful Klaus Kinski) and sets us up for a tightly paced bang of a finale. The gadgets are great and the spy tactics are always fun to watch. Although some of the effects look dated they still hold up fairly well. One scene that comes to mind involves a stream of lasers that would trigger an alarm if crossed, that are obviously not lasers but some kind of back lit tubing. I understand the
effect they were going for; it's OK and understood. If you can get past some of the "outdatedness" you should be OK yourself.
Grand Slam is presented on DVD in its original scope aspect ratio and the result is quite pleasing. There are a few scenes that exhibit slight grain and some minor print damage does pop up here and there (the occasional light scratch and/or spec). Nothing really to be concerned about as for the most part the picture is more than pleasing enough. Colors are nice and sharp with great definition. The authoring job is quite excellent, as well as there isn't even a hint of artifacting. Black levels are dead on; it's a great transfer.
Audio is presented in English or French mono and fares quite well. Dialogue is crisp and clear and there is really no evidence of hiss or background noise. The Ennio Morricone score sounds phenomenal (don't all his scores rock the casbah?) and in my humble opinion is one of his better efforts.
Extras are thin which is understandable. First up is a theatrical trailer in surprisingly good shape. It's a great trailer (even if it does tell us a bit too much) and a welcomed addition. The only other extra is a brief still gallery. I'm not gonna sit here and cry over the absence of bios or other extras. Considering Blue Underground's track record so far, I'm sure that if there were anything else to include they would have. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt. For what it's worth, this will do just fine. I guess this is just as good a time as any to also mention how great it is that Blue Underground is keeping with the original artwork for their covers. The big boys could take a lesson on how it's done right, I hope they're paying attention.
Overall this is a fine presentation of a thrilling and highly enjoyable film. Fans of the genre should not hesitate to pick this one up. If your only exposure to this type of film has been the Mission Impossible or Oceans Eleven remakes, do yourself a favor and check out Grand Slam on DVD. There's a whole 'nother cinematic world out there and it's about time you experienced it. No shit.