4th Man, The (SE)/ A-,A-
Anchor Bay/1979/102/ANA 1.66

     Paul Verhoeven has been directing near the edge for many years. The 4th Man features the director in his most brilliant mode, weaving a black widow thriller/mystery/horror film with magnificent strokes of color and sensual and mysterious surreal imagery. Don't let the subtitles discourage an exciting appointment with The 4th Man.

You'll have a wonderful night too! ©Anchor Bay

     Typical of Verhoeven, The 4th Man is sexually bold and uninhibited. Snatches of sex frontal nudity are liberally sprinkled through the film regardless of sex. Sex is part and parcel of the story, however. Gerard Reve is a writer with a vivid imagination, a sexual appetite partial to hard body men, and a spotty career marked by some critical esteem and little financial success. A short trip to talk before a literary society turns into a rather more prolonged stay. Reve meets sex hungry Christine, a liberated blonde advertising her sexual attributes in a ravishing red dress. Blood red runs throughout the surreal images. Reve had better beware.
     A night with a pretty blonde isn’t the worst scenario, even for a guy with an eye for men. Reve is bold enough to overtly ogle Christine as if she were a young boy. The plot is complicated by Reve’s man hunger and Christine’s man hunger. Beautifully filmed by cinematographer Jan De Bont, the bold splashes of color and unusual camera angles emphasize the deadly thriller with sparkling illumination. The script is a delicious adaptation of a novel by Verhoeven collaborator Gerard Soeteman. The perversion is played out in evil rhythms. 
     Jeroen Krabbé leers provocatively in the role of Reve. Whether haunted by violent and mysterious images or plotting to bed a boy, Krabbe is never less than riveting in his performance. The lady in red is etched in poison by fabulous looking
Renée Soutendijk. Her Christine is a step ahead of Reve at every curve.
     Anchor Bay delivers The 4th Man with blood fully saturated in the transfer. It’s quite beautiful. Splashes of red appear with sudden and rich ferocity. Color is consistently stable and confined within in outlines. Fleshtones are natural and blacks are deep and velvety. Contrast range is excellent illuminating varied interiors and exteriors in perfect balance. The image is quite sharp and unenhanced. There's little or no noise in the transfer. Optional yellow English subtitles are easy to read and follow the action splendidly. The mono soundtrack is clean and free of hiss or distortion.
    As a bonus, Anchor Bay includes an audio commentary from director Verhoeven which adds outstanding illumination to the film.
     The perversity may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is perfectly brewed. 





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