The Film (3.5/5)
Jess Franco died a little over one year ago now in April of 2013, as one of the last remaining auteurs of early EuroCult cinema it was a tragic loss, but being in his mid-80's, and having been in declining health for sometime it was hardly unexpected. If one is to find a silver lining in the dark cloud of Franco's tragic passing it would be that over his very long and prolific career the Spanish director left us with over 200 films (more if you qualify the varying cuts of some of his films) to explore and to enjoy for decades to come. Prior to his passing his films began to trickle on to the Blu-ray format with Redemption Films releasing his classics Female Vampire and Exorcism on to the format in October of 2012. However, it would be Ascot-Elite Films with their line of Franco Blu-ray's that have been keeping the maestro's work visible, and in very beautiful Blu-ray editions since late 2013. The series is working it's way down, and we have decided to go back, and review as many of these titles as time allows as these are some of the most gorgeous cult titles on the market, and they offer a great tribute to the late Jess Franco.
OK, so first things first. I would not go into Downtown expecting Franco to tackle the mystery genre. Franco does play a detective, and there is crime and murder at the center of the film, but it only seems to be there to help string the film along from one sleazy moment of sex and nudity to the next. That being said, if that's what you're looking for in a film, you're going to get it in spades with Downtown.
Downtown was one of around 15 feature films produced by Erwin C. Dietrich with Jess Franco directing, and this is one of the most outright sleazy of the bunch. Whether that can be attributed to he fact that Franco was directing himself in these performances, I cannot quite say. I will say his performance as Pereira the inept detective at the center of the film certainly helped contribute to the sleazy charm of the whole thing. The film co-stars Franco's life partner, and frequent collaborator Lina Romay who plays the part of the woman who hires him, and is one of the pair of blackmailing bisexual lovers who keep him in their employ during the films duration. Her performance is top notch here, and her spotlight moment is a nightclub singing scene that must be seen to be believed.
I cannot speak for Franco's working methods, but as a director who made around the ballpark of 200 films it feels like he was a man who needed less of a script and more of a framework to get a film made. Case in point, his film Downtown was Franco taking on the private detective genre with the style typical of his mid-period films.
Downtown sees Franco play the detective Al Pereira, who is hired by the wife of a nightclub owner to take photographs of the man in bed with another woman, so that she may acquire a divorce. Pereira takes on the case, and gets the pictures, but things are not as simple as they initially seemed, as the woman who hired him was not actually his wife, and the person who was sleeping with the nightclub owner was paid to be there. On top of that, the photographs have ended up on the body of a dead man, and brings Pereira into the case not as an investigator, but as a suspect to a murder.
Ascot Elite in keeping with their Goya Collection Franco series, have presented Downtown in it's OAR with an excellent transfer. This transfer presumably from the original negative has excellent fine detail, color reproduction, and accurate flesh tones. There is also a healthy level of natural grain present throughout.
For my personal viewing I watched the film with the DTS-HD 5.1 German track. The track was quite good with dialogue, music, and effects coming through nice and clearly.
There is a trailer and stills gallery present on this Blu-ray.
Franco's Downtown is one of the better films in the Goya Collection series of Blu-ray's. The film is sleazy, raunchy, and quite a bit humorous at times. The A/V restoration from Ascot Elite is fantastic, and the extras are quite interesting as well. RECOMMENDED.