Jack Arnold’s Swan Song

Primarily known for his creature features for Universal, director Jack Arnold finishes his film career with the slickly satisfying euro-thriller The Swiss Conspiracy. A far cry from his work on Creature from the Black Lagoon, Arnold assembles a thrilling suspense vehicle dripping with charm for his loaded cast of recognizable stars.

Starring David Janssen (TV’s The Fugitive) and a deep roster of ‘70s stalwarts such as John Saxon, Senta Berger, Elke Sommer, and Ray Milland, the movie hums with veteran craftsmanship and great character beats. A taut screenplay concocts an enthralling whodunit around possible corruption and seedy paranoia when several clients of a Swiss bank are exposed in a blackmail scheme.

Director Jack Arnold finishes his film career with the slickly satisfying euro-thriller The Swiss Conspiracy

Shot and set in Zurich, The Swiss Conspiracy is based on the hit novel of the same name. A Swiss bank learns the confidentiality of several anonymous accounts have been compromised and personal threats have been made to five account holders who thought their privacy was sacrosanct. Meanwhile two thugs are looking for a Chicago mob figure (John Saxon) on the run throughout Zurich, who happens to be one of the blackmail victims.

The other blackmail victims include an alluring Zurich woman played by Senta Berger, a Texas businessman, and a wealthy Dutchman. The bank’s president (Ray Milland) hires David Christopher (David Janssen) as investigator, a former Department of Justice official from America. He’s been brought in to fix this problem and make it go away. The bank is hoping to quietly pay off the ransom before the blackmail scheme is exposed in the press, which would destroy their reputation for absolute privacy.

The Swiss Conspiracy’s plot revolves around a number of questionable red herrings but it’s quite fun seeing Janssen work his way through the entangled mystery. He ends up romancing Senta Berger in one intriguing sub-plot. There’s a stunning car sequence on Zurich’s mountainous roads which I’m positive inspired the classic opening credits to television’s Hart to Hart later in the decade. Some complaints about the ending may linger but the ride there is certainly worth enjoying.

They don’t make thrillers like this anymore. While The Swiss Conspiracy isn’t a classic, the film is a tasty treat from a bygone era steeped in Swiss banking laws and juicy twists.

Video

Film Masters has enlisted colorist and restoration expert Marc Wielage to bring back the original colors that have not been seen since The Swiss Conspiracy made its original theatrical debut in 1976.

Scanned in 4K from original 35mm archival elements, The Swiss Conspiracy receives a high-quality transfer with solid definition and excellent clarity. The film-like, authentic 1.85:1 presentation has a stable contrast, a vintage color palette brought back to life, unfiltered detail, and steady black levels.

The main feature runs 87 minutes on a BD-50, encoded in transparent AVC completely capturing the original grain structure. Once the movie moves past the soft opening credits, depth and dimension improve in sharpness and tone.

Having little prior experience with a Film Masters release myself, The Swiss Conspiracy represents top-notch work on par with the biggest independent labels working in Blu-ray today. The tried and true cinematography from German W.P. Hassenstein beautifully captures Zurich at its scenic locales. There isn’t much more one could wring from the movie’s extant elements.

Audio

A jazzy score from Klaus Doldinger nicely fills out the full-sounding 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio. The monaural mix offers intelligible dialogue and fairly robust sound design for an independent European production shot in 1975.

There’s more space and extension than similar television fare without quite hitting the highs of better theatrical soundtracks. The Swiss Conspiracy’s professional and uncompromising recording effortlessly switches between quiet dialogue and outdoor set pieces in full harmony without a hitch.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. Secondary audio includes 2.0 Dolby Digital in mono.

Extras

Film Masters has done a wonderful job bringing The Swiss Conspiracy to Blu-ray with a quality 4K restoration and a host of enlightening special features. Lee Pfeiffer, the Editor-in-Chief of Cinema Retro magazine, provides liner notes in the included 14-page color booklet. The indie euro-thriller has never received this kind of treatment before in any format.

The BD is coded for all regions.

Audio Commentary with Film Historian Robert Kelly and Podcaster Daniel Budnik

Jack Arnold: The Lost Years Featurette (14:37 in HD) – Ballyhoo Motion Pictures offers this look at Arnold’s leaner Universal years with comments from film historian Ted Newsom and others.

Jack Arnold: A Three Dimensional Filmmaker (28:26 in HD) – A neat look back at Arnold’s entire filmmaking career. The extended video essay offers insights from Michael Schuman and Kristopher Woofter.

Original 35MM Trailer (01:46 in HD) – 1976 trailer

Restored 35MM Trailer (01:47 in HD) – 2024 “remix” from restored film elements

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

The Swiss Conspiracy
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A slinky eurothriller from director Jack Arnold with a sublime ’70s cast

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4.5 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:


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