Cop-Out (1967) Blu-ray Review: A Boring Stranger in the House

By the time Belgian author Georges Simenon’s 1940 book Les Inconnus dans le maison was adapted into a 1967 British movie by Bulgarian exile Pierre Rouve, the source material was probably already fairly out of touch with modern times. Looking at Rouve’s Stranger in the House now, however ‒ or, Cop-Out, as it is known to the select group of American audiences who have actually heard of or seen it ‒ it seems about as dated as could be. Its story, set within the era of England’s counterculture of the late ’60s, finds the one and only James Mason as a retired barrister who has since succumbed to the delights of extreme cynicism and alcohol abuse.

But that all starts to change ‒ very, very slowly, keeping in tune with the pace of the film itself, which was previously adapted for the silver screen in France in ’42 ‒ after Mason discovers a dead Bobby Darin in his spare bedroom. Sure, it’s the sort of thing we all dream of stumbling upon in our homes (and Mason’s magnificent laissez-faire demeanor regarding the corpse ‒ along with just about everything else in the film ‒ is something to be admired), but the police aren’t too terribly happy about it. In fact, they immediately suspect the Greek immigrant boyfriend of Mason’s daughter, the latter of whom is portrayed by Geraldine Chaplin.

Eventually (and I cannot stress that enough, as Cop-Out is an extremely slow-moving picture), Mason decides to defend his estranged daughter’s beau, and various facts of how Bobby Darin got to be in the picture (let alone dead) are revealed through a series of dull and lengthy flashbacks. Even a token “selling” track from Eric Burdon and The Animals doesn’t contribute to this flick very much, which is notable for its casting of Bobby Darin as a truly loathsome slimeball of a creep, and Mason’s spot-on performance. Towards the “climax” of the film (if I may be permitted to call it a climax), our aging star gets some truly marvelous lines regarding youth and old folk alike.

While just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago, his dialogue and performance still has the same misfortune of appearing in Cop-Out instead of a much better movie. Paul Bertoya, Ian Ogilvy, and Lisa Daniely co-star in this long, boring mod movie, which recently joined Kino Lorber’s line of Studio Classics on Blu-ray. The widescreen 1.66:1 1080p MPEG-4 AVC transfer isn’t the best I have ever seen, but considering the obscurity (and banality) of the story, I would have been very surprised if this release had received a full restoration. A DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono soundtrack is included, and the subtitle track is empty (a seemingly common theme with some Kino catalog releases).

Wrapping up this fairly disappointing title are the exact same three trailers featured on Kino’s release of The High Commissioner: Cop-Out, The High Commissioner, and The Grissom Gang.

Recommended for James Mason fans more than anyone else. Or people who enjoy watching Bobby Darin’s assorted motion picture disasters.

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Luigi Bastardo

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