|Category||Drama||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.85:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Rating||Other Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - DVD Teaser|
|Year Released||1969||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||108:21 minutes||Other Extras||Booklet|
|Start Up||Language Selection then Menu|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||4.0|
|16 x 9 Enhancement||Yes||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 4.0, 256 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or
This is the story of a country hick from Texas, Joe Buck (Jon Voight), who thinks he can head to New York to make his fortune servicing the needs of the love-starved women of that city. Obviously, this is a little more difficult than he anticipated and eventually he meets up with Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), a small time (and sickly) con man who points Joe in some directions, then disappears with twenty bucks. As things go from bad to worse for Joe, he eventually meets up again with Ratso and moves in with him as they struggle to survive on the streets of New York. This is not a happy ever after film.
This is not an especially convoluted story, but it does prove that a simple story can be woven into something quite complex as a film. And the fine screenplay was magnificently brought to life by a superb performance by Dustin Hoffman as the sickly con man, and why he did not get the Oscar for this is a little hard to believe. Jon Voight provides one of the best performances of his career as the naive hick from way out (south) west, and the fact that both leads gave such stunning performances helps in no small way to make the film work (especially as the story is very much about these two characters, with little in the way of supporting roles). John Schlesinger must have been truly inspired by the story and the leads, as this is a very tightly directed effort that keeps flowing, despite the at times confusing flashbacks in Joe Buck's life. But despite the excellence on offer, I simply did not ever find myself getting really involved with the film. Nonetheless, this does remain a classic of cinema that many will find great entertainment from.
The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
Surprisingly, the transfer was generally very sharp throughout, although perhaps lacking just a little in the way of depth to the transfer. However, this was significantly better than I was expecting and amongst the best transfers I have seen for a film of this vintage. Unfortunately the transfer was not especially clear, although this ends up giving the transfer a lovely gritty feel that captures the sleazy back street feel of New York so well. The shadow detail was not too good, especially in the night time scenes and this is really where the age of the film is noticed the most. There did not appear to be any low level noise problems in the transfer.
The colours are beautifully rendered throughout the film, and this came up a lot brighter and far more vibrant than I was expecting. Even more noticeable is the fact that this is consistent throughout the film. The colours are very nicely saturated, just on the edge of being oversaturated, producing a wonderful rich tone to the film. There was some minor evidence of colour oversaturation in a couple of scenes in the bar where the predominant background colour is red, but nothing too unpalatable at all.
There were no significant MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. There were no significant film-to-video artefacts noted in the transfer either. Obviously there are film artefacts throughout the film, although only a few were especially distracting or noticeable (some very obvious black film registration dots), and on the balance I felt that this was quite clean for a thirty year old film. The whole transfer gives the impression that some care has been taken in the restoration of the film.
This disc is an RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 52:33. The layer change is barely noticeable, it is reasonably well placed and is not disruptive to the film. The fact that a dual layer format has been chosen for a 108 minute film with little in the way of extras would go some way to accounting for the fine transfer. The transfer by the way is from a French master.
There are five audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 4.0 soundtrack, and Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks in German, French, Italian and Spanish. I listened to the English default, although briefly sampled the others. It should be noted that the Italian soundtrack sounds a lot more recessed than the other soundtracks.
Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.
There were no apparent audio sync problems with the disc.
The score by John Barry is not especially noticeable, but makes a nice supportive contribution to the film.
Whilst we have a rather unusual 4.0 surround soundtrack, it is not an especially brilliant example of the use of surround channels. The surround channels only seem to get minimal use, for ambience really, but this is hardly a problem as the film is very much dialogue driven. Overall, I find little bothersome about the soundtrack, which is quite a natural sounding effort. The bass channel obviously has no use at all in the soundtrack.
A very nice video transfer.
A more then acceptable audio transfer.
Extras are barely adequate.
© Ian Morris
2nd January 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|