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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
The Escape Artist (1982)

The Escape Artist (1982)

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Released 14-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 90:18
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Caleb Desohanel

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Griffin O'Neal
Raul Julia
Desiderio Arnaz
Teri Garr
Joan Hackett
Gabriel Dell
John P. Ryan
Elizabeth Daily
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Georges Delerue

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, Only very brief
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Well, after my initial two choices for film reviews I was starting to wonder if I was destined to only ever review painful movies. Fortunately, this disc exceeded all my rather low expectations. It's a little gem of a film about Danny Masters (Griffin O'Neal), 15 year old orphaned son of a famous escape artist, who wants to follow in his father's footsteps and have his own stage act. After running away from his Grandmother to live with his showbiz Uncle and Aunt (who used to be in his Father's act) Danny gets mixed up with Stu (Raul Julia), the slightly unhinged son of the crooked mayor (Desi Arnaz of I Love Lucy fame), and ends up getting himself into some trouble.

    The movie starts off with Danny entering the local newspaper offices and laying down a challenge that if cuffed and locked up in a police cell he can escape within an hour. The bulk of the film is then played in flashback, as we see how Danny came to be in this position, with the final act taking place during and after the escape attempt. I found myself quite captivated as this little story unfolded and when trying to put my finger on the reason for this, I came to the conclusion that it's because you actually care about the main character - something which isn't as common in films as it should be these days. The fact that Danny is far from a perfect character (he partakes in both lying and stealing throughout the movie), and yet I still found myself caring about what happened to him is testament to a well-told story in my opinion.

    It's by no means a perfect film though, and there were some parts that seemed a little rushed or skimmed over - like the short inclusion of Sandra (Elizabeth Daily) who Danny wants as his "assistant". I got the feeling that maybe there'd been a bit of heavy editing during post-production, resulting in a few definite gaps.

    Most of the characters only get very small amounts of screen time as well, with Danny and Stu being the ones the story is really based around. I thought the two actors responsible did a good job in carrying the film, and when doing a check on Griffin O'Neal's subsequent roles I was quite surprised to see he basically disappeared into bad-horror-sequel-land (Ghoulies 3, anyone?). He certainly comes across as better than many of the so-called child stars that Hollywood has inflicted upon us in recent years, and his manual dexterity makes you believe he really could be a stage performer. (An interesting bit of trivia: according to the IMDB, O'Neal was indicted for manslaughter in the death of Francis Ford Coppola's son - who has executive producer credits for this movie).

    If you're looking for a film with lots of action, a fast-paced story and a nicely packaged conclusion, then this isn't it. However, if you want a very human story with an open-ended finish about a talented youngster trying to find a place in the world, then this is well worth checking out.

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Transfer Quality


    Considering this film is over twenty years old, they've done a very nice job indeed on the video transfer.

    The transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a nice sharp transfer from such an old source. There are a lot of dark scenes either at night or inside darkened rooms, and they all come across with good shadow detail and nice dark blacks. I couldn't see any low-level noise. There was some film grain visible throughout, but with source material of this age that's not too surprising, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd imagined it would be. The only time grain became a bit of a distraction was during a brief flashback scene at the 66:36 mark, when there was a colour filter applied to change the look of the image.

    Colour was very rich and red-dominated. In fact, it almost seemed a little too red at times (skin tones seemed to be slightly too red), but this may have been the intention of the filmmaker. The very opening shot was a red light that seemed to have a bit of bleeding into the white text, and when the bright red curtains at 1:11 displayed the same problem at their base I thought it was going to be an issue. However, I didn't notice any bleeding at all after this point, and was most impressed with the clarity of the colours (especially some of the interior shots). No chroma noise was visible. This is not a film with bright colours, but rather deep rich ones.

    There were a few brief scenes that displayed some obvious MPEG artefacts. Most notable was at 61:40 when Danny is in his cell, and things become very pixelated for a few seconds. These are so rare as to not really be worth worrying about, though. Aliasing was not a problem, and although there were the occasional film artefacts, again these were much fewer that I'd expected from a 1982 movie. They've done a great job cleaning up the source for this one.

    This is a single layered disc, hence no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    For a film that was originally recorded in Dolby Stereo, this is a decent audio transfer.

    There is only the one audio track on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded.

    There were no problems hearing all the dialogue clearly, and audio sync was good.

    The musical score by Georges Delerue was very appropriate for the film, and really added to the mood. It had a child-like sound to it (no we're not talking The Wiggles), and like the movie itself wasn't there just to blow you out of your seat.

    The surround channels got a decent amount of use for such a dialogue-driven film. They were mainly used for ambient sounds, and the occasional moving car.

    My subwoofer basically had the night off, but then it's not the type of film that really required any serious bass. The only place I actually noticed the sub coming to life was in the sounds of thunder at 74:44, although I'm sure it also added a little to car engines and when the music kicked in.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The menus are static, 16x9 enhanced and have part of the score looping in the background.

Theatrical Trailer - 1:02

    The trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Hence no 16x9 enhancement.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As best I could tell, there isn't any Region 1 version of this disc currently available.


    The Escape Artist is a gentle story of a young boy trying to find his place in life. It's executed in a way that makes you actually care about the character, which I believe is what makes it interesting. If you're a fan of films that don't move along at break-neck speed, then I'd recommend you give this one a look.

    The video quality is very good for a film of this age.

    Sound quality is more than adequate for the type of movie.

    There are no extras to speak of.

Ratings (out of 5)


© David L (Only my Mum would have any interest in my bio)
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDOmni 3600, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252QM CRT Projector, 250cm custom built 16x9 matte screen. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersAccusound ES-55 Speaker set, Welling WS12 Subwoofer

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