White Palace (1990)

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Released 18-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 98:38
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:39) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Luis Mandoki

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Susan Sarandon
James Spader
Jason Alexander
Kathy Bates
Eileen Brennan
Steven Hill
Rachel Chagall
Corey Parker
Renée Taylor
Jonathan Penner
Barbara Howard
Kim Myers
Hildy Brooks
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music George Fenton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    White Palace is actually the name of a hamburger restaurant, but never mind about that. The story is actually a younger man-older woman drama, and the plotline is fairly straightforward.

    Max Baron (James Spader) is a 27-year old somewhat fastidious man who seemingly has it all, yet is not happy. He is a widower - his wife Janey recently died in a car accident and he can't seem to get over her. He attends his friend Neil Horowitz's (Jason Alexander) buck's night party, and stops by on the way to pick up some burgers from White Palace.

    The group discovers some of the burger boxes in the bag are empty. Max is infuriated, and despite his friends' pleas, he is determined to get a refund. He drives back to the restaurant, and has an argument with the waitress, Nora Baker (Susan Sarandon). Eventually she relents and gives him his money back.

    On the way home, he still feels depressed so he stops by at a bar for a drink. By coincidence, Nora is also drinking at the bar. She decides to flirt with him and buys him an additional drink. She then asks him for a lift home. On the way, he crashes into her mailbox as he is drunk and eventually spends the night at her house where she seduces him.

    He leaves in the morning and both of them are convinced they will not see each other again. However, over the next few days, Max discovers he is irresistibly drawn towards her, and soon they commence a relationship even though Nora is 43 years old and is the complete opposite to him in every way. He is Jewish. She is a lapsed Catholic. He adores Puccini operas. She likes The Oak Ridge Boys. He is obsessively tidy. She keeps a messy house. He works in advertising. She is a waitress.

    A lot of the film deals with Max's reluctance to include Nora in his circle of family and friends. He is attracted as well as embarrassed by her habits and social status. Will he ever be able to overcome his shame and his dependence on his mother, as well as his longing for Janey?

    The ending is pretty obvious and is somewhat hackneyed, reminiscent of the ending to An Officer and a Gentleman.

    Overall, I thought the film was okay, but not spectacular. The sex scenes are quite explicit in this film, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your age and attitude.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is in widescreen 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. There is a very slight black border around the entire frame, but this should be unnoticeable on over-scanned displays. The intended aspect ratio is 1.85:1, based on a 35mm film source.

    Given the age of the film (1990), the transfer is decent. Detail levels are very good. Colours tend to be well saturated in outdoor scenes bathed in daylight, but some of the indoor scenes can get a touch yellowy.

    The film source is relatively clean. Grain is hardly noticeable, which is surprising.

    I did not notice any compression artefacts. There are no real video artefacts apart from a slight telecine wobble during the opening credits.

    There are a number of subtitle tracks: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Turkish, and Greek. The dialogue transcription for the English subtitle track is adequate.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 53:39 during a scene change, so it is not very noticeable, resulting only in a slight pause.

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


    There are 5 audio tracks on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s).

    The original soundtrack format for the theatrical release was Dolby Stereo, so it looks like someone has taken the trouble to remix the soundtrack into 5.1.

    They actually did quite a good job, as the surround channels are extremely well utilized, and I noticed that the surround channels are discrete and not monophonic as there were instances of car engines being panned from the front to one of the surround channels (depending on the direction of travel). Apart from background music, the surround channels are utilized for various Foley effects such as traffic noises, car engines, birds, and so forth.

    The high bitrate (448Kb/s) gives a very solid body to the sound, with a full frequency range. I noticed lots of low frequencies, such as the revving of car engines and even in the background music, but the subwoofer did not seem all that active.

    The background music is instrumental, and is a mixture of smooth jazz and lush romantic piano. The original music score is by George Fenton, although there are also several instances of incidental music.

    Dialogue quality is excellent and there are no issues with audio synchronization.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras on this disc. The menus are 16x9 enhanced but static. They are available in several languages.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    Region 4 easily wins the comparison due to a widescreen 16x9 enhanced transfer and remastered 5.1 audio track.


    White Palace is a drama about the relationship between a younger man and an older woman from different social backgrounds.

    The video transfer is okay.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDCustom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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