Ruthless People (1986)

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Released 30-Sep-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 90:11
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jim Abrahams
David Zucker
Jerry Zucker

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Danny DeVito
Judge Reinhold
Helen Slater
Bette Midler
Anita Morris
William G. Schilling
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Michel Colombier

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Sam Stone (Danny DeVito) is a schemer and a scoundrel and is certainly worthy of the title 'ruthless person'. As he tells his mistress Carol Dodsworth (Anita Morris), he only married his wife Barbara (Bette Midler) because her very rich father was near to death. Unfortunately the old man pulled through and hung on for 15 years before passing away. Consequently, Sam had to go out and make his own fortune as the "Spandex Miniskirt King". Naturally, he didn't invent the Spandex Miniskirt, but rather stole it from Sandy Kessler (Helen Slater) and her husband Ken (Judge Reinhold). Now years later, Sam has hatched a plan to do away with his wife by chloroforming her and throwing her over a cliff leaving him free to be with his mistress. Before he has an opportunity to execute this plan he receives a phone call informing him that his wife has been kidnapped. The kidnapper advises Sam that if he informs the police, the media or doesn't pay the ransom then his wife will be killed. From Sam's point of view this is almost too good to be true and he immediately alerts everyone and sets out to avoid paying the ransom! Meanwhile, the naive and inept kidnappers, Sandy and Ken are having to deal with the very abrasive, self centred and spoilt Barbara whom they have locked in their basement.

    As comedies go this is a pretty good effort and should definitely provoke a few chuckles from most viewers. Some of you, and you wouldn't be alone, may find it absolutely hilarious and find yourself issuing hearty belly laughs at all the right moments. Both Danny DeVito and Bette Midler excel in their roles, these both being parts that are not a stretch for either actor. Both actors were either nominated for or won a number of comedy awards for this effort including a Golden Globe nomination for De Vito. While some elements of the plot are quite obvious there are also a number of sub-plots which have you wondering where they are leading you and how they will be resolved as part of the overall story. There are also enough twists and turns to keep you interested and pondering how the basically good Sandy and Ken will come out OK while the ruthless characters will get their comeuppances.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This is a pretty good transfer overall with no serious problems.

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

    The image is quite sharp with good shadow detail. There is some very minor edge enhancement visible at times but this has thankfully been kept below a distracting level. There was no evidence of low level noise.

    The colour palette is well rendered with colours being quite vivid and skin tones quite natural.

    Artefacts are not a big problem in this transfer with a complete absence of compression artefacts. Only the occasional small mark was observed, while film grain is evident throughout. I don't recall seeing any instances of aliasing.

    Based on a 10 minute sample of the English subtitles, they seemed word perfect. They were also well timed and quite easy to read using suitably sized white text in the traditional position at the bottom of the screen. If English is not your preferred language then there are plenty of other subtitle options available.

    Despite the fact that the packaging indicates that this is a dual layered disc it isn't. Consequently, there is no layer change to interrupt your laughter.

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


    Two audio tracks are provided on the disc, these being English and Spanish. Both are Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. I listened exclusively to the English audio.

    The dialogue was at all times completely clear and easy to understand and I wasn't aware of any problems with the audio sync.

    Michel Colombier has provided an upbeat musical score which is eminently in tune with the story. In addition we are treated to Mick Jagger performing the theme song as well as Bill Joel's Modern Woman, Luther Vandoss' Give Me The Reason and Bruce Springsteen's Stand On It among other popular tunes.

    The surround channels were used minimally and really only for the musical score with most of the audio coming from the screen channels.

    The subwoofer really wasn't required for this movie and only had a chance to contribute very subtly to the musical score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Unless you consider menu audio an extra then the disc has no extras.


    The menu is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. It features Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio but there is no animation.

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:

    I'd select the local version as the best, however given the nature of the audio in this movie there probably isn't a huge advantage in this choice.


    Ruthless People is a fun movie which is likely to generate quite a few laughs.

    Both the video and the audio quality are very good.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Saturday, January 17, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-655A [SACD & DVD-A], using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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