Prizzi's Honor (1985)

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Released 11-Feb-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio
Filmographies-3
Gallery-Photo-16
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 129:02
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (80:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Huston
Studio
Distributor

MRA Entertainment
Starring Jack Nicholson
Kathleen Turner
Robert Loggia
John Randolph
William Hickey
Lee Richardson
Michael Lombard
Anjelica Huston
George Santopietro
Lawrence Tierney
CCH Pounder
Ann Selepegno
Vic Polizos
Case ?
RPI ? Music Alex North


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, United Airlines
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    There are some brilliant serious gangster films, the Godfather series being the most obvious. There are some brilliant comic gangster films, with Analyse This being the first to come to mind. And there are some marvellous black comedy gangster films, with Prizzi's Honor coming at, or very close to, the top of the list.

    This film is set some time ago, although the exact time period is never specified (I'd guess some time in the 1960s, but it's hard to tell). The Prizzi family is a powerful organised crime family, lead by the aged Don Corrado Prizzi (William Hickey's greatest screen performance). He has two sons, Dominic (Lee Richardson) and Eduardo (Robert Loggia), but his closest confidant is Angelo Partanna (John Randolph), whose wife died giving birth to Charley. Charley (Jack Nicholson) grows up to be a notorious enforcer for the Prizzis, a button man, a hitter. Charley was engaged to marry Dominic's daughter, Maerose (Anjelica Huston, who did not get this job because she's the director's daughter, nor because she was living with Jack Nicholson at the time), but the wedding was called off after they argued, and she ran off to Mexico.

    At the marriage between another of Dominic's daughters and a policeman (the mob and the police work closely together), Charley notices a woman (Kathleen Turner), and falls immediately in lust with her. He tries hard to track her down, but eventually she finds him. Turns out that the lust is mutual. But there's a problem. She is no ordinary woman — she's a hitter, too, and she was at the wedding to get instructions on a hit. Then things get more complicated, more involved, and more people end up dead...

    This is a marvellous film, with brilliant performances from all the major actors. The script is excellent, with some very funny lines. Perhaps the most memorable is: "The Sicilians would rather eat their children than part with money, and they are very fond of their children", but I also like: (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) "Do I ice her? Do I marry her? Which one of these?"

    Charley has no compunctions about killing, but he gets embarrassed about kissing in public, or making love with the lights on. He's not bright, but he is kind of endearing, in a cold-blooded killer way.

    William Hickey as Don Corrado is awesomely intimidating and sinister, despite being a frail old man.

    This film won four Golden Globes, and was nominated for two more. It only won one Oscar (Anjelica Huston scored Best Supporting Actress), but was nominated for six others (the Oscars were spread widely in 1986).

    This is a film I really wanted on DVD, and I was glad to see it arrive. Not so glad after I watched it, though...

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of about 1.78:1, but is not 16x9 enhanced. The film was shot with Panavision cameras and lenses, and IMDB has the original aspect ratio as 2.35:1, which fits with that, but the film doesn't look that cropped, so I wonder if the original ratio was really 1.85:1. Either way, the composition looks acceptable.

    The image is too soft almost all the time. It could be film grain, or over-compression, but either way it's too soft, especially in backgrounds. Shadow detail is too limited, with darker colours dropping off into black too quickly (have a look at 83:50, for example). Low-level noise is not a problem.

    Colour is bright enough, and rather well-rendered. There are some shots that look like they are on the verge of colour bleed (Jack Nicholson's bright yellow jacket, and Anjelica Huston's bright pink one), but they never seems to tip over into bleeding. There are no other colour-related artefacts, either.

    There are plenty of film artefacts, but most of them are small and untroubling. The ring (watermark?) on Dominic's face at 43:24 is neither.

    There is a lot of aliasing on all sorts of items, with car chrome only the most obvious; there is even aliasing on Don Corrado's wrinkles! There's some moiré (especially on some of Jack Nicholson's clothes). There's mosquito noise and light shimmer on many of the backgrounds. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are no subtitles, which is a shame — one or two words aren't clear enough.

    The disc is single-sided and dual-layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes at 80:53, and is fairly good, but obvious, because it falls at the end of a scene and freezes the image for a moment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in just one language, the original English. The English is a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, surround-encoded, at a surprisingly high 448 kbps.

    The dialogue is mostly clear, but a few words are a bit hard to make out, especially when Don Corrado is speaking. There are no signs of audio sync issues.

    The score is from Alex North — it is a nicely composed work, with a lilting theme for the lovers.

    The soundtrack makes no use of the subwoofer, but that's OK — most of the gunshots in this film are silenced. The surrounds get a bit of score, rather than anything special in the way of directional sound effects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static with music, with a picture of Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner, and Anjelica Huston.

Filmographies

    Simple filmographies for Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner, and Anjelica Huston.

Photo Gallery

    Sixteen behind-the-scenes photos, which you can choose to view individually, or in slide-show format.

R4 vs R1

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

    This film has been released in Region 1 twice. Once in 1999 by Anchor Bay (I have a copy of this one), and then again in 2003 by MGM. By the reports I can find, the two discs are essentially the same. Both are double-sided discs, with a full-screen version on one side, and a wide-screen (1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced) on the other. Neither have subtitles, and the only soundtrack is English Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, at 192kbps.

    This R4 offering is roughly equivalent to the wide-screen side of the R1, save that the R1 is single layered, and this one is dual layered. The R1 is a bit sharper (which is not what you might expect), but it still has plenty of aliasing. There are no extras on the R1 disc.

    The R1 transfer runs 129:00, compared with the 129:02 of the R4. The R4 is definitely PAL, and the R1 is NTSC. That suggests that the R4 is a video conversion from NTSC to PAL, because a fresh film transfer would have resulted in an R4 transfer that runs a bit under 124 minutes. As confirmation, the watermark on Dominic's face at 43:24 in the R4 is also present in the R1 at 43:25 (the 1 second discrepancy could well be due to different opening logos) — that's fairly convincing. So probably some of the softness of the R4 is actually due to converting lower resolution NTSC into higher resolution PAL.

    Out of the R4 and the R1s, I have to award this one to the R1, because it's a slightly better transfer, but I don't think any of these discs is good enough for a film like this. I note that there's a Region 2 disc that is 16x9 enhanced, so that might be a better choice, but I don't have much in the way of information about it. I hope someone has the sense to release a good transfer of this film in Region 4 some time soon.

Summary

    An excellent black comedy about gangsters, with brilliant performances. I just wish it were a better quality DVD.

    The video quality is not good enough.

    The audio quality is adequate, but nothing special.

    The extras are negligible.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, February 01, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
Original Aspect Ratio - Gary Couzens REPLY POSTED
Future SE of Prizzi's Honor - JeffB