Overall | Stork (1971) | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974) | Petersen (1974) | End Play (1975) | Eliza Fraser (1976) | High Rolling (1977) | The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

70's Aussie Cinema Classics: Hexagon Tribute Collection (Box Set) (1971)

70's Aussie Cinema Classics: Hexagon Tribute Collection (Box Set) (1971)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

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Overall Package

    Hexagon Productions was formed in the wake of the success of Stork in 1971. Stork was distributed by Roadshow, and seeing the possibilities for producing commercially successful Australian films, they formed a partnership with three of the principals behind Stork: director Tim Burstall, cinematographer Robin Copping and David Bilcock. The name probably came from Hexagon having six directors, with three Roadshow executives making up the sextet.

    Hexagon would go on to produce some commercially successful and very well made films, notably Alvin Purple and Petersen. There were also some critical duds, like Alvin Rides Again and High Rolling, though even these seem to have been profitable at the box office. Hexagon produced eight films between Stork and the end of the 1970s, then stopped for reasons I have not been able to ascertain. Seven of these films plus Stork are included in this collection. The eighth was1975's The Love Epidemic, which was produced by Burstall and directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith. Why this is not included in this set is unclear.

    Each of these films has an acceptable transfer to DVD and features a range of extras, including short films and documentaries. The most valuable extras are the interviews. Sadly, Tim Burstall died during the production of the extras, which means that the later films have no interview material with him. Apart from that for High Rolling, each of the interviews includes at least one of the leading players as well as supporting cast and crew.

    The Hexagon Tribute Collection is a fine tribute indeed to this short-lived production company, and is well worth investing in if you have an interest in Australian cinema of the period or if you simply want to see these films again thirty years later.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
greetings aussie babes! great review and very informative. - mike hill.

Overall | Stork (1971) | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974) | Petersen (1974) | End Play (1975) | Eliza Fraser (1976) | High Rolling (1977) | The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

Stork (1971)

Stork (1971)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Short Film-"Three Old Friends"
Featurette-Making Of-"Three Old Friends"
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 84:48
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:36) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim Burstall
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Bruce Spence
Graeme Blundell
Sean McEuan
Helmut Bakaitis
Jacki Weaver
Peter Green
Madeleine Orr
Peter Cummins
Michael Duffield
Alan Finney
Robin Copping
David Bilcock
Larry Stevens
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music Han Poulsen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The 1960s were a barren wasteland for Australian film. There appear to be only two feature films produced between 1959 and 1969, both directed by Michael Powell, an Englishman. The cinemas were dominated by American and (to a lesser extent) British product.

    As the Seventies began, there was a renewed interest in Australian culture, possibly triggered or at least accelerated by the celebrations for the 1970 bicentenary of Captain Cook's 'discovery' of Australia. In the small La Mama café in Melbourne, Betty Burstall started a theatre for Australian plays. One of the works premiered there was The Coming of Stork, the first professional play from a then unknown writer named David Williamson.

    Betty's husband Tim had directed an art-house film, and he, cinematographer Robin Copping and editor David Bilcock managed to raise finance to make a film version of the play. Retitled Stork, it featured only a couple of actors from the stage version. Bruce Spence recreated his role as the title character in his first film. The bulk of the actors were brought in for the film, including several from far away Sydney.

    The film was a financial and critical success and rekindled interest in making films in Australia. This process was fast-tracked by the establishment of the Australian Film Finance Corporation by the Gorton government. Tim Burstall and the producers of this film went on to form Hexagon Productions, which in partnership with Roadshow produced seven further films by the end of the 1970s. These films, all but two directed by Burstall, are now being released on DVD as a box set and separately. Stork is the earliest film in the set.

    Stork is the nickname of Graham Wallace. He is six-foot-seven and thin as a rake. Stork is a daydreaming hypochondriac, who throws up his day job with GM-H and moves in with his mate Westy (Graeme Blundell). Stork is opinionated, sexist and a revolutionary, fond of quoting Marcuse though he never really seems to do anything about it. Westy shares a place with Tony (Sean McEuan) and Clyde (Helmut Bakaitis). Tony's a bit artsy, while Clyde would probably today have risen to an executive position with a big corporation through the old boys network. Then there's Anna (Jacki Weaver), a non-conformist who shares her charms between Tony and Clyde, depending on how she's feeling. Though he's supposed to be there for just the one night, Stork moves in and soon inveigles himself with Anna. Much chaos ensues. Of particular note is the smoked oyster prank, which some viewers may find disgusting. I know I did.

    Stork is a bit of a ramshackle film, borrowing elements from the anarchic British comedies of the 1960s such as I'll Never Forget What's 'Isname and Morgan - A Suitable Case For Treatment as well as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Graduate. However, it is distinctly Australian and a forerunner of the "ocker" comedies of later years. The script is obviously based on a play, with typical Williamson dialogue, though he and Burstall went to some effort to open it up for the cinema. There are still a few laughs to be had, but in the end the film is more of a curiosity, a period piece, though it still has a freshness about it that is appealing. I found Stork to be an unsympathetic character at first, but he does grow on you. Bruce Spence doesn't just play Stork, he IS Stork. It is hard to imagine any other actor playing this tall, gangly character. Jacki Weaver is good as Anna, her diminutive size humorously contrasting with the beanpole Stork. Graeme Blundell shows signs of things to come in the relatively small role of Westy. The rest of the supporting cast includes familiar faces from film and television of a bygone era, including Terry Norris and Max Gillies.

    While this may not be one of the best Australian films ever made, it is certainly worth seeing and the producers of this disc have gone to some trouble to give it the presentation it deserves.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.29:1, close to the original 1.37:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The film was shot on 16mm film as the producers could not afford 35mm equipment, so the video quality suffers slightly from a lack of detail. Funding for the DVD obviously did not extend to a full restoration of the original footage, so there are a lot of film artefacts.

    That being said, a very good job has been done with this transfer. The video is very sharp and clear, with a reasonable level of detail visible. Contrast levels are very good. There are some murky scenes (for example the party scene) where shadow detail is a minor issue, but otherwise there are no problems with the transfer.

    Colour is pretty good too. Flesh tones are accurate most of the time, though occasionally I thought that they were a little too dark.

    There is very little in the way of issues with the transfer to video. There is occasional slight evidence of aliasing, though I doubt whether anyone would be disturbed by it. There is also visible grain, but again not to a distracting level.

    There are plenty of film artefacts, with dirt and debris visible, the occasional scratch and white flecks throughout.

    Optional English subtitles are provided. These are designed to assist the hearing impaired, and this means that they are not always centred on the screen, being positioned towards the side of the screen that the character who speaks them is on. They seem to match the dialogue in general terms, though occasional words are left out.

    The layer change on this RSDL disc is well placed on a scene change at 67:36 and is barely noticeable.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks provided, Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1. The 5.1 mix is the default. I listened to the 2.0 mix and sampled the 5.1 mix.

    There is not much difference between the two tracks. The 5.1 mix uses mainly the centre channel, and the rear channels are barely used, if at all. I did not find any low frequency effects. The 2.0 soundstage sounds a bit wider.

    Dialogue is always clear and distinct. I had no trouble understanding any of the dialogue. Given that the original audio would have been mono, the audio sounds pretty good, with no noticeable problems.

    The music score is by Han Poulson and the Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band. The latter portray the band during the party scene. The music is very much of its era, a cross between traditional Australian styles and folk music. It suits the film very well.

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

Extras

    A good selection of extras, most of which were made especially for this release.

Main Menu Audio

    The static main menu has music from the score played as accompaniment.

Dolby Digital Trailer - Rain (0:34)

    Choosing to play the film from the menu gives you this seemingly ancient Dolby Digital trailer.

Interviews - Cast & Crew (30:34)

    Lengthy interviews with surviving cast and crew members, including the director and his wife, the writer, Rob Copping and several of the actors (Spence, Blundell, Weaver, Finney). These interviews must have been made during the last months of Burstall's life, but he seems quite lively and recalls the film clearly. He died suddenly in April 2004. The interviews were shot on video in 1.33:1.

    The interview material goes into detail about the genesis of the play as well as the production and reception of the film, and is very interesting.

Theatrical Trailer (1:16)

    I found this trailer, typical of its era, quite funny, especially the closing title card for The Classic at Mosman.

Biographies - Crew - Tim Burstall

    A detailed biography of the director.

Filmographies - Cast & Crew

    Complete film listings for the director, writer, cinematographer and stars. It is interesting to note that both Blundell and Spence appear in the upcoming Star Wars film.

Gallery - Photo (2:05)

    Rather than being a series of stills that you can navigate through at your own pace, this is a sequence of mostly monochrome behind the scenes photographs and promotional material.

Short Film - Three Old Friends (11:28)

    This is a 1974 black and white short starring Spence, Blundell and Finney and directed by Burstall, apparently made to be screened prior to one of their features. It was based on a play from the La Mama theatre. Quite interesting and a little disturbing, it is well transferred to DVD.

Featurette - Making Of-Three Old Friends (5:10)

    Burstall, Blundell and Finney talk about the origin of the short and the negative reaction of the critics.

R4 vs R1

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

    This Region 4 release seems to be the only release in any region.

Summary

    A very Australian film, still fresh today, though perhaps the social satire is no longer relevant.

    The video quality is very good despite the lack of restoration.

    The audio quality is good.

    An excellent extras package is included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, November 22, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
pre-1969 Australian films - Gary Couzens REPLY POSTED

Overall | Stork (1971) | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974) | Petersen (1974) | End Play (1975) | Eliza Fraser (1976) | High Rolling (1977) | The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973)

Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973)

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Released 5-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Featurette-Inside Alvin
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall (Director)
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 92:48 (Case: 97)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:07) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim Burstall
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Graeme Blundell
Abigail
Lynette Curran
Christine Amor
Dina Mann
Dennis Miller
Jill Forster
Frederick Parslow
Valerie Blake
Alan Finney
Gary Down
Ellie Maclure
Peter Aanensen
Case ?
RPI Box Music Brian Cadd


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Alvin Purple has a problem: women are always chasing after him. In a lengthy soft-focus flashback sequence, we see that he had this problem as a schoolboy, with girls wanting him to help them with their "homework". As an adult, Alvin finds it hard to resist the advances of women. Unable to find a steady job until he teams up with a friend to sell waterbeds, he is unsatisfied with his encounters with women. Even psychiatry does not seem to help. But he does feel something for Tina, one girl he does not bed. Will Alvin find true happiness?

    When released in 1973, Alvin Purple was highly controversial, both due to its subject matter and the frequent nudity and innuendo. Seen today it is hard to work out what the fuss was all about. It certainly does not go anywhere near as far as films like Baise-Moi or Romance in depictions of sex. In fact, it is rather coy at times. The difference between Alvin and these more recent films is the tone. Where contemporary film-makers seem determined to camouflage the smut with excessive seriousness, Alvin is a light-hearted, good-natured fantasy that still manages to skewer aspects of the so-called sexual revolution of the Seventies. Alvin's resolution early in the film to overcome his problem and usher in the "sexless Seventies" lasts about two seconds, and while he may see his excessive prowess with women as a problem, his psychiatrist correctly points out that he is just very normal. But his story is the fantasy of many men: to be pursued by lustful women after only one thing. In a sense this is a reversal of the usual roles, and the females become the predators rather than the victims. The likeability of the central character and much of the comedy comes from the fact that he does not look anything like the typical stud.

    Various aspects of the burgeoning sexual revolution are held up to ridicule: psychiatry, waterbeds, the legal profession and its double standards, the media and anything else the writer could think of. Alan Hopgood wrote the screenplay, and a very good one it is. The film has a believable narrative (if you accept the central conceit), and the story is well-paced. There are a lot of double-entendres, but these are mostly delivered with a straight face, without the nudge-nudge wink-wink you associate with similar British films of the era. The film is lively and still quite funny, even after more than thirty years, though the pace does sag a little towards the end.

    Graeme Blundell will be forever associated with this character, much to his chagrin apparently. He is a likeable and believable Alvin, managing to create a sympathetic character and avoiding any tendency to overact. He is a deft comedy player and his timing is impeccable in this film. The supporting cast is generally very good. Penne Hackforth-Jones plays the repressed female psychiatrist quite well, as does George Whaley as the other psychiatrist Dr McBurney. There are a lot of familiar faces in the cast, such as brief bits by Jacki Weaver, Alan Finney, Abigail, Jill Forster and Dennis Miller. Noel Ferrier has an amusing role as a judge. The Elke Neidhart who appears as one of Alvin's clients in the movies shown in the courtroom scene is recognisably the Elke Neidhardt who is directing the Wagner Ring cycle being performed in Adelaide at the time of writing.

    Alvin must have touched a chord with viewers in 1973, as it was a major box office success. At this time the number of films with sexual themes was on the up. The 'R' certificate had just been introduced, and soft-core films from Europe played the smaller theatres. American films had more and more nudity and sex, so it was inevitable that Australia would follow suit. In fact, after Alvin there was a flood of "naughty" films, which would last throughout the rest of the decade. The sequel Alvin Rides Again quickly followed, as did a brief television series memorably pulled off the air by the aptly-named ABC Chairman Sir Henry Bland. There was another ill-advised sequel, Melvin, Son of Alvin in 1984. The first sequel is included on disc two of this two disc set, and that film is reviewed separately.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented on this disc in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio would have been 1.85:1, so we are not missing much here.

    Although the film has not been fully restored, this is a fine transfer. The transfer is very sharp with a lot of detail visible. I suspect that the film has not looked as good since its original release. Technically, the film is quite well made but there are a few instances where it is obvious that the film was not made on a large budget. Some scenes where the backlighting overwhelms the screen making the characters indistinct should have been reshot. Thankfully this only happens a couple of times: when the young Alvin is talking with his teacher, and when the male psychiatrist is discussing Alvin's problems. There are also variations in the colour palette, with skin tones looking different in different shots. This is probably due to variations in the lighting. Again, this could have been corrected at the time by reshooting.

    Contrast levels are good, with the whole transfer having a film-like appearance. This is helped by a healthy level of grain. The colour saturation seems to have been cranked up a little too much. For the most part the colours are vivid and lifelike, but there are some excessively bright reds in evidence. There is no colour bleeding, fortunately. Black are very solid with no noticeable low level noise. Whites are as pure as the original photography allows.

    There are a couple of instances of aliasing on car grilles, but otherwise there are no film to video or MPEG artefacts.

    Film artefacts tend to increase in frequency over the duration of the film. These mostly take the form of white flecks, with some occasional dirt and minor blemishes. There is nothing really to complain about apart from the reel change markings, such as at 33:17, 52:02 and 68:03. Even these are quite small in size.

    Optional hard of hearing subtitles are provided. These are in a white font and are relatively large. They are thus easily read. They match the dialogue very well, with only the occasional paraphrasing or dropping of words. They are placed on the screen to match the location of the speaker, which may be helpful for those who are hard of hearing.

    The layer change on this RSDL disc is well placed on a scene change at 67:07 and is barely noticeable.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks provided, in Dolby Digital 5.1 (the default) and Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the latter and sampled the former.

    The audio is very good, with clear dialogue and not very much to take issue with. The audio is not of reference quality, but you would not expect it to be. There is very little in the way of directional effects, with almost no subwoofer activity and very little in the way of rear channel effects. Both soundtracks are very much full frontal, with the two-channel mix sounding a little wider due to the the surround mix having a lot of centre speaker activity.

    The music score is by Brian Cadd, who also sings the theme song heard during the opening and closing credits. The song was a chart success in its day, and the rest of the music score is very good. The chase sequences have music that is meant to be reminiscent of the Benny Hill chase music.

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

Extras

    A good selection of extras, with one fault. The cursor was not visible on the main menu screen, which meant that I had to guess where it was in order to access the submenus. The submenus do not have this problem, nor did it occur on my DVD-ROM drive.

Main Menu Introduction

    A brief animated sequence prior to the main menu.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    This ancient trailer appears when you choose the option to play the film.

Featurette-Inside Alvin (48:02)

    This is a making of documentary that was screened on television at the time of the film's original release, and was made by Brian Trenchard-Smith. It is in pretty poor condition, with video tracking errors throughout and a grainy and aged look to it, with muffled audio to boot. It features clips from the film and interviews with the director and cast. Some of the clips are for sequences that do not appear in the final cut of the film, so it is valuable from that perspective as well as being a time capsule of 1970's attitudes. A humorous sequence involves Blundell discussing the problems of shooting sequences in the nude, mainly that of what to do if he had a rush of blood, so to speak.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (24:35)

    A series of interviews with background to the production of the film. The interviewees are Burstall, Blundell, Finney, Robin Copping (cinematographer), Hopgood, Weaver and Eli McLure (Tina), the latter looking a lot older than in 1973.

Theatrical Trailer (3:32)

    An original trailer from 1973, this is in 1.33:1 and in average condition.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    A text biography and filmography of the director.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Filmographies of Blundell, Hopgood, Copping and Finney.

Gallery-Photo (3:47)

    Promotional material and behind-the-scenes photos, presented as continuous footage with the theme song playing in the background.

R4 vs R1

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

    This Region 4 release seems to be the only release in any region.

Summary

    One of the best Australian comedies ever, it stands the test of time well.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    A nice selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Eli McLure comment - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
The Alvin Purple TV Show on DVD - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Is this Now OOP??? - Anonymous

Overall | Stork (1971) | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974) | Petersen (1974) | End Play (1975) | Eliza Fraser (1976) | High Rolling (1977) | The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974)

Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 5-Aug-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall (Director)
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Short Film-AFTRS Film: Six Days Straight (2002)
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 87:16 (Case: 81)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Bilcock
Robin Copping
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Graeme Blundell
Alan Finney
Gus Mercurio
Frank Thring
Chantal Contouri
Noel Ferrier
Abigail
Briony Behets
Frank Wilson
Jon Finlayson
Jeff Ashby
John Michael Howson
Penne Hackforth-Jones
Case ?
RPI Box Music Brian Cadd


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Alvin Purple (Graeme Blundell) and his mate Spike (Alan Finney) decide to escape Melbourne's rat race and head north. After some comical adventures in the country they end up in an unnamed city which bears a remarkable resemblance to Melbourne. At a casino they blow a couple of thousand dollars in winnings from a country cricket match, and fall in with a bunch of American gangsters led by Balls McGee (Graeme Blundell). When Balls is accidentally put out of commission, Alvin is forced at gunpoint to impersonate the gangster, so that dealings with the local crime bigwig Fingers (Frank Thring) can go ahead. Alvin also meets Fingers' lady friend Boobs la Touche (Chantal Contouri). Can Alvin and Spike survive the underworld war? Will Alvin and Boobs find true and lasting happiness together? Is this an inept and embarrassing film that should have been kept in the vault?

    This is an inept and embarrassing film that should have been kept in the vault. Where the original Alvin Purple was a fresh comedy with a witty script and appealing performances, this is a mess. The script is just dumb, the performances vary from fair to terrible (Noel Ferrier for example) and the film is dull and tedious.

    The actors look disinterested. Graeme Blundell's usual cheerful blokiness is overwhelmed by the stupid Americanisms visited upon the Balls character he plays, the name of which is a giveaway of the level of comedy in the film. Why would 1970s American gangsters and their molls wear 1920s clothing? Maybe it isn't supposed to be realistic, but surely this was going too far. The script too, taken out of the hands of the screenwriter Alan Hopgood, is truly terrible. The one priceless moment in the film is the look of utter contempt on Frank Thring's face when he finds himself forced to utter the immortal lines "Balls, meet Boobs. Boobs, meet Balls." A lot of performers from the first film reappear in this one, but apart from Blundell and Finney they play entirely different characters.

    It's hard to say anything positive about this film, but it was a commercial success on initial release, making a considerable profit. Presumably that was on the coat-tails of the original film. I doubt whether many people went to see it twice, and this film killed off a potential Alvin franchise according to Alan Hopgood.

    This film is included on the second disc of a two-disc set, with Alvin Purple on the first disc. So, if you want a copy of Alvin Purple, you get this as well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, not too distant from the original 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is something of a disappointment compared to the first film, though really it is not that bad. The major differences are the amount of grain and the level of film artefacts, which may be neither here nor there for many viewers. The transfer is quite sharp, and detail is rendered quite well.

    Contrast levels are good. There is not much in the way of detail in shadows, and some of the indoor scenes are a little murky. Low level noise is present throughout, so the shadows are not uniformly dark and blacks are rarely solid. Colour otherwise is reasonable, though flesh tones can tend to be a little dark. Reds are very bright, such as Alvin's red jumper at 7:25.

    Film to video artefacts are limited to some minor aliasing on car grilles. There are a lot of film artefacts, with minor blemishes, dirt flecks and minor scratches visible throughout the running time.

    Optional hearing impaired subtitles are provided, and as is the case with all of the releases in this series, they are in large and easily read white type and are positioned on the screen relative to the speaker. The subtitles are very close to the actual dialogue from the sample I made of them.

    The film is presented on an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change at 54:50. It is well positioned at a scene change and is not disruptive.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks provided. The default is Dolby Digital 5.1, with an alternative Dolby Digital 2.0 track. I listened to the default track.

    Dialogue is quite clear throughout. I presume that the original audio recording was mono. This surround remix is very much located across the front channels, with dialogue from the centre speaker and music and effects spread across the main speakers. There seems to be little in the way of rear channel or subwoofer activity. In fact I did not notice any low frequency effects.

    The music score is again by Brian Cadd, with the same theme song as in the first film. Again, the score suits the film, though it suffers because the film is so poor. Cadd gets to perform on screen with his Bootleg Family Band during the nightclub sequence. The song they perform is All In the Way (That They Use My Face), which was a hit at the time.

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

Extras

    Like the Alvin Purple disc, the cursor was not visible on the main menu screen, which meant that I had to guess where it was in order to access the submenus. The submenus do not have this problem, nor did it occur on my DVD-ROM drive.

Main Menu Introduction

    A brief animated introduction to the set of films in the Hexagon Tribute Collection.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    This old thing again, which is shown when you select Play Movie from the main menu. You are able to skip forward to the movie.

Theatrical Trailer (3:40)

    The trailer shows all the "highlights" from the film. It is in reasonable condition until near the end, where there is some major damage.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    A detailed biography and complete filmography.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Complete filmographies for Blundell, Hopgood, Robin Copping, Finney and David Bilcock.

Gallery-Photo (3:35)

    Footage showing posters and publicity and behind-the-scenes photographs.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (8:05)

    This shorter than usual set of interviews features Burstall, Copping, Hopgood and Blundell discussing the film. Blundell claims not to remember much of the making of it.

Short Film-AFTRS Film: Six Days Straight (2002) (10:35)

    This is a short graduation film from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, about the comic bungling of a robbery. By comparison with the feature film, this is a masterpiece. In its execution it is streets ahead of the 1974 film, even though I have to admit I did not particularly like it (mainly due to the presence of an actor who rubs me up the wrong way entirely). The young film-makers show some talent, which I hope they are able to use in the local industry before too long. The film is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 but is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

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

    Fortunately for Region 1, this film has not been released on DVD there, or in fact anywhere else in the world. The reputation of the Australian film industry remains intact, for the time being.

Summary

    This is an atrocious film by any criteria, an embarrassment to all concerned I fear. The video and audio transfers are far better than the film deserves, as is the extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Another Alvin sequel ... sort of - Sammy W REPLY POSTED
Censorship rating has changed - ROB
Oops! - ROB REPLY POSTED
Speaking of the R rating and Alvin... - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Alvin Rides Again's M Rating - Gary Couzens REPLY POSTED

Overall | Stork (1971) | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974) | Petersen (1974) | End Play (1975) | Eliza Fraser (1976) | High Rolling (1977) | The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

Petersen (1974)

Petersen (1974)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 103:08
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:03) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim Burstall
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jack Thompson
Jacki Weaver
Wendy Hughes
Belinda Giblin
Arthur Dignam
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell
Helen Morse
John Ewart
David Phillips
Christine Amor
Sandra McGregor
Joey Hohenfels
Amanda Hunt
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music Peter Best


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    This was the second film produced by Hexagon Productions, and is based on a screenplay by David Williamson. Like almost all of the Hexagon films, it was directed by Tim Burstall and features a cast of familiar faces from film and television.

    It tells the story of Tony Petersen (Jack Thompson). He is an electrician who is dissatisfied with his life. A former star footballer (a typical Williamson touch) he finds that working as a tradesman lacks something. His marriage to the pretty but gauche Susie (Jacki Weaver) has produced two young children, but they live in a modest house and have little money to spare. Petersen has saved enough to enrol in an English Literature course at Melbourne University, where his lecturer is the slightly stiff and pompous Kent (Arthur Dignam). Kent's wife Trish (Wendy Hughes, in her film debut) is also a lecturer there, and it transpires that Petersen is sleeping with her.

    The resolution of these relationships and Petersen's feelings about his life are the substance of this engaging film. While the storyline is fairly obvious, it is very well acted by the entire cast and well directed most of the time. The only weak spots are the several scenes of Thompson overacting badly when playing drunk, something he or Burstall should have reined in.

    This was Thompson's first leading role and he carries the film well. Weaver, Hughes and Dignam give fine support. I won't mention the entire supporting cast, as this review would turn into a novel, but apart from the cast list given above there is John Orcsik, Sheila Florence, Sandy Gore and many more, including a cameo by the late George Mallaby.

    This is not a film for the kiddies, with sex, nudity and violence galore. Despite this it is not an exploitative film, and while some may object to the sexual politics, all of these elements are reflective of the era in which the film was made. If you take this into account, Petersen can be seen as one of the best Australian films of the 1970s, and of a type rarely made today. It is being released as part of the Hexagon Tribute Collection, which contains all eight films produced by the company.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, close to the original 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    While this is a good transfer, it is not up to the standard of the Alvin Purple transfer. The video is quite sharp and clear throughout, with as much detail rendered as would have been seen in the original screenings. Shadow detail is lacking somewhat, with a couple of murky night-time scenes. Contrast levels are satisfactory.

    The look of the film is very much like any other Australian film of the 1970s, with slightly muted colours and a film stock that looks not dissimilar to a 16mm blow-up at times. Colour is variable in quality, with flesh tones looking washed out at times and over-saturated at others. This would be due to the lighting and the nature of the film stock, and not introduced in this transfer.

    Grain levels are slightly higher than I would have liked. There is a lot of low level noise visible, rendering black levels anything but solid.

    The print is full of minor film artefacts, such as dirt and white flecks which appear throughout. There are also faint scratches visible at times. Of more concern were the reel change markings, which appear at 17:39, 36:03 and 51:06 for example.

    Optional English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are provided. As in the other films in this set, the subtitles match the dialogue quite well and are well timed. They are positioned on the screen towards the side of the screen on which the speaker appears, and are in a large white font which is easy to read.

    This RSDL-formatted disc has a layer change at 64:03, which occurs at the end of a scene and is only slightly disruptive. My player negotiated the layer change with just a very brief pause.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc. The default track is Dolby Digital 5.1, and there is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix as an alternative. I listened to the default track and sampled the other.

    Dialogue is very clear apart from a few lines mumbled by Petersen to Trish while, well, they are in flagrante delicto, to use the Latin phrase. I had to use the subtitles for this scene to determine what was being said. Otherwise the audio scrubs up well, with no audible hiss or distortion and no sync issues.

    The surround mix is entirely channelled through the front speakers. There are no low frequency effects apart from a brief instance at about 2:50 and there appear to be no rear channel sounds. That being said, the film is a quiet one that does not really need anything to distract from the narrative.

    The music score is by Peter Best. It is a fairly restrained score in which flutes seem prominent, making it wistful more than anything else. A pretty good score which adds to the mood of the film.

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

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

    A brief animation highlighting the titles in the Hexagon Tribute Collection.

Main Menu Audio

    The static main menu has music from the score as the background.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    This hoary old trailer seems to be on all the releases in this set.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (21:57)

    Lengthy interviews with writer Williamson, actors Thompson, Weaver and Hughes, Robin Copping (cinematographer) and Alan Finney (associate producer).

Theatrical Trailer (3:13)

    The trailer concentrates on the sex and violence aspects of the film, making these seem more concentrated in the story than they really are.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    A lengthy text biography and complete filmography of the late director.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Complete filmographies for Thompson, Hughes, Weaver, Williamson, Copping, David Bilcock and Finney.

Gallery-Photo (1:51)

    In the form of a short featurette, we see posters and publicity stills for the film, with music from the score in the background.

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 appears to be the only DVD release of this film.

Summary

    A fine Australian film, this gets a reasonable video and audio transfer and some good extras. Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Stork (1971) | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974) | Petersen (1974) | End Play (1975) | Eliza Fraser (1976) | High Rolling (1977) | The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

End Play (1975)

End Play (1975)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Short Film-AFTRS Film: Nightride
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 108:41
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:45) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim Burstall
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring George Mallaby
John Waters
Ken Goodlet
Delvene Delaney
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell
Belinda Giblin
Robert Hewett
Kevin Miles
Walter Pym
Sheila Florance
Reg Gorman
Adrian Wright
Jan Friedl
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Peter Best


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    A lonely country highway. A young hitchhiker is picked up by an unseen man. Then murdered. Merchant Seaman Mark (John Waters) arrives at the country home of his brother Robbie (George Mallaby), who is a paraplegic. When Robbie goes into Melbourne, Mark brings in the body of the dead hitchhiker, and concocts an elaborate scheme to dispose of the body. Why he did not just bury it in the bush I do not know. Something is not quite right in the relationship between the overbearing Robbie and the meek Mark. Meanwhile, Mark is having an affair with Robbie's ex-girlfriend and cousin Margaret (Belinda Giblin). Enter Superintendent Cheadle (Ken Goodlet).

    This starts out as being yet another of those serial-killer-with-a-crippled-brother films that you've seen a million times before. There are however enough red herrings to keep the interest up, even if the dénouement is fairly predictable. There was not a lot of suspense and the film plays much like a telemovie.

    Younger readers may not be familiar with George Mallaby. The prominently-eyebrowed actor became well-known through a six year stint on the famous detective series Homicide. After leaving the series in 1973, he made a cameo appearance in Petersen, then starred in the first two seasons of the adult soap opera The Box. End Play was his first starring role in a feature film. His movie career did not take off to any great extent, and he remained a star on TV. His performance in this film may suggest why, as he does not seem entirely comfortable. Sadly, in the mid-1980s he suffered the first of a series of strokes that would put an end to his career and eventually his life. After 1992 he did not appear on screen, and another stroke confined him to a wheelchair for the last four years of his life. One final stroke killed him in July 2004 aged only 64.

    Like Mallaby, John Waters came to prominence through television with a starring role in the period drama Rush. His career has encompassed films and stage and he is still active. Belinda Giblin was also a TV star, in The Box, and it was on the back of this series that she, like Waters, made her feature film debut in End Play. Delvene Delaney, who older viewers would remember from the Paul Hogan Show and Sale of the Century, is a bit stiff in this film (for obvious reasons). There are a lot of familiar faces in the supporting cast, like Ken Goodlet, Reg Gorman and Terry Gill, as well as Sheila Florance.

    The film is reasonably well directed by Tim Burstall, though it is a little creaky at times. He also wrote the screenplay based on Russell Braddon's novel, and the script is satisfactory though perhaps could have used some tightening up. The location filming makes the film seem like it was made in the country even though the bulk of it was shot in a television studio. It is quite enjoyable, but if you have seen a lot of recent serial killer films it may seem mild and perfunctory by comparison. It is good though to see a serial killer portrayed as something other than a slavering maniac. The film comes as part of the Hexagon Tribute Collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The aspect ratio chosen for this transfer was 1.78:1, not far from the original 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    This transfer looks much like the others in the Hexagon Tribute Collection. The film is reasonably sharp but a bit grainy. There is a good level of detail visible, though shadow detail can be a bit lacking at times.

    Colour is good though at times flesh tones are a little red. Bright reds tend to be over-saturated. There is some low level noise, so blacks are not entirely solid.

    Film to video artefacts are limited to some telecine wobble.

    Film artefacts are present, though these are not as frequent as in the earlier films in this set. Most of the artefacts are dirt or minor debris, with occasional white flecks.

    Optional English subtitles are available, and like all of these discs they are in large white font and positioned in relation to the speaker. They also have hearing impaired information. They seem to be accurate to the spoken word and well-timed, from the sample I looked at.

    The film is presented on an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer break placed at 66:45 at a scene change. It is barely noticeable.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks: a default Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. I listened to the default track and sampled the other.

    The only difference between the two tracks is the positioning of the dialogue. In the 5.1 version it comes from the centre channel, and in the 2.0 it sounds centred, but seems a little more forward in the mix. The 5.1 mix seems to have nothing in the way of rear channel or low frequency effects.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, though the audio level varies from time to time. It sounds to me as though this is a feature of the original recording and is not a mastering fault. A piece of dialogue at 56:33 sounds slightly garbled.

    Audio sync is almost perfect, except for a line that has been looped at 36:49 which does not fit with the lip movements of the actor, suggesting that the line has been changed.

    The music score is by Peter Best, and it is eerie, sinister and unnerving. I know that because the subtitles say so. It is a pretty good score, heightening the suspense without drawing too much attention to itself. There is also a banal theme song sung by Linda George.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The static main menu has audio from the score.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    I guess every one of these Hexagon releases has this well-worn trailer.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (10:35)

    There are only three interviewees this time. Robin Copping (cinematographer) talks about the shooting and problems with the new film stock. Dan Burstall (camera operator and son of the director) waxes about the new camera that was used. John Waters, now starting to look a lot like former Doctor Who Patrick Troughton, discusses the story of the film. Behind the scenes footage from the production is shown.

Theatrical Trailer (3:25)

    Something is wrong, terribly, terribly wrong... A not-bad trailer that fails to give the entire plot away.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    Detailed biography and filmography of the director.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Here we get lengthy filmographies of Mallaby, Waters, Giblin, Copping, Edward Macqueen-Mason (editor), Alan Finney and Charles 'Bud' Tingwell.

Gallery-Photo (2:05)

    A sequence of publicity stills from the film.

Short Film-AFTRS Film: Nightride (10:56)

    A short film from students of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, which has some thematic similarities with the main feature, as it depicts a massacre by a raving killer. Quite well made, it is in 1.85:1 but is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

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

    Region 4 seems to have the film to itself.

Summary

    A pretty good little film even if it is a little creaky at times.

    The video and audio quality are quite good.

    A nice little extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Stork (1971) | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974) | Petersen (1974) | End Play (1975) | Eliza Fraser (1976) | High Rolling (1977) | The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

Eliza Fraser (1976)

Eliza Fraser (1976)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Short Film-AFTRS Film: The Drip
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 112:39 (Case: 110)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:42) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim Burstall
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Susannah York
Trevor Howard
Noel Ferrier
John Castle
John Waters
Abigail
Gerard Kennedy
Arna-Maria Winchester
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell
Gus Mercurio
Lindsey Roughsey
George Mallaby
Carole Skinner
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music Bruce Smeaton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The penal colony of New South Wales, 1836. Captain James Fraser (Noel Ferrier) is to return to England with his wife Eliza (Susannah York). On board the ship is Rory McBryde (John Castle), a philanderer who is escaping from the husbands of the women he has compromised. After an argument over Fraser's abilities as a navigator, McBryde is put ashore at the gaol at Moreton Bay.

    The prison is run by Captain Fyans (Trevor Howard). A new group of convicts includes David Bracefell (John Waters), whom Fyans earmarks as his "bedboy". Not surprisingly this prompts Bracefell to want to leave. He meets Eliza when serving at dinner, and during the night with her help he escapes. Setting off on the long voyage to England, the Frasers are shipwrecked. Savagery and cannibalism ensue.

    Beginning as a bawdy romp in the tradition of Tom Jones, this film written by David Williamson veers from slapstick comedy to drama and back again. The tone of the film is a bit uneven as a result, and while there are dull periods it is still an enjoyable bit of hokum. The story is inspired by real characters and events but is completely fictional otherwise.

    The performances are very good, especially York and Ferrier as the unlikely husband and wife. John Waters is likeable as the convict Bracefell, but Trevor Howard seems a little disinterested at times. There is a fine supporting cast of familiar actors, including Abigail, Bill Hunter, Gus Mercurio, Dennis Miller, Serge Lazareff and many others. Cop shows of the era are represented by George Mallaby (Homicide) and Gerard Kennedy (Division 4).

    This was the first Australian film to cost more than a million dollars, which shows in the casting of three British actors in leading roles as well as in the fine production design and location filming. While not our cinema's finest hour, it is still pretty good and well worth a look.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is transferred in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio would have been slightly wider at 1.85:1.

    The transfer is variable. It is reasonably sharp and clear, certainly better than VHS, but I have seen other films on DVD from the same era that show more detail. Shadow detail is quite poor, with some murky shadows particularly in the night-time scenes. Contrast levels are satisfactory.

    I'm not sure if the colour is quite right, not having seen this film in the cinemas. It seems to me that reds and greens are too bright. For example, the uniform worn by Trevor Howard is bright red with green cuffs, and neither colour looks completely realistic. Flesh tones generally are realistic, as are the other colours seen during the film, so I will give the transfer the benefit of the doubt.

    Black levels are poor, with a lot of low level noise present. There is not a solid black image in any part of the film as far as I could see.

    There seems to be a lot of grain visible, and I believe that some of this might have been created in the transfer. The film has the appearance of being telecined off a projection onto a painted white backdrop, with a sort of mottled appearance. This effect is most noticeable on expanses of consistent colour, such as the sky at 46:03 for example.

    Film artefacts are present in the form of debris and dirt, and while these are noticeable they are not unusually distracting.

    The usual English for the hearing impaired subtitles are provided. These are in large and clear white font, are well-timed and are very close to the dialogue. They are positioned on the screen in relation to the location of the speaker.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted, and the layer change occurs at 72:42, in the middle of a speech by Fyans and is quite disruptive.

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

Audio

    As is the case with all of these Hexagon DVD releases, there are two audio tracks. The default is Dolby Digital 5.1, with a 2.0 version as well. I listened to the default track only.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, with no noticeable problems or audio sync issues. As usual, the audio mix is very much geared towards the front speakers, dialogue of course coming from the centre channel and effects and music from the mains. Unlike the previous releases in this series that I have reviewed, there are some rear channel effects, for example during the opening credits. The rear channel sounds are at a very low level, and can barely be heard. As a result the surround effect achieved is very minimal. I did not notice any low frequency effects.

    The music score by Bruce Smeaton is an attempt at a period score with comedic overtones, and is quite successful.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The static main menu has music from the score as audio.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    Yet again this veteran trailer is included prior to the feature.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (16:20)

    Some enjoyable interviews with Waters, Williamson, Robin Copping, assistant director Dan Burstall and Bruce Spence. Waters has some amusing tales to tell about the production, and mentions that his father was the character actor Russell Waters, who had a long career in British films and through whom he had met Howard many years before this film. Bruce Spence's memories of his brief appearance in the film are quite amusing.

    The menu and case mistakenly indicate that the interviewees include Alan Finney, but he is nowhere to be seen.

Theatrical Trailer (3:50)

    This trailer feels almost as long as the film, mainly because of a deadly dull narration. It is in good condition and is 16x9 enhanced.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    Biography and filmography of the director.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Lengthy and seemingly complete credits for Waters, York, Howard, Castle, Ferrier, Martin Harris, Alan Finney, Edward McQueen-Mason, Dan Burstall, Copping and Williamson.

Gallery-Photo (2:10)

    A running display of publicity and production stills.

Short Film-AFTRS Film: The Drip (7:17)

    A 1996 student film from the AFTRS. This is a dialogue-free two-hander which is quite inventive and and fitfully amusing. Sensitive viewers should be aware that it includes the wearing of lederhosen.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as I can tell this DVD release is unique to Region 4.

Summary

    Not a bad Aussie film.

    The video quality is a bit problematic.

    The audio quality is good.

    A useful set of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Stork (1971) | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974) | Petersen (1974) | End Play (1975) | Eliza Fraser (1976) | High Rolling (1977) | The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

High Rolling (1977)

High Rolling (1977)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Interviews-Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Short Film-AFTRS Film: A Horse With Stripes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 82:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Igor Auzins
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Joseph Bottoms
Grigor Taylor
Wendy Hughes
John Clayton
Judy Davis
Sandra McGregor
Gus Mercurio
Chantal Contouri
Terry Gill
Terry Norris
Mario Milano
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music Sherbet


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Two carnival workers, Tex (Joseph Bottoms) who works the shooting gallery and Alby (Grigor Taylor), a boxer, decide to leave the troupe somewhere in North Queensland and hitchhike south. On the way, they are picked up by Arnold (John Clayton) in his lime-green Corvette. That night in a motel Arnold makes a play for Alby, who beats him unconscious. Tex and Alby discover that the Corvette has a big bag of "doings" (marijuana), so they steal the car and drive south to Surfers Paradise. On the way they pick up teenage hitchhiker Lynn (Judy Davis), but mobster Arnold is soon hot on their trail.

    This is a very slight buddy comedy from the pen of Forrest Redlich, a panel-beater whose personal fantasies are played out in this uneven film, at least according to the interviews in the extras package. The characters are quite one-dimensional, and attempts to add pathos and satire fall somewhat flat. The real problem for me is the obnoxious character played by Joseph Bottoms, an American actor who played leading roles in films during the 1970s without ever becoming a star. His incessant blabbing and arrogance left me without any sympathy for the character. Grigor Taylor was a television star in Matlock Police, and in this film he plays quite a dumb character with charm but not much else. This was the first film for a very young Judy Davis, and she shows only a little of what was to come, though the script is mostly to blame for that.

    The lovely Wendy Hughes and Sandra McGregor (Flange Desire from The Aunty Jack Show) play a couple of disco dancers, though not much is made of their talents. This could, though, be the first example of actresses miming to disco tunes in an Australian movie, something which almost became a cliché during the 1990s. Also of note is the presence of wrestler Mario Milano.

    The film is mostly unpretentious entertainment, and if you are looking for a no-brainer to pass an hour and a half, you could do worse than support the local product. It comes as part of the Hexagon Tribute Collection.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The aspect ratio chosen for this transfer was 1.78:1. According to the IMDb the original aspect ratio was 2.35:1, though I think this is unlikely. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    This transfer looks much like the others in the Hexagon Tribute Collection. The film is reasonably sharp but a bit grainy. There is a good level of detail visible, though shadow detail can be a bit lacking at times.

    Colour is good though at times flesh tones are a little red. Bright reds tend to be over-saturated, as do the green portions of the image. There is some low level noise, so blacks are not solid.

    Film to video artefacts are limited to some aliasing, but this appears only infrequently.

    Film artefacts are present. Most of the artefacts are dirt or minor debris, with occasional white flecks. However, there are a few sequences where there is a lot of damage occurring in parts of the video, as though the print has been scratched during projection. The film is a little grainy, but not excessively so.

    Optional English subtitles are available, and like all of these discs they are in large white font and positioned in relation to the speaker. They also have hearing impaired information. They seem to be accurate to the spoken word and well-timed, from the sample I looked at.

    The film is presented on an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer break placed at 54:46 at a scene change. It is barely noticeable.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks: a default Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. I listened to the default track and sampled the other.

    The major difference between the two tracks is the positioning of the dialogue. In the 5.1 version it comes from the centre channel, and in the 2.0 it sounds centred, but seems a little more forward in the mix. There are some very faint rear channel effects, but if you listen to the film in 2.0 you really won't miss anything. The only low frequency effects I noticed were part of the theme song, during the opening and closing credits. Most of these were directed to the mains and not to the subwoofer, which had very little to do.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, and generally this is a serviceable if unremarkable audio transfer with no detectable problems. Audio sync is excellent.

    The music score is by Sherbet, the highly successful pop band of the 70s, featuring lead singer Daryl Braithwaite. The title song was a hit at the time and features during the opening and end credits. The score itself features a couple of songs and is not through-composed like traditional scores. It is pretty effective. There is also a version of Love to Love You Baby, the old Donna Summer song.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The static main menu has audio from the score.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    I guess every one of these Hexagon releases has this perennial.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (11:46)

    Interviews with the enthusiastic director Igor Auzins, Wendy Hughes, Dan and Tom Burstall but not with Robin Copping, despite what it says on the menu and case.

Theatrical Trailer (0:59)

    A deadly dull voice-over sinks this full frame trailer. Take your best girl to see this.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    Detailed biography and filmography of the director, although he produced but did not direct this film.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Here we get lengthy filmographies of Auzins, Bottoms, Taylor, Davis, Hughes, Clayton, Dan Burstall and Edward McQueen-Mason.

Gallery-Photo (2:08)

    A sequence of publicity stills from the film, including a US poster for High Rolling in a Hot Corvette, with Grigor Taylor renamed Greg Taylor.

Short Film-AFTRS Film: A Horse With Stripes (25:06)

    A longer short film from students of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. This one stars John Gregg and is one of those suburban nightmare stories that is quite eerie and compelling, though there really is no resolution to the tale. I think perhaps that this was the intention. It is in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

R4 vs R1

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

    Region 4 seems to have the film to itself.

Summary

    Not Hexagon's finest hour, but you might find this diverting if you are in an undemanding mood.

    The video and audio quality are reasonable.

    A good little extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, December 10, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Stork (1971) | Alvin Purple (Roadshow) (1973) | Alvin Rides Again (Roadshow) (1974) | Petersen (1974) | End Play (1975) | Eliza Fraser (1976) | High Rolling (1977) | The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

The Last of the Knucklemen (1979)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Short Film-AFTRS Film: Bound
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 89:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim Burstall
Studio
Distributor
Hexagon
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Gerard Kennedy
Michael Preston
Peter Hehir
Dennis Miller
Michael Caton
Steve Rackman
Michael Duffield
Steve Bisley
Stewart Faichney
Sean Myers
Gerry Duggan
Ross Skiffington
Les James
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music Bruce Smeaton


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, some action during end credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Near the remote mining town of Andamooka, a group of wildcat miners work hard and play hard. Most are happy with just that, but Pansy (Michael Preston) is only interested in number one, and won't take lip from anyone. It's up to the boss of the gang, the "knuckleman" Tarzan (Gerard Kennedy) to keep the peace.

    Based on a 1973 play by John Powers, director and scriptwriter Tim Burstall has opened up the action considerably, with some good location shooting in the actual town of Andamooka and the South Australian desert. The scenes in the bunkhouse more obviously have their origins on the stage, but even so an enjoyable film was fashioned out of this now somewhat dated play.

    The performances by an ensemble cast are very good. The nominal star is Kennedy, but much of the time he is an off-screen presence. Preston is convincing as the nasty piece of work Pansy, while there is some fine work by the supporting cast which includes Steve Bisley and Michael Caton, both of whom look very young here. And cast in the brief role of "Whore" is Denise Drysdale. At least it's better than being "Second Whore".

    This film hangs together better than most of the Hexagon films, with an even tone throughout and builds well to a satisfying climax involving wrestler/actor Steve Rackman. Sadly, this was the last film produced by Hexagon.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The aspect ratio chosen for this transfer was 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. I expect that the original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.

    This transfer looks slightly better than the others in the Hexagon Tribute Collection. The film is quite sharp. There is a good level of detail visible and shadow detail is also good, though there are few opportunities for this to be a problem.

    Colour is good, although as usual with these transfers the red and green colours seem to be more vivid than other colours. Flesh tones are too red for my liking. There is some low level noise, but blacks are generally solid.

    Film to video artefacts are limited to some aliasing, but this appears only infrequently.

    Film artefacts are present. Most of the artefacts are dirt or minor debris, with occasional white flecks. However, there are a few sequences where there is a lot of damage occurring in parts of the video, as though the print has been scratched during projection. The film is a little grainy, but not excessively so.

    Optional English subtitles are available, and like all of these discs they are in large white font and positioned in relation to the speaker. They also have hearing impaired information. They seem to be accurate to the spoken word and well-timed from the sample I looked at.

    The film is presented on an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer break placed at 54:46 at a scene change. It is barely noticeable.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks: a default Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. I listened to the default track and sampled the other.

    The major difference between the two tracks is the positioning of the dialogue. In the 5.1 version it comes from the centre channel, and in the 2.0 it sounds centred, but seems a little more forward in the mix. I did not notice any rear channel effects. The only low frequency effects I noticed were caused by the drilling rig, and even then I did not notice any subwoofer activity.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, and generally this is a serviceable if unremarkable audio transfer with no detectable problems. Audio sync is excellent.

    The music score is by Bruce Smeaton, and is innocuous to the extent that I did not notice much of it, apart from the theme song. This has banjos and harmonica, and an indecipherable gravelly voice not sounding dissimilar to a didgeridoo.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The static main menu has audio from the score.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain (0:34)

    Hopefully the last time I have to watch this for a while.

Interviews-Cast & Crew (20:38)

    Interviews with the writer John Powers, Gerard Kennedy, Dan Burstall (though the menu says "Bustall"), Tom Burstall and Michael Caton, who has a couple of humorous stories to tell. Both the menu and the case say Steve Bisley is interviewed - if he was, it didn't make it to this DVD.

Theatrical Trailer (0:28)

    I'd barely gotten into this 1.33:1 trailer when it was over.

Biographies-Crew-Tim Burstall

    Detailed biography and filmography of the director.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Here we get lengthy filmographies of Kennedy, Preston, Peter Hehir, Dan Burstall, Edward McQueen-Mason, and Byron Kennedy.

Gallery-Photo (2:09)

    A sequence of publicity stills from the film.

Short Film-AFTRS Film: Bound (7:18)

    A short film from students of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. It has a fairly predictable storyline but is well put-together. Made in 2000, it is letterboxed at 1.66:1 though the introductory screen says 1.22:1.

R4 vs R1

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

    Region 4 seems to have the film to itself.

Summary

    An entertaining film from Hexagon, even if it is nothing out of the ordinary plot-wise.

    The video and audio quality are reasonable.

    A good little extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, December 13, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
70's Aussie Cinema Classic's Tribute Box Set - Vic F