Silver Bears (1978)

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Released 15-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 107:57
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ivan Passer
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Michael Caine
Cybill Shepherd
Louis Jourdan
Stéphane Audran
David Warner
Tom Smothers
Martin Balsam
Jay Leno
Tony Mascia
Charles Gray
Joss Ackland
Jeremy Clyde
Moustache
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $9.95 Music Claude Bolling


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Michael Caine has given some great acting performances and appeared in some great movies, not always at the same time. Unfortunately, this film does not fit either category. Having said that, it's not terrible, just mildly entertaining in a campy 1970s sort of way. Trivia buffs may be interested to note the presence of Jay Leno in one of his very few movie roles.

    Silver Bears is based upon a novel of the same name by financial thriller writer Paul Erdman. It follows the story of Doc Fletcher (Michael Caine), a financial advisor to a Las Vegas mobster, who comes up with a plan for the mob to buy a Swiss Bank so that they can launder money. His boss, Joe Fiore (Martin Balsam), tries to convince the other mob bosses that this is a good idea but they don't want to go ahead with the plan. Eventually, Doc convinces Joe because he agrees to take along Joe's idiot son, Albert (Jay Leno) who has been getting into trouble. Upon arrival in Lugarno, they meet up with the chairman of the bank's board, Prince Gianfranco (Louis Jourdan), who has brokered the deal. Unfortunately the bank is little more than a couple of rooms above a pizzeria, and Doc immediately works out he is in trouble and must find a way to make the bank worthwhile for Joe. Gianfranco introduces him to a business proposition involving one of his relatives and a silver mine. This deal requires a loan from the bank to get started, but Doc does not have any money to loan. Once the world's largest silver dealer, Mr Cook (Charles Gray) gets wind of this plan, he tries to stop the silver getting onto the market. Also, an American bank is interested in buying a bank in Europe. They send straight-laced banker Donald Luckman (Tom Smothers) to look for one and he brings his pretty but dim wife, Debbie (Cybill Shepherd) along.

    The plot (as you can probably tell from the description above) is quite convoluted, but the film moves along amiably enough with some amusing situations. The acting and dialogue are certainly nothing special and this movie has the feel of a television rather than theatrical release, although it was made for the cinema. I found this film moderately entertaining but eminently forgettable.

    If you a big Michael Caine fan, a fan of the book or 1970s caper films this might be worth a look, especially considering the price, but I can't recommend it too highly.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good for the age of the film.

    The feature is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout, with some occasional low level noise in a couple of shots of aeroplanes in the night sky.The shadow detail was OK but nothing special. There was some light grain throughout and one scene at 67:20 was a little soft.

    The colour was generally good, however it did seem a little dull, which is normal for films of this vintage.

    There was quite a bit of evidence of the MPEG compression process without the artefacts being too distracting. There was some regular aliasing, with a couple of spots like the tie at 84:50 being a little distracting. There were also some jagged edges and some small patches of macro-blocking on walls at 68:00 and 107:00. From a film artefact perspective, there were some occasional white specks, some white lines and hairs such as at 19:07 and 36:00. There were also some black marks at 75:00. Lastly, I also noticed some mild edge enhancement.

    There are no subtitles.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is good but certainly nothing spectacular.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync, although subtitles would have come in handy from time to time.

    The score of this film by Claude Bolling did not particularly stand out.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

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

Extras

    None!

Menu

    The menu included stills, and the ability to select scenes all on one page.

R4 vs R1

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

    I cannot find any evidence of this film having been released outside of Region 4.

Summary

    A campy, mildly entertaining 1970s caper film starring Michael Caine.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good but mono.

    The disc has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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