The Inspector General (MRA) (1949)

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Released 1-Jul-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1949
Running Time 97:37
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Henry Koster
Studio
Distributor

MRA Entertainment
Starring Danny Kaye
Walter Slezak
Barbara Bates
Elsa Lanchester
Gene Lockhart
Alan Hale
Walter Catlett
Rhys Williams
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Sylvia Fine
Johnny Green


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

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Plot Synopsis

    I find it quite amazing that DVD, which promises so much, can be so cruel to movie stars such as Danny Kaye. Justly famous for his musicals, in which he sang, dance, and performed all manner of vocal and physical theatrics, Kaye's films are now only starting to trickle into Region 4, and range from disappointing to worse. It is extremely sad to say that The Inspector General is far down the lower end of this spectrum.

    Corruption plagues the fair towns of Russia and an Inspector General is travelling from county to county, weeding out the culprits in high places who have been stealing from the poor to feather their own bloated nests. When the bureaucracy of a small town hears of the impending arrival of this agent of justice, their guilty panic is compounded by the suggestion that the Inspector has been travelling incognito. This is the perfect set up for another Danny Kaye musical comedy about mistaken identity.

    When we are introduced to Kaye, he is playing Georgi, the assistant of a travelling gipsy, Yakov (Walter Slezak), who is selling snake-oil under the pretence it is a miracle elixir. Although illiterate and not very bright, Georgi's song and dance routines are all the convincing the gullible crowd needs to ante up their pitiful savings for the foul concoction Yakov is peddling. What Georgi lacks in brains he makes up with honesty, but when he attempts to dissuade an elderly woman from wasting her money on the faux elixir he arouses the whole town to Yakov's scam, and soon both are on the run from the angry mob. When Georgi arrives in the town with the corrupt bureaucracy he is dishevelled and destitute, and soon mistaken to be the Inspector General in disguise.

    The Inspector General is an hysterical film with a bitter and cynical attitude towards the corruptibility of petty people in bureaucratic positions of power. However, the mere presence of an inspector is all that is required to strike fear into the mayor (Gene Lockhart) and his staff, and have them confessing their sins to Georgi, with the Colonel (Walter Catlett) even blaming his needy wife: "I love my family, but I'd give my six kids to get rid of my wife!" But there is love and there is hope for the town, and once again it is Georgi's honesty which will be the deciding factor.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I'll keep this short: the video presentation of this film is appalling and is totally unacceptable for DVD. It seems to have been taken from an old video master.

    There is no sharpness and barely any shadow detail in this transfer. Pixelization, low level noise, and posterization are everywhere to be seen. The colour is washed out and muddy. Film artefacts are typically plentiful in films over 50 years old, but the original print used for this transfer looks like it was the town bike.

    This is only a single layered disc, but for some reason there is very noticeable pause at 53:17. It is also strange that before this pause, you cannot access the last chapters of the film. After the change you can select the remaining chapters of the film, but you cannot skip backwards to the chapters in the first half.

    There are no subtitles at all.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this disc, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track (448kb/s). The audio is as bad as the video, lacking clarity and depth, but full of hiss and distortion.

    The rapid-fire dialogue, which is typical of a Danny Kaye film, is often hard to understand and not helped by the lack of subtitles. The audio sync seems to be pretty accurate.

    The Musical Direction and Incidental Score is by Johnny Green, an uplifting concoction of trumpeting and fast violins. The lyrics and music for Danny Kaye's amusing performances are by Sylvia Fine, and involve a lot of fast paced rhymes, raspberries and other noises, and very expressive cartoonish accompanying music.

    Although the audio is surround encoded, the rears only provided more hiss and the subwoofer hid in shame.

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

Extras

    There are no extras.

Menu

    A static 4x3 menu, made of a collage of images from the film and no accompanying music.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Inspector General is available in Region 1 on a number of different discs. I was able to compare it to a single layer disc, from St. Clair Vision (which seems to be distributed by Pro-Active Entertainment according to Amazon.com), which has been encoded for all regions. It has a running time of 101:46 which would put it on par with the local disc's time of 97:37 if you take into account the PAL speedup. The Region 1 disc comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kb/s) surround encoded soundtrack. It has an animated menu and 6 chapter stops (compared to the 9 on the local disc). This is not a very good transfer and the audio is also sub-par with notable hiss. However, it is vastly superior to what we are being served up in Region 4. The Region 1 is the clear winner.

Summary

    The Inspector General is a very funny musical starring Danny Kaye as an honest fool who finds himself trying to handle a town's corruption when his identity is mistaken.

    The video quality is appalling, and totally unacceptable.

    The audio quality is also appalling.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Cohen (read my bio)
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPhilips 860, using RGB output
DisplaySony 76cm FD Trinitron WEGA KV-HX32 M31. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationSherwood
SpeakersSherwood

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
All MRA releases = poor quality - Greg
re: All MRA Poor Quality - NewcastleBoy (read my bio)
Re: All MRA poor quality - wolfgirv