Tony Rome (1967)
|Year Of Production||1967|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (48:14)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Gordon Douglas|
Twentieth Century Fox
Jill St. John
Robert J. Wilke
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Tony Rome (Frank Sinatra) is a private investigator in Miami who gets a call from his old partner Turpin (Robert J. Wilke), now working as the house detective in a hotel. There's a girl who is dead drunk in one of the rooms, and Rome is hired to get her out of the hotel and back to her home. The girl, Diana Pines (Sue Lyon), is the daughter of construction magnate Rudy Kosterman (Simon Oakland).
Well, Rome takes her home, meets her family and that seems to be that, but then a couple of thugs turn up at Rome's boat home looking for a diamond pin. Soon people are taking pot shots at Rome while nearly the entire Kosterman clan, including Diana's stepmother Rita (Gena Rowlands), have hired him to investigate what is going on. The bodies pile up and Rome has to fend off Police Lieutenant Santini (Richard Conte) as well as the advances of just about every woman in the movie. That includes the mysterious Ann Archer (Jill St John), a self-confessed serial divorcee and slut.
It seems that the writers of this film prepared for it by reading the books of Raymond Chandler, or at least watching the film versions, as there are elements of The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon and Murder My Sweet in this movie. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, as it gives a sense of familiarity to it despite the somewhat exotic locations, in sunny Florida rather than Chandler's Los Angeles. However the plot is relatively uncomplicated and the payoff is not particularly surprising or revelatory. The dialogue doesn't have the quality of Chandler either; most of it is laced with obvious sexual innuendo. There's a terrible sequence involving Mrs Schuyler's pussy that would not have been out of place coming from the mouth of Mrs Slocombe, followed soon after by a "nice ride" comment that Rome makes to a female lift attendant. Just two examples out of many. Even the music is used for this purpose. Witness the lyrics to the songs playing on Malcolm's yacht as his honeymoon gets overheated. Having not read the original novel by Marvin H. Albert I'm not certain what elements derive from the book and what was added or changed by screenwriter Richard L. Breen. Judging by the sequel, also based on a book by the same author, I suspect he was more responsible for the plot similarities to the Chandler mysteries than the screenwriter.
Sinatra saunters through this with his usual charm and as such the movie is a diverting though unmemorable one and three-quarter hours. He's supported by an able cast which also includes Lloyd Bochner and a brief appearance by boxing legend Rocky Graziano as a tie-selling ex-pugilist. The casting of the bad guys is not so good, as all of the hoods look middle-aged. It's a bit like the lower budget dramas of the 1940s, when all of the young supporting actors were off at war and your typical movie thugs seemed to be guys on the verge of retirement. The absence of any genuine bad guy on-screen is a big failing in this movie, as the mystery is not enough to sustain the narrative or to generate any real suspense.
But it must have been reasonably successful in 1967, as the following year saw a sequel: Lady in Cement.
The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is adequate but more than a little disappointing, mainly due to the lack of clarity and sharpness which the authors of this transfer have tried to cover up using edge enhancement. Right from the very beginning with the blurry looking credits surrounded by noise there is a distinct absence of fine detail, making it difficult to read the name of Rome's boat, which should be easily read. Sometimes it becomes difficult even to distinguish between objects, for example the glasses on the tray on Ann Archer's balcony at around 36:55. Anything that isn't in close-up seems unclear.
The transfer is reasonably bright and while colour is adequate it does not seem as vivid as it should be. Reds are very bright but other colours look a little washed out, particularly yellows and blues. Flesh tones are a bit too reddish. Shadow detail is not so good, with little definition to Rome's dark suits and hats. There are some murky indoor and outdoor sequences, though the latter are probably affected more by the filtering down of day for night shooting than by the digital transfer.
There are few film artefacts, just the occasional fleck and piece of dirt. There are a couple of instances of aliasing and moiré but nothing to be disturbed by.
Optional English subtitles for the hard of hearing are provided. These are well-timed and easy to read in clear white font, and the dialogue is frequently transcribed verbatim.
The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer break positioned at 48:14. It occurs in the middle of a scene, a fraction of a second from a cut, and is slightly disruptive as a result. However the transition between layers was negotiated very swiftly and smoothly on my player.
The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0. There is only one audio track, while the equivalent Region 1 release has two, being the original mono and a stereo remix which is apparently difficult to distinguish from the mono. I mention this because it is not clear to me whether the audio track Region 4 has been blessed with is the stereo or the mono version. The music has an openness to it that sounds like stereo, but I could not hear anything clearly enough coming from one speaker and not both to prove that it is not mono.
This is a much better audio transfer than the companion The Detective disc. Dialogue is clear throughout and there is little or no distortion as a result of noise reduction. There is a small amount of hiss, though you would need to get close to your tweeters to hear it.
Audio sync is generally good, though there are some examples of less than perfect ADR work. Most notable is the sequence in the stripper's trailer home, where her voice seems to be mainly post-synched and in a different acoustic to that of the rest of the audio.
The music by Billy May is a mix of styles typical of the 1960s, with that lounge music sound associated with Sinatra plus some twangy beach-style guitar music, and so on. Daughter Nancy sings the title song. The music comes up well audio-wise apart from the title song which sounds boxy and dated, just like the lyrics.
|Surround Channel Use|
An original trailer in 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced is exactly what you would expect, playing up the best points of the movie.
Links to Fox's Australian and UK websites are provided on the main menu.
For the Region 4 release Fox have dropped a few bits and pieces which are present on the US Region 1, and included nothing new apart from the web links:
Otherwise it appears to be the same.
The Region 1 is also available as a stand-alone release, while the Region 4 only comes in a box set called Sinatra: Chairman of the Board. This set also includes The Detective, Lady In Cement and Von Ryan's Express. Fox have not provided review copies of these last two films, which have been previously released separately on DVD in Region 4. I would assume that they are the same transfers as the earlier releases, but cannot be certain. So if you want only this movie the cheapest option is to shop overseas.
A run of the mill detective thriller enlivened by Sinatra's laid-back charm.
The video quality is disappointing, though on smaller displays it might be okay.
The audio quality is good.
No substantial extras.
|DVD||Sony DVP-NS9100ES, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-HS60 LCD Projector projected to 80" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains|
|Speakers||Main: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV|