Pretty Poison (1968)

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Released 1-Nov-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1968
Running Time 85:36 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (71:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Noel Black
Ovation Starring Anthony Perkins
Tuesday Weld
Beverly Garland
John Randolph
Dick O'Neill
Clarice Blackburn
Joseph Bova
Ken Kercheval
Don Fellows
George Ryan
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $14.95 Music Johnny Mandel

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Pretty Poison is one of a new range called Hollywood Classics from one of the smaller local distributors, DV1. The range includes a number of lesser known films of the 1950s and 1960s including Bigger Than Life, The Black Windmill, Boom! and Secret Ceremony. I can't say that any of these films had specifically entered my consciousness before this range was issued however they all boast well known casts and seem to be well regarded.

    This particular film was released in 1968 and stars Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld. It is an interesting and thought provoking psychological drama/thriller which centres on the relationship between Dennis Pitt (Perkins); a delusional, paranoid and possibly psychotic young man and Sue Ann Stepanak (Weld) a small town girl who he becomes infatuated with. At the beginning of the film, Pitt is released from a facility for 'disturbed juveniles'. We do not find out why he was there until later in the film. He is initially sent to work in a lumber yard however he soon gives his probation officer, Morton Azenauer (John Randolph), the slip. Morton does not catch up with him for a year. He finds him working at a chemical factory in a small town where he has become attracted to a Sue Ann. He attracts her attention by pretending to be a mysterious secret agent and asking for her help. As they quickly becomes lovers, her controlling mother tries to come between them. Also, he gets Sue Ann involved in a plan he has to sabotage the chemical factory due to what he perceives to be them polluting the local area. When the sabotage mission does not go quite as he planned, their relationship starts to change.

   I can't really describe any more of the plot without spoiling the film but suffice it to say that this film does not fit with the normal conventions of such films. The cover likens it to Natural Born Killers, however, I personally think this is a more intelligent and restrained film than that. The film is based on a novel by Stephen Geller and was remade for television in 1996. The thing which really makes this film is the acting by the two leads. They both do excellent jobs with their characters and although you might expect Perkins to just be rehashing Psycho from 8 years earlier, this character is quite different. Weld is also excellent although she has been quoted as saying she thinks this is her worst performance. I beg to differ.

    I would recommend this film to fans of offbeat psychological thrillers and films of the late 1960s. Well worth seeing.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is average.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced, which is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The picture was fairly soft and quite grainy although there was no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was quite good.

    The colour was surprisingly good with quite vivid reds and other bright colours although some scenes seemed a little washed out. Blacks showed some colour variation between dark blues and slight greeniness.

    Artefacts were plentiful. The worst was some quite bad pixelization in a number of scenes especially a dark scene at 45:30 to 46:35. It also reoccurred at 69:44 and 70:10. When it appears it affects the whole screen but only for a second or so at a time. In addition to this there was also some telecine wobble, blobs and lines, jumps (such as at 66:26 and 77:18), bits of edge enhancement and some minor aliasing such as on a car grille at 54:30.

    There are no subtitles.

    The layer change occurs at 71:37 and causes a slight pause despite being well placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is good.

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

    Dialogue was very clear and easy to understand. There was some obvious ADR but no transfer related problems with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Johnny Mandel is quite dated and often incongruous, sounding more like a soft focus romance at some points such as when Perkins is hiding in the forest.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The menu design is very simple, including some music and minor motion. It allows for playing the film or accessing scenes.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 release of this film is quite similar to ours except that it does have subtitles and seems to be the only version with them globally. It also sports a stereo and mono mix of the film along with a Spanish dub. The best version (except if you need subtitles) comes from Region 2. The differences are as follows:

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 2 version of this disc misses out on;


    A offbeat psychological thriller from 1968 featuring some excellent acting.

    The video quality is average

    The audio quality is good.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, December 20, 2007
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
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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