Stir Crazy (1980)

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Released 13-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Filmographies-For Poitier, Wilder, Pryor, Stanford Brown & Williams
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 106:32
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Sidney Poitier
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Gene Wilder
Richard Pryor
Georg Stanford Brown
Jobeth Williams
Miguel Ángel Suárez
Craig T. Nelson
Barry Corbin
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI Box Music Tom Scott


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Arabic
Czech
Danish
Dutch
English
Finnish
French
German
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Stir Crazy was the third highest grossing film of 1980, behind Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back and Nine To Five. For many years the movie was the highest grossing film, in monetary terms, for an African-American Director. When I think of Stir Crazy, I think of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, not Sidney Poitier who directed the film. Poitier had success in the 1970s directing and acting in a loose trilogy of films with Bill Cosby (Uptown Saturday Night, Let's Do It Again and A Piece of the Action). When he was attached to this project, he had the good sense to firstly rent out a prison facility in Arizona and secondly let Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder improvise their scenes.

    Stir Crazy was the second of four films that Pryor and Wilder starred in, the first been the hugely successful Silver Streak by Arthur Hiller in 1976. Richard Pryor plays Harry Monroe, a struggling actor who works as a waiter while Gene Wilder plays Skip Donahue, an unsuccessful playwright working as a store detective. After getting fired from their jobs (on the same day!) they decide to leave New York City and settle out west. They eventually end up in Texas where they get some work promoting a bank by dressing up in woodpecker costumes and performing for customers. During a lunch break they are set-up when two cunning bank robbers don their costumes and rob the bank. Thus, begins their adventures in Glensboro State prison, where they meet up with a gay prisoner (Georg Stanford Brown), another bank robber from Mexico (Miguelangel Suarez) and Grossberger (Erland Van Lidth De Jeude).

    Faced with the daunting prospect of spending 125 years in jail, with 30 years for parole, all hope seems lost for Skip and Harry, until Skip is invited to 'ride the bull' (i.e. ride a mechanised bull) in the warden's office. Skip surprises the warden (Barry Corbin) and the deputy (Craig T. Nelson) by riding the bull at full power and when he does so, a chain of events takes place whereby Skip and Harry can plan to escape.

    Erland Van Lidth needs to be mentioned due to his background. When I first saw him portray Grossberger as a young boy (when I first saw the movie on television) I was genuinely in fear of him, as Harry and all the other prisoners and guards are, especially when we find out that he murdered his whole family one weekend and then decided to kill off another family who happened to look like his family. (I still chuckle as I ponder on the premise of this character!) In real life, Van Lidth was a humble and quietly-spoken man who among other things graduated from University in Computer Science and excelled at wrestling, acting and opera singing. A hugely talented man (no pun intended!) he died from heart failure at 34 years of age. He was last seen in the film Running Man with Arnold Schwarznegger.

    Stir Crazy ranks as one of my all-time favourite comedies, simply because of the outrageous situations that Skip and Harry find themselves in. It is a shame that contrary to what many people think, Pryor and Wilder were not as close in real-life in comparison to the rapport they show in working together in the four films they did. Otherwise, surely they would have done a follow-up together to this hugely successful movie, rather than wait to team up with Arthur Hiller again in 1989, 9 years after Stir Crazy, to do See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer from Sony Pictures/Columbia Tristar is superb for a film of this age.

    The aspect ratio for the film is 1:85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    Although the film is presented on one side of a flipper (a DVD-10) with the movie See No Evil, Hear No Evil, the transfer only has minimal grain and no low level noise. The average bitrate of the film transfer is 5.2 mb/sec which is reasonable for a 106 minute film.

    Colour is consistent with other films of it's era. The scenes at the beginning of the film in New York City look similar to other films of the late 1970s/early 1980s such as Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie or Trading Places.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts, with once instance of telecine wobble, but his may be present in the film elements and not a product of the transfer by Sony.

    There are subtitles for 18 languages! These are in white and are easy to follow.

    There is no RSDL change as the disc is presented on a single layer of a flipper DVD-10 disc.

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

Audio

    The soundtrack has minimal background and incidental music as a lot of time was reserved for Pryor and Wilder to improvise their dialogue and routines in the film.

    There are three audio tracks (English, French and German), all in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoded at 192 kbps.

    Dialogue is clear and audio is synchronised throughout.

    There are a few songs in the film, including the title song sung by Gene Wilder, but as mentioned before, music is used sparingly by Poitier in this film.

    As the soundtracks are in mono, there is no surround channel usage.

    The Subwoofer is also silent for the duration of the film.

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

Extras

Filmographies

The only extra is a text-based filmography for Sidney Poitier, Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Georg Stanford Brown and Jobeth Williams. This is disappointing as a film like this deserves to be supported with quality extras such as cast/crew interviews, a documentary or an audio commentary.

R4 vs R1

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

    Stir Crazy has been released in Region 1 in the USA and Region 2 in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands. The Region 1 release has a theatrical trailer, some production notes and a bonus trailer for Richard Pryor Live On The Sunset Strip and See No Evil, Hear No Evil whereas the Region 2 releases are identical to Australian Region 4 release, except for the addition of Spanish subtitles (a minor variance!).

    Although the Region 4 release is only available in a box set, there is no real difference or advantage between Regional releases of Stir Crazy.

Summary

    Apart from Arthur Hiller's 1976 film, Silver Streak, Stir Crazy may possibly be Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder's finest film together. Even after multiple viewings the film is still funny, a testament to Pryor's and Wilder's improvisational performances in the film.

    Stir Crazy is only available in the Pryor & Wilder - Ultimate Collector's Pack box set in Region 4, together with See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Another You. Despite this, the set is well worth picking up for the first two films of the box set at the very least.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 019), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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