Osterman Weekend, The: 2 Disc Collectors Edition (1983)
Audio Commentary-Authors Of All Things Peckinpah
Featurette-Exposing The Osterman Weekend
|Year Of Production||1983|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Sam Peckinpah|
Beyond Home Entertainment
Craig T. Nelson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
John Tanner (Rutger Hauer) is a TV investigative journalist, married to Ali (Meg Foster) with a young son. He is approached by CIA operative Maxwell Danforth (Burt Lancaster) who convinces Tanner that his three best friends are Russian spies. He is asked to help collect evidence against them. The friends, Joseph Cardone (Chris Sarandon) and his wife Betty (Cassie Yates), Richard Tremayne (Dennis Hopper) and his wife Virginia (Helen Shaver) and Bernard Osterman (Craig T. Nelson) are soon to spend a weekend at Tanner’s house. With Tanner’s permission, the CIA install surveillance cameras throughout his house, operated by the seriously spooky Lawrence Fassett (John Hurt). When the guests arrive for the weekend, and cameras intrude into every aspect of their lives, it soon becomes clear that nothing is as it seems and that nothing can be taken for granted. Just who is manipulating who?
The Osterman Weekend was legendary director Sam Peckinpah’s final film and his first in 5 years since Convoy in 1978. Peckinpah had had a stormy relationship with Hollywood studios and producers for years, compounded by hard living, alcohol and drug abuse. In 1981 Don Siegel (who made a number of films with Clint Eastwood including Dirty Harry (1971) and whom Eastwood acknowledged in Unforgiven (1992)), offered Peckinpah a job as second unit director on Jinxed which Peckinpah leapt at. As a result, producers Peter Davis and William Panzer, who specialised in low budget films, offered Peckinpah The Osterman Weekend. Peckinpah accepted but was unable to bring to the project many of the people whom he had previously worked except for cinematographer John Coquillon who had worked with Peckinpah on three features starting with Straw Dogs (1971). Peckinpah was also unable to use any of his stock company of actors. Peckinpah had also frequently been the screenwriter of the films he directed, including Major Dundee (1965), The Wild Bunch (1969) and Straw Dogs but he was not allowed any such leeway for The Osterman Weekend. Yet the film still had themes he understood; loyalty and friendship between men had been an interest as far back as Ride the High Country (1962) while issues of surveillances, media manipulation and paranoia remained dear to his heart.
The result was a mixed bag. Peckinpah no longer had the power of his glory days and the producers had the final say, recutting and releasing The Osterman Weekend into theatres in a form they were more comfortable with. That film is often submerged in its convoluted plot and the first 30 minutes or so of exposition are quite turgid. There is also a car chase that is superfluous to the plot and which is almost a parody of Peckinpah’s work, featuring a pastiche of intercut scenes at different camera speeds. However, once the weekend action commences, The Osterman Weekend gets more interesting and builds some nice tension. It also shows a number of Peckinpah touches, such as the pool shootout, and good performances especially from Craig T. Nelson, John Hurt and Meg Foster.
The previous Australian release of The Osterman Weekend was reviewed on this site here. That version by MRA is no longer available but the bottom line is that that was release is identical to this version from Beyond Home Entertainment in all aspects except for the packaging, so there is no need to upgrade. However, even second tier Peckinpah is better than many directors’ best and The Osterman Weekend has enough good moments to be worth watching, and not only by Peckinpah fans. Pick up a copy if you don’t already have one to see traces of a master at work.
The Osterman Weekend is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original theatrical release ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. It looks pretty good.
Colours are flat, but sharpness, contrast and detail are excellent. Blacks and shadow detail are very good and skin tones natural. There is occasional grain and minor aliasing but no seriously noticeable artefacts. Surveillance footage is purposefully denuded of colour, grainy and lacking in sharpness and contrast.
There are no subtitles.
The layer change at 61:40 resulted in a slight pause.
Audio options are Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks at 448 and 224 Kbps respectively, plus audio commentary tracks with the same specifications.
The 2.0 is surround encoded and quite strident and full bodied, sometimes too much so. The 5.1 is more natural and reasonably enveloping. Dialogue is mostly clear, but when not the lack of subtitles doesn’t help. The surrounds are used for music and some effects, such as gunfire and vehicle noise, and the sub is occasionally evident to support the music and the fire effect at the end of the film.
Lip synchronisation is fine.
The jazz and electronic score by Lalo Schifrin is very 1970s and does date the film.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras are spread over two discs.
These scenes were included in Peckinpah's original cut of the film. They are non 16x9 enhanced and the video quality is very poor with scratches, dirt and tape tracking artefacts. The scenes are:
A commentary by Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, David Weddle and Nick Redman, authors of books about Peckinpah. I have listened to their commentaries for Ride the High Country, Major Dundee, The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and they are always knowledgeable and entertaining . This is no different. Mostly moderated by Redman it is sometimes difficult to know just who is talking, especially as they often talk across each other; however they discuss a wide range of things Peckinpah, plus specific matters to do with The Osterman Weekend including plotting, the cast, shooting and the voyeuristic aspects of the media and media manipulation. The commentary is available either in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps) or Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (at 224 Kbps).
An informative and entertaining documentary consisting of interviews, black and white and colour photographs and film clips anchored by the film’s producers, Bill Panzer and Peter Davis (who maintain a wry humour about their experiences making a Peckinpah film) and narrated by author Nick Redman. Interviewed are cast members John Hurt, Chris Sarandon, Cassie Yates, Rutger Hauer, Meg Foster, Craig T. Nelson and Helen Shaver, composer Lalo Schifrin, editor Ed Abroms and Peckinpah's agent, Martin Baum. Topics include obtaining the funding, completion bonds, the hiring of Peckinpah, casting, locations, the shooting, the music, the conflicts between director and producers resulting in the producers recutting the film and the relevance today of The Osterman Weekend’s themes of media manipulation. Definitely worth a look.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Osterman Weekend has been released in Region 1 US and Region 2 UK in similar versions expect for some slight audio differences (both have dts soundtracks). Both those releases include the same featurette included in Region 4, stills galleries and a booklet. The main significant difference between these releases and our local Region 4 version is that both the others include on the second disc a 116:28 version of the film termed Sam’s First Cut derived from a Betamax tape.
While it can be argued that this is a significant loss, the extra scenes in that cut are included as the deleted scenes on the first disc of our Region 4 set, where in fact the poor video quality is obvious. So while it would have been better to have seen the director’s version (or at least one of them), what we have is not too bad. While the dts tracks can be considered an improvement, it must be remembered that The Osterman Weekend was originally released with mono sound.
The Osterman Weekend was maverick director Sam Peckinpah’s final film. Even so, Peckinpah at the end of his career is well worth watching. The video and audio are good; the extras include an excellent commentary by Peckinpah authors and an informative and entertaining documentary.
This version is the same as the previous Region 4 release of The Osterman Weekend in Australia by MRA so there is no need to upgrade. However, if you don’t already have a copy, pick one up to see traces of a master at work.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|