Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project: Collector's Edition (2007) (NTSC)
|Category||Documentary||Deleted Scenes-Disc 2 has 53 minutes of excellent additional material.|
|Year Of Production||2007|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||John Landis|
Dark Horse Indie
Beyond Home Entertainment
Harry Dean Stanton
Robert De Niro
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, Real life context.|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
†††† Beyond Home Entertainment give us the opportunity to relish the comedic talent of possibly the last of the great comic talents in their two-disc set Mr Warmth : The Don Rickles Project. Directed, obviously as a labour of love, by John Landis, this 2007 documentary won two Emmy Awards, one for Landis and one for Rickles himself. Born on May 1926, Rickles is an "insult comic" who has survived where others have had short lives. From the stage he insults his audience for whatever they've got - their weight, ethnicity, religion, age or incapacity. Everyone is a target. Yet to be abused by Rickles is considered a "badge of honour". It is a privilege, even at this late stage in his career, to get better acquainted with this remarkable entertainer.
†††† John Landis has amassed over thirty individual new interviews for his documentary feature. The list of those from the present who contribute is astounding : Harry Dean Stanton, Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Chris Rock, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Lawrence, Roseanne, Billy Crystal, Regis Philbin, Sidney Poitier, Mario Cantone, Kathy Griffin, Martin Scorsese, Jay Leno, George Lopez, Larry King, Ernest Borgnine, Carl Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Joan Rivers, Keely Smith, Frankie Avalon and the list goes on and on. From the past we see Sinatra, Dean Martin, Milton Berle - most of the greats are here. As well there is footage from home movies - delightful stuff of Rickles and his wife of almost fifty years, Barbara, holidaying in Europe with good friends Bob Newhart and his wife. Then we have pieces of Rickles' feature movies, starting with Run Silent Run Deep with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster, Kelly's Heroes, Muscle Beach Party (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and the rest - up to voicing Mr Potato Head for the Toy Story series. As well there is the enormous TV career, Rickles appearing in just about every series for decades. You will also see some of the best footage I have seen of LasVegas, past and present. Finally, and best of all, we have 2007 footage of "Mr Warmth" performing onstage, insulting and working a live audience as only he can. Evidently this is the first ever filming of a live performance by this master. What a valuable document! This mountain of material has been assembled by Landis and his editor Mark L. Levine into a marvellous ninety minutes picture of the man and his talent. At times I was touched and moved, but mostly I just laughed. He is still outrageously funny.
†††† Along the way, as we learn about this individual entertainer, there is also the story of the emergence of nightclub entertainment in the United States. This development is described as a natural product of the prohibition era. With "the mob" turning to the lucrative production of the newly illegal alcohol, certain solutions had to be found. The "product" had to be distributed, so the Mafia moved into the trucking industry. The customers needed somewhere they could buy and consume the alcohol, so we get the speakeasies and nightclubs. To keep the customers happy while they drank and gambled, entertainment had to be provided, so we get the floorshows. So the environment was created that nurtured the careers of numerous musicians, comics and singers. This is all fascinating material, and refreshingly free of some agenda on the part of the filmmaker. Don Ricklesí story gives a fascinating insight into this aspect of the history of entertainment.
†††† The last time I saw Don Rickles was last year on some awards show, probably the Emmy Awards. At eighty-four or five he was the comic highlight of the event. Also last year Rickles appeared in one of the prestigious Rose Bowl commercials, as a talking rose. This year cinema audiences will be hearing him in Hawaiian Vacation and The Zookeeper. This documentary is a timely reminder of one of the great comedy talents. Long may Don Rickles keep us laughing.
†††† The image quality on both discs is excellent. The image is presented at 1.78:1 in a 16x9 transfer. Naturally some of the old footage is of poorer quality, but the 2007 footage is outstanding.
†††† The image is sharp and clear - with the occasional problems caused by filming a live performance. These sequences do, however, give the exciting feel of a live performance. Colours are consistently good, with the Vegas lights at their most dazzling. Skin tones are excellent.
†††† Though there is the occasional flaw in the vintage material, I was not aware of any video artefacts at all. All in all, a first rate delivery of valuable material.
†††† There are no subtitles.
†††† There is one audio stream on each disc, Dolby Digital surround encoded at 192 Kbps. This is an excellent soundtrack for a documentary.
†††† The interview material is crystal clear, with every syllable precise. This is no easy thing when you have the, at times, extremely rapid fire delivery of Don Rickles.The performance segments are also excellent. There are no sync problems. All this dialogue is front and centre as you would expect. Whenever the opportunity arises, as in stock footage of trains, ships etc - stereo and surround encoding delivers a really terrific impact. These effects add to the enjoyment of the footage. The music is also brilliantly reproduced, with considerable oomph from the bass.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† The menu is presented with a montage of live action footage of Don Rickles performing, a photograph montage of "guests" plus audio.
†††† The second disc contains twenty-seven separate segments which mainly consist of footage not included in the final documentary. They vary in length from fourteen seconds up to eleven minutes. The first is presented 1.33:1, but the remainder are all 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. The quality throughout is extremely good. There is a menu, without audio or animation, offering a three screen list of the individual segments.
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†††† This documentary is a comedy classic. Thank goodness the comic genius of Don Rickles has now been preserved. We are presented with a fascinating look at the man, his times - past and present - and get to see huge chunks of him performing live. There are present stars galore on hand to laud him, as well as the waiters and busboys. But it is the stars of the past who bring home a nostalgia for a golden age of entertainment that is all but lost. We still do have Don Rickles, and this DVD is a tribute and a joy.
|DVD||SONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|