The Verdict: Special Edition (1982)
Gallery-Behind The Scenes
|Year Of Production||1982|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Sidney Lumet|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I'll level with you all now and admit that I have never seen The Verdict in its entirety before, although I had seen the ending of a couple of times. The closest I had come to seeing the whole thing was reading a very funny parody in Mad Magazine a long time ago. As that parody suggests, it is a legal drama based around medical negligence, and while it is very dated, it is also extremely relevant in light of the current indemnity insurance crisis. Indeed, three years ago, it was dismissed as no longer being relevant to anywhere but America, only now it reminds me so much of dramas I've seen unfold during trips to the hospital it is scary. Having gone under the knife myself this time last year for a minor form of skin cancer, I can certainly understand why surgeons are now reluctant to operate.
The Verdict begins with a day in the life of one-time hotshot lawyer Frank Galvin (Paul Newman), which consists of going to funeral homes, annoying the bereaved relatives, and in one instance, being told not to come back to the funeral home again. One of his few friends in the world, Mickey (Jack Warden), gives him a case that involves two unfortunate souls - the wife's sister was left comatose as the result of an accident in hospital. It seems that the anaesthetist in charge of her case gave her the wrong anaesthesia, and now she cannot breathe on her own. In spite of a generous offer from Edward J. Concannon (James Mason), the chief defence attorney, and the advice of a Judge named Hoyle (Milo O'Shea) to take it, Frank pushes ahead with taking the case to court.
Of course, Frank has the odds well and truly stacked against him. The hospital does everything it can to make certain that anything which can help Galvin present his case is mysteriously absent when the trial date comes about, and there is a lot of implicit behaviour from the judge, to boot. As the aforementioned parody points out, many of the things that the characters in this film do are so out of line with what defence attorneys and Judges do that it almost becomes a farce. Still, I found the film well worth watching despite these major errors of fact, and I believe that those looking for a quality drama as opposed to the violence-driven one-note blockbusters that Hollywood keeps churning out today will find The Verdict quite satisfying.
In a word, this transfer is pretty ordinary. It's not so bad that I can recommend avoiding the disc entirely, but there is a lot of room for improvement.
The transfer is presented in the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.
There are some transfers that are so sharp and richly detailed that it makes you forget about the line limitations of current-generation televisions. This is not one of them. The transfer is detailed enough that the story makes sense, but if the truth must be told, it doesn't look all that different from when I last saw the film being broadcast on television. The shadow detail is quite limited, and some scenes suffer for this quite badly, but thankfully there is no low-level noise in those abundant black patches.
The colours are quite faded and dull in appearance, which may be blamed upon the film stocks of the early 1980s as well as the style of set decoration. The transfer renders this scheme of colour without a problem.
MPEG artefacts were not apparent in this transfer at any time. Film-to-video artefacts, unfortunately, are another matter - anything that can shimmer does so during the two hours that the film runs for. The pinball machine that Paul Newman is often seen at earlier in the film is the most distracting example, with some real irritating effects coming at 0:21 and 9:35. However, the fun doesn't stop there, with shimmering occurring quite frequently on stairs, railings, desks, and just about everything in the courtroom. While this example of how much a 16x9 transfer can shimmer is not quite as bad as The Phantom Menace, it does make an effort to get there. Film artefacts were also a nuisance in this transfer, with one shot showing a few white specks dancing around Joe Seneca's head at 78:31.
There are English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles present on this DVD. They are neither particularly good nor particularly bad, just sufficient for the film to make sense - to be perfectly honest, I was concentrating more on the film than the subtitles after a while, anyway.
This disc is RSDL formatted, but three attempts to find the layer change were unsuccessful.
There are two soundtracks on this DVD. The first, and default, soundtrack is the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding at 192 kilobits per second. The other soundtrack is a 96 kilobit Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo Audio Commentary. The film was originally presented in stereo, and it is very dialogue-driven, so this is nothing to complain about.
The dialogue is very clear and easy to understand, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that it was assisted at the mixing desk by having the volume of all other elements turned down just a notch. I could not detect any problems with audio sync.
The original music in this film is credited to Johnny Mandel. To be perfectly honest, I never noticed it, which means it is either very good or very bad.
The surround channels were only occasionally used to separate the ambience of streets and courtroom audiences from the rest of the soundtrack. In the most fundamental terms, this is a monaural soundtrack with occasional stereo separation.
The subwoofer was not used in this soundtrack at all. There would be precious little need for it.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static, 16x9 Enhanced, and very easy to navigate.
This eight minute and forty-four second featurette answers the nagging question of exactly what extended promotional trailers looked like before shows such as Entertainment Tonight turned them into a science. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.
This two minute and fourteen second trailer appears to have had the same amount of restoration work done to it as the film itself. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.
Presented in the same stop-start featurette style that is becoming popular with stills galleries, this extra is only of minor interest.
This audio commentary really appears to have been spliced together from at least two sources, but it does manage to hold interest for as long as you're willing to view the film a second time in the same day. The paltry bitrate makes it sound a little tinny, but it really is the only substantial extra on the disc.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
Since the list price of the Region 1 disc is $19.98 in American funds, and both versions are distributed by the same company, there is no real compelling reason to recommend the Region 1 version.
The Verdict is not a classic film, but one does tend to return to it after a while in order to pick up on something they missed the first time. It contains one of Paul Newman's most admirable performances, and it is worth seeing in order to witness an uncredited appearance from a younger Bruce Willis. Given the current crisis in liability insurance, and the ever-increasing dismissal in personal responsibility, it is certainly a very relevant film right now.
The video transfer is disappointing, but serviceable.
The audio transfer is very middle-of-the-road, but that is all the film requires.
The extras are a little disappointing given the age of the film.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|