Steel Magnolias: Collector's Edition (1989)

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Released 15-Nov-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Featurette-In Full Bloom-Remembering Steel Magnolias
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary-Herbert Ross (Director)
Isolated Musical Score
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 113:28
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:59) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Herbert Ross
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Sally Field
Dolly Parton
Shirley MacLaine
Daryl Hannah
Olympia Dukakis
Julia Roberts
Tom Skerritt
Dylan McDermott
Kevin J. O'Connor
Sam Shepard
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Georges Delerue


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 4.0 L-C-R-S (448Kb/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 English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Greek
Finnish
Danish
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Steel Magnolias is a great film and yes, it is a "chick flick", but one written by a bloke. Go figure. The bloke in question is Robert Harling and the screenplay is based on his stage play of the same name. This story is based on the life of his own family and in particular his sister, Susan who died of complications resulting from diabetes.

    The focus of this story is the patrons of Truvy's Beauty Parlour in the small town of Chinquapin. We follow them over the course of several years and watch their lives unfold with both tragic and hilarious results.

    Shelby Eatenton (Julia Roberts) is about to marry a young lawyer named Jackson (Dylan McDermott) when the film opens, and is having the wedding of her dreams. Unfortunately, Shelby suffers severely from diabetes and this illness will cost her dearly. She is a happy and caring women who works as a nurse in the nursery of the local hospital. Shelby desperately wants a child of her own but has been told that she shouldn't have children due to the severe nature of her illness.

    M'Lynn Eatenton (Sally Field) is a kind women with three older children and a generally happy life that is not without its hardships. She is Shelby's mother and has cared for her and helped her deal with her illness. She is delighted that Shelby is getting married but worried about letting go of her daughter because of her health problems. Her concerns are tragically realized later in the film.

    Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton) is the proprietor of the beauty parlour and a lover of gossip. She takes her job very seriously and proudly declares her salon as the best in the area. Her motto is "There is no such thing as natural beauty"! She is having some trouble with the men in her life. Her son Louie (Tom Hodges) is a bit wild and mixes with people that Truvy would prefer he didn't. Her husband Spud (Sam Shepard) is down on his luck and doesn't want to do anything, which isn't making him the best company.

    Louisa 'Ouiser' Boudreaux (Shirley MacLaine) is the terror of the town. She is a women with a short temper and a mean disposition but, as you find out later, a warm heart.

    Clairee Belcher (Olympia Dukakis) is the ex first lady of Chinquapin and a fun-loving, wealthy women. She has a mischievous streak and loves to tease her friends, especially Ouiser, with hilarious results!

    Annelle Dupuy (Daryl Hannah) arrives in town as an awkward young women who has recently graduated top of her class in frosting and streaking (hair) at the local beauty school. She has applied for and been given a job at Truvy's which is just as well as she has recently been abandoned by her loser husband.

    This is a great movie! Each of the characters in this film is charming and the acting is very good indeed. The standouts for me were Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis and Daryl Hannah. It is certainly sad but there are also many funny passages and the whole production oozes quality.

    There are a number of great lines spoken in this movie. A couple of my favourites are from Dolly Parton - "There's so much static electricity in this room, I pick up everything except boys and money" and "Time marches on and eventually you realize it's marching across your face!"

    If you are a lover of good movies and don't have to have heaps of action to keep your attention, then you could do worse than watch this movie.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD contains a very good 1.78:1 (measured), 16x9 enhanced video transfer.

    While not as sharp as a contemporary film, this transfer is still clear and similar to other films from around this period such as Rain Man. This transfer has excellent shadow detail and the black level is perfect.

    Apart from a slightly pastel look in the skin tones which seems to be typical of this movie-making period, the colours in this film are clean and natural looking. There is never a hint of oversaturation nor bleeding, even when strong reds are shown such as at 57:30-57:41.

    I didn't notice any MPEG artefacts in this transfer. Some fine film grain is noticeable in many scenes especially where the sky is visible, but it is never a problem, such as at 2:10-2:16.

    I found only trivial occurrences of moiré effects. The most significant example I could find was at 54:24-54:26 and it was very minor indeed. This is a very clean print. The odd fleck can been seen here and there but nothing that is even remotely annoying.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 56:59. It placed right on a scene change and while noticeable, is not disruptive to the flow of the movie.

   In summary, Columbia TriStar rides again, yee haaa!

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

Audio

    This soundtrack is fine and gets the job done without being at all remarkable. The fidelity of the sound is a little dated but never bad enough to really bother you.

    There are seven audio tracks present on this disc. Six are Dolby Digital 2.0 surround tracks encoded at 192 Kb/s; English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and an English Director's Commentary. The final track is an Isolated Music Score that is encoded in Dolby Digital 4.0 with a bit rate of 448 Kb/s. I listened to the main English surround track and both the Isolated Music Score and the Directors Commentary.

    Dialogue was always clear and audio sync was never a problem. You will have to listen carefully at times as the thick Southern American accents can be tricky to decipher.

    The score by Georges Delerue is lovely and well suited to the film. In some sections it features traditional music of the south but it is mainly orchestral in nature. It is mixed rather low in the main soundtrack and I thought it lost some of its impact because of this which is a shame as it is quite beautiful at times.

    The surrounds are frequently used to carry the score, such as at 00:30-03:07 and to open up the soundstage a little but they never really make an impact. The strongest example of overall surround use for effects was at 32:14-32:32 when Drum fires fireworks into a tree. Split surround activity occurs across the front channels although the effect was a little feeble and not particularly impressive. The best example I could find for this was at 14:34-14:42.

    I didn't hear the subwoofer once and when I got up and looked at it, I found that it had got bored and gone to sleep!

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

Extras

    There is a reasonable collection of extras on this disc which I think just justifies the use of the term "Collectors Edition".

Featurette - Remembering Steel Magnolias (23:21)

    Presented in Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound, this featurette has extended interviews with Robert Harling (Screenplay) and Herbert Ross (Director) reflecting on the movie, the cast and some of their experiences during the making of the film. Shirley MacLaine is also featured and she discusses her character and the other actors. Scenes from the film are cut between the interview segments that relate to what has just been discussed or what is about to be discussed. Quite interesting and nicely presented.

Deleted Scenes

    In this section there are 11 short scenes, taken from 5 different parts of the film that were omitted from the final cut. Each scene is really just filler material and it is easy to see why they are not in the finished product. All of these scenes are of acceptable quality and have an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 but are not 16x9 enhanced.

Director's Commentary

    There are lengthy periods of silence from Herbert Ross in this commentary as well as times when the information that is presented  isn't  particularly interesting. Then, just when I was getting bored, he would talk about why a scene was filmed a particular way or how he got the actresses into the right mood for a scene and so on which rescued it. Not the greatest commentary but by no means the worst and I'd rather have the opportunity to hear it than not.

Isolated Music Score

    I have mixed feelings about this inclusion. While the score is lovely and very appropriate to the film there simply isn't enough of it. There are extended periods of silence throughout during which I would stop watching the film and look at my notes only to have the pants scared off me when the music would suddenly start. I would just get into the swing of it when boom, it was gone again! Also, the audio level would change because at times the score was the feature while at others it was being used under the dialogue for atmosphere. At least Georges Delerue's soundtrack is nicely represented here by a Dolby Digital 4.0 track that is encoded at a bit rate of 448 Kb/s. It offers improved fidelity and a more open soundstage than that of the main audio track.

Talent Profiles

    Each shows selected highlights of the performer's career as well as a selected filmography. Of minor interest only.

R4 vs R1

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

   The Region 4 disc misses out on:    The Region 1 disc misses out on:     The Region 1 version of this disc is essentially the same as our own, and so our disc is the winner in this comparison due to its superior picture resolution.

Summary

    Steel Magnolias is a film that is at times quite moving, at others very funny and at all times great entertainment. The performances given by the main cast members are excellent and the disc itself is of very good quality. If you're a fan of good film-making then at least give this film a chance as a rental.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Richardson (read my bio)
Sunday, December 03, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPhilips 711, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig M70-281. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSherwood 8090R
SpeakersMains and Rears: Tannoy Mercury M1. Centre: Tannoy Mercury MC. Subwoofer: Polk Audio PSW-120

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