Harrad Experiment (Force Video) (1973)

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Released 28-Jun-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 91:07 (Case: 95)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ted Post
Studio
Distributor
Cinema Art Prods
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring James Whitmore
Tippi Hedren
Don Johnson
Bruno Kirby
Laurie Walters
Victoria Thompson
Case C-Button-Version 2
RPI $19.95 Music Artie Butler
Michael Lindsay


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Back in the early 70's, sexual liberation was coming of age with freely available contraception, an easy-going attitude and no spectre of AIDS to haunt the later generations. Thus was born the concept film The Harrad Experiment. Harrad College (derived from Harvard and Radcliffe), under the guidance of Professor Tenhausen (James Whitmore) sought to emancipate its students from the age-old strictures of wedlock and the guilt-inspired concepts of lifetime fidelity and adultery. In order to encourage sexual freedom and openness in relationships, each student was paired off with a fellow of the opposite sex as a  room-mate and these were changed every 30 days. Accordingly, lush, golden-haired, easy-going babe Beth (Victoria Thompson) was paired off with uptight Harry (Bruno Kirby) and naive and inexperienced tree-hugging Sheila (Laurie Walters) was paired off with super-stud Stanley (played by Bay City Rollers look-alike Don Johnson!) 

    The taming of Stanley, whose motto seems to be "if it moves sh*g it", the awakening of sexual awareness in Sheila and the loosening up of Harry form the core of the film. In a curious real-life parallel, Stanley attempts to seduce the Professor's wife (Tippi Hedren) - in real life Don Johnson is alleged to have seduced his babysitter when he was 12 and later had an affair with a college tutor. He also made the acquaintance of uncredited extra, 14 year old Melanie Griffith (Tippi Hedren's daughter) to whom he was married 3 years later.

    It's a curious film, easy to dismiss as inconsequential American tripe as socially relevant as The Waltons, but it obviously occupies a key niche in American social history. It was an enormous box-office success and even now video bootleg copies are circulated around colleges and form the basis for lively debate. It's certainly an interesting snapshot of social history and in some ways light relief from today's conservatism and prudishness - it probably also has a use in clearing the home theatre of noisy teenagers who, no doubt, will take one look and head off in disgust (probably to the bedroom!). It is also entertaining to spot who succeeded and who fell by the wayside - Tippie Hedren's career continued unabated, Bruno Kirby excelled as the dork in When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers and the two gorgeous girls made a few TV appearances and ... disappeared.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The quality of this transfer is pretty ordinary.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The detail of this transfer is limited by the low bit rate whereas the focus is sharp and on the whole well illuminated. Shadows are few and far between but where present, detail is limited. There is mild low level noise seen in some of the black backgrounds.

    The colours are bright and clean but the lack of contrast results in some posterization, particularly of some facial features, which results in some unnaturally reddish flesh tones.

    Pixelization is present throughout the feature in plain background scenes and is quite distracting on the large screen. Mild telecine wobble is present throughout the whole feature, most evident, as usual, during the credits. Aliasing is just about completely absent which is a plus of the low bit-rate transfer. Film artefacts are also present throughout the feature. At times, there is a fine shower of black flecks and a few scratches but on the whole these are not too distracting and quite reasonable considering the age of the feature

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is a single sided, single layered DVD-5.

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

Audio

    The audio presentation is about as basic as it gets - there isn't even a credited Foley artist!

    There is one English soundtrack encoded in mono Dolby Digital 2.0.

    The spoken words are very clear which is just as well as this is a dialogue-heavy movie. Audio sync is on cue.

    The movie is scored by Artie Butler and his scoring is as corny as some of the acting but generally in keeping with genre. The final song during the closing credits is sung by Don Johnson (don't give up the acting job).

    There is no surround nor subwoofer activity.

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

Extras

Menu

    Quite a nicely designed static menu giving choice of chapter selection or movie play. And that's yer bloomin' lot!

R4 vs R1

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

    This multi-region DVD appears to be of the same basic content as the R1 NTSC Platinum Disc Corporation version which is currently not available. However, user reviews strongly deprecate the R1 version for its lack of nude scenes and removal of swear words for television broadcast. If this is indeed the case, then this current production by Force Video would seem to be more complete.

Summary

    The Harrad Experiment is 'an interesting period piece' and worth a squiz to see what was popular in the 70's. Despite the sophistication of our present electronic infested digital age, the same old relationship dilemmas are still pertinent although this feature doesn't really provide any answers to the eternal questions.

    The video quality is decidedly mediocre although no doubt better than some of the well-worn videos in circulation

    The audio quality is very basic but adequate for the job.

    The extras are non-existent which is a shame as some bios or a retrospective by some of the actors would have been of real interest.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Thursday, November 14, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDEAD 8000 Pro, using RGB output
DisplayNEC MP3. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Audio DecoderNaim AV2. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

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