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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
The Electric Horseman (Universal) (1979)

The Electric Horseman (Universal) (1979)

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Released 24-Dec-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 115:50
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Sydney Pollack

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Robert Redford
Jane Fonda
Valerie Perrine
Willie Nelson
John Savage
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Dave Grusin

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Sydney Pollack has made many excellent films for his day, and although this isn't going to top anyone's all-time action list, The Electric Horseman is light and airy and a pretty decent movie that is still as entertaining today as when it was made. Pollack was also blessed by getting a couple of decent performances out of his two major stars (Redford and Fonda). It should be noted that he seems to have been Robert Redford's favourite director (he had made a couple of movies with him before this and made several after), which is a fair indication that they worked well together. He had also directed Jane Fonda previously in They Shoot Horses Don't They?.

    You could call this movie the epitome of a feel-good movie with lots of wide open spaces, cowboys, horses, TV reporters who become a little more human and big corporations that finally get their comeuppance. Okay, so that's condensing it down a little far, but all things considered, if you weren't interested in knowing a lot more about this movie that would cover things pretty well.

    Robert Redford is Sonny Steele, a former five-time world rodeo champion who has taken on corporate sponsorship which has changed his life. Instead of being a hero, he's been reduced to the 'Ranch Breakfast Champion - Sonny Steel', all the while being forced to wear an electric outfit, complete with cabling and riding around on a horse holding up the cereal. Unfortunately, this has affected him and he's begun drinking, which is causing problems with his guest appearances and half-time football game encores.

    During a visit to Las Vegas to assist his sponsors Ampco (whose new logo is a galloping horse) take over a major bank and promote their new logo, he discovers that their $11 million dollar stallion is being mistreated and fed tranquillisers and steroids instead of being treated with the respect a champion deserves (almost like he feels) and it annoys him. After a run-in with Hallie Martin, a reporter for a major TV station (played by Jane Fonda) who makes it obvious that he's a liability, he decides that his life needs to change.

    While waiting to appear at the casino to promote the company's breakfast cereal on the doped horse, he realises what he must do. Sonny steals the horse and rides him out of the casino and into the desert. Hallie in the meantime smells a great story and tracks him down and tries to find out his motivation for stealing the horse.

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Transfer Quality


    This was not a movie I expected anything great from in terms of quality, and to be honest that's precisely what I got - nothing great. Compared to a VHS tape, it would rate only marginally better given the fact that the picture can't deteriorate to any worse shape than that presented here.

    The picture is presented close to its theatrical release of 2.39:1 at 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced

    Let me say from the beginning that this is as soft and blurry a presentation as I've seen in a long time. At no stage does the picture become more focused or more sharply defined, although your eyes eventually adjust to what's on the screen. Background detail is a mess, with frequent ill-defined shapes and blurry images. There is no evidence of edge enhancement and shadow detail is average at best. There was no noticeable blooming in the blacks but little separation either. Grain is persistent throughout but it doesn't get too bad, even at its worst.

    This is as washed out and almost colourless as I can remember a movie being. Okay, slight exaggeration maybe, but what attractiveness there may have been is long gone. Skin tones are fine, although there were many scenes where predominant reds discoloured the entire shot. The palette used may have been quite adequate, but it's obvious that this transfer has been taken from a well worn source and what is left is only mediocre.

    You can take your pick of the number of film artefacts on show in this transfer. Basically every second has a blip or blemish, a smudge or a fleck missing. The most obvious was probably at 79:30 with a nice big fleck taken off the bottom of the picture. As for film-to-video artefacts, take your pick. Most straight lines will break up at times, with car grills, fences, and so forth constantly shimmering. There were also plenty of moiré effects too, with the best example at 13:43 on the sign for Caesar's Palace which exhibits both aliasing and moiréing in the same shot.

    The subtitles were fairly accurate and occupy the last line of the film and part of the black bar below the picture.

    This is a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    A Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack didn't bode too well when I first saw the specs, but it turned out better than I thought. You have a choice of English or German, both at 192 kilobits per second, but there didn't seem to be any difference between them. Basically my equipment ported this through the centre speaker exclusively and since there didn't seem to be a lot missed by separating the channels, I left it as is.

    The dialogue was very crisp and clean with zero problems with syncing.

    The music is by Dave Grusin who was another Pollack regular, having worked with him on such movies as Bobby Deerfield and Three Days of the Condor. For the most part this is fairly uplifting stuff, but regulation. The addition of incidental music from Willie Nelson helps it along considerably.

    There is no surround or subwoofer usage on this disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in 1.33:1 Full Frame with 'very' 70's music accompanying it. The entire thing is just one huge artefact with spots and blemishes everywhere, including a couple of interesting ones. It has a running time of 2:31, but it wasn't the most attractive trailer I've seen.

R4 vs R1

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 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 4 misses out on nothing.


    The Electric Horseman is a nice, entertaining movie with a good cast and reasonably sanitised storyline that I found very watchable from a plot point of view. The video is marginally better than VHS only, with plenty of problems. The audio was solid, if unspectacular and fairly thin. The extras were almost non-existent but the price is about right if you look around.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Friday, January 04, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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