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Details At A Glance

Category Romantic Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.85:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1987 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 102:31 minutes Other Extras Filmographies - Cast
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Fred Schepisi
Columbia Pictures
Columbia TriStar
Starring Steve Martin 
Darryl Hannah
Shelley Duvall
Rick Rossovich
Case Brackley
RRP $34.95 Music Bruce Smeaton

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 2.0 
16 x 9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 256 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 256 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 256 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 256 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 256 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or
After Credits
Yes, partially in credits

Plot Synopsis

    One of the depressing things about returning to this film after some time is how much I am able to relate to it, in the face of events in my life. But it also means that I return to this film somewhat wiser and more attuned to the underlying message of this film. Quite simply, this film can be taken at several levels - although the most usual is as a romantic comedy involving one very beautiful woman and one nasally enhanced individual. And if that story sounds a little familiar, well it is somewhat rather loosely based on the rather well known play Cyrano de Bergerac. And just so that the young ones don't get too upset, we are not talking about Mr Squiggle here! Although there are some rather obvious visual comparisons that can be drawn here (gee, the puns get worse).

    Local fire chief C.D. Bales (Steve Martin) is your typical small town guy - well respected and well accepted by the local community - except in one rather obvious way. To say the guy could put Pinocchio, after an especially bad bout of lying, to shame is to seriously understate the magnitude of the affliction. Poor old C.D. has a hooter of CN Tower proportions. Naturally this has caused some problems with the opposite sex. So when beautiful astronomer Roxanne Kowalski (Darryl Hannah) arrives in town, C.D. is somewhat smitten but is reticent to do anything about it based upon past experience, despite the urging of friend Dixie (Shelley Duvall). Almost immediately, yet another new addition arrives in town, this time to join the fire department, in the form of Chris McConnell (Rick Rossovich), who immediately catches the eye of Roxanne. Unfortunately, Chris suffers from a slight problem as regards women - would you like to guess where Trey Parker and Matt Stone nicked the idea for Stan Marsh and Wendy Testaburger in South Park from???? But Roxanne wants to connect with Chris, so enlists the help of C.D. to do so. Chris is ecstatic but his affliction becomes something of a barrier, so he enlists C.D. to write a letter to Roxanne for him. The result is that Roxanne falls completely for what was in the letter, but obviously when she wants to meet Chris (arranged through poor old C.D. again), he has to enlist C.D. to give him the words to move Roxanne. So naturally Roxanne falls for the looks of Chris and the words of C.D. Will true love find its true course for all three in this rather bizarre love triangle (gee, that would make a great name for a band ....)?

    It is quite a simple story in essence but simple stories can be wound into something far more engaging than first appearances can suggest. In this case, the story required some fine performances to bring it to life - and that is what we have here, although since the writer is also the star.... Steve Martin is an exceptional comic talent and given fine material to work with can produce something special. He has given himself the material here and produces a superb performance as the somewhat nasally handicapped man who indeed has tried to raise above the affliction. The quality of the performance is evidenced by the fact that he copped a Golden Globe nomination for the performance, and won the Best Actor awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and National Society of Film Critics Awards in 1987. Whilst this is not an outright comic performance, some of the lines here are quite wonderful and he delivers them with some aplomb. The screenplay also won the Best Screen play award from the Writers Guild of America in 1988. Darryl Hannah was in the middle of a great run of film performances at the time she did this, and I find this to be one of the more memorable ones. She produces a strong performance that brings just the right level of reticence, eagerness, realization and expectation together. The result is a wonderful characterization of a woman slowly coming to realize that looks are not the be all and end all, and that what is inside is often far more important to true love. Rick Rossovich puts together a great performance as the slightly bumbling fire fighter who also comes to realize that he only needs to be himself to find what he is looking for - and that may not be what is always apparent. These great performances were captured well by Fred Schepisi and the whole film has this wonderful small town feel to it. I have always particular liked the way the advent of the nose was handled in the film - a nice touch from Schepisi here.

    It is great to return to this film after so relatively long a time, and these are amongst the most memorable performances from both leads in my view. Whilst some of the underlying messages do cut a little close to the bone as far as my life is concerned, they are nonetheless messages that perhaps we all need to to take heed of far more often than we seem to.

Transfer Quality


    Okay, this is a slightly more recent effort than Against All Odds but this is still a fine transfer that Columbia TriStar have once again come up - this time for a film heading for fourteen years old. Their consistency in this regard is quite amazing, even if we do tend to, and quite rightly so, expect a high standard of transfers from this source.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and (repeat after me) it is 16x9 enhanced as we expect (again) of transfers from this source.

    Despite the age of the film, this is a nicely sharp and detailed transfer that totally belies its age. I have previously questioned why anamorphic cinematography seems to produce such gloriously sharp transfers - this is another, albeit older, example of that. There are hardly any lapses here that underline the age of the film in that respect either, which is something a little unusual. The transfer is generally very clear, with just the odd hint of a little graininess to remind you of the age of the film. Shadow detail is however not as good as I was expecting, mainly because the transfer is quite dark - much darker than I remember the film being. I feel that the transfer would have been better served by being a little bit lighter, as I am sure that the resultant improvement in detail would have been a delight to see. However, some may have no problems with the darkness of the transfer. There appears to be no problem with low level noise in the transfer.

    The transfer is quite a vibrant effort, which some very nicely saturated colours. However, this vibrancy is hampered a little by the dark transfer. The resultant picture is quite a natural one, albeit slightly rich toned, that I have little else to quibble about. Overall, this is definitely better than I was anticipating.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. There were no significant film-to-video artefacts noted in the transfer, and about all I noticed was some quite minor aliasing that would hardly rate as noticeable, apart from the fact that I was looking for it in particular. Once again we have an older film that is really free from noticeable film artefacts: there were barely any to be seen. Okay, this is starting to sound like a looping soundtrack here, but I am just amazed by how clean Columbia TriStar are getting these remastered transfers to be.

    This is a single layer, single sided format disc, and that is perhaps the one real quibble that I do have: I felt that perhaps an RSDL format would have provided just that little more space to do a slightly better compression job, that would have really made this transfer shine.


    And the purists will once again rejoice that there is no 5.1 remaster here, rather what I would suspect is the original Dolby surround soundtrack.

    There are five audio tracks on the DVD, all being Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded efforts: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, which seem to be the defaults now being used by Columbia TriStar on these Region 2/4 coded discs. I listened to the English default soundtrack.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand.

    There were no apparent audio sync problems with the disc.

    The score by Bruce Smeaton is extremely complementary to the film, and provides a nice little "feel good" ambience to the film in general. It may not be the most original music ever heard, but it certainly is quite effective.

    This is not the best surround soundtrack that I have ever heard and there really did not seem to be much action out of the surround channels. Since the film however is much more dialogue driven than anything else, and the scope for huge surround presence is not great, the lack of surround presence is not necessarily missed at all. I found myself not missing the surround detail at all, and the dialogue certainly comes across convincingly enough in the soundscape. You can definitely live without the old doggie here - which means to say there is no bass at all in the soundtrack.


    I suppose the single layer, single side format has its limitations as to what you can put onto a disc after a 102 minute film, but I would have loved to have seen more on offer here - a commentary from Steve Martin would have been great I feel. What we have got is not too inspiring at all.


    A fairly plain jane effort without much in the way of enhancement.

Theatrical Trailer (1:37)

    This is presented in a aspect ratio of 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. A little bit grainy but overall a nice encapsulation of the film.

Filmographies - Cast

    I would suspect rather incomplete filmographies at that, and restricted to just Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah too.

R4 vs R1

    There appears to be no significant difference between the Region 1 and Region 4 releases, apart from the Region 1 release also including a Pan and Scan version of the film on the second side of a dual sided disc. Unless a Pan and Scan version is essential to you, Region 4 is the region of choice owing to the inherent superiority of the PAL system.


    Actually a film that I would describe as a classic, as it never seems to lose its sparkle with age or repeated viewings, and a film that I continue to enjoy immensely. A pity that a few more extras could not have been included but still worthwhile adding to your collection - unless you have a problem with darkish transfers.

    A very nice video transfer, albeit a little dark.

    A good audio transfer.

    A barely adequate extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
13th February 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL