|Running Time||116:35 minutes|
|Start Up||Language Selection, then Menu|
Fox Home Entertainment
Joe E. Brown
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono,
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Chicago, 1929, Prohibition. The era of the speak-easy, where booze was available and the jazz was hot. Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), two financially bankrupt musicians, finally have a job in a speak-easy run by Spats Colombo (George Taft), the boss of the southside. The front for the club is a funeral parlour and everything looks rosy until Toothpick Charlie (George E. Stone) blabs to the police and a raid is on. Making a beeline for the exit as soon as possible the guys find themselves without a gig once again. To make matters worse, Joe has a sure thing at the dogs - which of course is no sure thing, and the coats off their backs are gone. Things could not get much bleaker. So when they call into a booking agent and find themselves with a gig in Urbana, things are just a little better - except they need transport. Borrowing the receptionist's car, they head to the garage to collect it only to inadvertently witness the St Valentine's Day massacre of seven rival gang members by Spats. They need to get out of town in a hurry and so become Josephine and Daphne, and join an all-girl band for a three week gig in Florida.
The only real problem is that the vocalist for the band is Sugar Cane (Marilyn Monroe) and both "gentlemen" take a rather obvious fancy to the blonde bombshell. The train ride down to Florida proves to be a tough time, but the time in Florida proves tougher as Josephine really falls for Sugar (and vice versa when Joe/Josephine takes on the guise of a junior member of the Shell Oil family!), a playboy falls for Daphne and Spats turns up for a convention and still wants them both dead, especially when he discovers them in the same hotel. Lost the drift? Good, just get out and watch the film!
Whilst I might not quite agree with the description of the film as legendary, it still remains an enjoyable romp even after forty years. The story is pretty well put together, as one would expect for an Oscar nominee for Best Screenplay Adaptation, but it is the performances that bring a story to life, and here you have three very fine ones. The obvious standout here is Jack Lemmon as he carries off the role of a woman far far better than Dustin Hoffman ever did. Mind you, seeing Tony Curtis done up as a woman is certainly an eye opener! I have always believed that Marilyn Monroe was a pretty good comedy actress and this really proves it in my view. Rarely do films these days get three great performances from its three leads, but this one sure did. Superbly directed by Billy Wilder, with some fine cinematography to boot, the whole film is really a treasure from start to finish. This view seems to also be held by the voters at the Internet Movie Database, who currently have the film ranked at number 48 in the Top 250 of all time.
It may be over forty years old but it still looks good and the film still entertains. This is a great transfer to the digital domain for a classic film and it is heartily welcome in its Region 4 incarnation.
There is little in the way of problems with this transfer and from the outset it provides a nicely sharp and detailed image that is fairly atypical for black and white films we have thus far seen in Region 4. The only lapse from a high degree of sharpness is in the close ups of Marilyn Monroe, which employ the obligatory slightly soft focus common in films of the era. Shadow detail is as good as I could have hoped for in a film of this age, and is unlikely to disappoint anyone. Whilst there are bouts of minor grain throughout the transfer, it never becomes an eye sore and again is better than I was expecting. Even though there is this minor issue with grain, the general transfer is quite clear and there is little in the way of the film that is hidden here. There did not appear to be any significant problem with low level noise here.
This transfer has some terrific looking grey scales that really make this a beautifully vibrant black and white transfer. It is not often that we see black and white films as good-looking as this and it is a great pity too. More vibrant black and white transfers like this would certainly go some way towards encouraging more people to buy the films and thus increase the likelihood of even more black and white releases. The whole transfer has a very consistent look to it too, with nary a drop off in the standard throughout.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There was just the odd problem with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, mostly some aliasing during pan shots which did get just a little too noticeable at times. As far as film artefacts go, this is quite a clean transfer and there were very few blemishes that could be called ugly or distracting.
This is an RSDL
formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 63:48,
which is at the end of a scene and is reasonably well handled. It is not
especially disruptive even though it is a tad obvious.
The dialogue and vocals (yes, Marilyn Monroe does sing) come up well in the transfer, and are very easy to understand. There are no problems with audio sync in the transfer.
The music score comes from the pen of Adolph Deutsch and a suitably supportive effort it is too, although somewhat overshadowed by the songs done by Marilyn Monroe. Even if she did not sing them, I don't want to know - leave me with my fantasy please. She just has to be singing I Wanna Be Loved By You just for me!
Once you get used to the rather strident nature of
the soundtrack, there is no much of an issue here at all with it. It may
pay to just turn the volume down a little when you toss this one into the
player, just to get a slightly more natural sounding effort straight off.
Obviously being a mono soundtrack you can pretty well forget anything in
the way of surround channel or bass channel usage - and to be honest you
won't miss it at all. Since this is a dialogue-driven film, the strident
mono sound suits it well. Indeed, this is a fine example of how a well-engineered
mono soundtrack can do a better job than an ordinarily engineered stereo
soundtrack. Whilst I could wax lyrical about how stereo really is not a
necessary form of sound and how good mono sound can beat it hands down,
I shall not use this as the forum as I am sure it would start a chain of
emails that I would not be able to keep up with (note no correspondence
entered into!). The soundtrack is free from any noticeable distortions
and overall is a very listenable effort.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
11th December 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. 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 C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|