True Crime

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 122:13 minutes Other Extras Featurette - The Scene of The Crime (9:30)
Featurette - True Crime: True Stories (22:08)
Main Menu Audio and Animation
Music Video - Why Should I Care (Diana Krall)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (67:40)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Clint Eastwood

Warner Home Video
Starring Clint Eastwood
Isaiah Washington
Denis Leary
Lisa Gay Hamilton
James Woods
Diane Venora
Bernard Hill
Case Snapper
RRP $34.95 Music Lennie Niehaus

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, in credits

Stuff Up Extraordinaire

    Well, just in case you may wonder why I start off the review with this little section, things will become apparent shortly. If you look at the date of this review, you will note that it was written over six weeks ago. The only problem was that the review was not of the Region 4 release. Rather, it was a review of the Region 1 release. And the reason for that?

    Well actually, one of the most unbelievable stuff-ups yet perpetuated in Region 4 to my knowledge. The disc enclosed in the Region 4 packaging that I got was not the expected Region 2/Region 4 disc, but rather the Region 1 disc.

    Now how on earth Warner Home Video managed that little (well okay, HUGE) faux pas would no doubt make interesting reading, all the more because they are the one local distributor that is so completely and utterly against any sort of mention of Region 1 product. Seems a bit odd that a distributor so vehemently opposed to comparisons with or mentions of Region 1 product, then puts out Region 1 product into the marketplace, albeit it would seem in a very limited number. And just to be clear here, this was not a promotional disc of any kind - this was a disc that was bought off-the-shelf with my own hard earned dollars. Go figure. At one time Warner Home Video was the leader of the pack in DVD in Region 4. Their descent to absolute joke is now complete.

    However, Warner Home Video finally came good by providing a promotional copy of the Region 4 release, with which I have now been able to actually complete a review of the Region 4 release.

Plot Synopsis

    So onto the film itself. Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington) is sitting on death row of San Quentin, twenty four hours before his scheduled execution. Steve Everett (Clint Eastwood) is an ex-alcoholic, womanizing reporter assigned to conduct an interview with Beachum, in place of a recently deceased colleague. After a very brief review of the material relating to the case, and the brief interview with Beachum and one of the two witnesses in Dale Porterhouse (Michael Jeter), Everett is convinced that Beachum is indeed innocent. The only problem is that he has only a few hours to find enough evidence to convince the authorities of the innocence. This is made even more difficult by a couple of subplots involving infidelity and marriage break up.

    This is really quite a simple story that has been fleshed out to over two hours of viewing by the expediency of some good bits and some fairly turgid bits. Overall, the film is typical Clint Eastwood, as it sets a rather leisurely pace and really at times the material is not up to the job of keeping the interest level high. This really could have done with having the womanizing and marriage break up subplots excised completely (or significantly cut), which would have left a 90 minute or so film that would have been a cracker indeed. Still Clint Eastwood is utterly convincing in the role of the alcoholic reporter, and Isaiah Washington is strong in the role of the condemned man. Some of the best bits of the film are the scenes between Isaiah Washington and his on-screen wife Lisa Gay Hamilton, one in particular also involving their daughter played by Penny Bae Bridges. James Woods does a fine job as the newspaper editor-in-chief whilst Denis Leary does a commendable job as the city editor (Everett's immediate boss and husband of one of his extra-marital conquests). Despite the unnecessary length, it is still a worthwhile film - but it would have helped if Clint could have refrained from baring his torso again: the resemblance to Clyde the orang-utan from Every Which Way But Loose becomes more striking every time Clint does it.

Transfer Quality


    After a couple of very troublesome Warners transfers through my player in recent times, this is something of a change - and for the better.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    Whilst I do not have the technical specifications to confirm it, I would suspect that this was filmed anamorphically as the transfer has come up wonderfully sharp and gorgeously vibrant. There is some quite wonderful definition to it that I doubt Warners have bettered too often. Shadow detail is quite exemplary throughout. There did not appear to be any low noise problems with the transfer.

    The colours come up quite beautifully rendered, very nicely saturated, with a lovely rich tone to the transfer. The overall impression is a very natural transfer.

   There were no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were no real problems with film-to-video artefacts throughout the transfer, although there were the merest hints of aliasing and shimmer breaking out, but they never did. Film artefacts were in general noticeably absent from the transfer, which is what we should expect from a recent film.

    This is an RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 67:40. The chosen point is not the best, although the layer change is not too noticeable. It is still mildly disruptive, though.


   The audio transfer is a very good one too.

   There are three audio tracks on the DVD, all being Dolby Digital 5.1 efforts: English, French and Italian. I listened to the English default for some strange reason, possibly not unconnected with the fact that my conversational French and Italian is non-existent.

   The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

   There did not appear to be any audio sync problems with the transfer.

   The musical score by Lennie Niehaus is not especially memorable but is very supportive of the film.

   This is a very nicely detailed and well balanced soundtrack, with some wonderful detail out of the rear surround channels especially. Nothing too obvious mind you, but nice ambience indeed. This was noted very early in the film with the sounds of dripping rain out of the rears - gorgeous stuff indeed. The overall soundscape is very natural sounding and extremely believable, and you really feel a part of the soundscape. The bass channel does not get a huge amount of use, apart from supporting some of the effects and music, although there was a small section where there was a little extraneous bass out of the subwoofer.


    What is this, a Warners Region 4 release with extras?


    And apart from being nicely themed to the film, it features not only extensive animation and music, but is also 16x9 enhanced!

Featurette - The Scene of the Crime (9:30)

    Basically just interviews with the main cast members presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound. Mildly interesting but nothing to rave over.

Featurette - True Crime: True Stories (22:08)

    This is an interview with an actual reporter with the Los Angeles Times, interspersed with scenes from the film. Whilst the case being discussed is nothing to do with the film, it is an illustration of the power of the press in such matters and indicates that these sorts of things really do happen. This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound. This is quite interesting and definitely worth the time to watch it.

Music Video - Why Should I Care (Diana Krall) (3:43)

    Actually not listed on the packaging (just like the Region 1 release), this is a nice little jazz number from one of the better female jazz vocalists of the current era. This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Worth a view once, but doubtful you would want to watch it too often.

Theatrical Trailer (2:22)

R4 vs R1

    Well, since I have seen both the Region 1 and Region 4 releases, courtesy of Warner Home Video, I can tell you that apart from language and subtitle options, they are identical in every respect bar one: for some reason that only Warners will know, we have lost the filmographies present on the Region 1 release. Apart from that, they are very similar in all respects of the transfer although funnily enough, after comparisons, I feel the Region 1 release is the slightly better transfer. With the addition of the filmographies, I would prefer the Region 1 release over the Region 4 release, but that is a very, very, very tight call.


    True Crime is actually a decent film and well worth having a look at. It could have been a cracker though with some judicious editing.

    A very good video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer.

    A pretty decent extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
31st December 1999
Revised 17th 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