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Right out of Yale, Tod Hackett (William Atherton) has dreams of being an art director in Hollywood during the late 1930s. Tod soon becomes drawn to his neighbor Faye (Karen Black), who has dreams of becoming an actress. But as Tod gets drawn deeper and deeper into this new world, he also learns a lot more about Faye - most namely those who she's connected with and her the skeletons in her closet. As despair and fear grows, Tod begins to learn some tough realities about the movie business - and life itself.
Fun Fact: The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: one for Burgess Meredith (Best Supporting Actor) and another for the cinematography of Conrad Hall.
Given the anamorphic widescreen treatment in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Conrad Hall's beautiful cinematography does radiate a bit on this transfer . Sad to say though, that's enough to save it since the image wasn't really cleaned up. The picture comes across as soft overall, and the print is dirty with specks, blemishes, scratches and the like plastered all over. There is a little noise, but that's kept to a minimum and there's no edge enhancement to speak of. Color saturation is decent, and the fleshtones look pretty good. If care was put into this though, it definitely could have been a spectuacular restoration of a gorgeously shot film.
The film has given a reworking in English Dolby Digital 5.1, and this track does work pretty well. John Barry's musical score does come in through the speakers appropriately, and the dialogue isn't distorted - but pretty clear and easy to hear (which is important, since there's a lot of talking going on in the film). There are some surround effects even - footsteps, action on the movie sets, shouting in the background at times and even a fountain flowing water out. The remix is strong, but in case you purists don't like it, Paramount has also restored the original mono track for your pleasure. English subtitles are included, plus English closed captions.
Another decent Paramount catalog release, sans extras. If you're a fan of this nifty little flick, then it's worth picking up - especially since you can garner it for under 10 bucks.
Retail Price: $14.99
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Restored Mono, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (22 Scenes)
Released: June 1st, 2004
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 144 minutes
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Karen Black, Burgess Meredith, William Atherton, Richard A. Dysart, John Hillerman, Bob Hopkins, Pepe Serna and Geraldine Page as "Big Sister"
Screenplay by: Waldo Salt
Directed by: John Schlesinger