(aka "Roller Derby" )

 

directed by Robert Kaylor
USA 1971

 

Robert Kaylor intended to shoot a simple documentary on roller derby but then found his focus in 23 year old Dayton Tire and Rubber employee Mike Snell who aspires to become the next roller derby sensation. Kaylor follows Snell - who wants to quit his job and train for the roller derby on the west coast even though his income supports his wife, child, brother, and parents - and his mentor Charley O'Connell whose material success inspires Snell. Snell's wife is supportive (it almost seems like she would rather he busy himself with the roller derby than allegedly fool around with a local go-go dancer). Although the outfits look corny and the fans outright bizarre, Kaylor's DERBY makes the sport look downright brutal (especially when the camera takes to the track itself) with some painful collisions, clotheslines, some pro hockey-level scuffles, as well as talk of drinks spiked with acid or glass frozen into ice cubs. Kaylor's film also presents a portrait of a dying middle America where the derby is one of the few escapes for spectator and competitor and being the next roller derby sensation is making it big. A degree of camera consciousness is evident with many ducked heads and glances at the camera out of the corners of eyes (Kaylor tried to get past this by always having the camera holstered to his shoulder to get people accustomed to its presence). Even if you cannot identify with their dreams, you can admire (even envy) their determination.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 22 April 1971

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DVD Review: Code Red DVD - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Code Red DVD

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:33:15
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.78 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Code Red DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary with director Robert Kaylor
• Audio commentary with producer William Richert
• Theatrical Trailer with introduction by trailer editor Jeff Kanew (1:36)
• MAX OUT (1968) - Short film by Robert Kaylor (44:52)
• Audio commentary on MAX OUT by Robert Kaylor
• THE INTERNECINE PROJECT trailer (1:42; 16:9)
• I'M GOING TO GET YOU... ELLIOT BOY trailer (1:27; 16:9)
• THE WEEKEND MURDERS trailer (2:19; 16:9)
• CHOKE CANYON trailer (2:01; 16:9)
• TRAPPED Spanish trailer (1:36; 16:9)
• MARK OF THE WITCH trailer (1:34; 16:9)
• TEENAGE GRIFFITI trailer (1:42; 16:9)

DVD Release Date: 17 February 2009
Amaray

Chapters 24

 

Comments

According to a screen before the film, the transfer of this 16mm-shot film was made from a 35mm blow-up print supplied by the UCLA film archive. Quality is soft and contrasty but a degree of roughness has to be expected from a 16mm documentary shot with available light and blown up to 35mm. The film has also been hard-telecined which makes screen-capping motion sequences difficult. Occasionally, the frameline drifts up or down into frame. It is also presented in its R-rated director's cut (the film was released to theaters by Cinerama Releasing edited for a GP rating). The film's director and producer provide separate commentary tracks with Code Red commentary moderator Lee Christian prompting on both tracks. Kaylor largely focuses on the context and the people as does producer Richert but both also answer questions about the technical aspects. Kaylor says that while he is a documentary filmmaker, he has no problems "directing" his subjects as camera setups (as such, it has more of an avant garde feature quality pointed out by critics) and the resulting shooting ratio was about 1.5:1. Both tracks are entertaining and informative.

 


Although there is no scene selection menu, the film has been thoroughly encoded with 24 chapters. The William Shatner-narrated trailer is apparently only available as a poor quality, highly-compressed artifacty "early-YouTube" video file and is presented here (following an introduction by the trailer's editor) heavily-windowboxed with the trailer itelf looking to be about 320x240 resolution. Equally interesting as the feature is a 44 minute short film by DERBY director Kaylor titled MAX OUT, a fully improvised story of an African American ex-con who struggles to find work after his release. Shot in 16mm black and white in an underground film style, the short film receives a bitrate comparable to the feature and looks and sounds good given the materials but it has been hard-telecined and will exhibit ghosting on progressive monitors. The short film has also been musically edited for home video.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Code Red DVD

Region 0 - NTSC

 

 





 

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