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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid [Blu-ray]

 

(Carol Reiner, 1982)

 

  

  

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Aspen Film Society

Video: Pulp Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:28:36.477

Disc Size: 20,737,220,305 bytes

Feature Size: 20,129,544,192 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 4th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-2 Video

 

Audio:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

DUBs:

Dolby Digital Audio Italian 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

Italian, none

 

Extras:

• Stills Gallery (1:10)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: In this post-modernist exercise, star/writer Steve Martin and director Carl Reiner spoof the film noir yarns of the '40s with Martin playing gumshoe Rigby Reardon, who interacts with a legion of Hollywood greats -- including Humphrey Bogart, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Edward Arnold, Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman, Veronica Lake, Bette Davis, Lana Turner and Joan Crawford -- in a succession of intercut clips from seventeen vintage Hollywood films. Rigby is a low-rent detective (his fee is $10 per day) sitting in his office, waiting for something to happen. That something happens when the voluptuous Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward) arrives in his office and faints dead away at the sight of a newspaper that reports on her father's death in a car accident. Juliet is convinced that her father was murdered and offers Rigby $200 to investigate. Upon searching Mr. Forrest's office, he comes upon a list of names under the headings "The Friends and Enemies of Carlotta." As the two delve deeper into the mystery and its requisite deceptions, they encounter an "exterminator," Juliet's surly Nazi butler, Field Marshal Von Kluck (Carl Reiner) and an overly helpful Mexican friend, Carlos Rodriguez (Reni Santoni)

 

 

The Film:

Not the first movie to be built around cameo performances, but these are somewhat novel. Forties stars (Bergman, Bogart, Cagney, etc.) are exhumed from the Hollywood vaults to live again in a new mystery comedy whose convolutions stem not least from forcing various clips from old thrillers to look as though they belong together. Some amusement is derived from watching a film that so obviously had to be worked out backwards. The bits in between feature likeable Martin as a keen but clumsy detective - with all the good lines, which is no bad thing because he's the best part of this fairly amusing, clever exercise in editing.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

A consistently hilarious parody of the Noir and detective genres, expertly blending classic archival footage with the action. As an inept private eye, Steve Martin tracks killers, playing opposite old film clips of James Cagney, Alan Ladd, Humphrey Bogart, Charles Laughton, and Ava Gardner, among others; scenes are lifted from, inter alia, WHITE HEAT, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE KILLERS, THE BIG SLEEP, DARK PASSAGE, IN A LONELY PLACE, SUSPICION and, most notably, THE BRIBE. Some of the cleverer jokes depend on the viewer's knowledge of 1940s movies, but there's enough slapstick to please even the cinematically illiterate. The basic film--what there is of it--is prettily shot in black-and-white by Michael Chapman (RAGING BULL); the continuity between the clips and the rest of the movie is remarkable. Martin is priceless as usual.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid comes to Blu-ray out of Italy from an outfit named 'Pulp Video', and available throughout Europe. It is single-layered with a strong bitrate but while transferred in 1080P - they have used the clunkier MPEG-2 encode (as opposed to AVC.)  The black and white image quality is still pleasing - kudos to Michael Chapman's cinematography. Close-ups can be very impressive. The vintage clips show grain (and some damage/scratches) and the entire film has some minimal, high-frequency edge enhancement (I don't know if this was a function of the process to blend the modern and vintage clips, or not). This Blu-ray is not the height of the format by any means but only those with large systems will note the weakness, IMO. I watched it on my 42" system and it was a pleasure. Those with discerning eyes and who project may be cognoscente of the slightly less-smooth, in-motion, visuals and the EE.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Unfortunately, only lossy audio via a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel track (in original English and an Italian-language DUB option). The great Miklós Rózsa (The Lost Weekend, Double Indemnity, King of Kings) does the score, including the quasi-theme; 'Dead Men's Bolero'. It sounds fairly unremarkable but is consistent and clean. There are optional Italian subtitles, fully removable, and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Just a superfluous gallery of images from the film - in a one minute slideshow.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is for the Noir aficionado who can't get enough. It's fun identifying the references and clips as well as seeing so many of the great 'dark cinema' stars of the past. It's a lot of fun and Steve Martin + Rachel Ward are perfect to fit into the post-modernist cycle homage. The Blu-ray
is far from perfect but it is 1080P - plus the vintage clips have a variety of quality of their own. So, I still enjoyed the presentation, despite the faux-pas, and don't expect the title by a 'legit' HD production company anytime soon. If you haven't seen this gem - get this over the DVD.

Gary Tooze

April 28th, 2014

  

  


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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