Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


 

Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr.

 

Babo 73 (1964)        Chafed Elbows (1966)      No More Excuses (1968)

Putney Swope  (1968)        Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight (1975)

 

Rarely do landmark works of cinema seem so . . . wrong. Robert Downey Sr. emerged as one of the most irreverent filmmakers of the New York underground of the sixties, taking no prisoners in his rough-and-tumble treatises on politics, race, and consumer culture. In his midnight-movie mainstay Putney Swope, an advertising agency is turned on its head when a militant black man takes over. like Swope, Downey held nothing sacred. Presented here are five of his most raucous and outlandish films, dating from 1964 to 1975, each a unique mix of the hilariously crude and the fiercely experimental.

Titles


Babo 73, 1964
Taylor Mead plays the president of the United Status, who, when he isn’t at the White House—a dilapidated Victorian—conducts his top-secret affairs on a deserted beach. Robert Downey Sr.’s first feature is a rollicking, slapstick, ultra-low-budget 16 mm comedy experiment that introduced a twisted new voice to the New York underground.

Chafed Elbows, 1966
This riot of bad taste was a breakthrough for Downey, thanks to rave notices. Visualized largely in still 35 mm photographs, it follows a shiftless downtown Manhattanite having his “annual November breakdown” as he wanders from one odd job to the next, coming across all sorts of sordid types, from a desperate independent filmmaker to a destitute dirty-sock sniffer. And there is something to offend everyone: incest, murder, bad pop songs, you name it.

No More Excuses, 1968
Downey takes his camera and microphone onto the streets (and into some bedrooms) for a look at Manhattan’s singles scene of the late sixties. Of course, that’s not all: No More Excuses cuts between this footage and the fragmented tale of a time-traveling Civil War soldier, a rant from the director of the fictional Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, and other assorted improprieties.

Putney Swope, 1968
The most popular film by Robert Downey Sr. is this offbeat classic about the antics that ensue after Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson, his voice dubbed by a gravelly Downey), the token black man on the board of a Madison Avenue advertising agency, is inadvertently elected chairman. Putney summarily fires the whiteys, replaces them with Black Power apostles, renames the company Truth and Soul, Inc., and proceeds to wreak politically incorrect havoc.

Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight, 1975
A film without a beginning or an end,” in Downey’s words, this Dadaist thingamajig—a never-before-seen, newly reedited version of the director’s 1975 release Moment to Moment (also known as Jive)—is a rush of curious sketches, scenes, and shots that takes on a rhythmic life of its own. It stars Downey’s multitalented wife, Elsie, in an endless succession of off-the-wall roles, from dancer to cocaine fiend.

Theatrical Releases: 1964 - 1975

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse Series 33: Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr. (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 46:10, 57:52, 56:12, 56:16, and 1:25:06
Bitrate: Disc 1 Babo 73 (1964) Chafed Elbows (1966) No More Excuses (1968)
Bitrate: Disc 2 - Putney Swope (1968) Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight (1975)
Audio English (original mono)
Subtitles None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 / Putney Swoop is 1.78 - anamorphic 

Edition Details:

  • • liner notes in the 2 transparent cases


DVD Release Date:
April 24th, 2012
2 Slim Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 5 features range from 45-minutes to 1.5 hour  and are on 2 dual-layered discs housed in individual slim transparent keep cases. They are not sold separately by Criterion at this time.

Both DVDs are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. The transfers are all progressive, except for Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight which is interlaced (see last capture). All are in the 1.33 aspect ratio except Putney Swope which is 1.78.

 

Disc one has Babo 73 (1964), Chafed Elbows (1966) and No More Excuses (1968)

Disc two has Putney Swope  (1968) and Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight (1975)

The audio is in original mono and there are no optional subtitles.

Bitrates are very strong ranging from from in the high 6's to 8.0 Mbps.

Aside from the liner notes (on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case covers) there are no supplements as per standard for Eclipse label releases.

Video quality varies quite a bit - as per the condition of the source material. There is damage, scratches and speckles. Nothing appears to have been done in terms of advanced restoration. Grain is visible but some sequences in both Chafed Elbows and No More Excuses look to have boosted brightness. Stock footage is sued in some cases. Hopefully the captures below will give you an idea - these are totally imperfect visually but remains watchable. Audio can be equally as dodgy but the effect and intent of the films is unhampered by the flaws. For all we know these a/v limitations may have existed from the very first showing decades ago.

The Mission Statement description on the back of the boxset remains faithful: "Eclipse is a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions. Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer."

This package has value - these are goofy, political, amusing and thought-provoking - all the intent of the filmmaker. There is a large amount of self-indulgence with Downey Sr.'s work - and that is okay - actually refreshing. I got into them quite a bit with Putney Swope being the highlight. You can't help but get the feeling that these five films were fun to make both in front of the camera and behind it. That implied joy also gives these presentation another layer of watchability.  

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus



Babo 73 (1964)

Screen Captures

 

 


        Chafed Elbows (1966)

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 

 


      No More Excuses (1968)
 

Screen Captures

 

 


Putney Swope  (1968)

 

Screen Captures

 

 


 

        Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight (1975)

 

Screen Captures

 

 

Combing from interlaced transfer

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

 CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!