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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

How To Murder Your Wife [Blu-ray]


(Richard Quine, 1965)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Murder Inc.

Video: Olive Films



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

Runtime: 1:58:32.146

Disc Size: 23,691,411,069 bytes

Feature Size: 23,077,183,488 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.99 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 17th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1568 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1568 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)






Trailer (3:55)





Description: George Axelrod's script for How to Murder Your Wife isn't politically correct in the least, but you're likely to get a charge out of it -- provided you are of the male persuasion, that is. Jack Lemmon stars as Stanley Ford, a successful cartoonist and a confirmed bachelor who shares a lavish apartment with his misogynistic manservant, Charles (Terry-Thomas). While attending a friend's bachelor party, Stanley falls head over heels in love with the gorgeous bikini-clad girl (Virna Lisi) who pops out of a cake. He impulsively marries her, but thinks better of it the next day. Alas, Stanleycan't get a divorce because his bride is an Italian Catholic (this is 1966). Dicier still, she is a "domestic goddess," lovingly plying her hubby with rich Italian food until Stanley's once-athletic physique is as bloated as the dirigible Hindenberg. Stanley's descent into husbandhood is reflected in his work: his popular adventure comic strip "Bash Brannigan" metamorphoses into a Blondie-like "idiot husband" daily. As a catharsis, Stanley vicariously "kills" his lovely wife by having Bash Brannigan murder his missus. Stanley's wife sees the finished strip on his desk and runs tearfully out of his life (at least temporarily). The publication of the strip, coupled with his wife's disappearance, results in Lemmon being put on trial for murder. We won't tell you how things turn out; suffice it to say that most feminists will be outraged, while most husbands will laugh immoderately. Eddie Mayehoff and Claire Trevor provide sparkling support as Lemmon's bombastic editor and his dragon-like wife.



The Film:

Believable or not, this stuff is funny just so long as one can go with the sour joke- -and that depends upon one's tolerance of trivia and also, perhaps, upon whether one is a fellow or a girl. Most viewers should enjoy Mr. Lemmon's elaborate impersonation of a vainglorious comicstrip creator who obviously suffers from arrested development, and everyone should be amused by Terry-Thomas's picky playing of his misogynistic valet.

It's a joy just to look at Miss Lisi, who plays the Italian-speaking wife with an abundance of sparkle and spirit. She does not suffer from arrested development. Eddie Mayehoff puts too much of the bluster and blunder of Mr. Magoo into the role of Mr. Lemmon's lawyer, and Claire Trevor makes his henpecking wife the nastiest middle-aged woman since Ethel Merman in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

Excerpt from JBosley Crowther at the NY Times located HERE

The filming of How To Murder Your Wife was as manic and unpredictable as Ford's exploits in the movie. Doing his own stunts, Lemmon narrowly avoided being killed when a pipe he was swinging on broke. As he plummeted toward the ground along a fire escape, Lemmon saw a pipe sticking out from the building and " I threw out my arm and hooked it right at the elbow. It stopped my descent and I just swung there like a pendulum." Far more dangerous was an incident involving his gorgeous co-star, Virna Lisi. Lemmon once walked into Lisi's dressing room by mistake, only to find her standing stark naked in front of a full-length mirror. Lisi's husband, who was sitting in the corner, leaped up and lunged toward Lemmon. "I shot out the door like a bird...I don't know what [the husband] thought, but I wasn't about to stick around and find out," Lemmon later said.

At the time of it's release, How To Murder Your Wife was praised for its clever screenplay and wicked sense of humor, but seen today the film could just as easily be accused of being misanthropic. After all, the men are all sexist pigs and the women are depicted as materialistic bubbleheads. And as for Ford's jokes about killing his spouse, remarks like that these days could just as easily end up with the police showing up at your doorstep. But How To Murder Your Wife needs no apologies because right from the get-go it's clearly a farce and never meant to be taken seriously. Audiences in the sixties were hip to that. Are you?

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


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

How To Murder Your Wife has another of Olive Film's modest Blu-ray transfers. Typically single-layered but some crispness and color depth in advance of SD. It is quite an appealing visual film and the layered contrast supports those strengths. There are plenty of close-ups which showcase the impressive detail - even in soft-focus shots. There are minor grain textures and I'd guess the source was in decent shape. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over a DVD rendering and any minor speckles had no detrimental effect on my viewing.



















Audio :

Olive use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1568 kbps and it supports the film's playful action with punchy depth - pseudo-gunfire and some atmospheric effects. The score is by Neal Hefti who did some film composing work in the 60s and 70s including TV's Batman. It sounds good here with whimsical, light, orchestrations. There are no optional subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

Only a lengthy trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with most of their releases.



I saw this film as a young man and always liked its energy and fun, sexy qualities. Of course, I didn't care less about its political correctness - nor do I now. This has a lot to offer in terms of being a light, appealing, comedy. The bare-bones Blu-ray (dislike the cover) is limiting its audience with modest value. The film is a lark, Jack Lemmon is always great, Virna Lisi is stunning... but its not enough unless you can nab it for $12 or cheaper, IMO. 

Gary Tooze

February 8th, 2015

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 5000 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.

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Gary W. Tooze






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