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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Alice's Restaurant [Blu-ray]


(Arthur Penn, 1969)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount

Video: Olive Films



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

Runtime: 1:50:44.721 

Disc Size: 24,367,594,297 bytes

Feature Size: 23,714,144,256 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 31st, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2035 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2035 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)






• Trailer (3:49)





Description: Intrigued by the counterculture tale of Arlo Guthrie's epic 1968 talking-blues record The Alice's Restaurant Massacre, director Arthur Penn, co-scripting with playwright Venable Herndon, adapted the song into the 1969 feature Alice's Restaurant. Hippie outsider Arlo (Guthrie, playing himself) encounters suspicion from the straight world; visits his dying father, renowned leftist activist/singer Woody Guthrie (Joseph Boley), in the hospital along with friend Pete Seeger; and hangs out in the title converted church/commune created by his friends Alice (Pat Quinn) and her husband Ray (James Broderick). After Alice's "Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat," Arlo is arrested for littering by rule-following Officer "Obie" Obanhein (William Obanhein, playing himself). That littering arrest helps Arlo avoid the Vietnam draft, but the commune is threatened after more personal, old-fashioned conflicts over sex and partnerships permeate Alice and Ray's alternative world.



The Film:

Singer/songwriter Arlo Guthrie stars in Alice’s Restaurant directed by Arthur Penn (Bonnie & Clyde, Little Big Man) from a screenplay by Penn and Venable Herndon.

Guthrie, using his musical monologue Alice’s Restaurant Massacre as a template, and under Arthur Penn’s assured direction, Alice’s Restaurant is a free-flowing, free wheeling, counter-culture comedy set during the turbulent 60’s adapted from Guthrie’s musical monologue Alice’s Restaurant Massacre. Guthrie portrays the embodiment of America’s youth, a young man who sees his life beginning to unravel through psychedelic drug -fueled haze, as he and his friends (and the plot) spin toward an explosive conclusion.

Alice’s Restaurant also features James Broderick (Dog Day Afternoon) and musician Pete Seeger as Himself.


Brilliantly visualised, Arlo Guthrie's very funny 20-minute talking blues - about how, fined $50 for being a litterbug, he was subsequently rejected for service in Vietnam as an unrehabilitated criminal - is retained as the centrepiece of a film which expands into a sort of chronicle of Arlo's hippy wanderings through rural America. The context is different, but the reference point powerfully echoed throughout is his father Woody Guthrie's experience as the troubadour of the dying Dustbowl during the American Depression of the '30s, with the ballad this time asking what went wrong with the dropout dream of the '60s. Criticised at the time for a certain opportunism, Penn's lyrical vision of the end of an era looks increasingly apt in the perspective of passing time.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE


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

Alice's Restaurant has a modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films, but this single-layered, 1080P transfer looks far better than I was anticipating having seen a PAL DVD at some point. SD could not handle this thickness and grain - exporting it more like noise. The textures here are heavy but the detail is quite pleasing in close-ups and many colors (notable reds) show impressive depth. The Blu-ray image seems a fine replication of the film presentation - as good as we are likely to ever get.
















Audio :

Olive use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 2035 kbps. The audio quality is reflected in the modest film production. The music is mostly Woody Guthrie stuff (Pastures Of Plenty, Car-Car Song) including Joni Mitchell's Songs To Aging Children performed by Tigger Outlaw. It is generally clear with some, predictable, scattering. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

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



Admittedly, I was not in the mood for Alice's Restaurant - but I struggled through and eventually warmed-up to it. It is very much grassroots cinema which probably already anticipate. The Blu-ray provides a decent presentation if you take into account the original appearance (you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear.) I think many will appreciate the heavy grain look and low-budget style as well as the film as a historical artefact. Unusual, poetic and true! 

Gary Tooze

March 26th, 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.

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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