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Sheba, Baby [Blu-ray]
(William Girdler, 1975)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: American International Pictures (AIP)
Video: Arrow Video
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 32,649,929,634 bytes
Feature Size: 26,594,848,320 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: February 8th-9th, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
•Audio commentary with producer-screenwriter David Sheldon, moderated by critic Nathaniel Thompson
Audio commentary with Patty
Description: Fresh off her career defining roles for Jack
Foxy Brown, Pam Grier returned to pure
Blaxploitation (after turns in Blaxploitation-horror and
action), in cult filmmaker William Girdler's (The Manitou,
Abby) 'Sheba, Baby'...
Pam Grier was the unquestioned queen of blaxploitation in the 1970s, and for a good reason -- she was strong, beautiful and charismatic, and if she'd arrived on the scene a decade or two later when there were more diverse roles available for African-American actors, she might have become a major mainstream movie star like Angela Bassett or Halle Berry. But in the 1970s, Grier found herself doing most of her work in low-budget action vehicles for New World Pictures and American International Pictures, and Sheba Baby is a movie that Grier pretty much carries on her shoulders. William Girdler's screenplay is patchy and never does an especially good job of explaining just why the bad guys are trying to shut down a bunch of black-owned businesses (beyond simply being bad guys), and his direction is herky-jerky, failing to maintain a consistent pace or give the picture a compelling visual sense (in the party sequence, he seems to think that repeatedly cutting to folks eating cheese and crackers equals decadent elegance). And while there are a few other strong personalities in the cast (most notably Austin Stoker, who went on to star in John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, and D'urville Martin, a blaxpolitation regular who both co-starred in and directed the frantic Rudy Ray Moore classic Dolemite), they don't get much to do in this story. That leaves Pam Grier as Sheba Shayne, and she makes the movie worth watching despite its many faults. Grier is seriously sexy here, even with a PG rating preventing her from showing much skin, and she brings a fresh and natural attitude to her performance -- strong without being cocky, cool without feeling forced -- that overcomes the flawed script and helps her make Sheba a character worth watching. Pam Grier made a number of films better than this, and in 1997 Quentin Tarantino finally gave her the sort of well-written star showcase she long deserved with Jackie Brown, but Sheba Baby does show why she became such a favorite with the grindhouse audience back in the day -- she was a strong and beautiful leading lady with spunk to spare, and even in a mediocre movie she carries herself like a star of the first order.Excerpt from B+N located HERE
Private eye Sheba Shayne plays a lone hand against a gang of racketeers trying to take over her father's business. Any 'generic significance' claimed for Pam Grier's movies clearly dissipated long before this travesty, where jive-talkin', posturing blacks conform so closely to stereotype that they are not merely uninteresting but offensive. Not only do all the characters behave as the epitome of the urban 'street nigger', they have all assimilated the American Dream without question: a dream of patronising liberalism, non-confrontation and self-fulfillment, here clearly used to keep everyone in their places.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond to the best of our knowledge.
NOTE: As Michael Brooke informed us on Facebook in regards toDay of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.' Their Sheba, Baby Blu-ray is the same situation.
Sheba, Baby gets an max'ed out dual-layer transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow. Its attributes are the grain and the video quality is consistent throughout. Nothing is particularly dynamic beyond that but the presentation as film-like. The 1080P produces a strong replication of the original production with modest depth in the 1.85:1 frame. This is 'it' for Sheba, Baby.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Arrow use an authentic linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps (24-bit). The effects pack more of a punch than you might expect. Alex Brown + Monk Higgins are credited with the score for their numbers She Did It and A Good Man Is Gone but there is also the 'theme' by Barbara Mason and her song I'm In Love With You written by Cloteal Cleveland. It sounds predictably flat but clean and clear.. There are optional English subtitles. My Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' + 'B'.
Arrow really stack the extras again with 2 audio commentaries. A first with producer-screenwriter David Sheldon, moderated by critic Nathaniel Thompson and a second with Patty Breen webmaster of WilliamGirdler.com covering many interesting details of the genre, Pam Grier and this production. Sheldon: Baby - is a brand new - Arrow produced, 15-minute, interview with David Sheldon where he discusses Sheba, baby and his working relationship with William Girdler. Pam Grier: The AIP Years - is a 12-minute examination of the wonder years of the Blaxploitation queen with film historian Chris Poggiali - shot exclusively for Arrow in October 2015. There is also a trailer and a gallery featuring rare 18 publicity images and Lobby Cards. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips as well as a liner notes booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Patty Breen, illustrated with archive stills and posters.
February 3rd, 2016
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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