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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Eyewitness [Blu-ray]


(Peter Yates, 1981)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Video: Signal One Entertainment



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

Runtime: 1:39:33.926 

Disc Size: 44,001,158,612 bytes

Feature Size: 30,137,667,840 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.78 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 29th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080P / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English (HoH), None



• Feature-length audio commentary with director/producer Peter Yates (2005)
Peter Yates in conversation with Derek Malcolm (1982, audio only): archival interview with the director (1:37:00 running with the film)
Peter Yates in conversation with Quentin Faulk (1996): filmed discussion at the National Film Theatre (1:18:02)
Viewing Notes (2016): new interview with award-winning composer Stanley Silverman (19:00)
The Janitor: original UK rental VHS presentation (1080P but 5.9 Mbps bitrate/ 5,093,657,664 bytes - 1:43:03)
Original theatrical trailer (3:17)
Original TV spot (0:30)





Description: Manhattan janitor Daryll Deever is fixated on hard-charging TV commentator, Tony Sokolow; he tapes her commentary daily to watch after work. When a wealthy Vietnamese man, with many shady connections, is murdered in the office building where Daryll works, Tony shows up to cover the story and Daryll introduce himself. She thinks he may know something, so she pursues him; he pretends he might to keep her interested. This romantic cat and mouse game goes on under the watchful eyes of the killers, who think that Daryll and Tony do know something. The killers start their own game of cat and mouse.



The Film:

Fresh off the success of Breaking Away (1979), writer Steve Tesich and director Peter Yates re-team on a thriller starring a young William Hurt as a janitor infatuated with television reporter Sigourney Weaver. When she arrives at his building to interview the tenants about a murder that's occurred on the premises, the janitor, having discovered the body, implies that he knows more than he's saying in order to keep the newswoman interested. Although he reveals nothing more, she does become interested in him, and when her nefarious aristocratic boyfriend (Christopher Plummer) learns from the unwitting woman that there's someone with knowledge of the murder, he's more concerned about what Hurt might know than about her relationship with him. Meanwhile, his paranoid, loose cannon of a friend James Woods has managed to get himself incriminated, although he had no involvement in the case. Hurt and Weaver continue to investigate the murder together, and as they become more closely entwined, both of their lives are put in jeopardy.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

It's easy to say that this is much less than the sum of its parts - part fairytale love story, in which a poor boy loves and wins rich TV reporter, part soufflé of New York paranoia, which involves a murder (with a Vietnamese background) in the building where the poor boy works as a janitor. However, it is rare to find an American film these days that manipulates its plot to accommodate the relationships (and there are lots of them - friends, families, dogs), and whose characters are at least interesting. Steve Tesich's script sometimes smacks of screenwriting classes, but Yates (who worked with Tesich on Breaking Away) easily accommodates these lapses with his unfussy, medium-fast direction. Indeed, he guides his cast around the furniture better than most. The result is an enjoyable entertainment whose box-office failure was thoroughly undeserved.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE


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

Eyewitness gets another competent transfer to Blu-ray from Signal One in the UK. It is dual-layered with a max'ed bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature, and looks about as good as it can. Early/mid-80s 35mm stock has its limitations on how tight it can appear but this is solid - richer colors than SD (reds), grain textures and impressive contrast in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Over all the visuals are consistent and pleasing. No complaints at all.





1) "The Janitor": original UK rental VHS presentation Blu-ray - TOP

2) Signal One "Eyewitness" - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM





















Audio :

Audio comes in a robust linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 2304 kbps (24-bit). Like the video this seems the zenith transfer - flawless and crisp. The film has fairly modest sound effect requirements but the score by Stanley Silverman adds some intensifying drama and sounds rich in the uncompressed. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'.


Extras :

Signal One stack the extras starting with the 2005 feature-length audio commentary with director/producer Peter Yates as found on the Anchor Bay US DVD. It adds some interesting information about the production. We also get some extensive audio from the director with a 1982 interview with Derek Malcolm running for over 1.5 hours with the film and a 1 1/4 hour conversation with Yates and Quentin Faulk from 1996: filmed discussion at the National Film Theatre. There are 20-minutes of video "Viewing Notes" - a new interview with award-winning composer Stanley Silverman about Eyewitness and other highlights in his career. Signal One include The Janitor: which was the title of the original UK rental VHS presentation (1080P but 5.9 Mbps bitrate/ 5,093,657,664 bytes - 1:43:03) - captures compared above - and also an original theatrical trailer and TV spot.



Eyewitness isn't overly memorable but it is solid entertainment. Hurt and Sigourney Weaver have some odd chemistry and the latter has never looked better, IMO. Some of the tension is faux (his own dog attacking him prefaces the latter attack, Woods creeping up behind him at work etc.) but you never know when the real-deal will surface. This Blu-ray is as good as it is ever likely to get for this film. And Signal One - with beaucoup supplements - are proving to be a major force in Blu-ray production - coming out of the UK with a roar. This is another precise package and I anxiously await some of their new titles!  

Gary Tooze

August 27th, 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.

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
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze






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