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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Joseph Strick
USA 1963

 

An unidentified tropical republic is beset by revolution fomented by a radical identified only as Roger, his existence believed to be symbolic by the authorities, although the military's leading general and a judge of the supreme court have been assassinated in his name, and the police chief (COLUMBO's Peter Falk) is rumored to have shot the archbishop for treason. The only institution untouched by the revolution is the brothel of Madame Irma (Shelly Winters, GRAN BOLITO) where the common man pays to take part in elaborate fantasies orchestrated by her girls. Her lover is the police chief, and he is eager to restore order, but Irma points out that he may be hiarchically in charge but not in the eyes of the public as none of her clients ever ask to play the chief of police. Although she refuses to take part in his plan to play the nation's queen for a public appearnce (the real one having returned from abroad but afraid to leave the airport for fear of assassination), Irma hits upon the idea for three of her clients to live out their fantasies of playing the general, the archibishop, and the judge - a meter man (Kent Smith, CAT PEOPLE), a milkman (Jeff Corey, HOME OF THE BRAVE), and a gas man (Peter Brocco, OUR MAN FLINT), respectively - to fool the public into believing that they are alive and order has been restored. The ploy seemingly works until the three men, having had a chance to be somebodies before the public, revolt against the chief of police and question how far his own authority extends beyond his costume. When Roger (Leonard Nimoy, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS) himself shows up requesting a fantasy in which he plays the chief of police. Peter enlists Carmen (Lee Grant, THE MAFU CAGE) - a prostitute promoted to bookkeeper by Irma who has grown disillusioned learning that her "palace of dreams" is actually just a sub-divided box that functions as a "money-making machine" - to take part as a setup for a final confrontation; but can their identities hold up when authority and rebel switch places. An adaptation of the Jean Genet play directed by Joseph Strick - whose directorial career also included adaptations of notable sources like James Joyce's ULYSSES, PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, and an X-rated Henry Miller's TROPIC OF CANCER - from an script by Ben Maddow (THE ASPHALT JUNGLE), THE BALCONY softens some of the source's more salacious and violent aspects, including an ending which almost culminates in an act of horror mentioned earlier in the film but then takes a more comic turn (although Winters' address to the audience before the final fade-out makes this seem like less of a compromise). While the showy roles go to Winters, Grant, Nemoy, and Falk, it also gives center stage for at least part of the running time to character actors Smith, Bosco, and Corey along with Ruby Dee (the other CAT PEOPLE) and Joyce Jameson (THE APARTMENT) as featured prostitutes. There is also some stimulating discussion of the nature of illusion in prostitution and in the political arena, the place of the whorehouse in the institutional framework of authority, and the allure of fantasy on both sides of the exchange. The use of stock footage may have been for budgetary reasons, but the artiface works as much in the film's favor (including some blatant back projection work) as the use of offscreen crowd noises and explosions heard by characters within the brothel.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 17 October 1963 (UK)

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DVD Review: Umbrella Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Umbrella Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:23:51
Video

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.93 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 1.0
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Umbrella Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
� none

DVD Release Date: October 3rd, 2018
Amaray

Chapters 10

 

Comments

Umbrella Entertainment's Region 0 NTSC DVD is a direct port of Image Entertainment's long out-of-print American DVD. The film is stagy so it is at times difficult to tell whether the fullscreen image is unmatted or cropped but there are instances when characters are half-cropped out of frame at the edges before the camera readjusts (which may be a matter of loose blocking). The UK DVD was letterboxed but non-anamorphic but we do not have it for comparison. The master is old, the transfer is old, it looks as good as it can considering. The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track is fairly clean. There are no subtitles or extras. While some barebones Umbrella DVDs have no menus and start the feature after the logo, this was always true of some of Image's earliest DVDs where the conclusion of the film would then navigate to the single frame scene menu (also accessible by pressing the menu button).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menu
 

 


Screen Captures

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Umbrella Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

 




 

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