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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Charles Crichton + John Cleese (uncredited)
USA/UK 1988

 

A perfectly old-fashioned romantic comedy, big on caper, generous on Ealing, and heavy on the twisted stereotypes. Cleese scripts and stars as London barrister Archie Leach, hired to defend a gem thief, and earning a much-vaunted 'sex symbol' tag with the affections of gangster's moll Wanda Gershwitz (Curtis). It's a plot too jagged to document in full - Where are the gems? Who has the safe-deposit key? Who's betraying whom? Is the London Underground really a political movement? - but the interest lies less in outcome than in character: Palin as a madly stuttering, animal-loving dog-murderer, Kline as a maybe-CIA cruel paranoid pseudo who's intermittently Wanda's lover/gay brother, and Cleese and Curtis as the most unlikely rug-tearers since Miller and Monroe. There's nothing deep, nothing ground-breaking, but it's a never-dull, tightly scripted yarn with some very funny gags.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

Poster

 

Theatrical Release: July 7th, 1988

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Comparison: 

MGM - Region 1 - NTSC vs. MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

   

Distribution

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition)

Region 1 - NTSC

Arrow
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:48:20 1:47:44 1:48:03.727

Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,575,998,271 bytes

Feature: 22,717,372,416 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

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

Bitrate : MGM

Bitrate: MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition)

Bitrate: Arrow Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 1.0), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish  (Dolby Digital 1.0)

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3495 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3495 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

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

Subtitles English, French, None English, French, Spanish, None English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (1:27 / 4:3)

DVD Release Date: March 23rd, 1999
Keep case

Chapters 32

Release Information:
Studio: MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition)
 

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by John Cleese

• Optional Trivia Track
• Deleted and alternate scenes with introductions by John Cleese
• "Something Fishy" new featurette
• Archival featurettes: "John Cleese's First Farewell Performance," "Farewell Featurette: John Cleese," "Kulture Vulture"
• A Message From John Cleese
• "Mug Shots" still gallery
• Theatrical trailer
• Easter Eggs
 

DVD Release Date: November 21st, 2006
Double Slim Keep Case inside cardboard box

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 44,575,998,271 bytes

Feature: 22,717,372,416 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps


Edition Details:

Commentary by writer and star John Cleese
Brand-new appreciation by Vic Pratt of the BFI National Archive (16:55)
Brand-new interviews with composer John Du Prez, production designer Roger Murray-Leach, executive producer Steve Abbott and makeup supervisor Paul Engelen
John Cleese's Final Farewell Performance, a 1988 documentary on the making of A Fish Called Wanda featuring interviews with actors Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin, Kevin Kline and director Charles Crichton (48:03)
Something Fishy, a 15th anniversary retrospective documentary featuring interviews with Cleese, Curtis, Kline and Palin, executive producer Steve Abbott and director of photography Alan Hume (30:32)
Fish You Were Here, a documentary on the film s locations hosted by Robert Powell (16:32)
An Interview with Roger Murray-Leach (7:31)
24 deleted/alternative scenes with introductions by Cleese (29:38)
A Message from John Cleese, a tongue-in-cheek introduction recorded for the film's original release (4:56)
Image Gallery
Trivia track (plays during film)
Theatrical trailer (1:28)
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring writing on the film by Sophie Monks Kaufman

DVD
 

Transparent Blu-ray case

Blu-ray Release Date: September 18th + October 3rd, 2017

Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

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

 

ADDITION: Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray September 17': Firstly, 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 continents with a few minor cosmetic differences. As Michael Brooke informs us on Facebook in regards to Day 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.' Thankfully this Blu-ray is the same situation and available to most fans of A Fish Called Wanda.

 

NOTE: An MGM Blu-ray came out in 2012, HERE. We don't own it to compare.

 

Arrow's Blu-ray is described as a "Brand-new 4K restoration from the original negative, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release". It improve over the SD transfers in all the usual areas - tighter, more detail, it is brighter, has more information in the frame and supports the grain texture to a higher degree. Flesh tones are warmer and all colors richer, bordering on saturation, and deeper (see Wanda's pink sweater in the 5th large capture below). This is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate, and looks impressive - especially beside the DVDs.

 

Audio is transferred via the option of a robust DTS-HD Master surround bump or faithful linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps  (both in 24-bit). There are a handful of demonstrative effects that carry surprising depth but mostly the audio is represented via clean and clear dialogue. The score is by John Du Prez (also composed for Monty Python's The Meaning of Life) and supports the film's subtler scenes well. The uncompressed sounds flawless. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified the Blu-ray as being a region FREE.

 

Arrow stack the Blu-ray with extensive extras include the old commentary by writer and star John Cleese, the 48-minute documentary John Cleese's Final Farewell Performance from 1988 on the making of A Fish Called Wanda featuring interviews with actors Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin, Kevin Kline and director Charles Crichton. Something Fishy is a 1/2 hour a 15th anniversary retrospective documentary featuring interviews with Cleese, Curtis, Kline and Palin, executive producer Steve Abbott and director of photography Alan Hume. Fish You Were Here is a 1/4 hour documentary on the film's locations hosted by Robert Powell. There are 24 deleted/alternative scenes with introductions by Cleese running about 30-minutes in total. What is new is a 17-minute appreciation by Vic Pratt of the BFI National Archive and new interviews with composer John Du Prez, production designer Roger Murray-Leach, executive producer Steve Abbott and makeup supervisor Paul Engelen. There is the 5-minute Message from John Cleese, a tongue-in-cheek introduction recorded for the film's original release, an image gallery, Trivia track (plays during film - see sample below) and a theatrical trailer. The first pressing features writing on the film by Sophie Monks Kaufman and being dual-format has a second disc DVD.

 

Always funny and capable of being watched at any time - A Fish Called Wanda is a timeless comedy of extremes, physical gags, extravagant personalities and witty dialogue - delivered with perfect timing by the likes of Cleese, Curtis, Kline and Palin. This Blu-ray has immense value. Strongly recommended!  

***

ON THE DVDs: I wouldn't say the new 2-disc Collector's Edition image isn't perfect, but it is light years ahead of the old non-anamorphic one. Sharper, brighter colors, clearer... better subtitles (and more options), upgraded audio, more extras etc. etc. The new image does have a few poorer points - some digital noise, I suspect some black/red boosting and a few speckles can still be seen. There was a 2-disc 'Deluxe Edition' that came out in 2004 and it wouldn't surprise me if not much has been updated from that by MGM. But I don't own it so I can't be positive, although extras look suspiciously duplicated.

The Cleese commentary is as engaging as he is, but there are some gaps. He talks a lot about the cast and crew - his inspiration - and elicits much praise to Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis. The Trivia pop-ups are kind of gimmicky and I can't see too many people being amused by them. There is a 2nd disc with some interesting material and a cute 'Message From John Cleese'. It shows a mark up from usual MGM thrown-together digital discs and I'm glad to own it. Apologies that I couldn't compare to the Deluxe but this appears to be the same price tag. 

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus

(MGM - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

Disc 2 - MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition)

 

Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Subtitle Sample: Not exact frame

 

 

Trivia Track sample

 


1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


 

Box Cover

   

Distribution

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

MGM (2-disc Collector's Edition)

Region 1 - NTSC

Arrow
Region FREE -
Blu-ray

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 



 

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Gary Tooze

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