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2 items from 2006

Pretty Poison, Lord Love a Duck

3 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Release date: Sept. 5

One of those '60s films that ushered in the modern maturity of American cinema and has not lost a molecule of its edge since it first appeared in 1968, "Pretty Poison" has been released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (retail $14.98).

Anthony Perkins gives an outstanding performance as a former mental patient who ducked out on his parole officer and is living on his own in a small Massachusetts town. He meets a high school majorette played with equal finesse by the Clairol-ad-pretty ingenue, Tuesday Weld, and starts spinning fantasies about spies and paranoia that she readily responds to -- all too well, in fact, as she eventually coaxes him into becoming an accessory to murder.

Perkins, whose awkward, lanky physical presence counterpoints the miniaturesque locations perfectly, is highly appealing as he projects both a playfulness and a sincere attempt to adjust himself to society, recognizing a little too late that he is in over his head. Directed by Noel Black, the film runs a brisk 89 minutes and sustains the finest of lines between being a black comedy and a whimsical crime drama, a line that has never wavered in the decades that followed.

The image transfer reinforces the freshness of the film's composition. The picture is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback. The color transfer is spotless and fleshtones are unblemished. The sound has a mild stereophonic processing but remains centered and clear. There are alternate French and Spanish tracks in mono, optional English and Spanish subtitles, and a trailer.

It is tempting to bet money that Black cast Weld in "Pretty Poison" after seeing her in George Axelrod's 1966 anti-Beach Party movie, "Lord Love a Duck", where she has a fairly similar role, motivating another not entirely masculine companion, in this instance embodied by Roddy McDowall, to commit murder in the service of her caprices. Building upon the comedic experimentation that Richard Lester had begun around the same time, "Duck" uses the innocuous Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon films as its reference point, but takes the loose plotting and slapdash humor of those features and exaggerates them to the point of anarchy.

Weld portrays a maturing coed and McDowall -- if one takes the not entirely assured assumption that his character exists -- is a resourceful friend who helps her achieve her whims -- everything from getting a new boyfriend to becoming a movie star -- often by murdering those who stand in her way. Using jump cuts, Dutch angles and other impulsive techniques, the film either looks like an utterly senseless mess, or becomes a highly comical attack on the status quo that will have you memorizing the dialog and repeating it at inopportune moments, laughing uproariously as everyone else stares at you.

The 105-minute United Artists program was released by MGM Home Entertainment (retail $14.98) and is in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback. The black-and-white image is a Little Soft at times, but is generally spotless, with well-defined contrasts. The monophonic sound, including an addicting Neil Hefti musical score, is solid. There is an alternate Spanish track in mono, optional English, French and Spanish subtitles, a trailer, and a great 6-minute "anti-production featurette," narrated in part by Axelrod.

The complete database of Doug Pratt's DVD-video reviews is available at dvdlaser.com . A sample copy of the DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter can be obtained by calling (516) 594-9304.


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Boxoffice preview: 'Shaggy' remake best in show

9 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Theater marquees will be touting three new wide releases this weekend, but moviegoers might feel a tinge of deja vu as two are remakes from decades ago. Each of the new films carries a different MPAA rating and genre, appealing to distinct audience segments. In addition, Lionsgate's Crash, which won the Oscar for best picture Sunday at the Academy Awards and has been available on home video since September, will be rereleased for a limited time in about 150 theaters. With last weekend's titles generating lackluster performances, observers note that this frame's new entrees easily should grab the top spots. But as with all prerelease tracking, it's up for some debate as to where each film will place. Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion from Lionsgate should remain among the top-ranked films, along with a pair of fellow holdovers, Warner Bros. Pictures' 16 Blocks and Buena Vista Pictures' Eight Below. The film most observers agree will land in first place is the one with the oldest pedigree -- pun intended. Walt Disney Pictures tapped into its venerable boxoffice vault of past hits and produced a remake of The Shaggy Dog, which originally debuted in 1959 with Fred MacMurray and Annette Funicello in the cast. This time, Tim Allen takes a walk on the furry side with Brian Robbins in the director's chair for the PG-rated comedy that Buena Vista will release in 3,501 theaters. »

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2 items from 2006

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