DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Out-of-Towners

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Nov 16, 2003.

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  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    The Out-of-Towners

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1970

    Rated: G

    Length: 97 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic

    Audio: DD English Mono, DD French Mono

    English Subtitles, French Subtitles

    S.R.P. $19.99 USD


    Release Date: November 25, 2003




    The Out-Of-Towners is Neil Simon at his acerbic best, but it’s not his funniest film. The nod for that would have to go to The Odd Couple or Murder By Death. What makes this film work, more than the writing, are the performances of Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis.

    George and Gwen Kellerman fly from their home in Ohio to New York City, so that George can interview for a new job. Unfortunately, the plane is diverted to Boston due to fog in New York. Arriving in Boston, they find that the airline has lost their luggage. No time to argue, however, because they have to race across Boston to catch a train at South Station so they can still make it to New York.

    Arriving late in Manhattan, the couple finds that there is a major transit strike going on... no cabs, buses or subway. They walk to the hotel only to find that their room was given away (due to their lateness) and there is not a room to be found in the city.

    During their night in New York, they are mugged, kidnapped, rained on, mugged again, injured... and they have gone more than a day without eating while stranded in Central Park with four cents to their name.

    There are some genuinely funny moments, but there are times when you cringe from the repetitiveness of it all... not to mention that whining from Sandy Dennis. Still, the performances, especially Lemmon’s, generally make up for areas where the film is lacking. This is a dark comedy, and it isn’t to everyone’s taste. It is a must, though, for all fans of Jack Lemmon or Neil Simon.

    Ironically, Steve Martin would act in two retellings of this film - the generally likable Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), and the remake of The Out-of-Towners (1999), with Goldie Hawn.

    The Out-of-Towners was directed by Arthur Hiller and has a wonderful score by Quincy Jones.

    The Video
    The film is delivered in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, with a sharp picture which retains moderate grain from the original film elements. Bright and with good contrast, this presentation does suffer from less than perfect black levels - never delivering a perfect black. Hues are true and colors are well saturated. The print displays occasional specks of dust or dirt, but nothing severe. Overall, this is a solid transfer, given its age of 33 years.

    The Audio
    English Dolby Digital Mono, or French dolby Digital Mono. The soundtrack is clean with good frequency response. Dialog is always clear and intelligible.

    Final Thoughts
    This film isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it is a good dark comedy by Neil Simon, with an excellent performance from Jack Lemmon. The DVD is a no-frills catalog release, but the transfer is clean and looks good for its age.
     
  2. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Scott... this is one of my favorite comedies and I've had it pre-ordered now for a few weeks... Thanks.

    Herb.
     
  3. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Empire's had this title at a cheap (40% off MRP) price for many, many weeks now. Very funny film. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    "We got tonic water and clam juice...but they ain't cold." [​IMG]
     
  4. DanC

    DanC Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review Scott. This is one of my wife's favorite movies so I'll definitely be picking it up.
     
  5. BruceKimmel

    BruceKimmel Stunt Coordinator

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    Man, I watched it yesterday (for some reason I'd never seen it before, which is unusual for me since I'm a big Neil Simon fan) - I think it's just about the nadir of Simon's career. The idea is funny, and there are a few funny Simon one-liners, but I found it forced and poorly directed, and just painful to watch. And that's what makes horse-racing. It's always interesting how opinion changes over the years - I don't think this film was well-thought of in its initial release, at least that's my memory.
     
  6. Nicholas Vargo

    Nicholas Vargo Second Unit

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    That's not true.

    At least according to Robert Evans, who ran Paramount at the time. According to his book, to him, he thought it was a belly-laugh flick from start to finish.

    Also, in his presentation reel he gave to Paramount to keep the studio open, he mentioned that the film was a major hit during the summer of 1970, when the film came out.

    As for me, I enjoy this film. I saw it ten years ago when AMC used to air it on a daily basis. I was only 8 at the time, but I'm 18 now, and I still love it, My only problem with the film is that I have to watch it more often than I have in the past couple of years.
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Never saw this film.

    However, The Prisoner of Second Avenue ranks
    amongst my all-time favorite comedies.

    Wish Warner would get that one out.

    If you guys tell me this Lemmom comedy is half as
    good, I'll be buying it.
     
  8. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

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    You need to pick this one up Ron. It's Lemmon at his frazzled yet defiant best. Actually it's somewhat similar to his performance in "The Prisoner of Second Avenue." And it's just a plain entertaining movie.
     
  9. Joe Bernardi

    Joe Bernardi Supporting Actor

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    I love this movie. I'm happy that the original is finally being released on DVD, long after the awful remake with Steve Martin.

    And I like Sandy Dennis's whining! I like Sandy Dennis's quirky movie performances in general.
     
  10. Jeff

    Jeff Supporting Actor

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    I've watched this movie once a year since the 80's. I have very few comedies in my collection and I can't wait to add this. I'm surprised to read Bruce's comments but I did grow up watching it so maybe it's more difficult for a first time viewer to get into this movie..Espcially after all these years.


    Jeff
     
  11. TonyDale

    TonyDale Second Unit

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    I was treated to this flick as a kid; Sandy Dennis' awsome delivery of "Oh, my God!" is one of the finest examples of comedic variance ever committed to film.

    I also remember when the film made its tv debut, minus most of the "Oh, my God"s (blasphemy, you know) and missing the final *joke.*
     
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Just ordered it! Thanks, guys!
     
  13. Peter Mazur

    Peter Mazur Second Unit

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    Ron,

    I do not think think you will be disappointed. This is a great film.

    I hope they release more Jack Lemmon films. I really want "Good Neighbor Sam".
     
  14. Jeff D Han

    Jeff D Han Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the review Scott. [​IMG]

    I had this one on laserdisc, and I have been
    waiting a long time for the DVD release. Good
    thing it's in anamorphic widescreen, and it's
    cheap. This movie has one of the funniest endings
    I have ever seen. [​IMG]
     
  15. BruceKimmel

    BruceKimmel Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, you see, comedy is subjective.

    I'm sure Mr. Robert Evans thought it was a laugh riot - he made the film (or oversaw it).

    I think if you look at the original gross of the film you will see it was not as big a grosser as previous Simon pictures.

    Believe me, I wish I'd found it funny. I watched it because I thought it would be funny. I love Mr. Simon. But not all of Mr. Simon. I find Barefoot in the Park holds up wonderfully as a film, as does The Odd Couple, and I'm still quite partial to The Goodbye Girl. However, I have now watched a Neil Simon film that was even less funny to me - Last of the Red Hot Lovers. You all think that's a laugh riot, too?
     
  16. BarryR

    BarryR Supporting Actor

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    I'm laughing already. [​IMG]
     
  17. TonyDale

    TonyDale Second Unit

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    Despite our feelings about THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS, Bruce Kimmel and I are in agreement about THE GOODBYE GIRL.

    Does Warner have the rights to GOOD NEIGHBOR SAM?
     
  18. BruceKimmel

    BruceKimmel Stunt Coordinator

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    Good Neighbor Sam is a Columbia film, if memory serves.
     
  19. Bill Huelbig

    Bill Huelbig Second Unit

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  20. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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