- May 8, 2000
Length: 116 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Mono
Special Features: None
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99 USD
Release Date: November 16, 2004
Beware of the Dwarf
Foul Play is a film that borrows heavily from Hitchcock, combining Hitchcockian suspense and mystery with decidedly unHitchcockian humor. It’s a balancing act that requires deft handling of the elements to make it work, but director Colin Higgins pulls it off, with the help of some interesting comedic performances from Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, Burgess Meredith, Dudley Moore and Billy Barty.
Gloria Mundy (Hawn) gets caught in a bizarre plot to murder the Pope, who is visiting San Francisco. The conspirators think she knows something, and in their effort to keep their plotting secret, they try to kill her. Gloria escapes the attempts on her life, but the people around her keep ending up dead - only to have their bodies disappear before the police arrive.
Chevy Chase is the somewhat clumsy San Francisco detective who becomes personally involved in Gloria’s case. It takes a while for him to believe her stories, but the physical attraction he has for her holds his attention until the evidence backs her up.
Burgess Meredith is hilarious as Gloria’s landlord, and Dudley Moore is unforgettable as a sex-starved man who mistakes Gloria’s pleas for help as sexual advances.
Billy Barty, of course, plays a dwarf... but is he the dwarf that Gloria was warned about at the start of the film, or just an innocent door-to-door salesman?
Foul Play is notable for being Chevy Chase’s first feature film starring role.
Foul Play is presented in anamorphically enhanced widescreen, in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
I am pleasantly surprised at the quality of this transfer. The print, for a film over 25 years old, is nearly pristine. Only occasional specks are visible in the film, and they are not at all distracting.
The image has acceptable detail and sharpness, with no obvious signs of edge enhancement throughout most of the film. There are a couple of scenes with mild halos, but they are barely noticeable.
The image is bright with excellent contrast and white levels. Black levels are very good with a couple of mild exceptions. Shadow detail is good.
Colors are bright and true, and well saturated.
I’ve seen recent films get worse treatment on DVD than this film from 1978.
The audio tracks available are a Dolby Digital Mono track, and a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, which plays by default. Both tracks offer up very good fidelity.
The 5.1 mix is excellently done, opening up the musical score with wonderful frequency response and channel separation. Subtle spatial cues can be heard from the rear channels, but it is not over done. Most importantly, the dialog retains its tightness and isn’t oversweetened, which seems to happen occasionally on multi-channel remixes. The other benefit to the 5.1 track is that the lower frequencies have been opened up, offering up an improved bass response that remains tight and understated.
The mono track is clean and free of hiss, and is a solid track for those who prefer to go with the original mix.
There are no special features.
This is a wonderful film that I’ve counted among my favorites of the late 70’s, now available on DVD with an outstanding video transfer and 5.1 remix. Fans of this film have no reason to pass this one up. Just remember... beware of the dwarf.