DVD Review HTF Review: Hoosiers - Collector's Edition (Highly Recommended)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jason Perez, Feb 16, 2005.

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  1. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

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    [​IMG]

    Hoosiers – Collector’s Edition




    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1986
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 114 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
    Audio: English - Dolby Digital 5.1; French and Spanish - Monaural




    Release Date:
    March 1st, 2005



    I suppose that all sports movies are inherently clichéd, since they usually involve an underdog (or underdogs) trying to overcome insurmountable odds/personal demons and accomplish something marvelous. In this regard, director David Anspaugh’s Hoosiers is no different, but the fact that it is rooted in reality and focuses on the redemption of a once-great basketball coach gives it greater weight.

    Almost flawlessly executed by Anspaugh and company, Hoosiers is also an excellent example of how sports films are like romantic comedies, in that the manner in which the tale is told is what sets this particular film apart from the many other entries in the genre. And the tale that is told here is that of one Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), once a very highly regarded basketball coach. Unfortunately, Mr. Dale ran into some speed bumps along life’s road, and we find him seeking to begin anew at a small high school in Hickory, Indiana, circa the early 1950s.

    Those who give Coach Dale this second chance hope he still has the will to coach, so that he can take a team that is perceived to be somewhat light on talent and make it competitive against the school’s more well-known local rivals. Of course, Dale intends on making his group of players a successful unit, but having learned a bit about life over the years, and about making mistakes, Coach Dale plans to teach his boys something about life as well, lessons which are far more important than basketball.

    Indeed, Dale appreciates being given a second chance so much that he reaches out to some of the troubled folks around him. A notable example of this is how he tries to give an alcoholic named Shooter (Dennis Hopper) an opportunity to right himself by making him an assistant coach. Not everything goes smoothly for Mr. Dale at first though, as the locals, who are basketball fanatics, make it known that they are not exactly enthusiastic about the different style of coaching he has brought to Hickory High. This being a sports film, you can bet your bottom dollar that Dale perseveres, and proves his detractors wrong – but does he have what it takes to lead Hickory to the coveted state championship?

    I don’t want to delve into the storyline in ant more detail than I already have, as to do so would be a disservice to anyone who has not seen the film. However, I do want to spend a little more time on why Hoosiers is such an inspirational and enjoyable motion picture. Simply put, the film really works on a lot of levels, particularly when Coach Dale is interacting with his players, which is usually a key ingredient in the success of sports films that involve team sports.

    Just as importantly, the filmmakers did a superb job of making it readily apparent how very important the sport of basketball was (and likely still is) in the communities of rural Indiana. In these areas, the rich heritage of the sport is celebrated, and the young play the game in any way possible, even on dirt lots with makeshift hoops. Speaking of the community, the town of Hickory depicted in Hoosiers feels like a living, breathing entity. The casting undoubtedly went a long way towards accomplishing this, as almost all of the people who portray supporting characters in this film seem perfectly matched to their roles. It is a good bet that the fact that both David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo both grew up in Indiana also gave the film a greater sense of authenticity.

    Now as good as Hoosiers is, there are a few elements that do not quite work, such as the ineffective romantic subplot involving Coach Dale and Hickory’s vice principal, Myra Fleener (Barbara Hershey, who is quite wooden here). Fortunately, such issues are few and far between, and Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper make the material sing, turning in performances that are not only remarkable (Hopper earned an Oscar® nomination for his work), but seem to make those who share the screen with them better (Ms. Hershey excepted).

    In terms of its technical aspects, the film is very solidly put together as well, featuring gorgeous cinematography by Fred Murphy and a rousing score by the late, and very great, composer Jerry Goldsmith. In fact, the sheer professionalism and attention to detail evident in Hoosiers makes the film seem like a truly organic experience that viewers can feel right at home watching. The fact that all of this was accomplished on a relatively modest budget for its time (roughly $6 million or so) makes the greatness of this film all the more impressive!!!

    As I mentioned at the outset of this review Hoosiers is a sports film, and it does have its share of clichés. Despite this, and a couple of plot points that could have been handled better, this is easily among the most entertaining sports films ever made, and the inspiring journey that the undersized and supposedly untalented Hickory High basketball team takes under Coach Dale is a joy to behold!






    SO, HOW DOES IT LOOK?
    Hoosiers fans, this is the transfer we have been waiting for! In basketball terms, this anamorphically enhanced widescreen (1.85:1) presentation by MGM is like a sweet jumper that snaps the twine without ever touching the iron! Don’t get me wrong the visuals are not perfect, as there is still a bit of grain and debris visible, but there should be, since this is a 19-year-old relatively low budget film. Let’s just say that Hoosiers has never looked better to my eyes!!!

    Let’s begin with the color reproduction, which is absolutely luscious, from the gymnasium interiors, to the natural-looking flesh tones, to the crisp hues of the players’ warm-ups and very basic uniforms. They are all accurately drawn, with not so much as a hint of chroma noise or dot crawl. Shadow delineation and image depth are equally excellent, thanks to black levels that remain stable and noise-free throughout the feature.

    As good as this all sounds, perhaps the biggest revelation is in the sheer amount of detail present in the image! By today’s standards, you might call it a bit soft, but for a film of this vintage, I was pleased to be able to see the intricate details in the exterior shots from throughout rural Indiana, the basketball courts’ hardwood floors, and the level of sharpness that is maintained even in the background of scenes.

    Happily, edge enhancement and compression artifacts are also nowhere to be found. As I alluded to, Hoosiers may not look quite as good as the lavishly budgeted films of today, but this is a wonderful transfer overall, and MGM deserves a big [​IMG] for giving this terrific film such a superb visual treatment!





    WHAT IS THAT NOISE?
    The soundtrack for Hoosiers is presented by MGM in Dolby Digital 5.1, and although it is certainly not the most dynamic and immersive mix I have ever heard, I was greatly surprised by the both the atmosphere it manages to create and its overall fidelity. Dialogue was particularly rich and clear, not to mention well placed in the mix. You should have no trouble hearing every word that is spoken.

    The feeling of being inside the arena during games is also recreated quite well by this track, due to the relatively effective employment of the rear channels. The subwoofer gets a somewhat lighter workout, although it does provide subtle support to Jerry Goldsmith’s wonderful score, and to some of the effects. Speaking of the score, the spread across the front of the soundstage is done well, and instrument separation is tangible. This is among Mr. Goldsmith’s best film scores, and I was very happy to hear it sounding so good!

    All in all, the soundtrack is not quite as remarkable as the superb image transfer, but it still adds another dimension to the Hoosiers experience. In fact, I think I can safely say that the film has never sounded this good before!!!




    EXTRAS, EXTRAS!!!


    DISC ONE:

    Audio Commentary
    The feature-length audio commentary for Hoosiers is by director David Anspaugh and writer/producer Angelo Pizzo, whose comments are informative and interesting. To be more specific, they talk about a wide variety of things, including scenes/ideas dropped from the film (the first cut of the film screened for audiences was 2 hours and 18 minutes), the various locations used in the film (sadly Hickory High is no more), the inspiration for the film, the cast, the importance of shooting in Indiana, and how some of the scenes were setup.

    Another thing I found interesting was Angelo Pizzo’s comments about various rewrites to the script, in particular about how a great many lines were trimmed during the production. Lastly, they talk candidly about the difficulty in getting the project off the ground, including objections to the title Hoosiers.

    Overall, both men are chatty, and though they are a bit dry in their delivery, they not only offer a lot of insight into the film, but are occasionally rather funny as well. Listen for an amusing story about how a very famous businessman was forced to watch Hoosiers, among other things! For all of these reasons, this audio commentary should prove to be a very revealing and worthwhile listen for fans of the film! By the way, be sure to keep listening over the end credits, because the guys keep right on going…


    Trailer
    The theatrical trailer for Hoosiers is included.


    DISC TWO:

    Hoosier History: The Truth Behind The Legend
    This is an excellent, half-hour retrospective look at Hoosiers, featuring new interviews with the cast and crew, including Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, director David Anspaugh, former Milan and Muncie basketball players from 1954, and several others, including the Indiana Pacers’ Reggie Miller.

    I really don’t want to spoil the viewing experience, so suffice it to say that these individuals all offer a lot of insight into both the film and the events that inspired it, which makes this “making of” well worth the investment of time required to take it all in!


    Deleted Scenes
    A total of 13 deleted scenes are included, with introductions by David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo. These scenes, which run for 31 minutes (with the introductions), are entitled as follows:

    --- “On The Way To Hickory”
    --- “Coach Dale And Cletus Walk Through School”
    --- “Dinner at Cletus’ House”
    --- “The Harvest”
    --- “The Transfer”
    --- “Buddy Asks To Come Back”
    --- “Dinner At Myra’s”
    --- “Encouraging The Team”
    --- “Waiting For The Vote”
    --- “Norman Thanks Myra”
    --- “Praying For Victory”
    --- “The Haircut”
    --- “The Caravan”

    Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are some good scenes here, some of which really build the relationship between Myra and Coach Dale better. For those interested, Anspaugh and Pizzo discuss the reasons why these scenes were cut during their introductions.


    1954 Milan vs. Muncie Indiana High School Championship Game
    What a nice surprise this bonus feature is! Instead of just a bit of footage of the original championship game that the film was based upon, MGM has included the whole thing, complete with play-by-play commentary, and footage of the post-game celebration. It doesn’t look or sound that good (there are some audio dropouts), but it is a very, very cool inclusion nonetheless!!!


    Photo Gallery
    The photo gallery consists of over 40 production stills, in both color and black-and-white, and is a nice addition to the disc!


    Promotional Materials
    Under the Special Features Menu of Disc One, there are trailers for Walking Tall, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and the The Rocky Anthology, as well as cover art for The Great Escape: SE, Eight Men Out, and The Pride of the Yankees.



    SCORE CARD

    (on a five-point scale)

    Movie: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Video: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Audio: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Extras: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Overall: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]



    THE LAST WORD
    Like most “sports films” Hoosiers is a bit clichéd, but it is a good story, it is excellently put together, and the performances by Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper are absolutely amazing! The film was also carefully and thoughtfully written and produced, so it does a fantastic job of bringing viewers into 1950s Indiana! For these reasons, among others, Hoosiers is often mentioned in discussions about the greatest sports films ever made, and rightfully so. Quite simply, despite a few flaws, this is a highly inspirational and entertaining motion picture, so much so that it easily warrants repeat viewing!

    If you are a fan of this film, this “Collector’s Edition” DVD should definitely be on your “must-have” list, as the video quality is surprisingly good, the soundtrack is almost as pleasant a surprise, and the value-added materials scream of quality! In terms of presentation, I really could not be much happier! Very highly recommended!!!


    Stay tuned…
     
  2. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Great Review Jason! Excellent job. Can't wait for this to hit the shelves. Love this movie!!!! [​IMG]
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I'm in! And to think I almost caved in and bought the old version when it was on sale on a 2/$15... [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  4. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    I have had it on order for the past 2 months. I can hardly wait. The fact that they included the original game is really cool.

    Great review as usual Jason.

    Parker
     
  5. Jeff_A

    Jeff_A Screenwriter

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    I was all over this regardless, Jason. Now you have me drooling with anticipation. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Sweet. I'm all over this one.

    -Scott
     
  7. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    Great review Jason. One correction though, as the stated specs show, the film was released in 1986, making it 19 years old, not 25.
     
  8. John H Ross

    John H Ross Screenwriter

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    I'm sweaty with anticipation. This is a MUST buy!

    John
     
  9. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

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    As a fan of the film and a Hoosier that's been to Milan a few times over the years (still as "hick" as ever) I always hoped there would be a SE of it. I'm really looking forward to watching the extras. I must say though, I'm not exactly sure why they included Uncle Reg in the extras, but whatever. I'll guess I'll find out why when I watch it. Although I will be buying it, unfortunately it will remind me of the sad state that Indiana high school basketball is in. Thanks to class basketball.

    But anyway, I'll of course be picking this one up, if for no other reason than to relive the way things used to be (and maybe to see the late great Hilliard Gates again).

    Nice review Jason.
     
  10. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

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    Thanks Tino (and to everyone else for the kind words)!

    I am still recovering from a train accident...my math skills have not yet returned in full. I will make the correction you noted.

    Regards,

    Jason
     
  11. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the review Jason, I will add my voice to the chorus of those that were already going to pick this up but are not a lot more excited as a result of reading this review.
     
  12. Greg Thomas

    Greg Thomas Second Unit

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    Jason, were you in the Metrolink accident a few weeks ago? One of my close friends uncle was in that too. He's still in the hospital in serious condition. What a sad story that whole thing was.

    Hopes for a quick recovery.

    Great review, I've had my old copy for 4 years but I'd pony up for a new one.
     
  13. Jeff_CusBlues

    Jeff_CusBlues Supporting Actor

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    I'm also a fellow Hoosier from Marion (I'm sure you've heard of Marion Steven lol. As I said in another thread, I've had a copy of the 1954 Milan vs Muncie Central game for many years. This and many good state final 4 games were (and may still be) available on VHS from the IHSAA website . I will definitely be getting this movie. I've been watching a VHS purchased for $5 during a McDonald's promotion years ago. This should be a real treat.

    Also, it has been documented many times on ESPN.com that Norman Dale was not a good game coach. Hahahhaha!!! Thanks a lot for the review Jason.
     
  14. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    I was on the fence about this release, but this review has sold me. I haven't seen this film in probably 15 years, so I'm looking forward to re-visiting it.
     
  15. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

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    Of course I've heard of Marion. As in "I wonder who's going to be the runner-up to Marion this year!"
    I remember seing Marion play at the Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne. Edwards and Jones were playing great as usual, but they were still losing and then the team they were playing (I can't remember who) just simply folded and lost. That's how much people were intmidated by Marion in those days.

    I spent the first few years of my life in Indy, which of course always has good teams. Then from about the age of 7 to 37 or so I lived in Ft. Wayne which rarely had good basketball teams. The only one I can recall is the '74 Northrop team. Although I did lose interest after they created the class system. Now that I live in Indy again, I've actually seen some good basketball from time to time.
     
  16. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Casey -- I think you meant "now a lot more excited...". [​IMG] (LOL!)

    Funny what a difference a letter makes. [​IMG]

    And, yes, a stellar review of a stellar motion picture. I, too, look forward to this DVD. (And I'm a "Hoosier", too. Like a few of the posters above me here. [​IMG])

    I love the scenes with Dennis Hopper (in his robe) in the hospital as he's listening to the big game.

    "There has NEVER, EVER been a school this small in a State Championship!!!"

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  17. Jeff_CusBlues

    Jeff_CusBlues Supporting Actor

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    Marion played Northrup that night, and I was also there. Marion has been down lately. They are only 10-8 this year. They are not nearly the dominant team they were. Nice to hear from a fellow high school basketball fan. I too feel that class basketball is not a good idea. There will be no more David and Goliath scenarios as portrayed in Hoosiers and in reality with the 1954 Milan vs Muncie Central game.
     
  18. david*mt

    david*mt Second Unit

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  19. Jeff_CusBlues

    Jeff_CusBlues Supporting Actor

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    A great article David. Thanks a lot for the post. I just wish I could be in Bloomington to get that autographed copy. I'm a Purdue guy though and don't get to Bloomington very often. I didn't know that the guy who played Ollie played for L&M. L&M was a little school in south western Indiana between Lyons and Marco (L&M) Indiana. It was very small and had good teams about 20-25 years ago. They were often compared to the 1954 Milan teams. They were a rare small school in the age of high school consolidation. Alas, L&M has also been consolidated and no longer exists.
     
  20. EricW

    EricW Cinematographer

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    how hard/expensive is it to encode a running time into a video sequence? just a small nitpick, but i wish this was standard in supplements.
     

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