Plaza Suite Studio: Paramount Year: 1971 Rated: PG-13 Length: 114 minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Audio: DD English, French Mono English, French Subtitles S.R.P. $19.99 USD Release Date: November 25, 2003 Plaza Suite is a collection of three short one-act plays, each written by Neil Simon, each starring Walter Matthau (as three different characters) and each taking place in suite 719 of the Plaza Hotel. This comedy starts with a very dramatic turn, in a piece where Maureen Stapleton finds out that her husband, played by Matthau, is cheating on her. She suspects this from the beginning of the play, and her nervous humor keeps the viewer a bit off-balance while we figure it out. The star of this piece is really Stapleton, in a standout performance. The piece is dark and dramatic. In the second piece, we join Matthau as a Hollywood producer staying in Suite 719. The character is a New Jersey native, and has an old (married) flame living there (Barbara Harris). Since he has two hours to kill between meetings, he calls her up for a rendezvous. Matthau and Harris both have loads of fun in this piece, and it’s a hoot to play “fly on the wall” during their awkward meeting. The third piece is my favorite, and is one of Matthau’s funniest performances. He plays father to a nervous bride, who has locked herself into the bathroom of Suite 719 moments before her wedding. I loved the opening scenes when Mr. Hubley (Matthau) is arguing with the band (about the fact that it’s a six-piece band with only five musicians), the waiter (about opening the champagne too early) and others (about misspelling his name). Neil Simon flexes his writing muscle here, with three decidedly different pieces chained together in one film - but the amazing thing about the film is Matthau’s ability to change his appearance and change from depressed and tired adulterer to swinging Hollywood producer to nervous and acerbic father-of-the-bride with such skill. Many viewers will be put off by the first segment, because it is so dark... but hang in there. The second segment is quite enjoyable, and the disc is worth the price for the final segment alone. The Video Plaza Suite is presented in anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 widescreen. For a film of over thirty years, it is a sight to behold! Colors are deeply saturated with a warm palette. Skin tones look beautiful, and the decor of Suite 719 comes across nicely. Contrast is good, with solid black levels and good shadow detail. There is fine grain throughout, from the original film elements - but it’s often hard to notice with this material. You’ll have to look hard for the occasional scratch or speck of dust in this pristine print. The Audio The soundtrack is Dolby Digital Mono, in both English and French. While the opening musical score seems louder than the rest of the film, once the film gets rolling things are quite satisfactory - with crystal clear dialog throughout. Music is minimal, serving mostly as a transition between segments of the film. Final Thoughts I quite enjoyed this film, having only seen bits of it on television over the years. I think the last segment is Matthau at his most brilliant. This is a must for any fan of Neil Simon or Walter Matthau, and Paramount has delivered a solid transfer on a bare-bones release.