DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Plaza Suite

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

    May 8, 2000
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    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.
  2. john mcfadden

    john mcfadden Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 11, 2003
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    I was very surprised to see a review of this lost gem ....and in turn peeved to find a release date on dvd when i purchased a vhs copy of the film only recently...oh well.... too bad Paramount couldnt even be bothered to tack on a trailer ...but that's what they do best nowadays..Here's hoping for a real low price on this one..( Should have kept the poster art too ....It looked better)
  3. BBbrowd

    BBbrowd Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 22, 2003
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    Thanks for the review! What great news! This film is wonderful. Makes me feel good every time I see it. Walter is fantastic along side of three of the greatest actresses of all.
  4. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter

    Mar 10, 2004
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    This is one of my favorite comedies. Walter is wonderful, and I always love Neil Simons writing. I was also surprised at the quality of this transfer.....it is the best the movie has looked.

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