HTF REVIEW: "The Amazing Howard Hughes" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein

    The Amazing Howard Hughes

    Studio: Anchor Bay
    Year: 1977
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 123 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.78:1)
    Subtitles: none

    Looking amongst my stack of December Anchor Bay
    screeners, I immediately became interested in The
    Amazing Howard Hughes, mostly for the fact that
    it was a film starring Tommy Lee Jones, playing the
    part of a man that I knew so very little about. I
    figured at the very least, this would be an educational
    experience for me.
    I have to admit, as the title credits rolled across
    the screen, I was a bit disappointed that I was about
    to watch a "made for television" film. I decided to
    hang in there a little longer, and actually I am glad
    I did -- this film turned out to be pretty darn good!
    For those of you who (like me before this film) have
    no idea who Howard Hughes is, I think it can explain
    the man in one simple statement: Howard Hughes was
    arguably the most secretive, self-destructive and
    legendary individual to ever win fame in the aviation
    and movie business.
    As the film begins, we meet Howard as a creatively
    talented small boy who has taken an interest in
    mathematics, flying, and all things mechanical. He
    shows off a motorcycle that he built from parts taken
    from his father’s steam engine. Upon his father’s death
    in 1924, the 18-year-old Hughes (Tommy Lee Jones)
    inherited an estate valued at almost $900,000, including
    75% of Hughes Tool Company, whose control he assumed
    a year later.
    Hughes became obsessed with money and being the
    absolute best at everything he did. Through various
    points of his life he owned a tool company, various
    Las Vegas hotels, international and regional airlines,
    and even a motion picture studio where he financed
    three films (including one that won an Academy Award).
    As he grew older and the pressures of business
    mounted, Hughes became obsessive-compulsive, his
    physical health had turned precarious, and he
    became a sort of hermit that disappeared totally
    from public view.
    What kept me riveted to this story was the amazing
    portrayal of this man by Tommy Lee Jones. It's
    certainly the best role I have seen the actor in
    to date, and it my understanding that this was the
    role that brought national attention to the actor --
    especially for the uncanny resemblance to the title
    character, both vocally and visually.
    How is the transfer?
    One must keep in mind that this was a "made for
    television" production, as the picture quality is
    quite substandard here. The picture generally
    looks murky, hazy, and dull. The print can be a
    little dirty at times, and there is an awful amount
    of video noise to be seen -- especially in the whites.
    There isn't too much picture detail, and interior
    and night scenes come across a little too dark.
    The mono soundtrack is mostly clean and distinct
    up until the film's final scene where sound seemed
    to become a little muffled. Otherwise, I didn't
    detect any background hiss or any noticeable
    distortion in the audio.
    Special Features
    A Spruce Goose Newsreel was rather cool to
    watch after completing the film. Here is actual
    footage of Hughe's Spruce Goose aircraft, with Mr.
    Hughes at the controls. There's even a short
    excerpt of Mr. Hughes testifying before a senate
    subcommittee (which becomes a major staple of the
    Tommy Lee Jones film).
    (length: approx. 2 minutes)
    A poster and still gallery contains about
    16 B&W publicity images of Tommy Lee Jones as well
    as original TV Guide promotions for the CBS airing.
    A Tommy Lee Jones Bio reveals that during
    the 1970s, Tommy dabbled in both soap opera and
    appearances on TV shows such as Charlie's Angels
    before he began a film career in the 80s. You can
    forward through these pages of text using your remote.
    As expected, Anchor Bay has provided no subtitles
    for the hearing impaired.
    Final Thoughts
    It's kind of hard not only to recommend a TV movie,
    but one with a substandard presentation quality. On
    the other hand, The Amazing Howard Hughes is
    a pretty interesting story that features Tommy Lee
    Jones in one of his finest roles. It's worth a rental
    if you happen to come across it on your video store's
    Release Date: Now
    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

    May 24, 2001
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    Thanks, Ron. I never heard of this movie, but I will definitely have to check it out. I don't think I will ever find this DVD on the rental shelves (thanks, blockbuster), so I'll put it in my queue.
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    I watched this television movie during it's original broadcast in 1977, and I thought it was a very fine movie. I have my dvd copy, but haven't had time to watch it yet, but will do so later this coming week. I'll post my comments about the dvd presentation at that time. Also, I've read that Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese are teaming up to film "The Aviator" which is a story about the young Howard Hughes during his flying days. I hope that film release helps the dvd release of "The Carpetbaggers" which is a 1964 film based on a character very similar to Hughes.

  4. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

    Oct 5, 1999
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    As this film was made fot television in 1977, why is it 16:9? Surely no television movies were made with anything other than a 4:3 aspect ratio in mind unless it was originally intended for theatrical release somewhere.
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    I'll have to look at my disc to check the framing, but one explanation could be that it was theatrically released in Europe.

  6. Len Martin

    Len Martin Auditioning

    Dec 21, 2002
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    Anchor Bay's release of this movie is the EUROPEAN Theatrical Release
    According to IMDB and my "Television Films" book the actual running time for this mini-series is 215 mins.
    Sure would like to see the complete Mini-Series released to DVD
  7. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

    Jan 3, 2002
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    If this isn't the entire movie that would be a shame, because I watched it on one of the cable movie stations awhile ago and it was a fine movie, but do not remember the running time.

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