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Blu-ray Review See No Evil, Hear No Evil Blu-ray review (1 Viewer)

MatthewA

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A blind man (Richard Pryor) and a deaf man (Gene Wilder) witness a murder and race against time to stop the killers. Taking a farfetched premise with a potential to offend and making it work, See No Evil, Hear No Evil is a lively physical comedy that uses their disabilities as a source of humor and still manages to depict them sympathetically. Though lacking in extras, Image’s Blu-Ray is first-rate where picture and sound are concerned, making it another winner in their fairly prolific rollout of Sony catalog titles. Recommended.



See No Evil, Hear No Evil
(1989)


Studio: TriStar Pictures (distributed by Image)


Year: 1982


Rated: R


Length: 103 Minutes


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1


Resolution: 1080p


Languages: English PCM 2.0 Stereo (inaccurately listed as DTS-HD MA)


Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish


MSRP: $17.97


Film Release Date: May 12, 1989


Disc Release Date: January 24, 2012


Review Date: January 26, 2012



The Movie:


3.5/5



In the time that had passed since Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor starred together in the comedy hits Silver Streak and Stir Crazy, their respective film careers diverged, producing a few moderate hits and some embarrassing flops. At the end of the decade, TriStar Pictures, Columbia’s sister studio, decided it was time for them to get together again, even bringing in Silver Streak’s director, Arthur Hiller. They didn’t make quite as big a hit as before, but they certainly had fun trying.



Wally Karew (Pryor) is a blind man who lives with his sister Adele (Kirsten Childs) and has so much trouble accepting his blindness that he tries—and fails—to conceal it. In desperate need of a job after blowing all his money at the track, he finds one at a small corner shop owned by Dave Lyons (Wilder), who is deaf but is a very proficient lip-reader. Eventually, they overcome their initial tensions and develop a mutually beneficial friendship in Wally hears for Dave and Dave sees for Wally. One day, Wally’s bookie, Scotto (John Capodice) comes to the shop to collect unpaid debts. While Dave’s back is turned but Wally is in earshot, Eve (Joan Severance), a customer in the shop, shoots and kills Scotto over a rare coin in a briefcase while her associate, Kirgo (Kevin Spacey) watches. She leaves the gun on the corpse as she escapes the scene. She almost makes a clean break, but Dave sees her legs as she escapes and Wally had heard the shot. Dave trips over the body and finds the gun; when the police arrive on the scene, they arrest both him and Wally. Police captain Braddock (Alan North) believes they did it, but when Eve comes to the station posing as their lawyer, Wally recognizes her legs and Dave recognizes her voice. They tell Braddock she did it, but he refuses to believe them. They escape from the police station and must work together to prove Eve’s guilt before she can get the coin to a mysterious man named Sutherland (Anthony Zerbe).



See No Evil, Hear No Evil has a pretty silly and improbable plot that sometimes seems deliberately constructed that way. And there are elements of the plot that, coincidentally or not, echo parts of Silver Streak and Stir Crazy. Yet somehow even the silliest parts of the plot manage to work. Arthur Hiller understands the public’s not going to pay to see the film because it’s a crime caper, though he keeps the action moving at a brisk pace. He knows what they’re paying to see: Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. Luckily, he has not forgotten how to play them off one another in the 13 years since Silver Streak. Essentially, they’re the same personalities as before, and their performances are no less effective, but the difference between this and their first two films is the potential for disaster where the subject matter is concerned. Disability is a tricky subject for any movie but it’s especially hard with comedy; non-disabled performers playing disabled roles add another layer of risk. The film is built around Wally and Dave’s respective disabilities and it mines as much humor as it can out of it, but it does so in a kind-spirited fashion. While it acknowledges and empathizes with the challenges they face, even as it uses them for jokes, it never takes itself too seriously. If anything, it makes fun of the clueless and often insensitive way people react to them. Frankly, it does more to show how to accept and overcome a disability than a lifetime of Afterschool Specials, bad TV movies and maudlin PSAs. Gene Wilder studied for his role by going to the New York League for the Hard of Hearing to give his performance a modicum of believability within the film’s fanciful context. They may not be the 100% realistic, but their timing is as good as ever and their physical humor is endearing and amusing, and realism is not the film’s aim. To their credit, they pull it off much better than some of the screen’s more embarrassing attempts to create realistic disabled characters in earnest; I will refrain from naming names. Fortunately, they made the film before the trend toward political correctness, not to mention Pryor’s progressively declining health, would have made the film impossible to make.



The film did reasonably well at the box office despite receiving mostly negative reviews, grossing $46,908,987 against an estimated $18,000,000 budget. Sadly, whatever joy Wilder might have felt about the film’s commercial performance was dampened by the death of his wife, Gilda Radner, from ovarian cancer eight days after its release. The film’s two stars would reunite one last time in 1991 for Another You, which failed to come anywhere near their first three outings.



The Video:


4/5



The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85.1. Victor J. Kemper’s cinematography makes excellent use of the New York locations; in the case for upgrading comedies from DVD to Blu-Ray, this is Exhibit A. The AVC-encoded transfer features ample fine details, cool and subdued but natural-looking colors, decent shadow detail, adequate contrast and minimal but natural-looking grain.



The Audio:


4/5



Originally released in Dolby Stereo, the film’s soundtrack is presented in a PCM 2.0 track that features wide stereo separation with clear-sounding dialogue and well-balanced frequencies. Surround activity is very subtle except when Stewart Copeland’s unmistakably late-1980s synthesizer score brings it out.



The Extras:


0/5



Just like Image’s two concurrent Blu-Rays of Richard Pryor films, Stir Crazy and The Toy, the extras are nonexistent.



Final Score:


3.5/5



Though its setup is quite improbable, I can speak no evil about See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor have lost none of their impeccable timing or chemistry in the nine years since their last pairing. A brisk and amusing physical comedy that mines humor from their characters’ physical impairments in an admirable way, Image’s Blu-ray lacks extras but presents the film with top-notch picture and sound. Recommended.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,212
One of the guilty pleasures of my childhood. On it's way from Amazon and I can't wait for it, thank you for the thorough and well-written review!
 

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