- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
1982 was a year which offered moviegoers two memorable gender-bending comedies: Blake Edwards’ Victor/Victoria and Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie. Though Edwards’ film was more farcical in nature and dealt more pointedly with gender roles and sexual orientation, Pollack’s Tootsie was more grounded in reality with less eccentric characters and a more focused interest in exploring how a gender masquerade could positively affect a person in a way to make him a better and more knowing individual. Tootsie was also by far the bigger hit and is a film that plays just as entertainingly today as it did on first release.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English PCM 1.0 (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 1 Hr. 56 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 12/16/2014
Dedicated but obnoxious actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) has gotten to the point where he can’t find employment on either coast so obsessive is he with his fierce insistence on his own ideas about performance. When he preps his actress pal Sandy Lester (Teri Garr) for an audition for the role of a tough-minded, fierce hospital administrator on a popular daytime soap, her rejection spurs him to try for the role on his own masquerading himself as independent and feisty actress Dorothy Michaels, and he lands the job. Dorothy’s take-charge attitude is a pain to the show's director (Dabney Coleman) but an inspiration to dewy-eyed, somewhat defeated co-star Julie Nichols (Jessica Lange). In fact, Dorothy becomes a national celebrity with her tempered, dynamic woman character, winning the interest of both aging roué John Van Horn (George Gaynes) and Julie’s widowed father (Charles Durning). By then, Michael realizes he may have taken the masquerade a bit too far, but his agent (Sydney Pollack) can’t think of a way out of Dorothy’s contract, and Michael doesn’t want to hurt people he’s come to care about by revealing the truth.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
The script is attributed to Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal though the set’s bonus features reveal that Elaine May had a major hand in fashioning the story particularly with regards to the female characters. Regardless of who’s responsible, the story plays like a dream with a smooth, flowing scenario that springs plot events out of character in the very best tradition of the top comedies. Apart from two moments of farce (Michael in character as Dorothy attempting to babysit Julie’s toddler shown in a funny montage and a later rough and tumble moment when Michael in full drag with his roommate Jeff (Bill Murray) must quickly change before friend Sandy comes barging through the door), the movie really is a warm comedy of manners as Michael slowly comes to understand tolerance and selflessness through his characterization as Dorothy, and his effect on others likewise makes him realize the qualities that Dorothy possesses are those he should incorporate into his own life. Sydney Pollack had never directed a comedy before (he earned the New York Film Critics Circle award for his direction), but you’d never know it from the seamless way scenes flow from one to another (only a “Tootsie” montage that shows the character’s instantaneous capturing of America’s fancy is kind of hard to swallow for a soap character) and the way that an almost two hour film doesn’t seem for one second the least bit overlong. Pollack also accomplished this while acting with great surety the role of Michael’s harassed agent George Fields handling the comic moments such as an argument about Michael’s performance as a tomato or his first introduction to Dorothy at the Russian Tea Room with frenzied amazement and good humor.
Dustin Hoffman, of course, is in his element both as the obnoxious, driven Michael Dorsey (a character allegedly based on his own obsessive tendencies to be difficult and demanding with directors) and the softer but equally assertive (with reservations) Dorothy Michaels. His performance earned him both a Golden Globe and the National Society of Film Critics prize as Best Actor. Jessica Lange as the dreamy actress unconvinced of her own worth due to a philandering boy friend earned both of those awards as well as the New York Film Critics prize and the Oscar in one of her breakout performances of 1982 (she was also Oscar-nominated for Frances). Teri Garr handles the heavy comedy chores as the neurotic actress trying to make it in such a highly competitive business, and she’s outstanding in perhaps her best film role. Charles Durning is sweetly charming as the widower awakening to love again while Dabney Coleman etches another of his smarmy chauvinists as the cheating, ego-driven director. Bill Murray plays Hoffman’s polar opposite as a playwright who takes life with a much slower and steadier pace without the high drama, and George Gaynes gets quite a few laughs as the soap's aging lothario (newcomer Geena Davis as an actress on the soap set coos “We call him “The Tongue”) with plans of his own for Dorothy. Along with Davis, look fast to see Lynne Thigpen and Christine Ebersole in small but effective cameos.
The film’s original Panavision 2.40:1 aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Apart from a shot which seems unusually soft and milky for no reason, sharpness is first-rate with exquisite detail in hair, clothes, and facial features. Color values are wonderful with solid saturation levels that don’t go overboard and skin tones that are natural and appealing. Black levels are also excellent. The film has been divided into 26 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The PCM 1.0 (1.1 Mbps) sound mix is very emblematic of the sound design of the era. The dialogue has been expertly recorded and is never compromised by Dave Grusin’s wonderful score (which contains the lovely Oscar-nominated song “It Might Be You”) or the sound effects which do a fine job representing New York City indoors and out. The mix does seem at times to be a bit bass deficient, but that’s the only lapse in an otherwise first-rate aural presentation.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Audio Commentary: director Sydney Pollack offers an interesting and thorough discussion of the film’s production showing justifiable pride in making his first comedy.
Special Features Rating: 5/5
Dustin Hoffman Interview (18:03, HD): a 2014 interview finds the actor reminiscing about making the film, choking up a few times as he recalls moments of the filming which still have a special meaning for him.
Phil Rosenthal Interview (15:37, HD): a 2014 interview with the producer of Everybody Loves Raymond allows him to dissect the movie to find reasons why it continues to work so brilliantly all these years after its first release.
Gene Shalit Interviews Dorothy Michaels (4:25, HD): an ad-libbed interview between the Today critic and Hoffman in character (used only in stills in the finished movie).
The Making of Tootsie (33:42, HD): a 1982 documentary directed by Randy Lang showing behind-the-scenes decision making with director Pollack about casting and story ideas and featuring sound bites from Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Bill Murray, and Teri Garr.
A Better Man: The Making of Tootsie (1:08:00, HD) a 2007 look back at the making of the film featuring clips from the 1982 documentary and 2007 interviews with actors Hoffman, Murray, Lange, Garr, and Dabney Coleman, director Pollack, and writers Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal.
Deleted Scenes (10:21, HD): nine scenes presented in montage.
Screen and Wardrobe Tests (6:45, HD): initial character and costume tests with Hoffman and original director Hal Ashby and showing the evolution of the make-up for the character.
Trailers (HD): three trailers which run 1:24, 1:02, and 1:00 respectively.
Enclosed Pamphlet: contains cast and crew lists, information on the transfer, and film critic Michael Sragow’s laudatory essay on the movie.
Timeline: can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc, the title of the chapter you’re now in, and index markers for the commentary that goes along with the film, all of which can be switched on the fly. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.
One of the all-time great comedies, one which plays as entertainingly and tellingly today as it did more than three decades ago, Tootsie comes to Blu-ray in a handsome Criterion package with sterling picture and sound and a tremendous load of bonus materials. Highly recommended!
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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