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“The Day of the Locust”
Reviewed by: Wayne A. Klein
Genre: Drama
Video: Widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1 aspect ratio
Audio: Dolby Digital Surround 5.1, Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 (restored)
Languages English
Subtitles English
Length 144 minutes
Rating R
Release Date 6/8/04
Studio Paramount
Commentary: None
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: None
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: None
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: None
Music Video: None
Other: None
Cast and Crew: Donald Sutherland, Karen Black, Burgess Meredith, William Atherton, Geraldine Page, Richard A. Dysart, Bo Hopkins, Pepe Serna, Billy Barty, Lelia Goldoni
Written By: Waldo Salt based on the novel by Nathanael West
Produced By: Jerome Hellman, Ronald Shedlo
Directed By: John Schlesinger
Music: John Barry
The Review:

Tod Hackett (Atherton) comes west to make it in Hollywood as an art director in the 1930’s. His attraction to his new neighbor Faye (Karen Black) prompts him to help her with her career as an actress. Tod becomes the audience’s focal point as he increasingly gets pulled into the lurid whirlpool of tinsel town and the nasty lives of the studio heads, creative people and those that drive the movie business. Filled with marvelous, detailed performances by stars Donald Sutherland (as Homer Simpson and, no, there’s no relationship to “The Simpsons” character) and Karen Black but the real strength of the film and its creative backbone are supporting performances by Burgess Meredith and Billy Barty. This corrosive, rich character study based on West’s brilliant novel finally comes to DVD with mixed results. ---

Image and Sound: The transfer makes the film look as if it has been attacked by locusts. While the print looks pretty good, there are issues with the transfer itself. The grainy picture results from a less than skillful transfer resulting in a lot of compression blemishes (i.e. noticeable grain problems particularly during darker scenes). The image is almost uniformly sharp with the bright colors that were a highlight of the original film. While the film runs two and a half hours, there should have been sufficient storage on the disc to make it look as sharp as many lesser films released during the same time frame. Paramount has done a better job on other budget releases and I’m at a loss as to why this isn’t one of them. ---
The Extras:


Commentary: None.
Final Words: A mixed blessing for this terrific unflattering look at Hollywood during the 1930’s. While I’m happy to finally see Schlesinger and Salt’s marvelous adaptation on DVD, I’m at a loss as to why it doesn’t look as sharp and vivid as it could. This no frills release disappoints not only because of the quality of the film but also because greater care wasn’t used in preparing it for release. Perhaps Criterion will contract with Paramount to produce the ultimate DVD edition of this now that the “no frills” version has appeared.


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