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Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Shout! Factory is continuing their love of Steve Martin with a Collector’s Edition release of another one of his classic comedies, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. This famed 80s comedy classic teams him up with acting legend Michael Caine for some devious hijinx. The film also marks the second live action film directed by the legendary Frank Oz. And if I’m not mistaken, the first more straightforward film of his featuring human and no real puppetry. Shout! Factory has put this under its Shout Select line and is giving the film a brand new 2K transfer to go along with a new interview from the film’s writer. You’ll be able to pre-order this now to have it for release date on January 22nd.

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Film 

In the south of France, two rival con men — suave and sophisticated Lawrence (two-time Oscar®-winner Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules) and third-rate American hustler Freddy (Steve Martin, The Jerk) — make a wager. The first one to extract $50,000 from the next woman they meet wins … and the other leaves town. The bet is on, the stakes are high and the blows are low in this hysterically funny, ruthlessly witty, dirty, rotten comedy!

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels obviously works quite well as a comedy, with Steve Martin’s doofus chops blending and having great chemistry with Michael Caine’s straight man routine. What’s great here that tends to fold a bit in modern times is that Caine is able to show tremendous restraint and not have any “give” to Martin at any point in the film. He’s fully embraced and living his character. Yes, Martin has a lot of the fun, but it only works because of the commitment of Michael Caine, and vice versa, Martin is able to bring more gusto to Caine because of his ability to make his silly personality feature enough humanity to round him out. We also need not forget how terrific and full of range, appropriately fitting as an “in between” for the film that Glenne Headly is. If anything, this is also one of her most impressive roles in a pretty impressive career.

Frank Oz has put together a film that feels like comedy worked its way into a suspense-driven Hitchcock thriller. What helps to prosper, layer and give depth to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is that the film’s narrative works as a straight drama/thriller as it does a comedy. If anything, Dale Launer’s script (A loose remake of Bedtime Stories) has made sure everything works solid as a dramatic story before adding in the element of comedy. Almost certainly, they waited on a casting a certain role before really going all in with the comedy and sculpting it to fit both the actor and the script.

This con-man film pairing the likes of Michael Caine and Steve Martin has some good chuckles, but returning to it, I found its full of more amusement humor than big laughs. It was actually more intriguing and fun to watch for its lighthearted dramatics and plot than it was waiting for some big buffoon moment or setup. There are some very juicy moments of deviousness and competition between Caine and Martin that really make for some meaty entertainment. The film overall is a fun escape, terrific arena to see two opposite performers spar off on their respective strengths and a nice travelogue of beautiful locations.

Film 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Shout Factory’s Collector’s Edition release of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels boasts a brand new 2K scan of the film. Researching for this release, it appears the previous release was pretty well received and had high marks on picture quality. This one, too, has a pretty rock solid picture with good depth, detail and color to it in a nice naturally filmic image. I’m not sure how much of an “improvement” has been made over its predecessor, but it still looks pretty rock solid and natural.

Depth:  The picture has a nice feeling of being opened up with a good depth of field in place. Foreground and background feel pretty well spaced in exterior scenes and camera movements feel confident and smooth. No real issues with motion distortion noticed.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and pretty well saturated into the picture. Grain gets a bit more heavy when in nighttime or scenes with a darkened room. No crushing witnessed on this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors come on pretty natural here in the image with reds and intentionally flashy fabrics and set dressings looking quite bold and popping nicely off the picture.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features like skin grease, wrinkles, make-up, lip texture and more come through quite clear.

Noise/Artifacts: N/A

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels comes equipped with what I imagine is the same 5.1 mix featured on the previous release. Its a pretty impressive track for something that was obviously remixed as it sounds pretty natural and isn’t just a front-heavy stooge. They were good to keep this intact as it really helps for a pleasant and more engaging viewing.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Subwoofer play is on the lighter end (Not that the movie is demanding of anything big), but merely is more present with the score and natural sounds like doors closing and things slamming down, car engines and the like.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a surprisingly playful mix that does feature plenty of contribution and unique sounds from the rear speakers with accurate travel in terms of depicting onscreen action.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are the bread and butter of the mix and they come on pretty clean and crisp.

Extras 

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Frank Oz

Interview With Writer Dale Launer (HD, 23:25) – He tells the origin of the film being a soft redo of Bedtime Story that he reluctantly pitched to Mick Jagger and David Bowie who were wanting to do a movie together. It then turned into an Eddie Murphy film. Then his ideal casting of Warren Beatty and Tom Cruise. There is also a good spin on the rights ownership of Bedtime Story. Launer is incredibly knowledgeable and almost serves as a perfect 1-man retrospective documentary on his own.

Vintage Featurette (SD, 6:47) – An old press kit video that has on set interviews with Oz, Martin, Caine and Launer, Headley and more.

Trailer (HD, 1:57)

Teaser Trailer (HD, 1:04)

Teaser Trailer with Commentary (HD, 1:04) – Commentary is by Frank Oz.

Summary 

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a fun, humorous comedy with a good deal of fun dramatics and suspense emanating from a strong script. Shout Factory’s new Collector’s Edition features a new 2K scan to go along with a brand new interview, porting over the old bonus features as well. This is probably more likely a release for the diehard fans, but it is a very slight improvement upon the prior one nonetheless.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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