The In-Laws Blu-ray Review
Falk and Arkin are a delight to watch
There's no reason to shoot at me, I'm a dentistThe In-Laws has quite the pedigree. Starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, written by Andrew Bergman and directed by Arthur Hiller, who together bring a ‘screw-ball’ comedy to life. The plot about stealing dollar bill printing plates by an ex-CIA agent to thwart a plan by a Southern American dictator to destabilise the west is largely incidental to the chemistry displayed by the two main leads and the frantic pace given to the direction. Falk and Arkin are a delight to watch; their banter together showcases terrific comic timing with Falk’s calming tones juxtaposed to Arkin’s hysterical exclamations.And it is all held together by Hiller’s exquisite direction; as each set piece becomes ever more elaborate and wild, the skilful director handles his actors and the pace with such effortless flamboyance the audience is quickly swept away. Little wonder it was so well received upon its initial release. (We won’t even mention the remake). The script from Blazing Saddles writer Bergman pit’s our two hapless heroes against near insurmountable odds, but always with a twinkle in the eye and a tongue firmly in its cheek – there is slap-stick, wit and charm in a genre that is seldom seen today.
Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio at a resolution of 1080p/24 using the AVC codec and is Region locked to B.
Criterion has given the transfer its usual amount of care and attention with a new 2K restoration from a 35mm interpositive before the clean-up began. What is immediately apparent is how clean the image is, detail is magnificent from skin texture to clothing weaves matching the distance shots for clean edges. Colours are bright and bold as well as being suitably 70s-looking, with all the primaries faring well but red particularly so.
Criterion has given the transfer its usual amount of care and attention
Brightness and contrast are set to give a very strong black level that reveals some decent enough shadow detail (check out the dark suits as the dinner table) and manages not to crush, while at the other end the transfer maintains bright detail with no clipping (check out the shirts in the same scene). Digitally there are no compression issues or edge enhancement and the original print is in very good order with only the barest hint of any damage left over from the clean-up. Grain is quite heavy in places and gives a good organic feel to the piece.
Sound QualityJust the one sound track: English LPCM 2.0 mono, and it’s great. Just as the picture has been cleaned up, so has the sound which is rich and vibrant while maintaining a perfectly natural quality. Dialogue is clean, clear and well layered into the mix with nothing missing; which is perfect due to the rapid fire lines between the two leads. The whimsical score comes across well complementing the track without getting harsh. Effects are good, with cars, gun shots, aircraft and traffic accidents being suitably well layered. Bass is very limited, however, with little to no help from the sub, even gunshots are ‘thin’. The track was also a wee bit quiet, requiring a volume notch to get the best out of it, but even then it is never tinny or shrill, nor does it suffer from distortion.
ExtrasAudio Commentary – Recorded in 2003 with director Arthur Hiller, writer Andrew Bergman and actors Peter Falk and Alan Arkin who clearly all get on well and have very fond memories of the film. They discuss, in great detail, their time making this classic.
Alan Arkin Interview – New for 2016 this 25 minute feature has Arkin regale us with his stories about his life, acting, influences and time spent on the film and those that worked with him. A very pleasant chat with a well-spoken and amiable man.
In Support of The In-Laws – Newly recorded in 2016 this 35 minute feature has interviews with the supporting actors Ed Begley Jr., Nancy Dussault, James Hong and David Paymer as they discuss their time on the production.
Booklet – Articles by comedy writer Stephen Wine and a 2011 recollection by Arthur Hiller.
Blu-ray VerdictThe In-Laws is a comedy from 1979 starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin and tells the story of a CIA agent out on a limb trying to prevent the fiscal collapse of the west by stealing Dollar bill pressing plates while roping in his dentist in-law-to-be to help as the situations become ever more intense and otherworldly. Witten by Andrew Bergman and directed by Arthur Hiller the film perfectly captures the spirit of the ‘screw-ball’ comedy, with great chemistry between the two leads – and what chemistry it is; their effortless charm combined with the flamboyant direction gives rise to a comedic film that continues to draw fans.
A screwball comedy that relies on the chemistry between the two leads
As a Blu-ray, the film has had Criterion's customary attention; the picture is bright, clean, well detailed and colourful with good black level, while the sound is clear, precise well layered and free from any issues. The extras package includes new interviews as well as a previously available audio commentary.
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