Richard Pryor Film Collection DVD Review
The Car Wash disc has been given a theatrically correct 1.85:1 aspect picture anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TVs and amazingly enough for the oldest film in the set, it has the best picture. Colours are suitably thick and bold, without bleed or wash. Contrast and brightness are set well with enough dark to give reasonable blacks, but not enough to loose that seventies look and feel to the picture. I was surprised at how clean the print was, sure there were a few specks here and there with the occasional smattering of film grain, but over all it was exceptional. Digitally there were no compression problems and only a minimal amount of edge enhancement was visible. In all very impressive and no doubt helped by the excellent bitrate.
The Brewster's Millions disc has been given a full screen 1.33:1 aspect picture contrary to its theatrical 1.85:1 aspect original release. Of the discs reviewed this has by far the worst picture. The colours are thin and frequently wash especially skin tones that barely look human. Contrast and brightness are all too high, with grey blacks and little to no depth given to the frame, also has a bearing on the colours too. There were a myriad of original print problems from scratches to specks and a huge amount of film grain to contend with. Digitally there was the odd compression problem as well as edge enhancement. Very poor effort.
The See No Evil, Hear No Evil is given a theatrically correct 1.85:1 aspect picture anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TVs. This is merely an average offering, colours are solid and true with no bleed or wash. Contrast and brightness are set to give good solid blacks even though the film rarely uses them. Digitally there are no compression problems but it does suffer from edge enhancement that is noticeable a lot more than is necessary. Original print damage is limited to the odd speck here and there, film grain is also visible on one or two scenes, but overall I was pleased with this print.
All the discs are encoded with Dolby Digital sound tracks at 192 Kbps in either surround, stereo or mono.
Car Wash has five tracks to choose from English, French and German surround, Italian stereo and Spanish mono. The English surround track is well separated with a decent amount of bass to hold the top and middle together. The pumping sound track is faithfully reproduced and the ringing tones of “Car Wash” will be echoing round the room along with your finger snaps and feet tapping. Dialogue is simple and from the front always clear but a little tinny in places, but without distortion or hiss. For its age and source this is a fine track.
Brewster's Millions has two stereo tracks, English and German. The English track is rather flat, making little use of the stereo format, there is hardly any bass, the rest of the range is kept in the middle so thankfully it is never too tinny. Dialogue is clear and free from distortion but there was a hiss when turned up. An adequate sound experience that does nothing to enhance the poor picture.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil has five tracks to choose from English, French and German surround, Italian stereo and Spanish mono. The English surround track is actually quite good with reasonable separation all round, particularly with the Stewart Copeland recognisable score that is pumped into the speakers. Decent surround is given to the various city scenes with good all round ambiences. There is a good grounding in bass considering the limitations and the track never sounds tinny. Dialogue is clear and never in any danger of being drowned out, free from distortion and hiss. Off all the discs this is the best sound track of them.
Of the discs I received only two had extras. Brewster's Millions as the theatrical trailer for the film. See No Evil, Hear No Evil also has a theatrical trailer, and has the only substantial extra of the set, an eight minute behind the scenes featurette. It has a few interviews with the major cast and director, has off screen narration and comprises of more or less seven minutes of film footage as padding. Quite the worst 'behind the scenes' I've ever seen. Lastly it also has talent bios, which are a sentence about the actor(s) and a selected filmography.
There is no denying Richard Pryor's talent nor his influence on today's comedy. Although his filmic career was prolific no film managed to capture that stand up brilliance that he was so loved for. Universal has provided four films in this set that show off the best of Pryor in his films, the comedian, the actor, the talent. As a DVD set, though, there is much to be desired, a cheap rehash of older discs is something that all companies should avoid, it devalues the set, the original discs and, in this case, the man himself.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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