The Last American Virgin Blu-ray Review
“The guy who's got the biggest tool, he's the one who wins the pool!”
PictureThe disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 1.85:1 1080p AVC MPEG4 transfer and is Region locked to B.
On the whole this is a pretty decent picture with only the eighties style of filming leading to the softness that the entire transfer exhibits. However, detail is very passible, with skin texture (such as stubble, pores and even stretch marks!) being clearly seen with the over use of makeup on the girls also being well defined. Clothing weaves, apartment knickknacks, pizza boxes all show clear and well defined edges. There are very few landscape establishing shots to show off back ground detail, but when they do occur there are edges held very well into the distance. ‘Soft focus’ filming style does, clearly, influence the finite amount of detail available but since this is a product of the print we can’t consider this to be a defect.
Colours are, for the most part, bright and vibrant with the eighties colour scheme of pinks, yellows and polka dots all coming off with suitable solidity. Primaries hold up well with no bleed, save the soft focus which tends to colour everything, but again is not a defect. Gradation was well realised and I spotted no signs of banding or posterization.
Brightness is set a tad on the low side, with contrast being a wee bit on the high side leading to the occasional soft black, but it is held in check enough not to produce any crush or clipping to any significant effect. Daylight is very bright and shows the weakest blacks, while night shoots are suitable dark, showing some fair shadow detail (look to the football field, particularly under the seating to see some nice detailing – even if this is ‘day for night’ filming). Overall the picture is bright due to the higher brightness setting, but, once again, this is typical for the age of film.
Digitally there were no compression artefacts or any edge enhancement nor over use of the DNR machine. There is a reasonable sheen of grain to the picture, which increases in darker areas, which is normal. There are a few nicks and dots (both black and white) that occasionally pop up, but nothing too distracting. The clean-up has been sympathetic without ruining the integrity of the filmic look. A strong seven out of ten.
SoundThe only sound track on the disc is English LPCM 2.0 stereo, thankfully it’s very competent. Dialogue is well defined, very natural sounding and layered well into the mix with good separation and always audible. The score probably makes the most of the stereo, whether it’s being used within a scene (party music) or as a story telling device, it’s always up front and powerful making full use of the (available) dynamic range. Bass is well held but never plumbs to any substantial depth, there is no need or excuse for it, but all dialogue and score make the most of the low end keeping the sub awake throughout the run time. The clean-up has removed all traces of hiss, crackle and pop, even when at reference making for a precise and never tinny experience – top job. On the whole the track represents the information faithfully without thrills.
- Feature: The First American Remake (HD, 36.06) – A new interview with director Boaz Davidson as he talks about the original film, his life in Israel, his inspirations and career, before going into huge detail about the remake, including financing, filming, casting, on set antics and the therapy of filming a story right out of his own life.
- Feature: Memories of a Pizza Boy (HD, 26.07) – A new interview with star Lawrence Monoson who talks about his career, how he got the part (and being too young), the chemistry between the cast and how he approached the character knowing he was playing the director.
- Feature: Babe of the Eighties (HD, 20.59) – A new interview with star Diane Franklin as she expounds upon her taking on the part, what it entailed and how she approached a character so far away from her own self, the onset chemistry between the main actors, and how she is still close friends with many of them.
- Feature: In Praise of Smaller Movies (HD, 21.10) – An interview with cinematographer Adam Greenberg which is quite difficult to understand due to his strong accent, but he talks about his career to date, how he got into the business, his emigration to America and lensing the remake as well as the original.
- Reversible sleeve - Featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Red Dress.
- Collector’s booklet - Featuring new writing on the film by author and publisher Robin Bougie and an interview with The Last American Virgin super fan Eli Roth conducted by Calum Waddell, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.
VerdictThe Last American Virgin is an autobiographical tale told by the director Boaz Davidson that combines a ‘teen sex comedy’ coming off the back of Porky’s (1982) and the like (though not copied, since it is actually a remake of the Israeli film Lemon Popsicle 1978) and melodrama of the consequences of such actions. The first two thirds have some genuinely funny moments, as well as plenty of nudity, but all playing off the back of a clear emotional story, that becomes quite powerful towards the end. The cast of largely unknown talent (at the time) includes Lawrence Monoson, Diane Franklin and Steve Antin all of whom acquit themselvesl, and the director holds the story, pacing and tone extremely well. The film largely works, but the tonal shift and emotional journey does take a little getting used to, with the ending coming as quite a shock, even now. Many see this as a powerful indictment of its history, but personally I see it for what it is – a story teller exorcising his deamons – and in that regard it works well; it’s just not what most people expect upon first viewing.
As a Blu-ray set Arrow have produced a very good package; the Blu-ray is Region locked to B, contains a very good picture (for its age and style) showing good detail, reasonable blacks and decent colour, while the sound, in LPCM 2.0 stereo flavour, reproduces the sound very naturally and gives plenty of life to the many 80’s hits that are used as the score without any hiss or distortion. The extras are all new for this set and are extensive interviews with the major cast and crew. In all a terrific little set that is available in the UK for the very first time.
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