Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on January 21st, 2006
If the Lifetime channel was around in the 70′s, I would swear that this was an original production. This is a women’s liberation film at the height of the movement. Unfortunately, while its heart is probably in the right place, the film is just a big mess. When Martin Scorsese made Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, he nailed the feeling and the theme of this movement on the head. This thing, however, is a train wreck. It just tries way too hard. An Unmarried Woman is one of those films that tells the vi…wer what is happening, instead of showing them. One minute, a man and woman hate each other. Moments later, they are madly in love. For a film that deals with relationships, there sure is an awfully lot of talking for so little nuance and emotion.
The audio is better than the video, but not by much. For English speaking viewers, they can chose to view the film in either Mono or Stereo. Both are equally bland. This disc could benefit greatly from an audio mastering session. Volume levels vary wildly, which makes the viewer either watch this film with their thumb on the volume control, miss half the dialog or deal with unnecessary bouts of loudness. Most of those loud moments come from the film’s pretentious saxophone score, which unfortunately dates the film a great deal.
Grain, and lots of it. I don’t know what it is about the films of the 70′s. Maybe it was the film stock that was commonly used, maybe it was the poor way in which the negatives were preserved, maybe it was a stylistic decision to match the gritty filmmaking style of the day, but it seems like so many of these 70′s films just look bad. Occasionally, you will come across one that looks great and has been restored, like Warner Brother’s excellent 2-disc release of Bullitt, but for those films that have not been given a full restoration, the results are just painful.
Yes, grain is a major problem. But let’s not forget about blemishes of other kinds, like dust and scratches. This negative is a virtual petri dish of film flaws. Some scenes are both dark and light depending on the angle, colors are faded and even the aspect ratio seems a but too compressed. Bad news all around.
In addition to the original theatrical trailer, there is also a commentary track here. Commentaries are a funny thing. On the one hand, they can make a bad film into a fantastic DVD by themselves. On the other hand, when you get into something like this disc, you take a bad film and then layer a dull commentary track over it, which is just really too much. The director hogs most of this track, which makes me wonder why Jill Clayburgh is here at all. I mean, who wants to hear from the star when you can hear firsthand what the weather was like when they shot each scene of the movie?
Obviously, this is just not my kind of thing. The film plays like it is based on an article that appeared in the September 1974 issue of Redbook, about how a woman was done wrong by a man, and pulled herself up by her bootstraps to succeed in… um… well… finding another man. The audio is bad, the video is worse, and the extras are coma-inducing. I can’t imagine how this thing was ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Discs like this one always make me wonder if there is some secret Jill Clayburgh fan club out there that has been clamoring for this title, or if the studio heads are so out of touch that they picked this title for publication by throwing a dart. I can’t imagine that they are going to be able to sell enough of these to turn a profit. Oh well, they will still have plenty of revenue from those sets of Family Guy and Arrested Development to cover this red mark on the balance sheet.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer
- Commentary by Director Paul Mazursky and Jill Clayburgh