Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
Billy Bathgate / Blaze(1989-1991)
No synopsis for Billy Bathgate / Blaze.
For more about Billy Bathgate / Blaze and the Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray release, see Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on February 23, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, Nicole Kidman, Lolita Davidovich, Loren Dean, Gailard Sartain
Directors: Robert Benton, Ron Shelton
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray Review
Two good films, one low price.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, February 23, 2013
Money can do anything.
Shades of Goodfellas, Director Martin Scorsese's 1990 Oscar-contending crime family masterpiece saga, echo throughout 1991's Billy Bathgate, something of a copycat Gangster film about the rise of a young man into the ranks of one of the most feared mafia outfits in the United States. Director Robert Benton's (Kramer vs. Kramer) picture is no match for the brilliance of one of cinema's defining works and arguably the finest Gangster picture of them all, but it's nevertheless a rock-solid film in its own right, molded from the same cinematic and historical clay, a captivating picture defined by a fantastic script, perfect flow, and high-end acting. Though the film reportedly differs a great deal from E.L. Doctorow's 1989 source novel, Billy Bathgate nevertheless makes for a dramatically satisfying Crime film, an excellent companion All-Star to Scorsese's Hall-of-Fame master work.
Young Billy (Loren Dean) dreams big and, after a chance meeting with mob boss Dutch Schultz (Dustin Hoffman), he dreams even bigger. He believes Dutch's kind words were no fluke but rather a sign, a hint of future greatness, the beckoning of destiny. He takes it upon himself to move in closer to Dutch's operation and wiggles his way into the boss' heart with some tasty pastries that just so happen to be Dutch's favorite. He finds himself performing menial tasks around headquarters while slowly ingraining himself in the operation and winning Dutch's trust. He has his breakout moment when he brings Dutch evidence that one of his most trusted men, Bo Weinberg (Bruce Willis), hasn't been completely honest with Dutch. Suddenly, Billy finds himself a much more prominent figure in the operation and is tasked with caring for Bo's girl, the seductive Drew Preston (Nicole Kidman). As Billy's relationship with Drew grows more intimate, so too does his understanding of how the mob really works, that it's much more than easy money and that the price for that cash runs deeper than he could have ever imagined.
Billy Bathgate is the epitome of the character-driven drama. The movie is not about the world in which the action plays out, and neither is it about era violence and the viscousness of the period crime scene. The picture succeeds because it paints characters who are superficially one dimensional -- making them easy to identify -- but at the same time far more complex on a deeper level, a complexity that slowly reveals itself over time, a complexity that's a result of character interaction and, yes, that action and drama that both only enhance the characters rather than define them. The film takes simple archetypes -- the young man with a world opening to him, the seductively beautiful damsel, the hardened criminal -- and opens them up fully, revealing complicated inner-beings behind a generic exterior shell.
The cast is fantastic in digging deep inside and allowing the superficial only to serve as a guide rather than the defining characteristic. Dustin Hoffman dominates the picture as an edgy mentor and negative role model that is exposed with time; he captures the character's dichotomy beautifully, displaying a soft underside that's sometimes overpowered by his violent exterior, an exterior Billy comes to realize is the true Dutch, not the kindly man who took him under his wing. On that same note, Loren Dean is great as Billy, the wet-behind-the-years mob initiate whose starry-eyed dream of the high life is slowly shattered with the passage of time. Dean plays the part well, not so much outwardly maturing but rather inwardly gaining a more complete understanding of the world, seeing beyond the glamour and into the harsh truths of the life of crime.
Though the film is a complete product of its characters, it's still a very strongly crafted production and delivers a fantastic, authentic-in-feel backdrop for the story. Billy Bathgate is a very well photographed picture in which every scene is perfectly composed and seems as if a sea of classic stylings not just through a superficial period sense but in the photography, lighting, and mood. Sets and costumes look great, both convincing down to every chip in bricks, worn paint on wood, and every stitch in the period clothes. The picture naturally comes alive; it lives and breathes its time period but it does so to such a degree that it all falls into line behind character study and advancement as the perfect background support. It's an underrated technical achievement on both ends of the camera that helps shape a complete cinema experience.
Never trust a man who says, "trust me."
Sex and politics are sort of like death and taxes, peanut butter and jelly, and baseball and summertime. The combination is a grand tradition, and it's not even unique to the United States. What is unique, to a degree, is the intense scrutiny of sex and politics in the media and, sometimes, the double-standard discretion the media employs to protect some politicians who find more favor with the press. Yet sex scandals remain some of the juiciest stories on the television and the inter-webs and the talk radio airwaves. They say any publicity is good publicity, but when Senators allegedly engage in sex overseas with underage prostitutes, when Senators solicit sex through airport bathroom stalls, and even when Presidents get caught with cigars and stains, even they would rather the cameras go away and their names fade from the forefront of their constituents, and the nation's, minds. Yet sex scandals are so popular that some people even enjoy reliving those of yore; JFK and Marilyn are still a hot item going on five decades after their deaths, and indeed perhaps it's the safety of reliving the past rather than trudging through the salacious details of the present that make for the "easiest" and "cleanest" of tales. Director Ron Shelton's (Bull Durham) Blaze is the based-on-true-events film that depicts the rise and fall of a Louisiana Governor harboring the worst-kept secret in the state: an affair-turned-romantic-relationship with a West Virginia transplant-turned-stripper named, get ready, "Blaze Starr" (yes, with two "R"s).
A young West Virginia girl named Belle (Lolita Davidovich), with dreams of big city success, leaves her mother and her home in the sticks for a chance at a new life. She winds up waitressing at a small-town diner where she's noticed by a man calling himself "Red" (Robert Wuhl). Red fills her head with dreams of making it big and persuades her to ditch her waitressing gig for some real money. She soon finds out "big" means performing in front of rowdy servicemen who aren't interested in music and lyrics but rather T&A. She's hesitant to strip but does so, anyway, under the stage name "Blaze Starr." She soon ditches the small-town joints and works her way to New Orleans to shed her clothes before "a higher class of people." Amongst them is none other than the state's good Governor, Earl Long (Paul Newman), a womanizing sort who frequents such clubs on a regular basis, paying no mind to public perception or the press. It doesn't take long for the Governor to come under Blaze's spell, to develop a special kind of infatuation for her that transforms from lust to love. His political career hangs in jeopardy, both for his stance on the state's racial strife and for his relationship with a stripper, but his affection for Blaze knows no end, his career be damned or not.
As Billy Bathgate's author reportedly shied away from that film project over creative differences between his book and Hollywood's picture, Blaze glosses over some major truths in the real-life history of the Governor's relationship with Blaze. Both were married at the time they met but no mention is given to that fact. The omission makes for a movie that's less salacious and more playful. It also makes it more likely that the audience will find wider favor with the lead characters. And that seems to be the point. This isn't a movie about politics, it's about outwardly strange bedfellows who largely pay no mind to what everyone else says, people who are determined to make it work, no matter the cost to their social or political standing, even if it kills them. While the movie lacks real dramatic heft within the specific confines of the ebbs and flows of Long's gubernatorial policies and political career -- even if they're main cogs in the story -- the point is really of Long's romance with a stripper, the story boiling down to a blend of drama and a comedy of errors in which a woman grows to trust just the sort of person that shouldn't be trusted and a politician falls in love with just the sort of woman he shouldn't fall in love with. But love conquers all, strange bedfellows or not, and one can only wonder how -- or if -- the story of Blaze and Governor Long would play out today, in the world of blue dresses and airport stalls and cell phone cameras and satellites and bloggers and not just newfangled TV cameras and journalists armed with notepad and pen to cover the story.
No matter how much or how little truth may be in the film, the actors carry the scripted material quite well and fill in the characters as they appear on the page with easy flair and fullness. Newman is fantastic as a rough-around-the-edges Southern politician, an old-time playboy who happens to be Governor, not vice-versa. Newman injects the role with not only energy but a style befitting the character, a distinctive manor through which he sells both ends of the part, the classic politician and the classic lover. It's an interesting dichotomy that Newman handles very well, in one scene fighting the good fight for equal rights and the next stripping off his clothes as quickly -- or perhaps more quickly -- as the heart of a man of his age will allow to jump into bed with his stripper lady friend. Lolita Davidovich is a match for the famed actor, still a screen novice but bearing her wares as naturally as if it were just she and the governor rather than she and the governor and hundreds of thousands of onlookers on the other side of the screen. She commands her character very well, maturing into her place by the governor's side but never quite letting go of her roots even as she morphs into someone influenced by both pieces of her life. Blaze also features a fantastic supporting cast; names like Robert Wuhl, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Gailard Sartain may not be of the household variety, but are recognizable on sight and help bring the movie to vivid life.
Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray, Video Quality
Billy Bathgate looks pretty great on Blu-ray. This is easily one of the best transfers yet from Mill Creek. It's a sturdy, accurate, film-like image that retains a consistently moderate layer of film grain. Details are crisp and sharp, mostly, and reveal intricate little textures on period brick and wood fašades -- particularly those that are well worn and weathered -- as well as the usual faces and clothes. The color palette is never overly dull and quite vibrant in some of the film's brightest moments, such as a race track sequence that shows off some colorful bouquets, green grasses, and sun-lit clothes. Blacks are usually solid, though in a few scenes they do show some unwanted crush and, on the other end of the spectrum, turn a shade of dark purple. Flesh tones, however, remain fairly consistent without too much of an unnaturally warm push. The print is clean and free of major wear, and there's little evidence of banding, blocky backgrounds, or edge halos. This is a very satisfying transfer from Mill Creek.
Blaze's high definition transfer doesn't fare as well as its Mill Creek Blu-ray counterpart Billy Bathgate. It displays a myriad of problems, none of them a deal breaker at this price point but enough to leave fans wishing for a more accurate, blemish-free presentation. The wobbly opening credits are met with excess print wear. Noise sprinkles in throughout, and the image is often so harsh it seems to glow around the edges. Color balance isn't bad, but this isn't a deep, accurate, well-defined palette. Details range from satisfying to smudgy. Clumps of leaves in the opening West Virginia shots lack any sort of definition, but the image stabilizes enough at times to show decent wear on period structures and natural facial and clothing lines. The image does have a lightly smoothed over look to it as well. Blacks and flesh tones are satisfactory. This isn't the best Mill Creek transfer, but it's pretty representative of the studio's releases.
Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Billy Bathgate's DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless soundtrack isn't what one might label "robust" or "immersive," but it gets the job done with little effort. There's a nice, natural front side presence to the deep, rather haunting notes heard at film's start. Clarity here and elsewhere in music and sound effects is constant, not perfect but certainly not anywhere near a level of sonic distraction. The opening boat sequence offers some very nice subtle atmospheric effects, such as creaking wood, the powering motor, and waves and wind outside. Later, a train rumbles effortlessly from one front speaker to another, and the din of typewriters, ringing telephones, and other machinery heard inside the mob offices in chapter three create a satisfying listen. Gunfire is suitably crisp as well. Dialogue plays evenly and clearly. For a two-channel track, this one's pretty good, and it serves the film well.
Blaze doesn't completely fizzle on Blu-ray, featuring a modest but basically effective DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless soundtrack. There is a fair amount of activity across the front, a good bit of sonic distinction and even decent clarity. Whether the light ambience of children playing and roosters crowing in the opening West Virginia moments, the sound of a feverish crowd of drunken sailors at a strip club, or rain and lingering claps of thunder in chapter 10, the soundtrack offers a surprising bit of activity, space, and faux immersion throughout. Some of those same sounds come across as a little shallow, but what little bit of muscle that's here helps the track considerably. A couple of shotgun blasts fall short of expectations, but the resultant mayhem, such as crashing glass, does play with a good bit of clarity and focus. Dialogue and music both play with commendable clarity in an otherwise scattered sort of soundtrack. This one does a bit more well than it does poorly; like the video, this is fairly representative of average Mill Creek quality.
Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray double feature contains no supplemental content.
Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Two pretty good films, one low price. Mill Creek's double feature of Billy Bathgate and Blaze collectively offers good video and fair audio. No extras are included, but at this price who can argue? Recommended largely for Billy Bathgate, but don't overlook Blaze.
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to . You can also suggest completely new similar titles to in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Mill Creek Double Feature Listings - October 3, 2012
Beginning next week, Mill Creek Entertainment will be releasing 12 double feature Blu-rays. The films range in variety from Father Hood to Mafia!. If any special features will be included, they have not yet been announced. The first wave of double feature Blu-rays ...
Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to Billy Bathgate / Blaze Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.