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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Action > Western > Chase > Teens > Romance.Sex > Disco > Crime > The Electric Horseman (1979/Umbrella Region Free/Zero Import DVD) + Speed Dating (2010/Image Entertainment) + The Stud (1978) + The Bitch (1979/Umbrella Entertainment Region 4/Four/Import DVDs) + Sund

The Electric Horseman (1979/Umbrella Region Free/Zero Import DVD) + Speed Dating (2010/Image Entertainment) + The Stud (1978) + The Bitch (1979/Umbrella Entertainment Region 4/Four/Import DVDs) + Sunday In New York (1963/Warner Archive DVD)



Picture: C+ (Stud: C)     Sound: C+/C/C/C+/C+     Extras: D/C-/D/D/C-     Films: C/C-/B-/B-/C+



PLEASE NOTE: Horseman can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Zero/0/Free PAL format software, while The Stud and The Bitch DVDs can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Four/4 PAL format software.  All can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.  Sunday is exclusively available from the Warner Archive site online at the link below.



Sometimes the comedies that are supposed to be funny do not work and others films that are not comedies are the actual howlers.  Here are five releases that show how that happens.


A hit in its time, Sidney Pollack’s The Electric Horseman (1979, co-produced by Universal and Columbia) is a mixed comedy with Robert Redford as a one-time champion cowboy and horse rider who is now an alcoholic promoting breakfast cereal he does not eat or care about.  Sensing a story behind the phoniness, Jane Fonda is a TV reporter anxious to get ratings and make him look bad, until he steals a prized horse this becomes a chase picture of sorts.


Fonda gets to play one of her liberated, outspoken characters, yet the results get silly and even with Willie Nelson, Valerie Perrine, John Saxon (Black Christmas), Wilford Brimley and James B. Sikking here, it is a weak film I was never a fan of and is now a time capsule that is amusing at best.  Of course, there is a little chemistry between Redford and Fonda, but it is lite.


Earlier, Fonda was doing the lite romantic roles that comprised the often forgotten beginnings of her career like Peter Tewksbury’s Sunday In New York (1963), a better film she made at MGM with Cliff Robertson, Rod Taylor, Robert Culp, Jo Morrow and Jim Backus.  Playing Robertson’s sister, she is wondering if she should “go all the way” in a relationship (she is engaged to Culp, but not married) while he tries to continue his.  However, she gets involved with Taylor and they keep running into each other in the wackiest ways in this smart, classy comedy.


Still, more of this works than not, it too is a time capsule that I prefer and it is as entertaining as most of these romantic comedies of the time.  Taylor is underrated, Culp an instant start and even Peter Nero shows up.  It has been issued by Warner Archive and is only available through their on-line DVD-R service.


Joseph A. Elmore Jr.’s Speed Dating (2010) is the only brand new entry here, but is included to continue to make my points with our starting premise.  Three young men go bonkers trying to get dates and the results are not always successful and worse, likely made worse by the latest communication technologies.  An indie production with an all-African American cast, I liked its intent and attitude, yet it just got o silly and added every bad joke and pop culture reference it could dig up, that any attempt at a narrative comedy went right out the window.  That’s a shame, because this could have been a big surprise with truly funny moments, but Elmore and company just slack off too much and waste the fun personalities here.


With less freedoms in one sense, but much freer in others, two hit Jackie Collins’ books madder into feature films in England have arrived on DVD in Australia and both are attempting to be views of the secret lives of those with money enjoying sex and luxury.  Instead, both films land up being the funniest films here without trying.


First we get The Stud (1978), with Oliver Tobias as Tony Blake, a waiter who is also very much in demand for his sexual performance, prowess, skills and everything else.  He is convincingly cast and this is two years ahead of American Gigolo in having a character who enjoys wearing nice clothes and looking good.  Of all the women he engages in with his services is Fontaine Khaled (Jackie’s movie star sister Joan Collins a riot warming up for her role as Alexis on the TV megahit Dynasty) cheating with the title character against her rich businessman husband (Walter Gotell of the James Bond films).


It is deep in the disco era and this sometimes softcore howler has all kinds of music from that period, including actual hits and director Quentin Masters manages to make this a good trash romp.  I liked some of the story aspects, but this is otherwise paper thin, but you’ll laugh so much, you will not notice.  Sue Lloyd and Jeremy Child are among the co-stars.


With that film such a huge hit, Jackie Collins immediately got the sequel going and as a star vehicle for Joan, resulting in the equally “you’ll laugh until it hurts” camp classic The Bitch (1979) with a disco title song (co-written by Biddu (who scored both films) and Don Black (whose James Bond themes include Diamonds Are Forever and Man With The Golden Gun) is alone a hysterical theme song that is more than enough to get you to see this sequel flick.


Joan Collins is back as Fontaine, now a widow and the title character here, disco and sex are still in full swing and Fontaine is going to get the best of everything.  No one will stop her!


That is until some local gangsters want to take over the more-profitable-than-ever disco in a way that might end the party, but don’t count Fontaine out yet.  The great Ian Hendry is the head gangster and we also get Pamela Salem, Carolyn Seymour and even John Ratzenberger in a sequel that is just as gloriously trashy as the first.  See them in order and laugh all night!



The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Horseman is uneven with good color sometimes, fading in other shots, plus softness in many shots, but the 540i PAL video makes this just warmer enough to make it a good if not great transfer.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Sunday was released in MetroColor and though we get fading here too, it has some good depth for a film its age and the color is more impressive more often than not.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the rest of the films are also soft, with Speed having motion blur and Stud being the softest of the five releases, needing restoration on its 35mm source materials.  When the color on Bitch and Stud work, it looks really good, especially in the disco sequences.


Speed is the only release here with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and it should be the best-sounding film, here, but with its volume drops, bad location recording and awkward sound mix, it is the second worst.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Horseman has some very good sound and though it was not a Dolby release in its time, it was a 4-track 35mm stereo release and you can hear that in the downtraded mix here, though it can be second generation and limited, showing its age.   The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Sunday is just fine for its age, recorded professionally in its time and sounding as good as can be expected.  I wonder if the Nero music (et al) was recorded in stereo, but fans should note that MGM actually took stereo music masters, recorded mono copies and destroyed (!!!) the stereo originals as many of the soundtracks licensed to Film Score Monthly’s FSM CD soundtrack label has shown us.  Wonder if that happened here.  That leaves the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Bitch and Stud, with Stud having more harmonic distortion than I could have imagined, at least a generation or two down and almost warping in places.  Can’t they find a better soundtrack?  It even affects the hits.  Bitch sounds better and smoother, but is still monophonic.  When Blu-rays get made, wonder if they could do isolated music tracks with the original hits?


The Umbrella DVDs have no extras, while Speed and Sunday have a trailer, plus Speed adds Cast Interviews and a look Behind The Scenes.



As noted above, you can order the three PAL DVD imports exclusively from Umbrella at:





and you can order Sunday In New York at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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