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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Road Movie > Italian > Science Fiction > Camp > Stand Up > Puppets > Il Sorpasso (1962/Criterion Blu-ray w/DVD)/Queen Of Outer Space (1958/Allied Artists/Warner Archive DVD)/Terry Fator Live In Concert (2014/Lionsgate DVD)/Weekend At Bernie's (1989/Orion/MGM/Fox Blu-ra

Il Sorpasso (1962/Criterion Blu-ray w/DVD)/Queen Of Outer Space (1958/Allied Artists/Warner Archive DVD)/Terry Fator Live In Concert (2014/Lionsgate DVD)/Weekend At Bernie's (1989/Orion/MGM/Fox Blu-ray)

Picture: B & C+/C+/C/B- Sound: C+ & C/C/C+/B- Extras: B/C+/C/D Main Programs: B-/C/C/D

PLEASE NOTE: The Queen Of Outer Space is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here is the strangest mix of comedy releases we will ever likely feature in one text...

Dino Risi's Il Sorpasso (1962) is a much-loved Italian comedy about a goofy extrovert (Vittorio Gassman) and calm law student (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who is unluckily interrupted and asked to go on a small road trip with the wildman until he cannot get back home and they get into all kinds of trouble. Unfortunately, the goof is inappropriate as one can get and courts endless trouble throughout. I understand the appeal, but despite some great locales and camerawork, I was never a big fan of the film, though seeing it look this good have a better appreciation for it and its popularity.

Criterion has issued it on Blu-ray in a solid presentation that gives viewers the best chance to see what they think of the film. I found it predictable then as now and just am not as much a fan, but it is at least a minor classic of Italian cinema and everyone should give it a look. Some of this is even funny.

Extras in this great slipcase packaging include a DigiPak with a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text by Phillip Lopate and Antonio Monda and a third piece of vintage text by Director Risi, while the film in both formats add the Original Theatrical Trailer, a new intro by fan and Director Alexander Payne, 1983 Trintignant interview for a TV broadcast of the film, 2004 Risi interview with Jean A. Gili, 2006 documentary A Beautiful Vacation with Risi interviewing friends & collaborators, excerpt from the 2005 Speaking With Gassman program, clip from a 2012 documentary that goes back to the beach location in the film and new interviews with film scholar Remi Fournier Lanzoni and screenplay writer Ettore Scola.

Edward Bernds' Queen Of Outer Space (1958) was Allied Artists attempt to have their own version of the big MGM hit Forbidden Planet (1956, now on a great Blu-ray release) starting with a story by the great Ben Hecht. However, it was something he had in a drawer and even Charles Beaumont (of the original Twilight Zone, et al) rewriting it as an up to date screenplay did not help. With Zsa Zsa Gabor as a pretty woman and Laurie Mitchell as the deformed, vengeful title character, we get 80 minutes of a howler of a camp classic with bad visual effects in CinemaScope and Eastman Color by Pathe.

A dress from Forbidden Planet even turns up with sets in the same color schemes, but this is just silly and funny, with Gabor chewing up her scenes well and Eric Fleming leading the men as astronauts about to get more trouble than they expect. It is worth seeing once for the laughs, but it has a following. See why.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track with Tom Weaver hosting actress Laurie Mitchell and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Terry Fator Live In Concert (2014) follows his stage act with puppets and he has talent, but this show was no better than the previous Vegas show we covered at this link:


It is still a good introduction to what he can do, but it did nothing new for me. Still, it is about as good a place to start if you have never seen the comic in action.

Extras include Digital Copy, several featurette clips, a feature length audio commentary track and a kind of Music Video.

Ted Kotcheff's nadir, Weekend At Bernie's (1989), has sadly made it to Blu-ray in the US after first hitting overseas in the format. We covered the DVD years ago at this link:


It has not improved, someone is crack-headed enough to talk about remaking it and it is worse than ever.

There are no extras.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 black & white, digital High Definition image transfer on Sorpasso comes from its original 35mm camera negative and the results do not show the age of the film very much, while the anamorphically enhanced DVD version is expectedly softer. The Blu-ray is easily the best-looking entry on the list and I had only minor issues with its detail at times.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 AVC @ 27 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Bernie can show the age of the materials used, but is superior a transfer to the DVD we reviewed a long time ago.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Space looks good for its age with only minor color and print issues, but should be issued on Blu-ray at some point. Unfortunately, the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Fator is just too soft, digital shoot or not.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on Bernie just passes up the PCM 2.0 Mono on Sorpasso as the best sounding release on this list. Bernie has barely distinguished Pro Logic surrounds from its Dolby System A-type analog theatrical release, while the original theatrical monophonic sound on Sorpasso comes from its optical 35mm soundmaster, but cannot overcome its age.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Fator can compete with that Blu-ray's PCM 2.0 Mono, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the Sorpasso and Space DVDs are the sonically weak presentations here that disappoint.

You can order Queen Of Outer Space among the many Warner Archive DVDs and now Blu-rays by going to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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