(1971/MGM First Basic Edition DVD)
B Sound: B- Extras:
D Film: A
PLEASE NOTE: This film is now available on
Blu-ray from MGM with three TV spots and a trailer. You can read more about it at this link:
man has his breaking point.” That is the perfect tag line for Sam
Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971), a
gritty and powerful film about an American couple, who move to rural England
only to face increasingly vicious local harassment until they are forced to
respond. Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
plays David Sumner, a mathematician who struggles with defending his honor
minute by minute throughout this film.
again, another superb performance from Hoffman that truly shows his range as an
actor. The physical and mental breakdown his character goes through makes
me cringe. As an audience member, I felt a sick feeling to my stomach watching
his character be destroyed to the point of human natured retaliation.
Hoffman’s wife played by Susan George (A
Small Town In Texas) pushes the limits of their
marriage and ends up suffering in the end. She makes you want to jump
into the film and smack her and wake up to the realities around her.
this day, Sam Peckinpah’s film resonates with controversy frame by frame.
Everything from the production design to the films look has always been
provocative and simply astonishing. The multi-layered film starts slow,
but builds tension to the final destructive climax. Peckinpah manipulates
the audience into rooting for the death and utter destruction of the film’s
antagonists, thereby proving the point man is violent. It’s easy to see
why this film had been banned in the UK for over 18 years. The
controversy over one particular scene is still at the crux of its infamous
reputation, something you have to see for yourself, but be warned that the film
is remarkably brutal by even today’s standards.
from the extended cut print, the MGM version of this film comes in an
anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 image with slight wear, which I find to be not
too bad for a film over thirty years old. The image is about equal to recently
discontinued Criterion Collection DVD edition [now more valuable than ever],
which was loaded with extras. This basic MGM release of this film saddens
me only because they deliver the extended cut with no special features at all
let alone an insert. They slapped a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix
that brings shortcomings to a film that feeds on sound and music to build
tension and to display the despair of these characters. This is actually
an improvement over the Dolby 1.0 Mono on the Criterion version and Dolby 2.0
Mono on the very dated Anchor Bay DVD, also out of print. To be frank,
this release will suffice for any movie fan because in the end the picture
stands alone. It is the film itself that carries the weight for a DVD lacking
in many areas.