Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Straw Dogs (1971/MGM First Basic Edition DVD)

Straw Dogs (1971/MGM First Basic Edition DVD)


Picture: 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:






“Every 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.


Once 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.


Still to 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.


Taken 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.



-   Jonathan Joy


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com