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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.40:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary featuring director Sydney Pollack, taken from Criterion's 1991 laserdisc edition of the film
  • New interview with comedy writer Phil Rosenthal
  • Interview with Dorothy Michaels by film critic Gene Shalit, from the film's production
  • Making of "Tootsie," a 1982 documentary directed by Rocky Lang
  • A Better Man: The Making of "Tootsie," a 2007 documentary directed by Charles Kiselyak and featuring interviews with Pollack; actors Dabney Coleman, Teri Garr, Hoffman, and Jessica Lange; and writers Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal
  • Screen and wardrobe test footage of Hoffman
  • Deleted scenes and trailers

Tootsie

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Sydney Pollack
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Bill Murray, Charles Durning, Sydney Pollack, George Gaynes
1982 | 116 Minutes | Licensor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #738
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: December 16, 2014
Review Date: January 1, 2015

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SYNOPSIS

In Tootsie, the character Michael Dorsey lands the role of a lifetime-as does the actor playing him, Dustin Hoffman. This multilayered comedy from director Sydney Pollack follows the increasingly elaborate deception of a down-on-his-luck New York actor who disguises himself as a woman to get a coveted soap opera gig; while his female persona skyrockets to fame, he finds himself learning to be a better man. Hoffman's ball-busting yet disarmingly sweet Dorothy Michaels is a sensational comic creation, given support by a stellar cast including Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Teri Garr, George Gaynes, Bill Murray, and, in her first Oscar-winning role, Jessica Lange. Imbued with poignant drama, Tootsie is a funny and cutting film from an American moment defined by shifting social and sexual identities.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie makes its way back into The Criterion Collection (it was previously released by them on LaserDisc) and is presented in its original aspect ratio of about 2.35:1. The new 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer, taken from a new 4K scan, is delivered on a dual-layer disc.

As with the other Sony titles Criterion has released (with transfers performed by Sony) we get another solid presentation. It’s a filmic image that delivers crisp details, natural looking textures, wonderful colours, deep blacks, and clean, smooth motions. Film grain is present and cleanly rendered and there are no artifacts to speak of. The print is in excellent condition, looking to have been cleaned up nicely, only leaving behind a very few minor blemishes. Ultimately I wasn’t all that surprised since the track record has been good so far, but it is a very nice looking image.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The film comes with a rather impressive mono track, presented in lossless PCM. Despite the act it’s only mono the track still has some impressive range, never screeching or coming off harsh, and fidelity is strong. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, as is the film’s music which doesn’t come off edgy or harsh. In the end it’s still fairly dynamic and robust.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion’s special edition loads on a few special features, starting with an audio commentary by Sydney Pollack recorded for the Criterion LaserDisc in 1991 (Pollack passed away in 2008). It’s a fine enough track, though a lot of the material is covered in other features on the disc, all taken from earlier or later interviews. What I did find most fascinating about the track was how Pollack decided to tackle the film. Previous to this Pollack directed dramas and hadn’t done a flat out comedy before and because of this he approached the film in more or less the same manner he did those films. He needed the film to be “believable” on a certain level and was really concerned that audiences needed to buy what was happening at every turn. He brings this up consistently, explaining why the film goes certain directions and why certain scenes were set up. He put a lot of thought into individual scenes and he had conflicts with Dustin Hoffman a lot throughout (this is also seen and mentioned elsewhere in other supplements). Throwing in comments on some of Elaine May’s contributions (some of which he didn’t go for), his work with Hoffman, Bill Murray and the rest of the cast, along with some decent anecdotes, Pollack manages to keep the track engaging and informative and rarely falls victim to dead space.

Criterion then includes a couple of interviews recorded for this edition. Dustin Hoffman first talks about the film and how the project came about. It was something he had been working on for a few years, eventually pulling Hal Ashby into the project, and the two collaborated on it but Columbia pulled Ashby off of it and Pollack was then brought in. Hoffman talks about the different mentalities of the two directors and the route the film went with the more conservative Pollack behind the camera, which led to some head butting between him and the filmmaker. Hoffman also talks about the “lessons” he learned while making the film, how the experience probably made him a better person, and even talks a bit about his acting career in his early days, which I found especially fascinating. Criterion delayed this edition to get the interview and I feel it was worth it. Hoffman is very forthcoming, even appearing to be especially emotional about the experience (the film seems to be very important to him). It runs about 18-minutes.

In what I suspect is supposed to be the “scholarly” angle to the supplements, Criterion interviews the creator of Everyone Loves Raymond, Phil Rosenthal. For 16-minutes Rosenthal gushes over the film’s humour, explaining how it influenced him. Though it does have its “sitcom” moments, he admires how the film actually plays it fairly straight as a drama, but manages to still ring out some laughs. Though I admittedly found some comments interesting it’s not a particularly eye opening interview, and if this was supposed to be the analytical portion of the supplements it’s severely lacking.

A little better is a 1982 “interview” between Gene Shalit and Dorothy Michaels (Hoffman in character). The 4-minute segment is obviously a bit of promotion but it’s an amusing and harmless addition.

Also from the archives is a made-for-television program, The Making of Tootsie, that looks to have run around the time of the film’s release in 1982. For 34-mintues and being what I assume is a promotional piece it’s surprisingly in-depth. It seems to focus on the early stages of film development, with discussions on casting and what appear to be tests with make-up. Making up a chunk of the feature is Hoffman and Pollack discussing a number of scenes, which can get a bit heated since they have different ideas over what certain things mean, Hoffman looking at it more from the character’s perspective, while Pollack is obviously more concerned about the big picture and what the movie is about. They’re both determined and it can prove to be fascinating to watch. Throw in some material with Bill Murray on the set and it’s a great addition to the release.

Criterion then includes the 2007 documentary A Better Man: The Making of Tootsie, which appeared on Sony’s special edition DVD. Gathering together number of people involved in the production (including but not limited to Sydney Pollack, Murray Schisgal, Larry Gelbart, Dustin Hoffman, Teri Garr, Jessica Lange, and Dabney Coleman) it covers the extensive history of the production, from early development (though curiously leaves out Ashby’s involvement) through to its release. Gelbart and Schisgal add more about the development of the script and Pollack’s desire to find some sort of center to the story (the main character becoming a better man) and how they worked out some scenes that were especially problematic (like the final one). It runs 68-minutes and is a decent enough making of but most of it is covered elsewhere and a little more thoroughly. Still, it probably wouldn’t have made sense for Criterion to leave it out.

Deleted Scenes are next, about 7 of them running 10-minutes. Surprisingly the scenes were actually edited together, and I suspect they were in the film right up until its release, so they play like complete scenes and not rough cuts. The scenes themselves don’t add a lot but have a few worthwhile moments, including an extended bit showing Hoffman and Murray as waiters (Hoffman ends up waiting on what I assume is a former flame), a scene where Hoffman’s character first meeting baby Amy, some extended bits from his acting class and a couple throwaway gags. Criterion also doesn’t do what they did with The Big Chill, which looked to have been ported straight from the DVD, but they look to be presented in high-definition.

Criterion then closes the release with 7-minutes’ worth of Screen Tests, testing out Hoffman’s costumes and make-up, with Ashby even appearing, which is then followed by three theatrical trailers. Michael Sragow then provides an essay on the film and Pollack’s direction in the included fold-out.

Not a lot of new material, and sadly like a lot of Criterion releases lately it doesn’t have a real analytical slant, but I feel the film’s fans will enjoy going through what is here, and will more than likely be happy Pollack’s commentary is available again.

8/10

CLOSING

Supplements may come off a little unfulfilling but they are, for the most part, enjoyable enough. The edition at least gives a solid audio/video presentation, making the Blu-ray a worthwhile purchase for the film’s fans. It’s the best I’ve seen it look and sound yet.


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