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Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr.
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Includes the films Babo 73, Chafed Elbows, No More Excuses, Putney Swope, and Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight

Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr.


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Robert Downey Sr.
2012 | 301 Minutes | Licensor: Image Entertainment

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: Eclipse from the Criterion Collection | Edition: #33
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: May 22, 2012
Review Date: May 18, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

Rarely do landmark works of cinema seem so . . . wrong. Robert Downey Sr. emerged as one of the most irreverent filmmakers of the New York underground of the sixties, taking no prisoners in his rough-and-tumble treatises on politics, race, and consumer culture. In his midnight-movie mainstay Putney Swope, an advertising agency is turned on its head when a militant black man takes over. like Swope, Downey held nothing sacred. Presented here are five of his most raucous and outlandish films, dating from 1964 to 1975, each a unique mix of the hilariously crude and the fiercely experimental.

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

The 33rd Eclipse set to come from Criterion, Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr., presents five films by the director spread of two dual-layer discs: Babo 73, Chafed Elbows, and No More Excuses on the first disc, Putney Swope, and Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight on the second. Putney Swope is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and has been enhanced for widescreen televisions. The other films are all presented in the ratio 1.33:1.

The second disc presents what represents the best and worst transfers in the set. Putney Swope has what is easily the cleanest and smoothest transfer of the bunch. First off it has very little in the way of damage and looks to have been restored vigorously. It presents only a very few blemishes as well as the sharpest image. Detail is pretty high and edges are nicely defined, contrast is impressive with some fairly rich blacks and strong gray levels. Compression doesn’t appear to be a big concern and upscaled it holds up beautifully. It looks stunning and it’s a shame Criterion didn’t feel the need to put this one on Blu-ray.

Which brings us to the worst looking presentation, the one for Two Tons… The original print is apparently gone, or parts of it at least, and Criterion had to source the film from the only available copy, which unfortunately looks to be a video copy. It looks pretty bad but it’s certainly not Criterion’s fault since what they had to work with isn’t ideal. It’s a bit of a murky and blobby mess, with horrific contrast levels (it looks way to dark or blown out), has next-to-no detail, and has a number of artifacts, some of which are caused by the fact this looks to be interlaced. It doesn’t look good but it’s better than not having the film at all.

The transfers found on the first disc present the middling ones, and they’re all about on the same level. They’re all pretty rough with plenty of scratches and marks, particularly No More Excuses, which gets pretty messy at times. The films can look faded or blown out and none of them are exactly sharp.

But I can say the transfers themselves across all films are all strong and are smooth with no distracting artifacts that take away from your viewing, forgetting Two Tons… limiting Video source. The colours segments that also appear in a few of the films—Babo 70, Chafed Elbows, and Putney Swope—also look better than I may have expected. Chafed Elbow’s colours in its colour segment sort of resemble what you might find in an older red/green Technicolor film but the colours in the other two films look a bit washed but natural in comparison to Chafed Elbow’s.

Overall they are what they are, limited by shooting conditions, age, or just because of what Criterion had to work with.

6/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Babo 70

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Babo 70

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Babo 70

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Babo 70

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Babo 70

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Chafed Elbows

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Chafed Elbows

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Chafed Elbows

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Chafed Elbows

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Chafed Elbows

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No More Excuses

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No More Excuses

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No More Excuses

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No More Excuses

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No More Excuses

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Putney Swope

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Putney Swope

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Putney Swope

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Putney Swope

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Putney Swope

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Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight

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Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight

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Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight

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Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight

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Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight

AUDIO

All five films present fairly simple Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks.

Putney Swope sounds the best but is still not without its faults. It can still come off flat and the music can be edgy yet it’s probably the clearest of the batch, presenting easily discernible dialogue.

The rest of the films are rough, with maybe No More Excuses and Two Tons… showing the more noticeable problems. Two Tons… is more than likely limited by the video source that has been used and comes off the most flat and lifeless. No More Excuses also lacks much in the way of fidelity but is easily the harshest one out of them all. Background noise is also noticeable to varying degrees in all of the tracks, but I was actually expecting much worse.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The supplements are the most frustrating aspect of this release. As most know Criterion’s Eclipse series is a sort-of no frills line that simply presents a set of films with no supplements. I’m fine with this, as most are, but what’s sort of maddening about this case is that supplements for the films, or at least one of them, are already available. Previous DVD editions of Putney Swope actually included a commentary by Downey, along with an interview, and Criterion also recorded new material with the director, including a discussion between Downey and director Paul Thomas Anderson, which they threw up on their website. I’m at a loss as to why Criterion wouldn’t release this set into their mainline with these features, maybe going the route of what they did with their great Jean Vigo set. But alas, other than the perfectly fine—as usual—essays by Michael Koresky there’s nothing here.

1/10

CLOSING

There’s a bit of disappointment that Criterion didn’t carry over any of the already existing features from other DVD releases but they have at least put together an incredibly entertaining and wickedly funny set with these five films. The quality of the presentations do vary and most of them do look incredibly rough, Putney Swope managing to come out to look rather stunning. But it’s a fun set and for those with an offbeat sense of humour this comes with a strong recommendation.




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