Foul Play

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

In the latter part of the seventies, there was a feeling of nostalgia. So much so that older movies were given a big tip of the hat as well as classic directors. One director in particular that was getting resurgence in genre was Alfred Hitchcock. The films had a feel even though Hitchcock didn’t write or direct most of them. Mel Brooks had his wacky take on Hitch in High Anxiety and a young director named Colin Higgins turned Silver Streak into a big hit nailing touches of Hitchcock amongst the chemistry of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. In 1978, Higgins went in that territory again and enlisted the help of two former sketch comedy players to work their magic on the big screen. Was it a case of coincidence or was it Foul Play?

Gloria Mundy (Goldie Hawn) is a lonely librarian who after being at a party heads out to the coast and picks up a hitchhiker named Scotty (Bruce Solomon) along the way. What she doesn’t know is that 3 men are after Scotty because of a mysterious film and when Scotty runs into trouble, Gloria gets the aid of two men. One a womanizing sex addict named Stanley Tibbets (Dudley Moore) and a cop (Chevy Chase) who coincidentally Gloria had met once before at a party. With their help, they can stop the three men and their plans for the city of San Francisco.

From the names of the characters to the situations that the characters run into and the twists and the choice of music (including Barry Manilow’s Ready To Take a Chance Again), there is Hitchcock written all over this film, even down to the aspect ratio. Colin does a nice job of bringing this comic suspense tale to life with the right enough chemistry between Chase and Hawn. There are many funny moments and a cute ending and everything is done well, but the real stealer of this film is the performance of Dudley Moore. His Stanley Tibbets is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever seen which brought a nice break into the suspense and threw in a few laughs. I would love to have his residence as my own.

I remember this film as if it were yesterday on the decoder box of Wometco Home Theater (WHT) as a young boy growing up and as I look at it today it still hold up pretty well. It’s still funny, it still draws you in and I’m reminded on how funny Chevy Chase can be when the right material comes his way. Most of his films, he is in true comic form and this film is no exception, even when he gets to be a little serious. And Goldie Hawn portrays Gloria as a girl hungering for some excitement and gets it in a big way. I always make sure to leave the house with my umbrella after watching this film. Foul Play is playful, entertaining, and fun.

Video: How does it look?

Foul Play gets the anamorphic widescreen treatment on this DVD and the results are good. The colors don’t overbleed and there are a few specks and debris, but not too much as age has been kind to the print of this film. The black levels are good, the occasional seventies haze is there, and some halos are apparant but not many. The San Francisco locales still look nice in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This is most likely the best the film will look. A good transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

Where there’s been a decent job done visually for Foul Play, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround is good for the music of the film and for a few effects, but as for most films of the seventies, there is much limitation in the sound department and the source materials still carry a bit of muteness on the track. Little activity is on the right and left channels with the majority of the sound activity in the middle channels which sound fine for it’s time but not great. This disc also has an English Mono track as well as English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unless you were lucky enough to tape it during the early days of American Movie Classics, there’s no evidence of the trailer on this DVD, hence there are no extras, not even clues to it’s brief stint as a television show after the film’s release.

It’s good to see that Foul Play is given the anamorphic treatment on DVD. It would’ve been better had there at least been a trailer or some retrospective interviews and a look back being that it’s been a little more than 25 years after its release.

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