The Out-of-Towners

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

When we think of “The Out-of-Towners”, most of will think back a few years and remember the remake starting Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. Truthfully, though, the original (as per usual) is substantially better. Directed by Arthur Hiller, Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis (both Academy Award winners, him for “Mister Roberts” and “Save the Tiger” and her for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”) capture the early 70’s couple almost perfectly. Though the theme has been hammered into the ground so much in the thirty years since this movie, it’s bound to seem somewhat redundant; even though this was one of the more original comedies of its time. Lemmon plays a meticulous, neurotic to the point that hardly anyone else could and Dennis takes what could have been a throw away part and really makes it work. The trouble with this type of movie, though, is that it has to be fairly well-constructed as it can be extremely hilarious or a complete disaster and redundant. The story, by none other than Neil Simon – who was in his prime back in the early 70’s and hasn’t really gone that far downhill since – is clever and original, too.

George (Jack Lemmon) and Gwen Kellerman are the typical pre-yuppie couple. George is on his way up in his company and he and his wife are being flown to New York City for an all expenses paid trip for an interview with the Executives at his company. However, in the midst of a transit strike, the plane is diverted and George’s carefully-planned trip starts to fall apart at the seams. The two characters are likeable, yet we get the feeling that they somehow seem to deserve whatever they get. The movie might be the best “Don’t Visit New York” film of the early 70’s, back when the town was almost literally in the gutter. Through thick and thin, the two encounter a countless array of comedic characters and get mugged, get mugged again, spend the night in Central Park, lose a tooth, and of course lose their luggage. Yet somehow, though all of this, the two keep their cool and manage to try and persevere thinking that it can’t possibly get any worse.

The movie was a hit at the time and fans of Jack Lemmon (and Sandy Dennis for that matter) will want to see him in his prime. The two leads are now gone, but their work lives on and what better way to pay homage than this. The film also contains a bevy of cameos by Carlos Montelban (Ricardo’s brother) and a pre-“Empire Strikes Back” Billy Dee Williams among others. Though this same theme was revisited in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and later in the self-titled remake with Hawn and Martin, this remains the best of the three to me. Though New York has certainly changed in the time since this movie, we can see that no matter who you are, the city that never sleeps can still claim victory on those unsuspecting little people we call “tourists”. Recommended.

Video: How does it look?

“The Out-of-Towners” is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio that is enhanced for widescreen televisions. The image, now over thirty years old, appears to be of a clean, vibrant nature and the overall quality is above average. From the “Brady Bunch” type opening credits to the closing, the transfer shows a few signs of age, though I was impressed at how very vibrant some of the scenes appear. The print has some dirt on it, certainly not what we’d expect from a new DVD, but considering the age of the movie, this looks fairly decent. A few of the scenes appear to be somewhat desaturated and tend to be pale and colorless. Those, however, are few and far between and I have to say that this transfer impressed me.

Audio: How does it sound?

Just by listening to the first few minutes of the film, you can tell that it was made in the early 70’s. Those “La, la’s…” tend to dominate the track and I was instantly reminded of “Love Story” when comparing it to a soundtrack. Though not re-mastered for Dolby Digital 5.1, it really wouldn’t matter. The track is relatively clean and straight-forward, being a comedy the gags are physical and very little has to do with how it sounds. There’s a bit of distortion in the dialogue, thereby dating it a bit; but for the most part it sounded on par with other movies of the age. Not a bad effort here, and viewers (listeners, rather) won’t be disappointed.

Supplements: What are the extras?

No supplements have been included here, not even a trailer.

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