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Fox Lorber presents
The Directors: Rob Reiner (1997)

"I don't think he puts himself in a slot, and so he's able to branch out and direct all kinds of movies, whether it's comedy or whether it's drama....If he's interested enough, he can do anything. He's one of those people. He's a rare, rare director, actually, for that reason. He doesn't go for the same stereotypical thing."
- Lauren Bacall

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: May 10, 2000

Stars: Rob Reiner
Other Stars: Lauren Bacall, Kevin Bacon, Annette Bening, Billy Crystal, John Cusack, Michael Douglas, Cary Elwes, Corey Feldman, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Meg Ryan, Wil Wheaton, James Woods
Director: Robert J. Emery

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief violence, sexual references in film excerpts)
Run Time: 00h:58m:29s
Release Date: February 22, 2000
UPC: 720917307329
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+C+ D

DVD Review

Rob Reiner's career has not been nearly as long as some of the directors profiled in this series, produced in connection with the American Film Institute. At the time of filming, he had released only ten feature films, nine of which are looked at in detail here. This allows the review to be much more in depth than for another more prolific director, such as Sydney Pollack. There is both greater detail for each film, and the filmclips can be longer and give a better sense of the picture and what makes it important.

This episode takes this greater breathing room and runs with it. We have extensive conversations with Reiner himself, and brief discussions with a great many of the stars he has worked with. The versatility described in Lauren Bacall's quote is well demonstrated by the incredible range of work that Reiner has managed to pack into this small handful of films. We go from flat out satire in This is Spinal Tap to rite of passage in Stand by Me to fantasy in The Princess Bride to romantic comedy in When Harry Met Sally to horror in Misery to romantic-political comedy in The American President to courtroom drama in A Few Good Men to serious racial issues in Ghosts of Mississippi This string of both popular and critical hits is quite astonishing.

In particular, we get a serious analysis of what makes Stand by Me work as a film, from both Reiner's perspective as well as that of actors Wil Wheaton and Corey Feldman. We also learn how Reiner decided to take the approach he did, and how he implemented it. We also get some poignant reminiscences about River Phoenix. This segment is quite thoughtful and interesting for those interested in the craft of film making and acting. The tale of how Princess Bride made it to the screen is also fascinating, as we learn how Reiner tried to convince William Goldman to allow him to make a film of Goldman's book. The great behind-the-scenes treatment goes to When Harry Met Sally as well, with several classic scenes (you know what they are) being analyzed and explained.

There is also a clip from The Sure Thing, and discussion of the one serious failure of Reiner's career, North, although we don't see a clip of the film. The episode manages to give a very good overview of Reiner's career, with some depth that was missing in the volumes for Norman Jewison and Pollack. The unhurried pace helps this program immensely.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Unlike other volumes in this series, Reiner's films are given the respect of being presented widescreen, in their original aspect ratios, with the exception of The Sure Thing and Ghosts of Mississippi. The clips themselves appear to be clean and free of damage throughout. The picture quality is quite good for a television program. This is no doubt in part due to the high bit rate for the video, which averages between 7 and 8 Mbps. Blacks are quite dark, though not quite solid black. Colors are bright and vivid throughout. The interview segments tend to be a little softer than the film clips but not offensively so.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is an undistinguished DD 2.0 mono. The dialogue and the interviews are all natural-sounding and are perfectly acceptable for a television program. Obviously, we don't get any big sound from any of the film clips, but the sound is serviceable. During the climactic fight scene from Princess Bride, the clash of swords is bright and piercing. The range is surprisingly good for a mono track.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Weblink
Extras Review: The extras are quite scanty. The only extras are a single-screen filmography and a weblink. The menu design is quite simple and easy to navigate. The lack of subtitles is regrettable.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

A solid look at Rob Reiner's career. The more leisurely pace of this episode allows a much greater depth and background information than I've seen in others in this set. Recommended for at least a rental; the brevity of the program and the lack of extras make purchase necessary only for Reiner fanatics and devotees of one or more of his films.


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