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Anchor Bay presents
Percy (1971)

“I’m about to sew my way into history.”
- Dr. Emmanuel Whitbread (Denholm Elliott)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: February 14, 2002

Stars: Hywel Bennett, Elke Sommer, Britt Ekland, Denholm Elliott
Other Stars: Cyd Hayman, Julia Foster, Adrienne Posta
Director: Ralph Thomas

Manufacturer: Grace & Wild Interactive Development
MPAA Rating: R for (language, nudity, sexual content)
Run Time: 01h:41m:06s
Release Date: December 11, 2001
UPC: 013131146295
Genre: cult


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-B+C- D+

DVD Review

When censorship began to ease up in the late 1960s and early 1970s in America and Britain, one of the inevitable consequences was the development of the sex comedy. Of course, leering comedy was nothing new in Britain (witness the phenomenal success of Benny Hill). However, the relaxing standards allowed the envelope to be pushed quite a bit more, albeit somewhat cautiously at first. Much of this tentative character comes across in Percy, which is rather self-conscious about its barrier-breaking. This struggle is developed in an early sequence where Dr. Whitbread (Denholm Elliott) is being interviewed on television about his technique for penis transplants, when his mention of "penis" is continually bleeped out and a variety of euphemisms are injected by the host instead. At the same time, the film can't ever quite bring itself to actually show a penis, but has to be content with just talking about them, nervously at best. Hywel Bennett plays Edwin Anthony, a hapless antique dealer who has his male organ—I mean, penis—severed in a freak accident involving a nude man landing on him while Edwin is carrying a glass chandelier. Happily for Edwin, Dr. Emmanuel Whitbread has perfected his technique for penis transplants and is actively looking for a specimen to test it; here the donor and donee present themselves in one fell swoop. When Edwin's actress wife leaves him (for reasons unrelated to the transplant), Edwin begins a quest to learn who the donor was and meet the women who loved his penis. Yes, it's as odd as it sounds. Among these are Cyd Hayman, Elke Sommer and Britt Ekland (sadly, none of whom appear nude). They all seem to be having a great time with this material, as is Denholm Elliott, who plays his role with a devil-may-care Frankensteinian glee. One almost expects him to cry like Colin Clive, "It's alive!" The set designers clearly had a field day with Whitbread's office; it's littered with phallic symbols of one kind or another to the point of being utterly ridiculous. The script is also filled with constant double entendres that are amusing to those who like that sort of thing. The weak link in all this is leading man Hywel Bennett, who is fairly dry and colorless. Even when his wife leaves him, the viewer hardly feels much of any sympathy for him at all, even though it's clear that the filmmakers intend him to be a sympathetic character. The nature of the picture means that it has not aged well; it's interesting from a strictly historical perspective, and there are some amusing moments, but it's hard to recommend it beyond its cult character.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The video transfer is quite attractive, and the film hardly looks 30 years old. Detail is quite good, and color is strong throughout, as are black levels. Film grain is evident to a slight degree, as is some minor frame speckling, but there’s really very little to complain about here.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The English 2.0 mono track is slightly schizophrenic; while the dialogue is adequately clear and crisp throughout, much of the music track (written by Ray Davies and performed by The Kinks) has a hollow, distant and scratchy nature to it. This was quite a disappointment, but since the dialogue is unaffected, I suspect that it may be a defect in the original soundtrack rather than a problem with the audio transfer; the grade is thus not quite as low as it might otherwise have been.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There's not much here; a worn trailer, presented in anamorphic widescreen is the principal extra. There are also some apologetic production notes on the insert that seem rather embarrassed about the issuance of the disc. That's nonsense; even if it hasn't aged well, it's always interesting to see this kind of cultural artifact. Heck, I'm interested in seeing the inevitable sequel, Percy's Progress, on DVD. Chaptering is decent. Unfortunately, Anchor Bay persists in its refusal to include subtitles.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

A somewhat uneven and intermittently early sex comedy that can't quite bring itself to really push the envelope, this seems a bit nervous and fussy at this point in time. Anchor Bay, however, does its usual first rate transfer job, so those who like the film should be well pleased with the presentation.

 


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