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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Gloria (1980)

Phil: I want to go home.
Gloria: Don't be stupid. You got no home. You got me.

- John Adames, Gena Rowlands

Review By: Jeff Rosado   
Published: March 23, 2003

Stars: Gena Rowlands, John Adames, Buck Henry
Other Stars: Lawrence Tierney, Jessica Castillo, Tony Knesich, Lupe Garnica, Tom Noonan, Ronald Maccone
Director: John Cassavetes

MPAA Rating: PG for language, violence
Run Time: 02h:01m:27s
Release Date: February 25, 2003
UPC: 043396085695
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+B+B D-

DVD Review

Columbia/Tri Star's DVD release of Gloria marks my introduction to the work of love it/hate it cinema-verité director John Cassavetes. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Based on reviews of his films, I expected a very un-commercial, talky, artsy experience (in fact, the film opens with a montage of paintings completely unrelated to the storyline). Instead, the 1980 dramedy is an accessibly quirky, beautifully photographed effort one doesn't need to be a film student to appreciate.

Gena Rowlands stars in the title role as an ex-gangster's moll who suddenly finds herself inheriting a curly-topped tyke (John Adames) whose Bronx-based family just got wiped out by the mob. Before the bullets flew, young Phil received a black book from his father (Buck Henry) chock full of secrets obtained while working as an accountant for the syndicate. Knowing her former cronies will stop at nothing to finish off the kid and retrieve the exposé, Gloria puts aside her disdain for children to play bodyguard.

Mere minutes after eluding the scene of the hit, she returns the favor by gunning down a quartet of associates. Barely breaking a sweat, Harry Callahan would be proud. Finding Gloria's actions just as reprehensible as those who did away with his loved ones, Phil is all but ready to strike out on his own. But between his disgust and her arrogance, a slow-building emotional bond is growing.

It's this interplay between the burned out former showgirl and the appealingly bratty youngster that makes Gloria such a success. Although Fred Schuler's gritty, documentary-like photography and Cassavetes' direction are phenomenal, pretty pictures can only be entertaining for so long without substance. Even with a shaky script, Rowland's commanding performance is nothing short of fantastic: A female Dirty Harry in high heels. Deftly balancing the dramatic with moments of black comedy, she doesn't miss a note; Rowland's Oscar® nod for this film was beyond deserving.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: In the opening rounds, this transfer has more personalities than Sally Field's Sybil. Murkier than black water in opening nighttime helicopter shots, the visuals turn brilliant in the light of day with vivid, luminous colors; even the slimiest areas of 1980s-era New York have never looked so cool. Then it's back to so-so as inconsistent black levels in darkened interiors present themselves from time to time. Since most of the film takes place in daylight, the aforementioned flaws are not that much of a detriment.

With the abundances of set-ups Cassavetes used on this shoot, Gloria must have been a bear to transfer properly. Considering the circumstances, it's very well done.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Although disappointingly mono, at least it's Dolby Digital and punchy. Dialogue and natural sound is very crisp, rarely shrill and understandable. Even with the limitations of a non-stereo track, you can feel the gunshots in the action scenes. Still, Bill Conti's excellent, varied score (even surpassing his work in Rocky) would have benefited from an audio revamp.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, Korean, French with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Odessa File, Little Nikita
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Yet another Columbia/Tri-Star disc that includes trailers from other films, but not one from its feature presentation.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Terrifically acted and smoothly directed, Gloria is a very good film aided by a mostly positive transfer.


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