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Paramount Studios presents
"It's a time-honored profession. An older one than yours."
DVD ReviewIt's easy to forget what a big star Burt Reynolds was back in the 1970s and early 1980s. He was one of Hollywood's biggest box-office draws, appearing in hits like The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, and The Cannonball Run. In 1975, Reynolds re-teamed with famed director Robert Aldrich for Hustle. While not the huge hit that his other films were, Reynolds still garnered decent reviews for his solid portrayal of an L.A. detective.
Catherine Deneuve is one of the cinema's all-time great actresses, and a timeless beauty. Pairing her with Reynolds only added to this film's appeal. Frankly, these are two actors that I never would have thought to have co-headlining any film, let alone a rigid cop drama. Deneuve just oozes sophistication regardless of what type of role she's playing, and Reynolds tends to appear in more mindless fare. Still, they play well off of each other and are actually believable as troubled lovers.
Phil Gaines (Reynolds) is living with Nicole Britton (Deneuve), a call girl, whom he is growing fonder and fonder of by the day. Gaines is growing tired and fearful of her lifestyle though, especially when a girl is found dead after being washed up on the shore. Working the case of this dead girl with his partner, Louis Belgrave (Paul Winfield), Gaines meets the girl's parents (Ben Johnson and Eileen Brennan) and instantly feels sympathy for what they are going through. When the girl turns out to have been a call girl who knew corrupt lawyer Leo Sellers (Eddie Albert), Gaines' fears about Nicole's safety heighten, and he realizes he has to act.
A venerable who's who of character actors make appearances of varying lengths, including Ernest Borgnine, who is surprisingly restrained. The late Paul Winfield gives one of his best performances as Reynolds' partner, coming across as a genuine policeman. The real shock is the even recently deceased Eddie Albert, as the villain of the piece, the rich sex fiend, Leo Sellers. Albert truly embodies evil, here, as a man who spares no expense to ensure that down-and-out women can succeed in the proverbial oldest profession.
Hustle is a solid crime thriller that will please fans of the genre, but it may prove too slowly paced for most people. When there are action sequences, they aren't very engaging, and hardly any of them seem genuine. The overall sense of "haven't we seen this before" is just too much of a distraction to recommend the film, with far too many clichés (including the quirky detective's off-duty hobbies) and forced plot points popping up.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: This is a cleaned-up anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, marking the best that Hustle has ever looked. The film uses a very bright color palette, which has been rendered well for this presentation. There is still some grain and dirt, which isn't surprising for such an old film, but the images are crystal clear for the most part, and very sharp as well.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The audio is a Dolby Digital Mono track that serves the material well, especially given the film's age. The limitations of the mono format make for some drab-sounding action sequences, but at least the dialogue is always easy to hear and understand.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: There are absolutely no extras on this DVD.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsThe surprising chemistry between Catherine Deneuve and Burt Reynolds makes Hustle a worthwhile DVD rental. Some nice audio and video presentations add to the disc's appeal, but, unfortunately, there aren't any extra features.
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