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MGM Studios DVD presents
Rancho Deluxe (1974)

"Well, in that case I reckon I'll get on back to that bunkhouse 'fore I lose track o' that dream."
- Henry Beige (Slim Pickens)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: December 15, 2000

Stars: Jeff Bridges, Sam Waterston, Elizabeth Ashley
Other Stars: Charlene Dallas, Clifton James, Slim Pickens, Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Bright
Director: Frank Perry

Manufacturer: Sunset Digital Video
MPAA Rating: R for (language, sexual situations, nudity)
Run Time: 01h:33m:17s
Release Date: December 05, 2000
UPC: 027616855558
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The American West certainly isn't what it used to be. Two mediocre modern-day cattle rustlers can think of themselves as "the last of the plainsmen," and pretty much be right. The cattlemen aren't old-style cowboys, but former owners of beauty shops. That's the point of view taken in the supposed comedy, Rancho Deluxe, a film that manages to be unfunny throughout.

Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston star as pseudo-cowboy Jack McKee and half-breed Indian Cecil Colson. They make their living in Montana preying off cattle, mostly owned by John Brown (Clifton James) and his oversexed wife Cora (Elizabeth Ashley). While dimwit farmhands Curt and Burt (Harry Dean Stanton and Richard Bright) attempt to catch the rustlers, they're uniformly unsuccessful. Finally Brown calls in range detective Henry Beige (the immortal Slim Pickens), an enfeebled old man who has to be aided in walking by his daughter Laura (Charlene Dallas). In the background are Jack and Cecil's efforts to bed the Fargo sisters and plots to kidnap a prize bull and to steal an entire truckload of live cattle.

If the synopsis doesn't sound particularly funny, that's partly because the film isn't funny at all. At 93 minutes, it's at least an hour too long, and even cutting that wouldn't help. For some reason, this movie has a cult reputation, but I don't see it. Maybe the score by Jimmy Buffett (who has a brief cameo as a bar musician) is part of the appeal, but there's not much else to recommend the picture. Waterston's portrayal of an Indian is unbelievable in the extreme. Bridges is completely colorless, and there's an obnoxious scene where Jack is forced to deal with his ex-wife which turns into a shouting match and goes nowhere and adds nothing. While the film seems to have been set up as a sex comedy, even the prurient will find little interesting here, especially since the gorgeous leads, Ashley and Dallas, keep all their clothes on throughout. As Brother Jeff Ulmer might say, we have a serious lack of fan service. Even though the film is shot in the mountains of Montana, we don't even get to see much in the way of scenery.

The only thing which approaches amusement is a bit of extraneous philosophizing by Cecil's father about the nature of Montanans and their addiction to pickup trucks. If one feels a particular hostility to Lincoln Continentals, you can see one get shot up with a .50 Sharp's buffalo rifle. Beyond that, there's not much to recommend this film. And what's with the rhyming names and the surnames that are shades of brown? Perhaps it's an attempt to distract the viewer from the fact that there's nothing funny or even interesting going on here. Like Slim Pickens in the quote above, your time is better spent napping.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: The transfer is soft, dark and faded. Excessive grain is visible, and blacks are at best medium greys. Most of the film is undamaged, until we reach the end credits, and then an enormous amount of speckling suddenly appears. This is an ugly transfer that is difficult to read through most of the film, so much so that it left me with eyestrain. I don't think I've ever seen a worse anamorphic transfer. The full frame side opens up the mattes to reveal irrelevant picture data.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The mono audio tracks are the best part about this disc. They have a decent sound, without hiss or noise. Dialogue is clear throughout, which is a good thing because there are no English subtitles. There is excellent range and good bass extension in the Jimmy Buffett numbers. Overall, pleasant enough an audio track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra is a blurry and soft trailer; it is presented 1.85:1 anamorphic but still looks badly washed out. Memo to MGM: Alpha cases which require you to handle the disc surface are a serious pain when combined with a double-sided disc. Oh, and where are the English subtitles?

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

A not very interesting or funny film, presented in a lackluster transfer with no extras. Give it a pass, unless you're a cult follower of this movie.


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