Blu-ray Review: Reuben, Reuben

Adapted by Julius J. Epstein (best known for co-writing Casablanca) Reuben, Reuben is based on a novel by Peter De Vries, which had first been turned into a stage play. Intelligent, literate and featuring some wonderful poetry, Reuben, Reuben manages to be comedic, while featuring a truly shocking ending.

Tom Conti plays Gowan McGland, a Scottish poet with a longstanding case of writer’s block. Relying on his charm and waning fame,   McGland has chosen to hide out in the quaint, wealthy enclave of Woodsmoke, Connecticut. Gowan gives the occasional lecture, drinks a lot, and seduces the town’s lonely housewives, who visit him in his dingy room at a local in. Hard up for cash, Gowan steals the tips left for servers at the expensive restaurants his patrons take him to.

Reuben ReubenSarcastic and loquacious, Gowan is a compulsive womanizer. At one party, he asks the hostess to point out the nymphomaniacs. A guy like Gowan could easily be dismissed as a cad, but Tom Conti was able to make him into a wonderfully engaging character. Gowan’s conquests include Bobby Springer (Cynthia Harris), the head of the local women’s club, and Lucille Haxby (E. Katherine Kerr), the wife of a prominent dentist.

Teeth play a major role in Gowan’s problems. His teeth are in awful shape. His biggest worry is losing the last upper tooth that can support a permanent bridge. At one point, Gowan says,  ”I’ve always seen myself as backing toward the grave, tooth by tooth, poem by poem.” So when the prominent dentist gets his reward by pulling Gowan’s last upper tooth, forcing him to wear dentures.

Gowan finds himself smitten by Geneva Spofford (Kelly McGillis, in her film debut), a college student who makes his heart do summersaults. For the first time in his life, he realizes he has to get himself together. Unfortunately, that proves to be a very difficult proposition.

Julius Epstein filled his screenplay with some wonderful lines. Harkening back to British films of the 1960’s, language is important. Epstein captures the wit of Peter De Vries 1964 novel in a quiet, intelligent manner. Tom Conti is better known for his theater accomplishments, but he did manage to outshine David Bowie in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. In Reuben, Reuben Conti is able to bring out the intricacies of McGland’s distinctive character. Tom Conti’s performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. A young Kelly McGillis is captivating as Geneva, and Roberts Blossom is appealing as her independent thinking grandfather. Reuben, Reuben is a very well constructed character study that is benefited by fine writing and performances.

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Olive films 1080p transfer is a pretty good one. Details are fairly sharp, and the film grain looks to have been left untouched. Colors are okay, though I wouldn’t exactly call the palette vibrant. I noticed a scratch or two, but overall, this isn’t a bad transfer.

Audio is in its original mono form in DTS-HD Master Audio, with only the center channel signal present. Dialogue is clear throughout, though there are occasions where it drops briefly.

No subtitles or closed captions are available.

There are no special features included.

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