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THE LAST OF SHEILA

As cinematic mysteries go, THE LAST OF SHEILA ($20) is about as difficult to solve as a Rubikís Cube. While the solution is logical, makes perfect sense and all of the clues are laid out for the audience to discover, one isnít likely to connect all the dots on the first viewing of the film. Featuring a screenplay by actor Anthony Perkins and composer Stephen Sondheim (who were supposedly consummate gamesters and puzzle-masters), THE LAST OF SHEILA contains all of the requisite Hollywood bitchiness and backbiting to make the film fun to watch, in addition to offering the audience a genuine mystery to solve. The plot of THE LAST OF SHEILA concerns Hollywood movie producer, whose wife Sheila was killed by a hit and run driver after leaving one of his parties. A year after Sheilaís death, the producer decides to through a party on his yacht, complete with a series of party games to reveal dirty little secrets about each of the suspects, as well as rooting out the killer. The cast of THE LAST OF SHEILA features Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, Joan Hackett, James Mason, Ian McShane and Raquel Welch.

Warner Home Video has made THE LAST OF SHEILA available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a very nice looking transfer that makes the most of the filmís beautiful location scenery from the south of France. The image is generally sharp and nicely defined, although there are some softer looking shots spread throughout the course of the movie; something attributable to the original production and not a flaw in the transfer. While the hues show that decidedly early seventies look, through a combination of film stock and production design, colors reproduction is still pretty good- with respectable saturation, very nice flesh tones and minimal fuzziness. Blacks appear solid, whites are clean and contrast is good. Shadow detail has its limitations, but isnít bad. The film element used for the transfer is reasonably clean, showing few blemishes and little appreciable grain. Digital compression artifacts keep a low profile throughout.

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THE LAST OF SHEILA
comes with a perfectly serviceable Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Since this is a dialogue driven film, limitations in fidelity are never really a handicap. Music and sound effects come across well enough for the material at hand, while dialogue is crisp and totally intelligible. Most signs of background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which gives the track a generally smooth quality. No other language tracks have been provided, although English, French and Spanish subtitles have been included.

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Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. The main feature is a running audio commentary with Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon and Raquel Welch. This is a fun track filled with anecdotes and memories of the production, which fans should find rather enjoyable. A theatrical trailer is also included on the disc.

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THE LAST OF SHEILA
is an entertaining and well-constructed mystery that should please genre fans, as well as those who enjoy bitchy films about Hollywood. Warnerís DVD looks and sounds fine, plus it features an enjoyable commentary. If you enjoy a good mystery, THE LAST OF SHEILA is a DVD well worth checking out.

 

THE LAST OF SHEILA 


The Last of Sheila (1973)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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