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RADIOLAND MURDERS ($15) was writer/producer George Lucas’ homage to a simpler form of movie entertainment- one which tanked at the box office back in 1994. One part screwball comedy and another part mystery; RADIOLAND MURDERS is a movie with its own brand of charm, even if the end product fails to jell properly. The plot of RADIOLAND MURDERS concerns the inaugural broadcast of a new radio network, which is all behind-the-scenes chaos to begin with, but things only get worse when bodies start piling up all over the station. At the center of the storm are the harried secretary of the network’s top executive- Penny Henderson (Mary Stuart Masterson) and her estranged husband (the network’s chief writer) Roger Henderson (Brian Benben), whose marital woes are forced to take a backseat to the whirlwind. In addition to the two leads, RADIOLAND MURDERS features a wonderful cast that includes Ned Beatty, George Burns, Scott Michael Campbell, Brion James, Michael Lerner, Michael McKean, Jeffrey Tambor, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christopher Lloyd, Larry Miller, Anita Morris, Corbin Bernsen, Rosemary Clooney, Bob Goldthwait, Robert Walden, Dylan Baker, Billy Barty, Tracy Byrd, Candy Clark, Anne De Salvo, Jennifer Dundas, Bo Hopkins, Robert Klein, Harvey Korman, Joseph Lawrence and Peter MacNicol.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made RADIOLAND MURDERS available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is great looking little transfer that provides terrific, clarity sharpness and detail. Colors appear quite vibrant, plus the flesh tones are appealing. Blacks are deep and true, while the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast is very smooth and the image produces pretty impressive shadow detail. Grain is generally very mild. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed.

Since much of RADIOLAND MURDERS is fairly talky, it should come as no surprise the Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack isn’t demo material. As expected, much of the sound is localized to the forward soundstage, while the surrounds provide general ambience and musical fill. Fidelity is strong, with the track creating a good musical presence throughout the film. The bass channel keeps the track from sounding anemic, but then again, the material doesn’t lend itself to anything ground shaking. Voices have a natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always easy to understandable.

The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard language set up features. Chapters are encoded onto the DVD, but they cannot be accessed from the menu system, instead, the chapter ship function can be engaged while the film is playing.

RADIOLAND MURDERS may not be George Lucas’ greatest cinematic opus, but the movie is an amusing throwback to old style Hollywood entertainment. Universal’s plain vanilla DVD release looks great and sounds just fine.



Radioland Murders (1994)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 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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