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While 1982's NIGHT SHIFT ($20) may not be the pinnacle of Ron Howard's directorial career, the film remains a risqué bit of good humor that has some funny moments. After playing "The Fonz" on HAPPY DAYS for so long, it seemed that Henry Winkler has gone out of his way to play characters that are anything but cool. With NIGHT SHIFT he certainly succeeded. Winkler's Chuck Lumley is a doormat of a man, who works at the city morgue because he likes the low-pressure environment. After six years of dedicated service, Lumley finds himself demoted to the night shift, so that his boss can give the day job to his goof off of a nephew. Instead of standing up to his boss, Lumley just goes with the flow.

On the night shift, Lumley finds himself partnered with the morgue's scatterbrained new employee, Bill Blazejowski (Michael Keaton), who comes up with one absurd idea after another to make money. Lumley's life takes an unexpected turn, when he becomes involved with his next-door neighbor, Belinda Keaton (Shelley Long), a call girl whose pimp became a recent client of the city morgue. Without protection of their pimp, Belinda and her friends find that they are having a hard time on the mean streets of New York. As if anyone in the audience would be surprised by the idea, Lumley and Blazejowski take advantage of the relative quite of the night shift and begin running New York's newest and best call girl service out of the city morgue. While I still get a kick out of NIGHT SHIFT; I'll be the first to admit that the level of comedy is the equivalent of watching an episode of THREE'S COMPANY with the addition of coarse language and nudity. The cast of NIGHT SHIFT also features Gina Hecht, Pat Corley, Bobby Di Cicco, Nita Talbot, Clint Howard, Joe Spinell, Charles Fleischer, and Vincent Schiavelli. Look for then unknowns- Kevin Costner and Shannen Doherty in bit parts.

Warner Home Video has made NIGHT SHIFT available on DVD in both full screen and 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentations on opposite sides of the disc. Do yourself a favor; skip the full screen version. I personally was surprised how good the 16:9 enhanced version of NIGHT SHIFT looked on this DVD. This transfer shows that older films do benefit from new transfers. Sure, the film element shows some signs of age, however the transfer proves to be sharper and more detailed than I've ever seen this film look. Shadow detail is also surprisingly good on this disc. Color reproduction is relatively strong, with good-looking flesh tones and no traces of chroma noise. Solid DVD authoring tamed all traces of compression artifacts.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround; providing a mix that is pretty good for the early eighties. There are some nice stereo effects across the front and clean sounding dialogue. The rear channels are fairly lively for a comedy from 1982, but they do exhibit the sonic limitations of the matrixed sound format. Burt Bacharach's score is well represented in the mix. English and French subtitle are encoded onto the disc.

The interactive menus are basic and deliver the requisite scene selection and set up features.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 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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