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Without question, ROXANNE ($30) is writer/star Steve Martin’s comic masterpiece. ROXANNE is freely adapted from Edmond Rostand’s classic play Cyrano de Bergerac with absolutely marvelous results. In ROXANNE, the character of Cyrano is transformed into that of CD Bales, the witty and very popular fire chief in a small ski community. Steve Martin has never been better than in his portrayal of CD Bales. Martin is funny, intelligent, romantic and heroic- everything one could hope for in an actor portraying the role of Cyrano de Bergerac. However, like Cyrano, CD Bales suffers from one inescapable flaw, his nose is of impossible proportions. While his immense proboscis hasn’t been a hindrance professionally, CD does find his love life lacking.

Things change however, when a certain woman enters the fire chief’s life. Daryl Hannah portrays the beautiful Roxanne Kowalski, an astronomer who has just moved into town for the off season. CD is immediately enamored with Roxanne, however she takes an interest in the town’s newest fireman- Chris McConnell (Rick Rossovich). While Chris has the good looks guaranteed to make a woman’s heart go aflutter, he is a total zero in the art of conversation. Chris tries to speak to Roxanne, but every time he opens his mouth, he gets sick to his stomach. Taking another route, Chris decides to write Roxanne a letter. This too proves a failure for Chris, that is, until he induces CD to write a letter for him. CD’s eloquent words sweep Roxanne offer her feet, however Chris finds himself with a real problem when he finally has to speak for himself. The cast of ROXANNE also features Shelley Duvall, John Kapelos, Fred Willard, Michael J. Pollard and Damon Wayans. Steve Martin’s screenplay teeters on brilliance, as he updates Rostand’s story while keeping the nobility the main character intact. Director Fred Schepisi has applied a delicate touch, allowing the romantic aspects of the story to soar. Still, there are moments of inspired physical comedy that Schepisi sets up marvelously.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has made ROXANNE available in both full screen and wide screen versions. Since the full screen version totally destroys the film’s Panavision framing, there is no way anyone is going to want to sit through the horribly butchered version of ROXANNE. The Letterboxed version of ROXANNE admirably recreates the film’s 2.35:1 aspect ratio, while the DVD includes the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. ROXANNE appears sharp and well defined, with natural looking colors. Digital compression artifacts are virtually nonexistent on this beautifully authored DVD.

The soundtrack is available in two-channel Dolby Digital, which decodes to standard Dolby Surround. Since ROXANNE is a comedy that relies on its dialogue, clean, natural sounding dialogue reproduction is emphasized in the mix. Music reproduction is quite good and the track has an open atmospheric sound. A French language soundtrack has been encoded into the DVD along with English and French subtitles.

The interactive menus have a simple, but appealing design that give one access to a theatrical trailer, plus the standard scene and language selection features.

As I stated above ROXANNE is Steve Martin’s comic masterpiece. Columbia TriStar has done a good job of bringing this wonderful film to DVD. Recommended.




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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