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TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM ($30) is an amazing Francis Ford Coppola movie about a great American idealist, who forced the complacent and greedy automotive industry to sit up and take notice. Jeff Bridges stars as Preston Tucker, a man who wanted to build the car of tomorrow just shortly after W.W.II. Many of the features that Tucker wanted to put into his dream automobile have become standard today, but back in the 1940's things like seatbelts and disc brakes, just weren't part of American cars. Some of Tucker's other innovations, such as a rear-mounted engine and pop out windshield never became standard equipment, but all of his ideas were obviously geared towards building a safer, more efficient automobile that anything being produced by the Big Three Automakers.

Although Tucker's ideas were plentiful, he didn't have the money or the business savvy to build himself a prototype. Martin Landau earned himself a supporting actor Academy Award nomination for his performance as Abe Karatz, the businessman, who helps Tucker secure the financing to start his own auto company. TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM follows the wide-eyed optimism of Tucker, who does everything in his power to build the car he dreams of building. Unfortunately, Tucker is forced to deal to the harsh realities of businessmen who think they know better, as well as the political machine controlled by the Big Three Automakers, that does everything in its power to force Tucker out of business. Jeff Bridges has seldom been better than he is in the role of Preston Tucker; his infectious enthusiasm really draws the audience into this terrific movie. Bridges also receives marvelous support from a first rate cast that includes Joan Allen, Frederic Forrest, Mako, Elias Koteas, Christian Slater, Dean Stockwell and an uncredited Lloyd Bridges.

Paramount Home Entertainment has done a really fine job with their DVD edition of TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM. Although filmed it was filmed in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM has been transferred to DVD at roughly a 2:1. Since presenting the film this way was the choice of director Francis Ford Coppola and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, I am not going to beat a dead horse on the issue. While the framing is occasionally tight, the transfer is quite beautiful. In addition, the THX certified presentation features the anamorphic enhancement for playback on 16:9 displays. The image on the DVD is very impressive, easily besting my old wide screen Laserdisc version of the film. Everything appears sharp and well defined, with a tiny bit of film grain being the only imperfection. Colors are lush and vibrant, with the obvious intent of trying to recreate that Technicolor saturation that was prevalent in color movies during the 1940's. Additionally, flesh tones are very attractive, which further enhances the overall appealing look of the film. There are no signs of chromatic distortion or bleeding, even amongst the most intensely saturated hues. Blacks are solid and the picture produces a good level of shadow detail. This smoothly authored DVD doesn't display any noticeable signs of digital compression artifacts.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack isn't particularly flashy, but the sound is quite good nonetheless. Channel separation is clean and precise, and the track produces very natural sonic environments. Dialogue reproduction is crisp and fully intelligible. The bass channel is tight, but only seems to exist to enhance the music. Speaking of the music, Joe Jackson's energetic forties style music is the definite highlight of the track. The music is jumps out of the speakers and is reproduced with full fidelity. A very mild hiss can occasionally be heard on the track, which is something that I also remember from the Laserdisc soundtrack. A French Dolby Surround soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English subtitles.

Animation and sound have been applied to the interactive menus, which have a really nice interface. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. Director Francis Ford Coppola provides a running audio commentary TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM. Although his comments are a bit sparse at times, Coppola's talk about the movie is quite interesting, especially since it also covers how the film differs from the life of the real Preston Tucker. Also included on the DVD is Under The Hood: Making Tucker- a ten-minute featurette comprise of interviews with the cast and director from 1988. Tucker: The Man And The Car is the original 15-minute, 1948 promo film that was made to interest the world in Tucker automobiles before the cars actually went into production. The film is in somewhat rough shape, but it is very nice to have it on the DVD. The promo film also includes an optional Coppola commentary.

Like the actual cars and the film's director, TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM is an American treasure. Paramount Home Entertainment and American Zoetrope produced a truly fine DVD edition of this wonderful movie that shouldn't be missed. Recommended.


Tucker - The Man and His Dream


DVD reviews are Copyright 2000 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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