"Trading Places" HD DVD review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

Thread Tools
post #1 of 3 Old 12-27-07, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
Senior Shackster
Richard W. Haines's Avatar
Richard W. Haines
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Posts: 792
"Trading Places" HD DVD review

In the early 1970's the home movie format to collect in was Super 8 magnetic sound prints.
Super 8 as a format had been introduced in 1965 which reduced the sprocket hole sizes of
regular 8mm to allow a bigger picture area which could be enlarged on home theater screens.
Then in 1971, they added a magnetic stripe on the edge to allow sound movies to be both
filmed and shown. Some of the studios began releasing shorts and features in the format.
You could actually purchase the entire movie, "Gone with the Wind", in Super 8 sound.
Other studios released 'Digest prints' of one to three reels of other movies like "Star Wars"
(one twenty minute reel) to "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World" (three twenty minute reels).
Surprisingly, the quality was often quite good considering the size of the image being projected.
Before the format was phased out and replaced by VHS, they even had anamorphic prints
to show CinemaScope movies. Unfortunately, the cost of these prints was astronomical
compared to current DVDs. A complete Super 8 sound feature could set you back hundreds
of dollars rather than twenty. Still, it was one way of having a home cinema for friends
and relatives.

Columbia offered some of their short subjects for sale including those made by the 3 Stooges.
One of the Super 8mm sound shorts I purchased was "Hoi Palloi" which I considered their funniest.
The story involved two millionaires debating about heredity vs. environment and it's impact on individuals. They make a bet and picked the Stooges as their subjects to 're-invent' as
gentlemen with predictably disastrous and hilarious results.

When Dan Aykroyd mentioned in an interview that they were remaking that Stooges short
as a feature I was anxious to see it. I saw it theatrically in 1983 and wasn't disappointed.
I thought it was the funniest film that he and fellow Saturday Night Live alumni, Eddie Murphy,
made. Some of the dialogue is very similar to the Stooges short when they set up the bet.
Watching it twenty four years later, it's still a very amusing story with a Christmas
theme background full of over the top characters and performances.

The HD DVD is an improvement over the standard edition. While the photography isn't
great and just functional for the story, the sharpness in HD is superior and you can actually
read details on the Wall Street journals the characters are reading. I tweaked the color and
saturated the fleshtones a bit more than the theatrical release prints and it improved
the overall look of the film. Fleshtones tended to be a bit washed out in the eighties compared
to the fifties and sixties. The stereo re-mix is better than the original mono track but not
heavy on the surrounds like current movies. Still, the music score is impressive and sets the
mood for the narrative.

Murphy gets to do a lot of the improve style humor he was known for at the time.
He played the conman persona to perfection and his character transformation
from a hustler to a wall street broker is very convincing right up to the point where has to catch
himself before using profanity. Aykroyd is also quite good as a pompous stock broker reduced to
squalor and poverty. Studio system veterans, Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy, play
the sinister Duke brothers who use them as guinea pigs for their social experiment only to have
the table turned on them as Aykroyd and Murphy team up to get even. It's more amusing when
you realize that Bellamy had made a career out of playing (semi-Socialist) President Roosevelt
over the years in "Sunrise at Campobello" and TV's "The Winds of War". You have to know a little
bit about how the stock market and future commodities work to understand their scheme.

If you've seen Jamie Lee Curtis in a bikini as a middle aged woman in "Christmas with the Cranks"
prior to this picture, you'll be very quite surprised how sexy she is in this film decades earlier.
She even does some topless scenes and she's quite hot as one of those fictional Hollywood 'prostitutes with a heart of gold'. Of course in real life most are tragic substance abusers who sell thier bodies to support their habit. Aykroyd co-starred with her in the Cranks film but time has been less kind to him
in terms of physical appearance.

Whenever I'm watching an old movie, it's always fun when I discover something new. This time
I was watching the credits and saw the name "Alfred Drake" which rang a bell but I couldn't place
it. Then I pulled out an old vinyl and remembered he was a Broadway musical peformer
and starred in the origiinal "Kiss Me Kate". I have the album in my collection. He plays the
president of the Stock Exchange in this movie and for the first time I recognized him and
made the connection.

The one aspect of this movie that has dated are the political references that pop up here and there. The most obvious one are the pictures of Nixon and Reagan on the desks of the Duke brothers. I suspect Landis, the actors and screenwriters considered it 'radical chic' to take pot shots at corporate greed...while exempting themselves. High priced movie stars don't see themselves as greedy when they demand outrageous salaries which was common then and now. While the Reagan picture
made sense the Nixon picture didn't. The two presidents were polar opposites when it
came to economics. Nixon was a Keynesian (central planning with corporate welfare) and Reagan was a Supply Sider (free market economy). Stock brokers
would not have liked Nixon's policies of price and wage fixing with
high taxes. It's unlikely the Dukes would've been Nixon advocates. On top of that, Ayroyd and Murphy
get even with them by manipulating the Stock Market and become the same idle rich people that the
Duke brothers were. This undermines the earlier satire of Capitalism.
None of this interferes with your enjoyment of the comedy but it makes me wonder exactly what their attitude was about the subject matter.

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 12-27-07 at 11:16 AM.
Richard W. Haines is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 3 Old 12-27-07, 01:07 PM
HTS Hillbilly
HTS Administrator
Sonnie's Avatar
I'm a redneck!
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: L.A. (Lower Alabama)
Posts: 22,554
My System
Re: "Trading Places" HD DVD review

This is really a funny movie that I have enjoyed on many occasions. I may have to check it out on HD-DVD. Thanks for the review.

Cedar Creek Cinema

PremierHomeAudio: Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Yamaha, Sony, Pioneer, Def Tech and more. Shoot me a PM!
Sonnie is offline  
post #3 of 3 Old 12-27-07, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
Senior Shackster
Richard W. Haines's Avatar
Richard W. Haines
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Posts: 792
Re: "Trading Places" HD DVD review

You're welcome. Enjoy.
Richard W. Haines is offline  


dvd , hd , review , trading places

Quick Reply

Register Now



Confirm Password
Email Address
Confirm Email Address
Random Question
Random Question #2

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address



Activation requires you reply to an email we will send you after you register... if you do not reply to this email, you will not be able to view certain areas of the forum or certain images... nor will you be able download software.


See our banned email list here: Banned Email List

We DO NOT respond to spamcop, boxtrapper and spamblocker emails... please add @hometheatershack DOT com to your whitelist prior to registering or you will get nowhere on your registration.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML is not allowed!
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome