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Steve Gordon
Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, John Gielgud, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Jill Eikenberry, Stephen Elliott, Ted Ross, Barney Martin
Writing Credits:
Steve Gordon

The most fun money can buy.

Arthur is the world's richest alcoholic. But all is not well in his pickled paradise. He will lose access to the family's great wealth if he doesn't marry the uptight debutante picked out for him by his parents. He's not in love with her, doesn't even like her. What's worse is he's in love with a wacky shoplifter.

Box Office:
$7 million.
Opening Weekend
$2.719 million on 701 screens.
Domestic Gross
$88.595 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Monaural
French Monaural
German Monaural
Spanish Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 4/5/2011

Available Only As Arthur/Arthur 2 Double-Pack

• Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Arthur [Blu-Ray] (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 25, 2011)

At the “ripe old age” of 44, Dudley Moore became a major US movie star with 1979’s ”10”. No, Moore wasn’t unknown prior to ”10”, but that film made him a viable “A”-list actor, and 1981’s Arthur reinforced this stature.

Briefly, at least. Moore never again capitalized on his success, so the rest of his filmography provides a string of flops and missed opportunities.

Still, at least Moore enjoyed a brief heyday, and Arthur clearly acted as his peak. Not only did the movie do quite well at the box office, but also it earned Moore his one and only Oscar nomination. (Moore lost to Henry Fonda for On Golden Pond.)

Super-wealthy Arthur Bach (Moore) lives life like a child – a drunken child, that is. He drinks to excess and spends his time with hookers because he hates to be alone and disdains the women his family chooses for him.

Push comes to shove, however, when his father (Thomas Barbour) pressures him to enter into a “society marriage” with Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry). Arthur can’t stand her but agrees to wed Susan when his pop threatens to cut him off from all the money.

Arthur’s life changes he meets Linda Marolla (Liza Minnelli) at an upscale clothing store. She shoplifts a tie and Arthur admires her no-nonsense attitude. He helps her get away with her crime and then asks her out on a date.

A relationship with Linda excites Arthur, and he enjoys his time with her. However, family pressures continue to frown on this and push him toward a loveless – but “proper” - marriage with Susan. What will Arthur choose: his money or his love?

Here’s a more important question: I waited 30 years for this? I looked forward to finally seeing Arthur and expected to enjoy it. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur, as I found little to provoke mirth or entertainment here.

When the film introduces characters, it does so with a capital “C”. Arthur? Loud, boisterous, allegedly funny. Linda? Brash, aggressive and in your face. Hobson? Snide, cynical and sarcastic.

And so it goes. Each character becomes humanized as the film progresses, but each one starts out as so unlikable that the movie can’t rebound. Arthur isn’t a lovable drunk; he’s an obnoxious boob. Linda isn’t a take charge dolly; she’s an annoying thief. Hobson isn’t an understated but incisive servant; he’s a mean-spirited snot.

If these roles appeared in a plot-based tale, Arthur might survive, but as part of a character-based comedy, they’re a disaster, especially since so much of the flick depends on the love affair between Arthur and Linda. In a logical movie, Linda would be a charmer and Susan would be a shrew. Oddly, Arthur does it backwards. Susan seems uptight and dull, but she’s pretty and nice.

Linda, on the other hand – well, she’s Liza, and I can’t get past that. Maybe another actress could overcome the role’s drawbacks, but Minnelli compounds them. While not untalented, she’s one of the more actively irritating performers ever to become a star. We don’t root for Arthur to end up with Linda; we hope he’ll come to his senses.

If you hope to find some clever humor among all the obnoxious characters, you’ll only encounter disappointment. While Arthur throws out a couple of mildly amusing lines, it suffers from a poor ratio of winners to clunkers. The film’s attempts to grow a heart don’t succeed either; they feel gratuitous and out of place, as they add false sentiment and nothing more.

Rather than come with a real story, Arthur usually feels like a loose collection of skits based around its odd characters. That’s not enough to sustain a feature film, so even at a mere 97 minutes, the movie feels padded and long. Add to that Christopher Cross’s execrable title song – arguably the worst tune to ever win an Oscar – and Arthur ends up as a consistent dud.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C/ Bonus D-

Arthur appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not a stellar presentation, the transfer looked quite good.

For the most part, sharpness was solid. Occasional instances of softness occurred, primarily in wider shots. However, these were modest, as the majority of the flick appeared reasonably concise. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement failed to appear. Print flaws never became a factor; except for a few small specks, the movie remained clean.

Colors usually appeared positive. The movie didn’t boast the most dynamic hues, but they looked fairly full and rich, at least given the flatness often typical from the era’s film stocks; though the image could be somewhat ruddy, it still seemed pretty accurate. Blacks were pretty deep, and shadows showed good clairty. Nothing here dazzled, but I still felt pleased; the movie looked better than I expected.

On the other hand, the monaural soundtrack was consistently mediocre. 1981 seems a little late for one-channel audio; mono wasn’t unheard of at that date, but stereo would make more sense.

Not that Arthur needs a vivid soundfield, so the single-speaker mix was adequate. The sound quality followed suit, as the track seemed acceptable in terms of reproduction, though the volume level was surprisingly low; I needed to crank this one substantially louder than normal.

Once I did so, I thought the audio seemed perfectly, totally competent – and that was it. Speech fared best, as the lines appeared pretty natural and concise; they lacked edginess and worked nicely. Effects were a minor element, as the chatty comedy didn’t do much with that side of things. When we heard effects, though, they came across as acceptably accurate.

Music didn’t boast much range. The score and songs tended to be a bit on the dull side, as they failed to present dynamic material. Still, they weren’t bad; I would’ve liked more vivid material, but the music was acceptable. Overall, this was a competent soundtrack that remained consistently average for its era.

In terms of extras, the set only comes with one: the film’s trailer. However, the disc packages Arthur with its 1988 sequel, Arthur 2: On the Rocks, so it’s not truly a barebones release.

When news revealed the 2011 release of an Arthur remake, fans cried in protest. I look forward to the update simply because I have to believe it’ll improve on the original. It can’t be worse, as the 1981 Arthur provides an unlikable, unfunny experience packed with annoying characters. The Blu-ray boasts pretty good picture and average audio but lacks movie-specific supplements. The presentation should please fans, but I can’t say that I’d ever want to watch this clunker again.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1666 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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