Pretty Woman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not bad for an old non-anamorphic transfer, this picture offered definite room for improvement.
For the most part, sharpness seemed reasonably tight and well-defined. However, softness tended to creep into wide and/or low-light shots, partially due to some occasionally prominent edge enhancement. I noticed periodic problems with jagged edges and shimmering, though these weren’t intense. The print displayed some speckles and grit along with a few streaks and marks. For the most part, the film was relatively clean, though.
Though many movies from this one’s era suffer from flat colors, that wasn’t much of a problem here. Low-light situations were the biggest concern in general. They could be a little murky and opaque, and they were the only instances in which the hues significantly problematic, as the colors tended to be muddy in those shots. Otherwise, the tones were quite vibrant and lively, and black levels seemed deep and rich. Again, I’ve seen much worse transfers given the age and non-anamorphic status of this one, but it wasn’t better than mediocre.
The Dolby Surround 2.0 mix of Pretty Woman also had limitations. The forward soundstage appeared only mildly broad and spatially-defined, as it stuck fairly closely to the center. We got music that spread across the front, but effects were more restricted and didn’t add much to the proceedings. The rears basically just reinforced the music, though they occasionally tossed in some gentle effects as well.
A few problems stemmed from the quality of the audio. Dialogue seemed a bit thin and artificial at times, though once I got used to the sound, the lines were acceptable; they didn’t quite seem natural, but they were easily intelligible and without edginess. Effects were adequate, as they didn’t feature prominently enough in the movie to make a difference either way.
The film's music occasionally sounded acceptably rich and lively, but not most of the time. A lot of Woman offered dance pop that showed decent but loose bass with too much reverb and midrange. Highs were flat, and the echo became distracting. Some of this resulted from the music production trends of the era, but that didn’t explain everything, as even the title track – recorded in the Sixties – suffered from the same concerns. The track was listenable, but it never became better than that.
Although I don't think I'd call it a real special edition, the DVD of
Pretty Woman does include a few supplements. First up is a running audio commentary from director Garry Marshall. It's a terrific commentary that discusses a wide variety of fascinating topics. We learn about the project’s original title and very different tone, the cast and their work, locations and production design, improvisation, and nuances of the shoot. Marshall covers the movie with wit and honesty as he presents a lot of insight into his work and the general business of filmmaking.
That’s really the best thing about this commentary. On the surface, Marshall often occupies himself with elements that may seem like minutiae. However, they let us know all of the decisions a director must make and the reasons behind those choices. We get a true tutorial on how to make this kind of a movie – at least from Marshall’s perspective. This ends up as a genuinely enjoyable and informative chat.
Next up is a three-minute and 47-second production featurette created back in 1990. This pretty much defines the concept of "glorified trailer". We see some very brief interview snippets with Marshall, Richard Gere, and Julia Roberts. However, the majority of the piece we just watch clips from the movie and hear narration about the story. Skip this waste of time.
More interesting is the almost three-minute behind the scenes section. This simply shows shots of cast and crew on the set of the polo scene. It's very basic but it's also quite interesting; I'd love to see more of this kind of raw footage.
Finally, we get the theatrical trailer and a music video for Natalie Cole's song "Wild Women Do". That clip offers the typical video for a tune from a film: it shows Cole lip-synching the song intercut with scenes from the movie. It's a dated and silly piece, but it's fun to see in a "Weren't the early Nineties dopey?" way.
Still charming after all these years, Pretty Woman established Julia Roberts as a star and revived the career of Richard Gere. It shows its age on occasion, but it still manages to evoke a nice tone and a few laughs. The DVD presents fairly mediocre picture and sound along with a small set of supplements highlighted by an excellent audio commentary. It’s not a great DVD, but I recommend it for the movie and the audio commentary.
To rate this film, visit the 15th Anniversary Edition review of PRETTY WOMAN