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Melvin Frank
Jack Lemmon, Anne Bancroft, Gene Saks
Writing Credits:
Neil Simon

A suddenly-unemployed executive suffers a nervous breakdown.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 5/14/2019

• ďMaking OfĒ Featurette
• Anne Bancroft on Dinah!
• Trailer


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The Prisoner of Second Avenue [Blu-Ray] (1975)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 5, 2019)

After they successfully paired for 1968ís The Odd Couple and 1970ís The Out of Towners, writer Neil Simon and actor Jack Lemmon for 1975ís The Prisoner of Second Avenue. Adapted from Simonís stage production, Mel Edison (Lemmon) lives in Manhattan with his wife Edna (Anne Bancroft).

During a brutal heat wave, Mel loses his job and suffers from a mix of other indignities that come with life in the big city. Mel and Edna attempt to cope with these various stresses.

In a comedic way, of course, as thatís Simonís MO. His material tended to walk the line between farce and drama, with more of an emphasis on the laughs.

Attempted laughs, at least, as I find it tough to locate a lot of mirth in the overdone Prisoner. Loud and abrasive, the movie lacks much real entertainment value.

Like many movies adapted from stage productions, this one shows its roots. Entire scenes play in extended, unnatural dialogue sequences without a realistic feel.

Prisoner also lacks a sense of progression. Logically, a story like this would start slowly and build Melís sense of anxiety and frustration, but instead, the movie opens with Mel already on edge.

This leaves the characters without much room to go anywhere. Since we already get them as angry and annoyed, we donít find the dramatic potential for the problems to build.

Because of this, Prisoner peaks dramatically in its first act and then largely meanders after that. While the story attempts a theme related to Melís emasculation as he remains unemployed while Edna works, the story feels fairly aimless and lacks real narrative thrust.

Prisoner comes with an overqualified cast, but neither Lemmon nor Bancroft enliven their roles. Stuck with mediocre material, they tend to overact and fail to convey much real range for their annoying characters.

Maybe Neil Simonís work just hasnít aged well. The Prisoner of Second Avenue mixes unlikable characters with a loose narrative to become a less than enjoyable experience.

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

The Prisoner of Second Avenue appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a fairly good presentation.

Sharpness appeared generally positive. Occasional shots demonstrated some softness, but those never caused significant distractions. The majority of the movie showed largely positive clarity and delineation.

Jagged edges and shimmering seemed non-existent, and edge haloes failed to mar the presentation. Grain remained appropriate, and I noticed no signs of specks, marks or source flaws.

Colors went with a natural palette that came across well. The palette tended to be a bit low-key, but the tones felt acceptably vivid.

Blacks were appropriately dark and dense, while shadows seemed good. This ended up as a satisfactory presentation.

The DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Prisoner was perfectly fine, and speech played the most important role. Dialogue showed reasonably natural tones and avoided much edginess or other issues.

Effects came from environmental elements, with an emphasis on city ambience. These elements were clear and reasonably accurate, and the score felt clear and full. Nothing here excelled, but the audio worked fine given the materialís age.

A Making of featurette runs five minutes, 53 seconds and offers a vintage piece. Though it mostly consists of footage from the set, it brings some comments from actors Anne Bancroft and Jack Lemmon.

Itís pretty insubstantial, but some of the shots from the production become interesting, especially since we see more of then-unknown Sylvester Stallone in his tiny role.

In addition to the filmís trailer, we finish with Anne Bancroft on Dinah!, a seven-minute, 41-second TV excerpt. Bancroft chats with host Dinah Shore about Prisoner and whatever else comes to their minds. Itís not informative but it boasts a casual charm.

Overdone and grating, The Prisoner of Second Avenue lacks much charm. Despite a talented cast, the characters remain so off-putting that we never invest in their fates. The Blu-ray comes with reasonably positive picture and audio as well as minor bonus features. Avenue becomes a dated dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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