The Stewardesses appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For grading purposes, I only rated the 2D version of the flick; I’ll give some thoughts about the 3D versions later.
The 2D edition occasionally looked good, but it usually was pretty messy. Sharpness was generally decent but not much better than that. Some shots showed nice delineation, while others were softer and less focused. No real issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement seemed absent.
Source flaws were a more notable issue, though, as a mix of specks, marks, debris, tears, lines and other concerns. Grain also tended to be somewhat heavy. Some parts of the movie came across without too many defects, but quite a few emerged.
Colors varied. Cleaner shots displayed pretty good vivacity, but those weren’t the rule. The grain impacted on the hues, as they made the tones rather bland at times. This meant the colors were a mixed bag and usually no better than average.
Blacks tended to seem dull and inky, while shadows had similar problems. Low-light shots generally seemed flat and somewhat opaque. Overall, I thought the image was good enough for a “D+“; it wasn’t a memorable transfer.
The degraded presentation that comes with those blasted 3D glasses makes it more difficult than usual to rate the picture quality of the 3D Stewardesses - so I didn’t. It just didn’t make sense for me to try to objectively rate a visual presentation that came with so many inherent flaws. The red/blue 3D glasses meant those hues dominated; anything not red or blue in the film ran into problems. The technology used for this kind of 3D work simply made natural colors impossible.
The glasses also tended to negatively affect sharpness. Some parts of the 3D presentation showed good delineation, but the nature of the material meant the shots occasionally provided double images and were somewhat blurry. It’s simply a flawed technology, so I didn’t want to saddle it with a grade.
That said, Stewardesses provided one of the more effective 3D presentations I’ve seen at home – especially when viewed in its monochromatic version. In an interesting twist, the DVD provides both color and black and white editions of the film. The package doesn’t explicitly address this issue, but I get the impression the B&W version was created solely for the DVD, as the producers believe it provides superior 3D imagery.
And they’re right. Once we eliminate the complications of color reproduction, the B&W 3D Stewardesses looks surprisingly good. Oh, it’s not a stellar presentation, and it still suffers from some of the problems that affect the 2D rendition. Nonetheless, the 3D effects work quite well, and the general fidelity of the image seems pretty nice. The glasses even gave me less of a headache than usual!
As for the color 3D version, it’s also better than many others I’ve seen, but it comes with the usual complications. Some parts look nice, some don’t. If you want to watch the film in 3D, I’d definitely recommend the black and white rendition; you lose nothing useful from the color version, and it works much better.
Don’t expect much from the generally poor monaural soundtrack of The Stewardesses. I got the impression that little post-production work accompanied the flick, so the majority of the audio came from the set. This meant a lot of stiff, brittle speech. The lines were usually intelligible, though they seemed so metallic that they could be rather unnatural.
Effects fell into the same realm. Again, the vast majority of these elements clearly were recorded on the set, so they presented tinny reproduction. Granted, they didn’t have a lot to do, as this wasn’t a flick that used effects for much.
Music was a more prominent presence, and it presented the strongest aspect of the track. “Strongest” doesn’t necessarily mean “good”, however. The score showed acceptable clarity but remained fairly rinky-dink and feeble; other than occasional bouts of muddy bass, little dynamic range accompanied the music. I admit that I didn’t think I’d get anything better than this spotty soundtrack, but it still didn’t deserve a grade higher than a “D”.
We get a decent mix of extras here. As I already noted, the package includes both 2D and 3D versions of The Stewardesses. I won’t say more about them here – there’s no need – but I wanted to cite the extra versions as supplements anyway.
On DVD One, we find the film’s Original 3D Title Sequence. It runs one minute, 10 seconds and shows the movie’s 1969 title cards. It offers nothing else different; it simply lets us see the old credits.
Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of nine minutes, 15 seconds. Because these are silent – as are the other DVD One bonus materials – it’s impossible to discern any speech, but dialogue is irrelevant in this movie anyway, so it’s not a problem. I don’t expect substantial plot material appears here, especially since there is no plot to The Stewardesses. We do find some more pretty good nudity as well as weird test shots of a character’s suicide plunge.
DVD One also provides six minutes. 43 seconds of 3D Lens Tests. Some of these crop up in the menus: they show cute women who fling or poke items at the camera. They’re as silly as can be.
With that, we head to DVD Two. A featurette called A Short History of 3D goes for 11 minutes, 32 seconds and offers exactly what its title promises: a quick overview of 3D photographic techniques and uses over the years. It also shows clips from seminal 3D films and a trailer for The Maze in 3D at its end. This isn’t a comprehensive examination of 3D movies, but it’s a nice summary.
Next comes the three-minute and 36-second The Stewardesses: How It Was Shot and Shown. It provides remarks from SabuCat Productions’ Jeff Joseph as he describes the particular 3D methods used for The Stewardesses. This acts as a good supplement to “A Short History”, especially since it offers specifics about the main attraction here.
For the final featurette, we go toHow The Stewardesses Took Off. During the 21-minute and 34-second show, we hear from writer/director Allan Silliphant, actor/makeup artist Bill Condos, producer/cinematographer Chris Condon, crew member Dan Symmes, Emerson College Dept. of Visual and Media Arts professor Eric Shaefer, art director Victoria Condon-Silliphant, and actor Christina Hart. We learn about the film’s origins and shoot, cast and performances, the film’s “story” and some memorable scenes, the use of 3D, reshoots, the ad campaign and the theatrical release, and the movie’s success and legacy.
Expect a decent look at The Stewardesses, but not one with great depth. Actually, you have to infer far too much here. For instance, I figured out that much of the flick was shot in 1969 but additional segments were done later. Real details remain elusive, so “Took Off” feels more anecdotal than anything else. We still find some interesting tidbits, but it’s too bad the disc doesn’t include a more comprehensive documentary or a commentary.
If you want actual entertainment, you’ll find it via the set’s SCTV Sketch. This six-minute and four-second segment from 1981 shows Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Stewardesses. I have no idea if the geniuses at SCTV were influenced by The Stewardesses when they came up with this sketch; I’d guess “yes”, though the two stories have nothing in common other than stews and 3D. In any case, it’s hilarious.
A four-page booklet also appears. Symmes provides some brief text about the film’s release and success. It’s decent but not substantial.
A few ads open DVD One. We get clips for Greg the Bunny, Jeffrey Ross: No Offense, and getback.com. DVD Two also includes the trailer for The Stewardesses.
I never thought a movie with tons of hot naked women could be boring, but The Stewardesses proved me wrong. A virtually plot-free exercise in silliness, the film turns into a plodding endurance test. The DVD provides dated, flawed picture and audio along with a few decent extras. I think it’s cool that this movie is on DVD for historical reasons, but it’s not remotely entertaining.