Universal offers up Strictly Sinatra in an anamorphic widescreen transfer that is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and while the image isn’t completely clean, it looks quite good when stacked up against films with much larger budgets.
The image was quite sharp and detailed throughout, with only the occasional scene littered by some slight grain and/or imperfection. The film’s color palette was accurate, but lacked any overly impressive hues that stood out one way or the other. While the interiors of the clubs were quite bold and colorful, it wasn’t so drastic that you really found yourself impressed one way or the other.
Strictly Sinatra contained some rather strong black levels however, as the low-light sequences never exhibited any break-up or muddiness, although some of the scenes shot in the smoky, low-lit nightclubs did seem to contain a slight amount of grain that caused the image to go slightly soft. The film seemed to be properly balanced and saturated, with no smearing or oversaturation noted at any time. Edge enhancement was noticed on a couple of occasions and print flaws were spotted, but were few and far between. Ultimately, none of the issues mentioned distracted from the film in any way.
Universal has done a fine job with the video transfer on a somewhat obscure film and while most won’t care, the results are quite pleasing.
Universal presents Strictly Sinatra in a Dolby Digital 5.1, as well as a DTS 5.1 transfer. Neither mix is memorable, as the film itself limits their achievements from the get-go and Strictly Sinatra remains a dialogue-driven affair.
While the name “Sinatra” is prominent in the film’s title, don’t be fooled into thinking that music plays a big role in the proceedings. While there are admittedly a few tunes littered throughout the film here and there, it’s definitely not enough to be considered a prominent feature. Even so, the musical portions of the film are the only ones that utilize the surrounds to any degree. As I stated in the previous paragraph, the film was very much dialogue-driven and remained firmly anchored in the front soundstage, while the music and score displayed much more impressive dynamics and fidelity. Effects, while minimal, sounded quite natural and came from their proper place within the soundstage, as LFE usage was minimal at best. While Universal’s transfer isn’t a bad mix by any means, it’s a very unassuming and nonspecific one by most standards.
As far as the Dolby Digital and DTS options are concerned, it’s a toss-up between the two, with the Dolby Digital option being my personal preference. While I’m normally a DTS snob, it seemed that the DTS volume levels were a bit uneven, as the music really seemed to overpower the dialogue when it came in to play. The Dolby Digital transfer didn’t seem to exhibit this anomaly and therefore was a bit more pleasant – especially considering that Strictly Sinatra was a rather bland affair to begin with.
Universal’s mix ultimately ends up being pleasing – although very workmanlike - and the studio has included a Dolby Surround track in French, as well as English Closed Captions and Spanish subtitles to accompany the film.
Universal has provided no extras for Strictly Sinatra – not even a trailer – and while it’s unfortunate, it’s doubtful many will care.
Strictly Sinatra is slightly misleading and doesn’t completely succeed as a “gangster film” - although that’s the one genre it feels most comfortable in. It also has the production values and the look-and-feel of a made-for-TV film and never really gets a complete buy-in from the viewer as a major motion picture event. Even so, it’s worth a rental if nothing else.
With the price of Universal’s DVD, as well as the lack of any extras, it’s hard to recommend this as a sight unseen purchase. Even with the solid A/V specs, the film simply doesn’t warrant a buy. Check it out first and go from there.