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Sydney Pollack
Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Bill Murray, Sydney Pollack, George Gaynes, Geena Davis
Writing Credits:
Don McGuire (story), Larry Gelbart (and story), Murray Schisgal

Desperate, he took a female role and became a star. If only he could tell the woman he loves.

Michael Dorsey is a talented actor, but his demanding nature and stubborn temperament have antagonized every producer in New York. Now his agent insists no one will hire him. But Michael needs money - eight thousand dollars to be exact - and to earn it, he's willing to play the role of a lifetime. Dustin Hoffman stars with Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Bill Murray and Geena Davis in director Sydney Pollack's heart-filled classic that heralded a new era of Hollywood wig-flipping and set a new standard for unpredictable laugh-out-loud comedy.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$5.540 million on 943 screens.
Domestic Gross
$177.200 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 12/16/2014

• Audio Commentary with Director Sydney Pollack
• Interviews
• “A Better Man: The Making of Tootsie” Documentary
• “The Making of Tootsie” Vintage Documentary
• Nine Deleted Scenes
• Dustin Hoffman Screen Test Footage
• Trailers
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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.


Tootsie: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1982)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 30, 2014)

Is there anything funnier than a guy in a dress? Well, yeah - quite a lot of images and topics are more amusing than men in drag, but that doesn’t mean such a sight can’t still provoke humor. More than 30 years after its release, 1982’s Tootsie stands as one of the best-regarded films within this genre. Along with 1959’s Some Like It Hot and 1993’s Mrs. Doubtfire, Tootsie stands tall in this trifecta of trolls.

Of the three, only Doubtfire failed to make the original AFI Top 100 Films list. Hot placed an amazing 14th while Tootsie landed in the 62nd spot. Both fell a little for the 2007 update, as Hot went to 22nd and Tootsie dropped to 69th.

Tootsie tells the story of struggling actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman). Though no one denies that Michael’s enormously talented, his harsh perfectionism makes him virtually unemployable. He’s cheesed off so many professionals that no one will give him work.

Michael remains dedicated to his art, so he continues to try to get roles. He also wants to raise $8000 so he and his playwright roommate Jeff (Bill Murray) can stage a new production in upstate New York.

When his insecure actress friend Sandy (Teri Garr) doesn’t get a part on a soap opera, Michael decides to show his true talent: he dresses as “Dorothy Michaels” and tries out for the role him/herself. When Michael/Dorothy wins the job, a double existence begins in which Michael tries to balance both personalities.

While this would be complicated under the best of circumstances, since Tootsie is a comedy, problems churn almost immediately. Early into Michael’s dual existence, a compromising situation in front of Sandy almost betrays his alter ego. He doesn’t want her to know that he got the job; she’s insecure enough without the pain of losing to a dude in drag. As such, Michael fakes an attraction to her and beds her to further this charade.

From there, a semi-relationship begins, though Michael constantly stands up Sandy because of his love for Julie (Jessica Lange), one of his co-stars on the soap. She warms up to Dorothy, which oddly gives Michael hopes for a romance between Julie and himself although Julie doesn’t know Michael exists. Things go even more awry when Julie introduces Dorothy to her widower father (Charles Durning) and he promptly falls for her.

All of that confusion, and I didn’t even bring up subplots that involve Julie’s affair with the lecherous soap director Ron (Dabney Coleman) or the lustful ways of co-actor John Van Horn (George Gaynes). Yes, Tootsie is a screwball comedy, one that flings nutty relationships and scenarios with abandon.

Nonetheless, the movie feels focused. With all of these elements, it has the potential to become a mess and to lose sight of its main characters, but this never happens.

That said, parts of Tootsie haven’t aged well. It pushes a proto-feminist agenda in which we see how tough it is for a woman with all of those horrible men around them, and that theme gets old quickly. Sure, it’s interesting to see Michael get in touch with his feminist side, but since he was never a bad guy from the start, the anti-male elements come across as heavy-handed.

Despite those missteps, the movie succeeds. Much of the credit goes to the outstanding cast, all of whom turn in fine work here. Hoffman never seems totally convincing as a woman, though I completely buy him as a pushy, demanding actor. That’s probably since Hoffman has a reputation for being difficult, and it’s delightful to see him poke fun at himself. I’m not sure Michael’s a full-blooded human being as performed by Hoffman, but he balances the different elements of the role nicely and holds together the film.

The supporting actors are also terrific. Lange won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her turn as Julie, and though I don’t think she really deserved it - I prefer the work by Garr, who was nominated along with Lange - she does well in the role, especially since it was the most thankless of the bunch. Julie’s really the straightwoman in a cast of comic personae, and Lange adds life and humanity to the role.

Still, it’s a comedy, so it seems odd that the only performer formally honored for the movie was the one who had no comic bits. That’s why I’d pick Garr, who’s consistently witty and lively as Sandy. In some ways, it’s an easier role since Sandy gets to be a broader personality, but that shouldn’t underestimate Garr’s success in the part.

In addition, Murray turns in one of his all-time great bits as Jeff. The character doesn’t stray far from the usual Murray territory, but he gives him such a wonderful deadpan tone that he makes his fleeting moments on screen memorable.

Do I think that Tootsie is one of the 100 best films ever made? Nope. Do I feel that it should rank as the second-best comedy to date? God no, though that’s where the AFI put it on their “100 Top Comedies” list. Nonetheless, I do find it to offer a generally entertaining and amusing experience. Some parts of it haven’t aged well, but as a whole it’s a fun and well-executed film.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

Tootsie appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The new release delivered an appealing rendition of the movie.

Sharpness generally looked pretty solid. Some moderate softness crept into wider shots, but not to a tremendous degree. Instead, the majority of the film demonstrated positive delineation. I saw no problems related to moiré effects or jagged edges, and edge haloes failed to appear. The movie showed natural grian and suffered from no specks, marks or other print flaws.

Colors appeared natural and appropriately vivid. The movie featured a natural palette and the hues looked clear and accurate throughout the film, asthey showed no signs of bleeding, noise or other concerns. Black levels were acceptably deep and dense, and shadow detail looked appropriately opaque but not too heavy. This ended up as a winning presentation.

The LPCM monaural soundtrack of Tootsie was consistently good. Dialogue always sounded warm and natural, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects seemed like a small part of the equation, but they sounded acceptably realistic and clear, with no distortion to mar them. The music appeared decent and showed pretty nice range at times. Ultimately, the soundtrack of Tootsie was a modest but satisfying affair that worked fine for the movie.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 25th Anniversary release from 2008? The audio remained similar; though the DVD claimed to have a 5.1 remix, it stayed focused on the front center, so no real soundscape alterations occurred. Quality appeared similar for both.

On the other hand, the visuals showed the expected improvements. The Blu-ray seemed more distinctive and vivid, with a more natural appearance. While the DVD looked pretty good, the Blu-ray was a more impressive presentation.

The Criterion disc mixes old and new extras, and we start with a one-hour, eight-minute, 55-second documentary called A Better Man: The Making of Tootsie. It mixes movie clips, archival elements and interviews. We hear from director Sydney Pollack, screenwriters Murray Schisgal and Larry Gelbart, and actors Dustin Hoffman, Teri Garr, Jessica Lange, and Dabney Coleman.

“Man” looks at the project’s origins and development as well as how Pollack came onto the flick and his take on the material. The program then goes into Hoffman’s approach to the lead role, other cast and characters, costumes and makeup, rehearsals and more changes. From there we hear about performances, shooting a few specific scenes, and thoughts about the finished product.

“Better Man” covers the film awfully well and really digs into the nuances of the production. It proves more introspective than most. While it includes the usual nuts and bolts, it gives us plenty of fine insights about motivations and deeper subjects. It becomes a really great show that tells us tons about the flick.

Originally recorded for a 1991 laserdisc, we get an audio commentary from director Sydney Pollack. He offers a running, screen-specific look at his approach to comedy, script/story/character areas, cast and performances, editing, locations, music and related subjects.

From start to finish, Pollack offers a lot of good notes here. He covers the movie with honesty and feels free to tell us about problems he experienced along the way Pollack provides an unusually insightful and informative commentary.

From 1982, The Making of Tootsie runs 33 minutes, 42 seconds and features Pollack, Hoffman, Lange, Garr and actor Bill Murray. We learn about story/characters, cast and performances, production challenges, and aspects of the shoot. The interview segments don’t tell us a ton, but we get plenty of interesting behind the scenes footage, especially when Pollack and Hoffman discuss different elements.

Under Interviews, we find three components. “Dustin Hoffman” (18:03) comes from 2014 and offers the actor’s thoughts about the movie’s roots and developments, his characters and performance, the change in directors from Hal Ashby as well as working with Pollack and aspects of his career. Hoffman covers the various areas in an engaging manner and makes this an informative piece.

With “Phil Rosenthal” (15:37), we hear from the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond. He provides an appreciation of the film and discusses how it influenced him. Rosenthal gives us a few decent notes but doesn’t make this a memorable chat.

Finally, “Dorothy Michaels and Gene Shalit” (4:25) stems from the movie’s shoot. This falls into the category of “outtakes” much more than “interviews”, as TV critic Shalit chats with the Michaels character. Nothing exciting occurs, but it’s a fun extra.

Nine Deleted Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes, 21 seconds. These include “What a Surprise”, “I Made You Some Soup”, “Anybody Home?”, “Amy Let Go”, “Your Own Character”, “You Can’t Play An Animal”, “I’m a Virgin”, “Wrong Door”, and “Signing an Autograph”.

The first two are the most interesting. “Surprise” shows a somewhat humiliating encounter between Michael and a prior girlfriend that serves to remind us of his career failures, while “Soup” gives us a little more goofiness between Michael and Sandy as he tries to cover his tracks. Neither is particularly valuable, but they’re more compelling than the other snippets, as those tend to be forgettable.

In addition to three trailers, we get six minutes and 45 seconds of Dustin Hoffman Screen Test Footage. The material shows the initial shots of Hoffman in drag.

Wow – Dorothy was never an attractive woman, but she looks like Playmate of the Year compared to this initial attempt at Hoffman as a woman! Hoffman is actually pretty terrible in the part; he did much better in the final film. Still, it’s cool to see this early footage.

The package also includes a booklet. It mixes photos and an essay from critic Michael Sragow. The booklet fills out the set well.

While I don’t think Tootsie provides a great film, I do enjoy it. Tootsie delivers a classy comedy that offers quite a lot of solid humor despite a few missteps. It works because of a terrific cast, all of whom provide fine work. The Blu-ray brings us solid picture and audio as well as an informative set of supplements. Criterion delivers a strong release for an engaging comedy.

To rate this film, visit the 2008 DVD review of TOOTSIE

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