Bird on a Wire

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/21/21;
Kino Lorber;
Comedy;
$24.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13.’
Stars Mel Gibson, Goldie Hawn, David Carradine, Bill Duke, Joan Severance, Stephen Tobolowsky.

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to advertise a movie. For its 1990 release, the poster for Bird on a Wire was little more than the faces of stars Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. The pair had such clout at the time that the poster only listed their first names.

It ended up grossing $138.7 million against a budget of around $20 million, and was the top movie upon its release in May 1990 a week before being bumped from the spot by Back to the Future Part III.

The story is little more than an excuse for some madcap fun and romance involving its leads, so it relies mostly on their chemistry, which is plentiful. The plot involves Goldie as a corporate attorney named Marianne who runs into Mel at a gas station, and recognizes him as her former fiancé, Rick, who disappeared 15 years earlier.

He denies it, but it turns out that’s exactly who he is. After testifying against a corrupt DEA agent (David Carradine) named Sorenson, Rick has been bouncing around the witness relocation program. Thinking his cover as a mechanic could be blown, he calls the FBI to ask for a new identity, but his new handler (Stephen Tobolowsky) is on the take and feeds Rick’s location to Sorenson.

Unable to fight her curiosity, Marianne heads back to the garage to confront Rick, only to show up at the same time as Sorenson and his hit squad. As the bullets fly, Rick and Marianne hit the road, hoping to find Rick’s old handler and find a solution to his predicament. Along the way, Rick returns to some of his former identities from his time in hiding, setting up some easy gags as Marianne struggles to reacquaint herself with the man she once loved.

Kino’s new Blu-ray edition of the film uses a new 2K master that looks pretty sharp, but does get a bit splotchy depending on how well the original scene was lit.

The disc includes a pretty good audio commentary with director John Badham, joined by producer/second-unit director Rob Cohen and film historian Daniel Kremer.

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Frank Langella’s ‘Dracula’ Getting Scream Factory Blu-ray Treatment Nov. 26

Shout! Factory’s horror imprint, Scream Factory, will release a collector’s edition of the 1979 version of Dracula on Blu-ray Nov. 26.

Directed by John Badham and adapted from a play based on Bram Stoker’s classic tale, the film starred Frank Langella in the title role, reprising his role from the stage production. The cast includes Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing, Donald Pleasence as Dr. Jack Seward and Kate Nelligan as Lucy Seward. John Williams composed the musical score.

The Blu-ray will boast a new 4K scan of the original, best available film elements, and offers two presentations of the film, including the original 1979 color timing for the first time on home video. A version with desaturated color timing, originally created by Badham for Laserdisc in 1991 to mimic the feel of 1930s black-and-white gothic horror movies, also is included.

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The desaturated version was previously released on Blu-ray by Universal Pictures in 2014 and reissued in February 2019.

The first disc of Scream Factory’s set will include the desaturated version, plus a new introduction by Badham, and new interviews with Badham, writer W.D. Richter, camera assistant Jim Alloway, editor John Bloom, makeup artist Peter Robb-King, hair stylist Colin Jamison, assistant director Anthony Waye and production manager Hugh Harlow. The disc also includes the previously released Badham commentary and the featurette “The Revamping of Dracula.”

The second disc will include the film in its 1979 presentation with a new 4K scan of the original film elements, a new introduction by Badham, a new audio commentary by film historian and filmmaker Constantine Nasr, plus the film’s theatrical trailer, radio spots and a still gallery.

Copies ordered through ShoutFactory.com will include an 18×24 rolled poster featuring brand new artwork, while supplies last.

First-Time Director Taps Luminaries for Filmmaking Advice in ‘Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker’

The Hollywood documentary Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker, due on digital, DVD and VOD from Random Media Dec. 4, could be seen as a filmmaking class for first-time directors.

“I knew that this was going to be helpful for anybody who wants to make films,” said Jonathan Baker, both the subject of and a maker of the documentary.

Featuring some of the industry’s most iconic filmmakers, Jodie Foster, Taylor Hackford, Adrian Lyne and John Badham, the film explores the process of directing a big-budget feature as each goes over the trials of their first time directing. The documentary, directed by Neal Thibedeau, was created in tandem with Baker’s preparation for and production of his own directorial debut, Inconceivable, starring Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon and Faye Dunaway. The documentary chronicles the “first time” stories of these celebrated directors, combined with Baker’s first time directing.

“To learn from the best and to touch the best you should listen to the best,” said Baker, who was able to leverage connections and friends to create the documentary.

“You’d be very surprised how available people are when they talk about their passion,” Baker said. “I’m a very persistent person. They love this industry as much as I love this industry.”

Baker said he learned something from each of his subjects.

“I learned so much from them,” Baker said. “Every one of them taught me something that I needed to know.”

Baker’s roadblocks and problems in making his first film are intercut with advice from the old hands.

“For instance, Jodie Foster would tell me about how not to get so passionate about one thing and really be malleable and really go in there and not hope that I’m going to get what I want but take what I’m going to get and make it work,” Baker said.

John Badham taught him how to deal with actors, Baker said, and “how to go into the dressing room, how to get into their head and how to take a famous person who has their own journey with this film and, as a director, become respected.”

Adrian Lyne was an instructor on lighting, as well as storytelling.

Taylor Hackford taught him to quickly make decisions and that “you are either wired to be director or you’re not wired to be a director and when you get there is the only time that you’ll ever find out.”

Baker’s trial by fire as a first-time director was a bit less searing because of the instruction from these experienced directors, he said.

“Whatever mistakes I was going to make, 50% of those mistakes didn’t happen because these people gave me the advice that you would never get in school, you would never get unless you had the experience,” Baker said.

Hollywood Doc ‘Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker’ Due on Digital and DVD Dec. 4 From Random Media

The Hollywood documentary Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker will come out on digital, DVD and VOD from Random Media Dec. 4.

Featuring some of the industry’s most iconic filmmakers, including Jodie Foster, Taylor Hackford, Adrian Lyne and John Badham, the film explores the process of directing a big-budget feature, from the ground up, through the eyes of top directors as they tell their own stories.  The documentary, directed by Neal Thibedeau, was created in tandem with Baker’s preparation for and production of his own directorial debut, Inconceivable, starring Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon and Faye Dunaway. The documentary chronicles the “first time” stories of these celebrated directors, combined with the story of Baker’s dream of making it big in Hollywood, and it includes stories on topics ranging from the pressures of financing and working with top talent, to the ultimate challenge of making sure to stay true to the film’s vision.

See the trailer here.