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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  • German: Dolby Digital Mono
    English, French, German, Polish, Dutch, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, German - Hearing Impaired
  • Deleted scenes - Alternate ending
  • 1 Theatrical trailer
  • 1 Audio commentary

Desperately Seeking Susan

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 113 mins . M15+ . PAL


Aah, the mid-'80s - the dreadful fashion, hair and makeup - and that's just the guys!

Desperately Seeking Susan comes to us straight from 1985, and was made when the Madonna that was a household name was a child bearing religious icon, not a bellybutton-flaunting pop singer. It is a classic amnesiac/mistaken identity type flick, featuring said pop icon as Susan, and Rosanna Arquette as the main character, Roberta.

A rather downtrodden and unappreciated young suburban housewife, Roberta is married to an ignoramus spa salesman (Mark Blum), and appears destined to only fantasise wistfully of a more interesting life by tracking the adventures of the mysterious Susan through a newspaper personals column. But when she gets daring and decides to spy on one of Susan's New York City rendezvous' more exciting things start to happen for her, culminating in a nasty bump on the head that leaves Roberta believing that she actually is Susan, and leading her into an altogether different and more interesting life.


After coming across some rather average transfers of other films of a similar vintage to this, laying eyes on this was a welcome surprise.

Presented in letterbox 16:9 format, the black bits are black, the white bits are white and the film's substantial use of brighter than reality colours for various locations are all rendered with much more quality than I would ever have expected.

There are a few fleeting white specks that invade on the odd occasion, mostly during the opening credits, but generally whoever was responsible for cleaning this up should give themselves a hearty pat on the back. I noticed no obvious signs of Legoness (OK, sorry - "artifacting" :) ) and unlike many newer and more blockbusteresque films the layer change is non-invasive, as it happens during an in-between scene black screen.

So far so great, but there is always a down side...


...and that would be the audio. Any hi-fi buffs out there hoping to be blown about the room from their surround speakers had better have heaps of fun getting off during the MGM lion at the start of the disc, as that's about it for stereo here.

The film was originally recorded and released in mono, so I guess there wasn't a lot that could be done, and admittedly there were no problems with synching or understanding the dialogue at any time (well, unless you take a peak at the French or German versions also included here) - so the sound peoples have done well with what they were given.

Enduring Madonna's Into the Groove (or any of the occasional pop moments for that matter) in muffle-o-sound though is hardly the most enjoyable experience you could wish for.


Good news for extras buffs (such as myself) is that some effort has been made to source some interesting stuff here, including an alternative ending from director Susan Seidelman's personal collection. Unfortunately it is a bit of an ordeal due to a high-pitched squeal that persists throughout, which surely some sound person could have fixed in a nanosecond. Still, it is definitely a worthy addition to the type of disc that you usually expect to have the presence of a menu listed as its biggest extra feature.

But then the real surprise popped up - completely uncredited on the packaging is the fact that this disc includes a full commentary from Seidelman, producers Sanford and Pillsbury and Worldwide Productions Senior VP (at the time of making the film) Barbara Boyle. Unlike many such commentaries it offers some wonderful insights into the film, from alternative story lines that were planned to the news that originally Ellen Barkin was earmarked for Madonna's role!

So a very big "YAY!" to Fox/MGM for making that extra bit of effort to give something of value to fans of the film.


So if you are a fan of the flick then all I can say is go for it. Taking into consideration such issues as the age of the film you're getting a pretty fine quality disc here. The only real letdown is the sound, which to be honest could have been a lot worse.

If you're unfamiliar with Desperately Seeking Susan, and just consider it some sort of vehicle that was designed to push Madonna further into your face (ooh, watch out for the pointy bra!) then perhaps you should reconsider - it was made just before she hit the big time and is a fantastic example of a latter-day screwball-type comedy in the fine tradition of the '30s and '40s, even if visually it is unmistakably a product of the '80s.

It's also fun for playing spot the teensy role, from a frighteningly Michael Gudinski-like Steven Wright and an ultra-yuppified Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne etc), to the likes of John Turturro, Ann Magnuson and punk legend Richard Hell (of bands such as Television, Voidoids and a myriad of others fame/infamy).

One word of advice that should be learned from this film though, if indeed fashion goes around in a cycle, we should do a very big wheelie over the mid-'80s...

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      And I quote...
    "A fantastic example of a latter-day screwball-type comedy in the fine tradition of the '30s and '40s, even if visually it is unmistakably a product of the '80s..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Home Built
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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