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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes
  • Animated menus
  • Behind the scenes footage
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Driving Miss Daisy

Warner Vision/Force Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 95 mins . G . PAL


Well Bruce, it's a long way from Bazza McKenzie and the King's Head pub...

Driving Miss Daisy started life as a remarkably successful Pulitzer Prize winning stage play by Alfred Uhry, its success virtually ensuring a transition to the cinema. The rights were snapped up, Uhry (who also penned the wonderful Mystic Pizza) was employed to tweak his own work into a screenplay, Bruce Beresford, no stranger to Southern dramas (Tender Mercies, Crimes of the Heart), and indeed no stranger to helping plays find their way to the big screen (David Williamson's brilliant social and political satire Don's Party (DVD, soon, please) and The Club) was hired to direct, and the search began for the right actors to fill the three main roles. This search wasn't an incredibly long or arduous one, with Morgan Freeman cast to recreate the role of Hoke he essentially invented in Miss Daisy's stage run, 80-year old Jessica Tandy for the title character (mercifully not a younger actress made to look old), and in what was most likely seen as a curious choice at the time, Saturday Night Live alumni Dan Aykroyd for his first serious screen role, Miss Daisy's son Boolie.

Like its stage predecessor, the cinematic version of Driving Miss Daisy became a runaway success, going on to bag four Oscars in 1990 - those for Best Picture, Best Actress (Tandy), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Makeup - with Beresford overlooked to the point where the film rather sarcastically became known as one that must have somehow directed itself.

Set in North America's South, and spanning a period of twenty five years from 1948 through to 1973, Driving Miss Daisy revolves around the lives of a stubborn, cantankerous and downright crotchety Jewish woman named Daisy Werthan, her incredibly patient and loving son Boolie, and, after Miss Daisy experiences quite the motoring mishap in her own driveway, the chauffeur Boolie hires to look after his mother's transportation needs, Hoke Colburn.

Now Daisy is simply not amused at this encroachment upon her freedom, and does all she can to put off the jovial, yet dignified, Hoke and make his life miserable. He's up to the challenge however, and finally after six days of employment, yet being given no opportunity to actually perform his duties, Miss Daisy reneges and deigns to be given a lift to the supermarket, the delightfully named Piggly Wiggly, backseat driving all the way. Still determined to rid herself of Hoke, Daisy accuses her driver of stealing a can of salmon ("black people ALL take things you know"), however the situation is resolved almost to her embarrassment, she softens a little and a major turning point in the relationship occurs.

As they continue to share their lives, a marvellous tale is related of a truly great friendship, whereby Miss Daisy, a former teacher, helps an embarrassed Hoke learn to read and Hoke leads Miss Daisy to a deeper understanding, compassion and appreciation of life. Gracious, she even starts to smile after a while! As their twenty-five year relationship unfolds, the issues of racism and prejudice that were so rife in the eras the film is set in are dealt with subtly yet deftly, especially the all too common conundrum where one minority will show blatant intolerance toward another, without ever stopping to consider that they're being just as narrow-minded as those that discriminate against them.


Firstly the good news, Driving Miss Daisy comes to us in its original cinematic ratio of 1.85:1, and generally displays reasonably decent colour saturation and black levels throughout.

Aah, but now for the bad news. This presentation is not 16x9 enhanced, and at times would easily be the ugliest transfer I have ever laid my eyes on. A predominance of scenes seem to have been edge-enhanced beyond belief to the point that the proliferation of aliasing and shimmering makes it almost impossible to watch without running the risk of your last meal popping up for a visit. Yes, it really is that appalling. When an entire screen dances in front of your eyes when it is patently not supposed to you have to wonder if those who authored this disc even bothered to check their handiwork afterwards, let alone whether they were even blessed with the gift of sight in the first place. There are quite a few white specks dotted throughout as well, however these pale into insignificance when compared with the aforementioned horrors we're presented with.

This truly is an insult to such a wonderful film, and a crying shame when at certain times the picture really does look quite lovely. I know this sounds rather contradictory, believe me though on viewing this I wondered myself how things could go from good to shocking, back to good and then back to visual-hell yet again with such alarming regularity.


A serviceable Dolby Stereo track accompanies the film, which when called for actually makes some nice subtle use of the rear speakers, a pleasant thing in such a generally serene, mainly talky film. As such the dialogue levels are fine, as is the audio synch.

The score from Hans Zimmer mostly does its job well by being mostly unobtrusive, however it does tend towards the hideously cheesy at times, sounding much like those dreadful demos that are built-in to most music keyboards. There's a spattering of classic songs to behold from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and even Eartha Kitt purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring Santa Baby as only she ever could. In all the type of fabulous music that is always a joy to behold no matter where it pops up.


Starting with a delightfully animated menu (although it's accompanied by one of those icky synth demos I mentioned back there) on first entering the special features menu we appear to be in for a treat...

First up is the Behind the Scenes Footage, four short, full screen pieces showing the filming of four scenes from the point of view of somebody behind a camera behind the camera. Generally these are alarmingly brief, and only really of passing interest, unless you're a railroad enthusiast that gets off on seeing lots of shots of dollies (I'm not talking the Barbie and Ken type here, obviously).

Next is the Featurette, containing brief interview snippets with Morgan, Jessica, Bruce and the Zanucks (producers), but mostly consisting of scenes from the film with a voiceover by one of those guys whose voice is really familiar, but not actually THE guy who does trailers. This is also incredibly short at just over six minutes, but worthy of the brief time investment it asks for.

The Trailer follows, full screen, just over two minutes in duration, and in rather shabby, but not shocking, condition. Rounding out the package are the Cast and Crew Notes, some very informative and up to date (2001) bios and filmographies that even include the characters played by Freeman, Tandy and Aykroyd in each movie. Production Notes ensue, once again incredibly thorough and informative, and lastly we get Interviews with the two principal actors, Beresford, and writer Uhry, some of which are so brief that if you blink you literally will miss them.


A wonderful, often heart-warming yet never cloying drama with a touch of comedy, Driving Miss Daisy has been rather let down in its journey to little shiny disc. With an often scarily bad visual transfer, and a set of extras that looks impressive until you realise their sheer brevity, it gives cause to ponder why Warner Brothers ever let the rights for such an acclaimed picture out of their hands in the first place.

Still, for a fabulously powerful performance from Freeman, rivalling even that of his turn as 'Red' Redding in The Shawshank Redemption (albeit in quite a substantially different role here), plus the always wonderful Jessica Tandy, this film is a must-see. As this disc is all we have on offer I guess we have to make do, however it is a crying shame that it wasn't graced with an effort more befitting of its brilliance.

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      And I quote...
    "A wonderful film on a rather flawed DVD release? Yessum..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Home Built
    • Surrounds:
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    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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