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Arthur (1981) – DVD Review

Arthur DVD cover art


Written & Directed by: Steve Gordon
Starring: Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli, John Gielgud, Geraldine Fitzergerald, Ted Ross


  • Theatrical trailers
  • “Behind the Scenes” information

Released by: Warner Brothers
Region: 1
Rating: PG
Anamorphic: Hell no.

My Advice: Avoid it because of the crappy DVD presentation.

Arthur Bach (Moore) is a millionaire playboy. He’s also a drunk and an embarrassment to his family. Constantly going out at night, picking up hookers and bringing them home to his stately manor–he keeps winding up in the papers. It’s only through the efforts of his manservant Hobson (Gielgud) that you imagine he’s survived this long. But hey, he’s enjoying life, he’s about to get married to a wonderfully rich girl, and he’s got fifty pairs of short pants hanging in his closet. What could possibly go wrong? Well, he just might slip up and fall in love with the wrong girl for his family, but the right one for him.

[ad#longpost]One of the questions I always dread is: what’s your favorite movie? Out of so many genres and out of so much cinematic time past, how can you decide between a comedy and a science-fiction epic for the title of Your Favorite Movie? It’s just too difficult. If pressed, normally I’ll give my favorite movie out of a particular genre, because that’s easier on the mind. But if I’m held to the fire, I’ll say my favorite movie is Arthur. This is the first movie I can remember seeing in the cinema where people were laughing so long and so hard that you needed to see the film again just to hear all the lines that you missed. Rare, indeed. Dudley Moore gave a performance that quickly became the benchmark for cinematic comic drunkenness. Sir John Gielgud won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hobson. It’s simply a hilarious, timeless classic.

Which leads me to wonder why the decision was made to release the film with such a lackluster selection of features. I would like to slap whoever’s responsible. There’s nothing on this DVD at all. Oh sure, there’s cast profiles, and some behind the scenes photos used as backgrounds for the skimpy “Gallery” section. But where’s the commentary with Dudley Moore–or Gielgud, who might have been tapped for the job before his passing this past year. Moore may not be long for this world either, I fear, given recent circumstances–so why aren’t they working with him NOW on a commentary track regarding his thoughts and memories regarding the film? And as for writer-director Steve Gordon, who died after making this film, the few screens of text regarding in retrospect of his life were depressingly void of any real information. If anything, Gordon’s comments in the “Gallery” text tease you with what could have been on the disc: the various alternate takes of Moore and the “Moose Scene”. I hate being told “Oh, well, we had all these wonderful…”–well, where the hell are they? If they’re lost forever, say that. Otherwise, put them on the disc. In this case, don’t tell us, show us. Only one trailer is included in the “Gallery”. And to add injury to insult, the feature film doesn’t even have widescreen treatment.

Sir John Gielgud as Hobson in Arthur
'Would you like me to come over there and release this in widescreen for you... you little shit?'

I realize that Warner Brothers was trying to get into the DVD market quickly, and as a result threw a bunch of titles out there without much in the way of features. But still, a film of this quality needs to go out onto DVD with a little bit of dignity, please. As it stands, even with the very cheap price tag (mine was $10), if you already have this on VHS, there’s really no reason to pick it up on DVD.

Arthur DVD gallery menu

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