THE CARPETBAGGERS (1964): Hollywood Soapy Sleaze, Melodrama, Tycoons,
Corporate Raiders, Blonde Bombshells, Duesenbergs, George Peppard.
In 1964, it was erotic, escapist trash; but compared with the complete
garbage the movie industry releases today (with its inane dialogue and
ubiquitous male ass shots), "The Carpetbaggers" is now high-class art.
Video Codec ..........: XviD, CQ 2.75, LEM de-grain, Didees SixOfNine-HVS
Frame Size ...........: 704x368, 844x368 Anamorphic DAR
Video FPS ............: 23.976 original, 3671 Kbps
Audio: English DPLII (from AC3 5.1) 192kbps, English and French Mono
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Source: Hideously grainy ("It's a dot blizzard!") Region 1 NTSC DVD9.
Original film VOB size : 6.86gb; size of this "XviD 100%" rip: 4.26gb
Grain remaining: The opening sky-credits sequence had literally more
grain than movie, so it's still pretty bad. The rest cleaned up nicely.
DVD: Should you buy it? Answer: No. Avoid the grainy "American cut", and
be advised than any PAL with the racier European cut, while containing a
few more glimpes of bare backs, will be a "tinny" sped-up version. There
are also zero DVD extras. Hold your cash until they treat this film right.
***** Riveting Hollywood Sleaze - 5.0 out of 5 stars
"The Carpetbaggers" is a fantastic adaptation of Harold Robbins' bestseller,
very racy for its era, with dialogue that is often rare and juicy, a superb
cast, and great direction by Edward Dmyrtryk. The character of Jonas Cord is
loosely based on the life of Howard Hughes, and it is interesting to compare
this film with Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator." Both George Peppard as Cord
and Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes give brilliant performances, but overall, I
find this film far more satisfying, and certainly a lot more entertaining.
Peppard was at the height of his career in this film, and it is perhaps his best.
It gives him a wide range of emotions, as well as the physicality and toughness
he was so good at. Others that shine in the large cast are Alan Ladd in what was
to be his last film as Nevada Smith, Carroll Baker as the sultry Rina, Robert
Cummings as Nevada's slick and slimey manager. Elizabeth Ashely as Mrs. Jonas
Cord (and who soon after this film was to become the real life Mrs. Peppard),
Martin Balsam as the owner of a film studio, and Lew Ayres, as second in command
in Jonas Cord's empire, has some of the best lines in the film.
The pacing of the film never lags, and there is a brutal fight between Jonas
and Nevada, one of those screen fights that is always fascinating to watch.
The Nevada Smith character is quite complex, and was to spawn a "prequel" two
years later, starring Steve McQueen. The cinematography by Joseph MacDonald is
marvelous, the Edith Head gowns lavishly glamorous, and very important to the
success of this film is the fabulous jazzy score, one of Elmer Bernstein's finest.
In my youth I devoured all of Robbins' books, loved the well-written sleaze of
them, and loved this film in its theatrical release. I've since watched it
repeatedly, and find more to enjoy in it with each viewing. -- Alejandra Vernon