10 - Blu-ray review

Dudley Moore is periodically funny, Julie Andrews is mostly charming, and Bo Derek is always gorgeous.

John J. Puccio's picture
John J.

You remember 1979's "10" (has it been that long?), the movie that made Dudley Moore and Bo Derek household names and Ravel's "Bolero" a household tune (bachelors the world over found a new music of seduction, and record sales skyrocketed).

You also remember the plot, which borrows a little from Elaine May's 1972 version of "The Heartbreak Kid." In this case, a man just turning forty-two catches a glimpse of the woman of his dreams--on her wedding day--and becomes obsessed with her. While writer-director Blake Edwards ("Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Pink Panther," "The Great Race," "Victor/Victoria") does his best to make a sophisticated comedy of modern sexual mores, he ends up with somewhat mixed results. The movie is only sporadically funny, most of the humor coming from English comedian Dudley Moore's impeccably amusing timing (tuned to a fine turn from his years in the Sixties and Seventies working with comic partner Peter Cook).

Most fans of the film will know the characters and gags by heart. The rest of us will remember the highlights, which seemed a lot funnier and a lot sexier way back when. The diminutive Moore plays George Webber, a successful Beverley Hills songwriter who appears to have it made. He's got plenty of fame and money, lives in a fancy house, drives a Rolls Royce convertible, and dates a lovely and equally successful singer (Julie Andrews). But George is not a happy man. He's facing a mid-life crisis, unable to cope with getting older, feeling that even the music he writes has passed him by. He sees ravishing young women everywhere, apparently carefree and sexually liberated, and longs to be young enough again to woo them. Indeed, this whole mid-life thing seems to be driving him a little crazy.

So when he sees Jenny Hanley (played by Bo Derek in only her second film) dressed in a virginal-white wedding dress, he falls instantly in love and pretty much makes a fool of himself pursuing her. Everyone else in the film plays it straight, giving Moore an open field to do the funny stuff. The actor attempts to employ his small stature to advantage in making us sympathize with his character all the more, but it's hard to feel sorry for a character who's got as much of everything as he does. Nevertheless, Moore makes us laugh at his character's foolishness, and that's all that really matters.

Julie Andrews (who was married to the director, Blake Edwards) and Bo Derek actually have little to do in the film. Andrews plays a colorless character who is more bland than not; and Derek does even less, beyond looking beautiful and acting playfully promiscuous. In fact, it's two actors in character roles who stand out more than they do: Dee Wallace as a beautiful woman about George's age whom George meets while in Mexico chasing his dream girl; and Brian Dennehy as a bartender in the Mexican resort George is staying at.

The movie's funniest moments: Jenny's church wedding; the church minister's song; the church minister's housekeeper; the hardships George endures with a bee sting and a backyard hillside; a visit to the dentist's office; a telephone call; George trying to look cool as booze is dribbling down his chin; and, of course, the seduction scene.

The movie's less-than-funny moments: George's drunk act, which gets old really fast but which earned Moore the starring role as a drunk in two "Arthur" movies; the long stretches between gags, filled with self-proclaimed "elevator music" (Henry Mancini did the score) and mundane conversation; and the humor that finally turns all serious trying to make a statement of some kind about love and life.

It might have been better if writer-director Edwards had left well enough alone and just gone for all-out laughs in "10," a la "The Pink Panther," rather than trying as hard as he did to provide a message along the way.

Warner engineers use an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a single-layer BD25 to transfer the movie to disc in its original widescreen aspect ratio, 2.40:1. If the picture doesn't look as good as it might, I suspect it's because that's the way the print looked. Black levels are adequate, and colors are fine, if overly dark, with faces often looking too reddish. However, definition is sometimes on the soft side, especially in medium and longer shots. WB appear to have applied little or no filtering, as plenty of natural grain is in evidence, and no edge enhancement.

The film's monaural sound, reproduced here in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0, is about as nondescript as it could be. Since the film is almost entirely dialogue driven, with a smattering of soft music, there isn't much for the sound system to do. No surround, no dynamics to speak of, a limited frequency range. Just a generally smooth midrange that only occasionally takes on a harsh, edgy quality.

Not much here beyond all the language choices. Warners include a well-worn, four-minute, vintage promo, "A Dream...a Fantasy...a TEN!," followed by a widescreen theatrical trailer, both in standard definition. Then, there are thirty-five scene selections; English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and other spoken languages; French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and other subtitles; and English and German captions for the hearing impaired.

Parting Thoughts:
Probably the single one most embarrassing thing about "10" is not the casual sex or the absurdity of the main character trying to regain his youth but that Blake Edwards's idea of sophistication is people having bars in their living rooms and drinking themselves to death. Beyond that, Dudley Moore is periodically funny, Julie Andrews is mostly charming, and Bo Derek is always gorgeous. Together, though, they just don't create the great comedy a lot of us remember it as being.


Film Value