• My Chauffeur



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: July, 2017.
    Director: David Beaird
    Cast: Deborah Foreman, Sam J. Jones, Howard Hesseman, Penn Jillette, Teller
    Year: 1986
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    The Movie:

    A man named Witherspoon (E.G. Marshall) runs The Brentwood Limousine Company, a classy establishment that caters to an upper class clientele by employing professional male drivers like Johnson (Julius Harris), Giles (John O'Leary), O'Brien (Sean McClory) and Jenkins (Laurie Main). Their rather conservative work place gets rocked when Witherspoon hires a new driver in the form of Casey Williams (Deborah Foreman), a former dishwasher and now the sole female employee.

    It doesn’t take long for Casey to get under the skin of the old guard, ruffling feathers as she goes, quickly landing herself a spot on the wrong side of her supervisor, McBride (Howard Hessemen), who decides to get back at her by sending her to deal with all manner of tricky customers. O’Brien starts to warm to her, however, and he puts in a good word or two for her with Witherspoon. Meanwhile, Casey befriends a punk rocker named Catfight (Leland Crooke), gives a Middle Eastern Sheik more than he bargained for and eventually winds up failing to charm Battle (Sam Jones), Witherspoon’s snooty son. But when the two of them wind up stuck in the desert overnight, their conflict soon blossoms into something more, but their newfound budding romance comes with its own set of oddball problems. Oh, and before it’s all over Penn & Teller show up.

    Considerably less exploitative than a lot of the other movies that Crown International was cranking out at the time, though still worthy of its R-rating thanks to a bit of nudity and some compromising situations, My Chauffeur is genuinely entertaining stuff. The comedy is effective and plentiful, positing Casey as a fish out of water in a lot of ways, but of course, being smart enough to make sure that the audience is on her side. It’s a very playful film, very much a product of its time what with all of the garish eighties fashion on display and what not, and an easy picture to like. If it isn’t particularly thought provoking, it doesn’t matter when everything comes together as well as it does here. The production values are strong for a picture that was made in the typical Crown style (meaning fast and cheap). The camerawork does a fine job of capturing all of the different California locations used for the production while both the score and the soundtrack help the picture to bounce along in all the right ways.

    Of course, a solid cast helps a lot too. It’s fun to see Howard Hessemen show up here in a supporting role, and that early Penn & Teller cameo counts for something as well. Harris, O’Leary and Main are fun in their roles as Casey’s initial foils while E.G. Marshall, immortalized in his work for the late George Romero in Creepshow, is great as the aged owner of the company. Leland Crooke steals a few scenes as the spiked collar wearing ‘punker’ in the film. It’s Foreman and McClory that are the real stars here, however. She’s adorable – just really likeable and personable, she plays the part well. He’s good too, his character’s stance on the company’s new recruit clearly evolving over the course of the film. They make a good pair and have some decent chemistry together in the picture.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    My Chauffeur debuts on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc. Taken from a 2k restoration of the original 35mm negative, the picture quality here is excellent and a vast improvement over previous DVD editions that have come out over the years by the likes of Mill Creek and Rhino. Detail is very strong throughout, save for a few scenes that appear to have been shot soft, and the image is quite clean showing almost no noticeable print damage at all. Grain appears naturally, as it should, while color reproduction seems nice and natural. Black levels are solid as well, and skin tones look lifelike and accurate. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement – just a really nice, film-like transfer. No complaints here at all, Vinegar Syndrome once again offers Crown International fans a substantial upgrade in the picture quality department over what we’ve seen in the past.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD Mono track, with alternate subtitles offered up in English only. No problems here, the single channel track is clean, clear and nicely balanced and the score sounds pretty good too.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring writer/director David Beaird and actor Leland Crooke. Beaird has the most to say about the project, discussing how he came on board to make the movie for Crown after an earlier film, Party Animal, brought him to their attention. He also talks about the writing process, what he tried to bring to the movie to differentiate it from other similar sex comedies, why Crown retitled it to cash in on the success of My Tutor, and a fair bit more. Crooke talks about landing the role, changes that his character underwent during the production of the picture, how he got along with some of his co-stars and more. This is a pretty interesting track that covers a lot of ground, making it quite valuable for fans of the film wanting to know the whole back story behind it. A second commentary features production assistant Jeff McKay. He shares plenty of memories about shooting the picture, getting along with the cast and crew, Beaird’s directing style, working with Crown to get the picture finished, and his thoughts on the movie as a whole. It’s not quite as ‘information heavy’ as the first track and it’s more of a stream of consciousness take on it all, but it’s interesting enough that fans will want to give it a shot.

    Also included on the disc is a new featurette entitled License To Drive which is an interview with actress Deborah Foreman. Over the course of sixteen minutes, Foreman talks about her modelling career and how that led working in film, sharing stories about various roles that she’s taken over the years. She also talks about how and why a rape scene was cut out of the picture, how she got along with her co-stars and the film’s director and quite a bit more. She’s quite likeable and looks back on all of this pretty fondly, making this a stroll down memory lane worth taking.

    Rounding out the extras are an isolated soundtrack option, the film’s original theatrical trailer, a handful of vintage TV spots, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie containing the same extras found on the Blu-ray disc. Vinegar Syndrome has also provided some nice reversible cover art for this release, with their newly created artwork on one side and the original poster art on the reverse.

    The Final Word:

    My Chauffeur is light, breezy and fun. It’s light exploitation fare to be sure, but that doesn’t take away from its entertainment value or its enduring appeal. Vinegar Syndrome presents the film on Blu-ray for the first time in great shape and with a nice selection of extra features as well. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!



















    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I vaguely remember seeing this on video