Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 6th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1986
Director: John Frankenheimer
Writers: Elmore Leonard, John Steppling
Cast: Roy Scheider, Ann-Margret, Vanity, John Glover, Robert Trebor, Lonny Chapman, Kelly Preston, Doug McClure, Clarence Williams III
BluRay released: October 17th, 2016
Approximate running time: 110 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
Synopsis: A businessman man who appears to have it all, an expensive car, a luxurious home and a wife who is running for city council, has his life turned upside down by blackmailers threating to expose his affair is their financial demands are not met.
52 Pick-Up was directed by John Frankenheimer whose other notable films include, The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, The Train and Seconds. Key collaborators on 52 Pick-Up include, cinematographer Jost Vacano (Das Boot, Robocop) and co-screenwriter Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Jackie Brown) who wrote the novel from this film’s screenplay was adapted.
When it comes to conspiracy themed films one of the names that has become synonymous with these type of films is John Frankenheimer, a filmmaker who since the 1960’s has left his undeniable imprint of the conspiracy themed films.
Right from the get go this film draws you into its web of deceit. The premise is ripe with possibilities and the meticulously laid out narrative keeps things moving forward and pacing wise this film does a great job letting key moments sink in. There are no grey areas with these characters and their motivations are never in doubt!
When discussing John Frankenheimer’s directing one word that is rarely uttered is flat. And with 52 Pick-Up he once again puts together a stylish film that is filled with interesting compositions that reinforce the mounting tension. Standout moments include, the scene where the blackmailers show the husband character a video of them murder his mistress with their gun. And the scene where the wife is kidnapped by one of the blackmailers and given a dose of heroin.
Performance wise the entire cast are very good in their respective roles. With this film standout role being Clarence Williams III (“Mod Squad”, Purple Rain) in the role of Bobby Shy, one of the three blackmailers. His character is a cold-blooded killer who is more than willing to remove anyone who gets in the way. Other notable films include, Roy Scheider (The French Connection, Jaws) in the role of Harry Mitchell, the husband who is being blackmailed and Ann-Margret (Viva Las Vegas, The Cincinnati Kid) in role of Harry’s wife Barbara. Rounding out the cast are many recognizable faces like Vanity (The Last Dragon), Kelly Preston (Twins) in the role of the mistress and about dozen adult films stars. Overall 52 Pick-Up is an underrated thriller that deserves a much wider audience and has languished in the shadows for far too long.
52 Pick-Up comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Image looks crisp, color reproduction is strong, flesh tones look accurate, black levels and shadow detail very good throughout. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression. When compared to previous home video releases this transfer is a noticeable improvement.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in English and also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds, clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too. With the score and more ambient aspects of the soundtrack being well represented.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minutes 44 seconds), a featurette titled Hardcore Cameos, a guide to the many cameo appearances by pornographic actors in 52 Pick-Up (12 minutes 10 seconds) and an audio commentary with critics Glenn Kenny and Doug Brod.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary track include, Golan-Globus / Cannon Films, an overview of John Frankenheimer’s output as a filmmaker, differences between the novel and the film and other production related topics.
Rounding out the extras are reversible cover art and a booklet with cast & crew info, an essay about the film written by the Badlands Collective and information about the transfer. And included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall 52 Pick-Up gets a first-rate release from Arrow Video.