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Derby 
Written by: on April 19th, 2009


Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1971
Director: Robert Kaylor
Cast: Mike Snell, Charlie O’Connell, Butch Snell, Christina Snell, Ann Calvello, Lydia Clay, Janet Earp, Eddie Krebs,

DVD released: February 17th, 2009
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Code Red
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98


The plot for Derby revolves around two characters, Charlie O’Connell a veteran of the roller derby circuit who is nearing the end of his career and Mike Snell who has dreams of becoming the next big thing in the world of roller derby. The main focus of this documentary is about the journey of it two man subjects. The bulk of the documentary is spent showing Charlie O’Connell and Mike Snell’s lives outside of Roller Derby. Only about 1/3 of the film is actual robber derby footage. The opening setup is very good, unfortunately the ending is an anticlimactic payoff as the film concludes before we get to see if Mike Snell achieves his lofty goal.

Derby was directed by Robert Kaylor who would only go onto to direct two more films after Derby. He would make his feature film debut with the 1980 film titled Carny. Visually Robert Kaylor’s intimate direction does a good job capturing the essence of his subjects. Derby was made at the height of roller derby’s popularity. By the mid 1970’s the popularity of roller derby started to wane. While there are still roller derby leagues, popularity wise they pale in comparison to the sports glory days of the early 1970’s. For Code Red’s DVD release the film is presented in its full length Rated R version (the film was originally released in a GP version). Ultimately Derby is not as much about the sport from which the film takes its title, as much as it is a story about following ones dream.

The DVD:

Code Red presents Derby in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This transfer has not been flagged for progressive playback. There is heavy grain throughout and some minor instances of print damage. Overall the transfer looks as good as one would expect a 16mm feature that has been blown up to 35mm.

Derby comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Outside of background which varies in degree that audio fares well as dialog is clear enough to follow.

Extras for Derby include a theatrical trailer for the film which is preceded by an introduction editor Jeff Kanew (1 minute 36 seconds) and a collection of trailers that can only be played as a group and not individually. The trailers are as follows The Internecine Project (1 minute 42 seconds), I’m going to get you … Elliot Boy (1 minute 27 seconds), The Weekend Murders (2 minutes 19 seconds), Choke Canyon (2 minutes 1 second), Trapped (1 minute 36 seconds), Mark of the Witch (1 minute 34 seconds) and Teenage Graffiti (1 minute 42 seconds). The trailer for Derby features a voice over from actor Roy Scheider.The main extras include with this release include two audio commentaries, the first audio commentary is with director Robert Kaylor and the second audio commentary is with producer William Richert. Both audio commentaries are moderated by Lee Christian. Content wise both audio commentaries are well rounded Q &A’s that leave no stone unturned. Also included with this release is director Robert Kaylor’s 1968 short film Max Out (44 minutes 52 seconds), about an African American ex-con who has just been released from prison. Max Out also comes with an audio commentary with Robert Kaylor and moderator Lee Christian. Max Out is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This is a clean and detailed looking black & white transfer. This short film has not been flagged for progressive playback. Even though it is included as an extra, I found Max Out to be the more interesting and engaging of the two films included with this release. Overall Code Red gives Derby a fully loaded DVD release that is highlighted with a wealth of extra content, recommended.

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