Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 27th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: USA, December 15th, 1968
Director: Brian De Palma
Writers: Brian De Palma, Charles Hirsch
Cast: Jonathan Warden, Robert De Niro, Gerrit Graham
DVD Released: April 20th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4.3 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Platinum Disc Corporation
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $6.99
“No, I think the basic influence was Godard, mainly because the Godardian manner had a lot of influence on GREETINGS and HI, MOM, going out in the street, improvising. Except we didn’t do so much improvising ultimately because we rehearsed everything so much, and we just didn’t have enough film to improvise. When you figure it all out, the most expensive thing in GREETINGS was the stock, and getting it processed. But that spontaneity, telling stories that are happening to you politically at the time, the people who are your friends, that you went to college with, stuff like that. I’d say Godard was the most influential. And plus he had this very stunning visual style, and was full of ideas.” – Brian De Palma
Greetings is about three friends Jon Rubin (Robert De Niro) a peeping tom who wants to become a filmmaker and his two friends Lloyd Clay (Gerrit Graham) and Paul Gerald Shaw (Jonathan Warden). The film centers on two major themes the Vietnam War which all three are trying everything they can to avoid and the Kennedy assassination which Lloyd is obsessed with.
Brian De Palma is one of Hollywood’s most controversial directors and for the last forty years he has made films that have pushed the envelope. He has had his fare share of battles with the MPAA over content in his films and in many cases he was forced to change his vision while some of his peers were allowed to get away with things he was being punished for. De Palma is most known for his Hitchcock like thrillers even though he has made films in just about every film genre. He began his career directing a string of comedies like The Wedding Party, Hi, Mom, Greetings and Get to Know Your Rabbit with Tom Smothers half of the Smothers brothers who were no stranger to censorship. Upon its initial release Greetings was the first film in the United States to receive an “X” rating and years later it would be changed to R. Brian De Palma even at this early stage of his career has already developed a strong visual style bold pastel title screens, sped up motion, time lapse photography, jump cuts and partially masked lenses. Many of these camera techniques he still and has refined through the year. He also was the editor on Greetings and his lightning fast cuts help capture the chaotic mood of the late 1960’s. De Palma takes advantage of his lack of budget as he uses the streets of New York to his fullest advantage. The film achieves its documentary feel through the actors improvising and their lack of knowledge how to play to the camera. All three leads Robert De Niro, Gerrit Graham and Jonathan Warden have little or no experience making movies. The lack of screen presence from the three leads actually helps the film giving a gritty realism. One of De Palma strongest attributes as a filmmaker is his ability to take controversial material and turning it into a satire. Uneven at times Greetings is a fascinating look at late 1960’s culture.
Greetings, is presented in a full frame aspect ratio that retains the film compositions without cropping or losing any info. The aspect ratio changes in a few of the scenes from full frame to pillar box or a lightly letterboxed ratio. The overall print used has very good detail and the flesh tones look natural. The colors are also in great shape as there is no noticeable bleeding and grain is kept to a minimum. The DVD comes with a English Dolby Digital Mono audio track that is free of hiss or distortion and the dialog is clear and easy to follow.
This budget title DVD comes with no real extras and the only options available once you load the DVD is play the movie or scene selection. The lack of extras is disappointing considering that this is one of Robert De Niro and Brian De Palma’s earlier films. Still the overall audio/video presentation from Platinum Disc Corporation is a revelation as this is one of the best looking budget titles that I have ever seen and I have suffered through my fare share of horrible looking budget titles. Platinum’s DVD is a must have for fan’s of De Niro or De Palma who have always wanted to see Greeting’s and it is well worth its price.