Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 27th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: U.S., April 27th, 1970
Director: Brian De Palma
Writers: Brian De Palma, Charles Hirsch
Cast: Robert De Niro, Jennifer Salt, Gerrit Graham, Charles Durning
DVD Released: December 7th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen & 4.3 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: MGM / UA
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
Vietnam veteran Jon Rubin (Robert De Niro) has developed a peeping tom fetish since returning to New York. He watches his neighbors with his recently acquired camera. Joe Banner (Allen Garfield) is a producer of pornographic films. Jon convinces him to finance a film about the sex lives of his neighbors. Jon after a falling out with Joe Banner when the footage he shot of his neighbors proves to be unusable leads to Jon to an unlikely collaboration with one of his neighbors Gerrit Wood (Gerrit Graham) an advent garde artist and an extremist Black Power organization. Has Jon found his artistic muse or has he bitten off more then he can chew?
By the late 1960’s the studio in Hollywood was on its last legs and several ambitious filmmakers decided it was time to push the envelope in two subjects that had for many years been considered taboo sex & violence. Brian De Palma cinema was heavily influenced by the French new directors like Jean-Luc Godard and the films of the legendary Alfred Hitchcock. Hi Mom like most of De Palma’s earliest films is filled with biting dark humor and a distrust of authority. Hi Mom would also explore the underworld of pornographic films which in a few short years thanks to a film called Deep throat would become more accessible to the mainstream audiences. The character of Jon Rubin obsession with filming real people having sex in many ways prophesies the current reality boom in popular television and reality driven porno. Of course there are several similarities in Hi Mom that can be traced backed to the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock. Jon Rubin like L. B. Jefferies in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window both characters like to explore their voyeuristic side through the lens of a camera as they watch their neighbors every move. Overall Hi Mom is a stronger film then its predecessor Greetings. The structure of the film is more defined and De Palma’s camera techniques are leaner and more refined. Robert De Niro who returns reprising the role of Jon Rubin looks more comfortable in his characters skin this time around. The film is also filled with witty dialog and several colorful characters most notable Gerrit Graham’s performance. Hi Mom perfectly captures the mood of the late 1960’s and it also showcases the talents of Brian De Palma & Robert De Niro before they became household names.
MGM’s Hi Mom DVD offers two viewing options. The first option is an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The second options is a full frame presentation that is framed about 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The full frame presentation is an open matte version that offers more information at the top and bottom of the frame that is not visible on the widescreen version. Director Brian De Palma uses multiple aspect ratios and alternates between color and black & white footage. Both transfers are in great shape as flesh tones are dead on and black levels remain constant through out. The transfer is free of any scratches or artifacts. There are no problems with compression of edge enhancement.
This DVD comes with only one audio option the films original English language soundtrack presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Overall the track is not going blow anyone away and since this film is primary dialog driven it more then gets the job done. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. MGM has also included English, French and Spanish subtitles that are easy to follow and understand.
Hi Mom is thirty five years old and MGM has done an excellent job making this film look and sound the best it has since its original theatrical release. Unfortunately they have slighted this release in the extras department. The only extra included for this release is the films original theatrical trailer. MGM has in the past released some great special editions DVD’s of Brian De Palma’s films like their Carrie and Dressed to Kill releases. De Palma is always a joy to hear reminisce about his films and his influences.
Hi Mom despite its lack of extras is essential viewing and it should be in every Brian De Palma fans collection.