Written by: George Pacheco on May 4th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1972
Director: Jim Clark
Writers: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, John Fortune, John Wells
Cast: Julie Ege, James Booth, Richard Brier, Richard Beckinsale, Patricia Quinn
DVD released: April 30th, 2013
Approximate running time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamoprhic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $17.95
Get your mind out the gutter: Rentadick isn’t nearly as dirty a proposition as may be inferred by the film’s otherwise cheeky title.
Instead, this early seventies comedy—written by Monty Python alumni Graham Chapman and John Cleese, although both would later have their names stricken from the credits—is a zany and relatively harmless affair which centers around scientist Jeffrey Armitage, who hires a private detective agency (the titular “Rentadick” organization) to follow around his luscious wife (Julie Ege) and protect his secret nerve gas formula against the nefarious designs of some sinister spies.
Naturally—given the talent and reputation of all writers involved—this very loose plot turns into a boisterous, madcap mess by film’s end, with a cornucopia of crazy characters running around, indulging in backstab after double cross from first minute to last. The end result is, predictably enough, very Python-esque in scope, with a very hearty dash of Carry On for good measure. Ege provides the film’s window dressing and ultimate prize, while rest of Rentadick’s ensemble cast simply chew the scenery for all its worth as the film’s labyrinthine plot lines weave their way towards an inevitably needlework conclusion.
This actually hinders the impact of Rentadick more than it helps, as the film suffers from some truly schizophrenic writing from Cleese, Chapman and Co., a script which includes some very broad and old-timey riffs on the subjects of race and gender. The effect of this as a whole never comes across as mean-spirited, yet it’s also never really funny, either, with most of Rentadick simply spinning its creative wheels until the end credits mercifully roll, and this sub-Python mess comes to a sad and ineffectual close.
Scorpion Releasing presents Rentadick in an anamorphic widescreen presentation which preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Sound and picture are both clear as a bell, although there are no extras to be had here, apart from the film’s original trailer, a Scorpion reel and the ability to watch the film as part of the company’s “Katrina’s Kat Scratch Cinema” line. Overall, Rentadick receives a serviceable presentation from Scorpion, with room for improvement.