Release Date(s)1983 (December 1, 2020)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: C-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: C+
D.C. Cab, an oddball comedy that managed to eventually snag an audience over time, came and went in December of 1983. Directed by Joel Schumacher, who by this point had written Car Wash and The Wiz and directed The Incredible Shrinking Woman, the film eked out a minor profit, though it wasn’t that popular, particularly with critics. Like many less successful films of the period, it did well later on cable and home video and became a minor cult favorite, thanks in no small part to its diverse cast of characters. Though uneven, it’s very colorful and well-shot (thanks to cinematographer Dean Cundey), features a great soundtrack (with music and songs by Giorgio Moroder and Irene Cara), and has a persuasive charm due to its underdog storyline.
The District of Columbia Cab Company is down on its luck thanks partly to its competition, the Emerald Cab Company. Managed by the well-meaning Harold (Max Gail), the company has a crew of assorted misfits on the payroll, including Tyrone (Charlie Barnett), Ophelia (Marsha Warfield), Samson (Mr. T), Baba (Bill Maher), Dell (Gary Busey), Xavier (Paul Rodriguez), Buddy and Buzzy (Peter and David Barbarian), Bongo (DeWayne Jessie), and Mr. Rhythm (Whitman Mayo). New on the job is Albert (Adam Baldwin), whom the crew takes under its wing. After several mishaps, including being held up at gunpoint, losing a valuable violin, and a kidnapping, Albert infuses the crew with the idea that they should try and make the company something to be proud of. Meanwhile, Albert is vying for the affections of the beautiful Claudette (Jill Schoelen), Harold is dealing with his wife Myrna (Anne De Salvo), and the crew is facing the prospect of potential failure.
D.C. Cab comes to Blu-ray for the first time through Kino Lorber Studio Classics utilizing a very old high definition master supplied by Universal. Nothing about it appears natural thanks to a heavy dose of DNR and oversharpening, leaving behind smooth, waxy faces and objects. Some shots are less plagued with it than others, but in daytime scenes, it’s blatantly obvious. The color palette offers a nice variety of hues, allowing the dingy yellow cabs to pop, while blues, reds, and greens also have a vividness to them. High contrast, crushed blacks, and a slightly unstable picture with minimal leftover damage are what remain. To say the least, this is definitely in need of an overhaul, preferably with the involvement of Dean Cundey.
The soundtrack is included in English 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English. It fares much better than its video counterpart. The main star is the score and song selection, both coming through with excellent fidelity. Dialogue exchanges are clear and precise. Sound effects have decent impact as well. Ambient activity includes the bustling D.C. streets and chatter from various extras during large crowd scenes. It’s also free of any obvious damage, including hiss, crackle, dropouts, and distortion.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary by Daniel Kremer and Scout Tafoya
- Trailer (SD – 2:33)
- Radio Spots (HD – 8 in all – 4:15)
- My Bodyguard Trailer (SD – 2:19)
- Bustin’ Loose Trailer (SD – 1:29)
- Moving Violations Trailer (SD – 1:29)
- Veronica Guerin Trailer (SD – 1:09)
The main extra is the audio commentary with film historian/filmmaker Daniel Kremer and film critic Scout Tafoya, both of whom are big fans of the film and many other 80s comedies of the period. They deep dive into a discussion about all of the film’s main players, including its cast and crew, its strong and weak points, and observations about the time period in which it was made. It’s a surprisingly lighthearted and fun conversation that’s worth a listen. Following that is the trailer and eight radio spots for the film, as well as four trailers for other Kino Lorber titles.
It’s obvious that Kino Lorber has attempted to make the best of things with D.C. Cab’s subpar video master. The reason why a new master wasn’t carried out is anybody’s guess (budget would likely be the culprit). However, the soundtrack and extras have merit, and for long-time fans who’ve wanted the film on Blu-ray for years, it’s a step up—just not a major one.
- Tim Salmons