DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson
Writing Credits:
Warren Beatty, Trevor Griffiths

A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.

Box Office:
$32 million.
Opening Weekend
$2,325,029 on 396 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 195 min.
Price: $17.99
Release Date: 11/30/2021

• “Witness to Reds” Documentary
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Reds [Blu-Ray] (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 22, 2021)

Come Oscar night 1982, we got a case of What Was, What Should Have Been, and What Most Thought Would Be. In regard to “What Was”, Chariots of Fire took home the prize as Best Picture.

As for “What Should Have Been”, I thought – and still believe – that Raiders of the Lost Ark was the best flick of the year and it most deserved the prize.

Then we come to What Most Thought Would Be: a Best Picture victory for Reds. The movie received good reviews and had the kind of epic Oscar feel that the Academy so often likes.

When Warren Beatty took home the Best Director trophy, a Best Picture win for Reds seemed even more likely, but it wasn’t to be. While I felt Raiders was the best of the year’s bunch, I definitely preferred Reds to the lackluster Chariots.

Reds starts from reminiscences from “witnesses” who knew the movie’s main characters, Jack Reed (Beatty) and Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton). From there we flash back to Portland Oregon circa 1915 to meet Diane and her dentist husband Paul Trullinger (Nicolas Coster). She supports the arts but he frowns upon her indulgences.

Louise clearly moons over rebellious journalist Jack. She pursues an interview with them and they spend a night during which he espouses his left-wing viewpoints, mostly related to potential American involvement in World War I.

As a result, the pair launch a relationship that causes Louise to leave Paul and move to New York with Jack so she can pursue her work as a writer. She ends up with him in Greenwich Village where she gets caught up in the progressive movement with Jack and others such as Max Eastman (Edward Herrmann), Emma Goldman (Maureen Stapleton), Floyd Dell (Max Wright), Bill Haywood (Dolph Sweet) and Eugene O’Neill (Jack Nicholson).

However, Louise resents that no one takes her seriously and she ends up regarded as little more than Jack’s babe. Eventually this comes to a head, and after they shift bases to Provincetown, she becomes better able to create useful work.

Louise also finds a distraction during all of Jack’s many trips away from home, and she gets involved in an affair with O’Neill though she remains focused on Jack. This love triangle presents lasting repercussions even after Jack and Louise marry.

Reds follows their relationship as well as their political proclivities, an area that leads them to Russia for the revolution. This affects them strongly and makes them even more involved in radical issues back in the US.

I seem to recall that I really liked Reds back in 1981, but I tend to discount some of my teenage opinions due to pretension. I wanted to dig movies beyond those normally endorsed by my peer group, so if something seemed to be “sophisticated” and “important”, that was good enough for me.

Reds fit the bill in both categories, so it became more likely that I’d endorse it more because of my desires to be “adult” than on its own merits.

40 years later, I’m about as adult as I’ll ever get, and I’d like to think that I’ve abandoned most of my pretensions. Seen in that light, I find that Reds offers a generally successful historical effort but not one that quite lives up to its ambitions.

And what were those ambitions? To be a grand epic on a par with legendary flicks such as Dr. Zhivago.

I find that film to offer the most apt point of comparison since both it and Reds cover related territory. Of course, Reds takes the Russian Revolution as a more inspirational event while Zhivago goes in the opposite direction, but the pair share more than a few common components and themes.

Both go through their subjects with a focus on human relationships, and that’s where Reds shines. Beatty approaches his lead characters and their lives in an understated manner that works well. Throughout the film, he tells his tale in a clear manner that lacks the usual sentimentality.

Indeed, Reds offers a very good depiction of the devotion to each other between Jack and Louise. This feels earned, not gratuitous, and comes across in an unsentimental manner that makes it more effective.

The movie doesn’t pour on the gooey love, so it keeps things calm and unemotional as would befit intellectuals like these. Beatty couldn’t quite resist a music swell during one particular scene, but given his restraint the rest of the time, I can forgive that move.

Reds blends the emotional side with the historical and creates a nice look at the events. No, we don’t get a full retelling of the Russian Revolution, but we learn more than enough as a backdrop.

The main characters remain the focus, and that helps develop the historical elements in a vivid way. For feature films, I usually think they tell history best when viewed through the eyes of different people, so I like the way Reds moves along that side of things.

I must admit I’m not particularly wild about the “witnesses”, though, as I don’t think the movie needs that sort of gimmick. Those participants help give us some insights into Reed and Bryant, but they distract more than they add.

I also think the film runs a little too long. It tends to become a bit redundant as it examines the various relationships and threatens to lose the viewer, especially during the first half.

Sometimes it feels like the length exists to pad the flick to “epic” scope but doesn’t come for organic storytelling reasons. It does improve its pace once it gets to Russia, though, so the second half proceeds more smoothly.

In any case, Reds has more than enough to overcome the minor weaknesses, especially because we hear less and less from the “witnesses” as the movie progresses. It boasts an absolutely stellar cast and gives us an interesting history of a somewhat forgotten aspect of American history. This is a quality movie that remains solid after 40 years.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Reds appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a high-quality presentation here.

Sharpness seemed positive. Only a handful of slightly soft shots materialized, as most of the movie appeared accurate and well defined.

Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws caused no distractions.

Reds boasted a subdued palette. The movie stayed with an amber/sepia look much of the time, as it gave us a muted set of colors that also dipped into teal-blues at times. The disc replicated these well, however, as the tones were just as full as the film demanded them to be.

Black levels were deep and dense, while shadow detail seemed appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. This ended up as an appealing image.

As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Reds, it presented a pretty positive affair given its age, though much of the track stayed fairly heavily oriented toward the center channel. I noted reasonably good general ambience throughout the film.

Some more action-oriented scenes – storms, war, the beach and bustling streets – provided a greater level of activity. The surrounds seemed fairly passive throughout the movie, but they contributed a nice sense of reinforcement, especially in the more active sequences I mentioned.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech came across as natural and crisp, with only a smidgen of edginess at times.

Effects played a minor role in the film, but they always seemed accurate and well defined, with no issues related to distortion or other areas. The occasional explosion or blast managed decent oomph. Music provided reasonably positive solid reproduction of the score.

The pieces of music sounded acceptably bright and vivid, and they boasted fairly good dynamic range. This wasn’t an amazing piece of audio, but it worked more than acceptably well for a 40-year-old flick.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The Blu-ray’s lossless audio offered a bit more range and impact, but it didn’t top the lossy DVD track in a major way.

Visuals showed the expected upgrade, as the Blu-ray looked better defined and more natural. While the DVD worked nicely, the Blu-ray became the better presentation.

We get the same extras from the DVD here. In addition to a trailer, we find a seven-part documentary called Witness to Reds.

In total, this runs one hour, seven minutes, 32 seconds as we hear from director/producer/writer/actor Warren Beatty, former Paramount chairman and CEO Barry Diller, actor/author Jerzy Kosinski’s widow Kiki, executive producer/assistant director Simon Relph, special consultant Jeremy Pikser, director of photography Vittorio Storaro, editor/executive producer Dede Allen, production manager Nigel Wooll, supervising location manager Redmond Morris, editor Craig McKay, 2nd unit director Craig R. Baxley, composer Stephen Sondheim, former Paramount Senior VP-Advertising Creative Services Shelly Hochron, and actors Jack Nicholson, Paul Sorvino, and Edward Herrmann.

“Witness” examines why Beatty pursued the subjects in Reds and its development, casting, characters and performances, and the use of the “witnesses”.

From there we move through locations and sets, visual elements and challenges related to making a period film, conflicts during the shoot, Beatty’s work as director, and musical choices. Finally, the program investigates facts and research, editing, the score, advertising and the film’s legacy.

“Witness” presents a solid overview of the film’s creation. The active participation of Beatty helps. At the outset, he indicates that he doesn’t much care for this sort of film discussion, but that doesn’t seem to affect his willingness to chat about the movie. The show gives us a nice mix of elements to create an informative take on the production.

Reds may have been upset for the Best Picture Oscar, but I’d argue it was better than the flick that actually won. While it shows some flaws, the movie maintains a nicely objective and unsentimental tone that allows it to become involving and effective. The Blu-ray presents strong picture and solid audio along with a good documentary. This is a worthwhile release that earns my recommendation.

To rate this film visit the original review of REDS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main