Stripes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The nature of the source limited the image’s potential, but it represented the film well.
Sharpness was usually fine. Some softness crept in at times, but most of the movie displayed positive accuracy and clarity, even if it didn’t tend to seem razor sharp.
I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to appear. Grain seemed heavy, but that was part of the original photography, and at least this meant the image lacked obvious digital noise reduction.
Print flaws weren’t a factor. No specks, marks or other defects arose here.
Colors varied from surprisingly bold to somewhat dull. Again, this reflected the source, and I thought the hues usually seemed positive. HDR gave the instances of brighter tones added oomph and power.
Blacks fairly deep and dense, while shadows worked mostly fine. Some interiors felt a bit thick, but not to a problematic degree.
HDR added impact to whites and contrast, though the often intense grain toned down those advantages. No one will use Stripes as a demo movie, but the 4K made it look as good as I can imagine.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the modern Dolby Atmos remix of Stripes also had some age-related flaws, but it presented a surprisingly involving and vibrant affair. Stripes was originally monaural, which meant I didn’t expect much from the new soundfield. However, it opened up matters quite well.
All speakers presented a lot of audio, and these brought life to both street scenes and those in various military situations. Shells and bullets zipped around the room to good effect and vehicles moved neatly across the spectrum.
Music also showed nice stereo delineation as well as reinforcement from the rear. None of this seemed awkward or artificial, as the soundfield blended well.
Audio quality occasionally showed its age, mostly due to the speech stems. Those could sound stiff and reedy, and they also showed some edginess, particularly during the mud wrestling sequence. Speech was usually fine given its age, however.
On the other hand, both music and effects demonstrated strong definition. The score was bright and dynamic, while the effects seemed crisp and lively. They presented very impressive low-end and made a real impression.
There was little distortion as the track showed solid fidelity. Only the relatively weak speech kept this from “A” territory; otherwise Stripes really impressed.
Note that the 4K also provided the movie’s original DTS-HD MA 1.0 mix but only alongside the 1981 theatrical version. Since the Extended Cut only ever existed as a home video release, it made sense that it didn’t bring the 1981 mono track.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2012 Blu-ray? Audio was comparable, as the 4K’s Atmos mix might’ve added a bit of immersiveness but it felt fairly similar to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track from the Blu-ray.
As for visuals, the 4K UHD better more vivid, better defined and cleaner than its BD predecessor. The original film limited growth but the 4K nonetheless turned into the more satisfying rendition of the film.
The Blu-ray included in this set offers a new disc that only appears here – for the time being, at least, as it seems possible it eventually gets a standalone release. If that happens, I’ll review it, but until/unless that time, it makes no sense to compare the 4K to a Blu-ray no one can buy on its own.
The disc presents both the film’s Theatrical Version (1:46:08) and an Extended Cut (2:02:55). What extra bits fill out the extended edition?
Here are the new scenes, so skip this area if you don’t want to learn about them in advance:
-John talks about his how he thinks the Army will be and convinces Russell to join;
-John tries to get Russell out of camp and they end up on a Special Forces mission;
-Captain Stillman challenges the squad to graduate and says he doesn’t think they’ll do it;
-Sgt. Hulka picks on John and Russell in Italy;
-John and Stella and Russell and Louise get it on in Germany;
-John talks Russell into rescuing their comrades in Czechoslovakia.
The most significant of these is the Special Forces scene, which comes between the dusk shot of the exhausted soldiers and the sight of Captain Stillman as he pervs out to the showering women. This lasts almost nine minutes and takes our heroes all the way to South America.
It’s an odd scene that feels like it comes from a different movie, which is sort of true. It was originally meant for a script written for Cheech and Chong, and it doesn’t connect to Stripes at all.
The others are shorter, but I think all of them were appropriate cuts. We don’t need more of John’s attempts to get Russell into the Army, as the existing scene tells us enough.
Stillman’s scene is also redundant since we get that information elsewhere and don’t need it twice. The same goes for Hulka’s bit. Do we need an explanation for why he gives John crappy jobs after all their antagonism?
The other two pieces are more useful, especially since the party sequence offers plenty of skin from PJ Soles. Still, neither adds much.
As a long-time fan of Stripes, it was fun to get a look at these cut pieces. Nonetheless, I much prefer the tighter theatrical cut.
On the 4K disc, we get the movie’s trailer as well as two featurettes under the banner 40 Years of Stripes: “That’s the Fact, Jack!” (20:30) and “Lighten Up, Francis” (24:18).
In these director Ivan Reitman and actor Bill Murray reminisce about the film via an Internet video chat. Director of photography Bill Butler pops up at the end of “Francis” as well.
Should one expect real revelations here? No, though we get some fun observations, such as that Murray had the presence of mind to suck in his gut for some scenes whereas Harold Ramis let his belly fly.
Mostly “40 Years” becomes fun just because it offers Reitman and Murray together. It feels like a fond chat among old pals and that makes it enjoyable.
The remaining extras all appear on the included Blu-ray copy, and to accompany the extended cut, we get an audio commentary from director Ivan Reitman and co-writer/producer Dan Goldberg. Both men sit together for a running, screen-specific chat.
They mostly focus on story issues, as we learn about the deleted - and now reintegrated scenes - as well as pacing and changes from the original script. We learn the movie was first intended as a Cheech and Chong outing and see the connections to that concept. We also hear about locations, casting, improvisation, working with the military, the score and many specifics related to the shoot.
Though the commentary proves generally satisfying, it doesn’t achieve greatness. Some dead spots occur, and Reitman has an annoying tendency to get the era incorrect, such as when he occasionally refers to shooting the flick in 1982. Nonetheless, I learned a lot about the movie in this mostly entertaining and compelling track.
Presented in two parts, a documentary called Stars and Stripes fills a total of 55 minutes, 43 seconds. It includes interviews with Reitman, Goldberg, actor/co-writer Harold Ramis, and actors Bill Murray, Judge Reinhold, John Larroquette, Sean Young, PJ Soles, and John Diehl.
They discuss the film’s genesis and development as a Cheech and Chong effort, the change from that to a Murray project, the cast, Murray’s impact on the set and the partnership with Ramis, improvisations, Warren Oates’ work and the Hulka/John interaction, John Candy’s work, locations and the involvement of the Army, various combinations of actors and their contrasting styles, and specifics of shooting some scenes.
Given its length, I had high hopes that “Stars” would present a rich look at the film’s creation. Unfortunately, it’s not terribly informative. On one hand, it’s good to hear from some of the actors, as they provide a mix of decent stories about the shoot.
However, “Stars” includes way too many movie clips, and a lot of the content repeats from the commentary. In addition, we hear a fair amount of praise, and Murray’s interview is a big disappointment.
He says very little and only pops up a few times. “Stars” becomes reasonably entertaining at times, but I don’t feel like it tells us a whole lot.
17 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 29 minutes, 10 seconds. Some of these clips repeat material found in the Extended Cut, though I like that we can see them on their own.
Plenty of the bits debut here. While I can’t claim we locate any lost gold, the added footage proves enjoyable to see.
New to the 2021 Blu-ray, we find a 1983 TV Version of Stripes (1:43:58). As expected, this cropped 1.33:1 presentation offers a version of the film without the original nudity and profanity.
To fill gaps, we get some alternate shots. These don’t offer true deleted scenes, though, so don’t expect anything interesting.
Instead, we get filler like more of Psycho at the pinball machine. The TV version seems like a good addition for archival reasons, but I’ll never watch it again,
One of the strongest comedies from the Eighties, Stripes occasionally shows its age. However, it boasts an excellent cast, strong performances, and a lot of laughs. The 4K UHD offers positive picture and audio along with a few useful supplements. This turns into the best home video version of the movie to date.
Note that as of June 2022, the 4K UHD disc of Stripes can be purchased only as part of a six-movie “Columbia Classics Collection Volume 2”. This set also includes 4K UHD versions of The Social Network, Anatomy of a Murder, Oliver!, Sense and Sensibility and Taxi Driver.
To rate this film, visit the original review of STRIPES