The World’s Greatest Lover appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. This was a transfer that never became poor but it also never seemed particularly noteworthy.
Sharpness usually appeared positive. At times it became a little fuzzy and ill-defined, but it generally manifested a decent level of clarity. Though this wasn’t a razor-sharp presentation, it seems acceptably concise. I saw no signs of moiré effects or jagged edges, but a little edge enhancement popped up through the movie.
Colors varied a little more than I’d like. Costumes occasionally boasted fairly lively tones, but much of the film showed rather flat hues. I thought some of this resulted from stylistic choices, but the colors seemed to inconsistent for me to chalk all of the drab tones up to that.
Black levels generally seemed solid, with dark tones that appeared acceptably deep and rich. However, shadow detail was a little lacking. Some low-light situations came across as a bit dark and dense, with images that could be somewhat hard to discern. I didn’t think the picture seemed muddy, though, and the film included few enough dim sequences that this wasn’t much of a concern.
Print flaws caused some main concerns. I saw a few examples of specks, marks, and streaks, and grain sometimes became invasive. More than a few shots displayed rather prominent grain. Ultimately, the visuals were acceptable but not good enough to earn a grade above a “C+”.
Matters didn’t improve for the Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtrack of The World’s Greatest Lover. As was the case with Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, there wasn’t any noticeable stereo material on display here. Best seen as “broad mono”, the track opened slightly to the sides but not in a clear manner. Instead, the elements stayed focused around the center; they just broadened a bit to the sides. This didn’t make them any more effective, and this mix was tough to distinguish from the actual monaural soundtrack.
In the same vein, I thought the track sounded okay. Speech showed a little tinniness but remained acceptably distinctive and lacked problems with intelligibility. Music failed to demonstrate much life. The score was concise and without flaws, but it didn’t show great range. Effects fell into the same category. Those elements sounded fairly clean and weren’t distorted, but they never stood out as bright or rich. This was a listenable mix with no particular strengths.
The DVD’s main supplement offers an audio commentary with writer/actor/director Gene Wilder. He presents a running, screen-specific chat. After the boring commentary Wilder provided for Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, I hoped he’d rebound here. Sadly, this piece is no better than its sibling, and it’s probably worse.
Wilder tells us about various influences and inspirations for the film. He also gets into the cast and their performances, sets, and general production information. Unfortunately, as was the case with the Brother commentary, tons of dead air mars this discussion. Even when Wilder manages to speak, he usually says little of consequence. His story about getting the approval of Fellini to avert a potential lawsuit is interesting, and he tosses out a couple of other decent nuggets as well. That’s just not enough worthwhile material to sustain an hour and a half of commentary, though, and this one remains a disappointing dud.
We also find a collection of trailers. The disc features ads for Lover along with promos for Silver Streak, Young Frankenstein and The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother.
The World’s Greatest Lover never dazzles, but it offers reasonable pleasures. It mixes broad comedy and relationship drama to fairly good effect. The DVD presents mediocre picture and audio as well as an audio commentary that offers little information and lots of tedium. The set’s low price makes it enticing, but I don’t think the product itself is strong enough to warrant a firm recommendation.