In 1963, Robert De Niro stepped in front of a movie camera for the first time. The resulting film, a low-budget black and white comedy called The Wedding Party, would take three years to complete, and another three years to be released, (mainly due to the production company going down the financial toilet) but the film also establish a hugely important working relationship for the DeNiro as he worked with Brian DePalma for the first time..
This 91 minute black and white film released in 1969 takes us into the world of Charlie (played by Charles Pfuger) and Josephine(played by Jill Clayburgh) w. ho are all set to be married Alistair (played by William Finlay) and Cecil (played by Robert DeNiro) are Charlie’s two groomsmen Charlie, Alistair and Cecil arrive on the island where the wedding will take place on the morning of the day before the ceremony. The film is definitely a satire on weddings and whilst it does have a student film feel to it, at the hands of the future master Brian DePalma is an interesting experience and a fun film to watch if you like watching ‘older films’ (and I dont mean that in a bad way)
The music soundtrack does drown out some of the dialogue now and again and so this perhaps isnt the easiest film to watch, but knowing the hard work that Arrow put into their reissues and restorations, This 2k restoration set is more than likely the best we shall ever get, considering what sort of the equipment the film was captured on way back in the 60s. I cant even imagine what the original negative of The Wedding Party would have looked like, so Im certainly not complaining and Arrow once again have done a stellar job at updating film history.
Next up is ‘Greetings’, the first film to receive an X certificate in the United States, is a freewheeling satire focusing on a trio of twentysomething friends – a conspiracy theorist, a filmmaker, and a voyeur played by De Niro – as they try to avoid the Vietnam War draft. Released in 1968, way before DeNiro hit the big time with Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and of course The Godfather Part 2, is a fascinating film to watch and is certainly a film of the 60s with its music soundtrack, its one two rapid dialogue with the friends on film, covering a whole range of topics. To see this very early DeNiro role, in fact his first feature credited film is a great experience and you can see the greatness in this film, that the whole world would soon see when the name Robert De Niro became a house hold name. So is Greetings any good? Well as a look to 1960’s New York filmmaking it is highly interesting. New York has always been a very cinematic location to film and to see it in the 60s and 70s is always a treat. The film itself is also interesting but isnt going to appear in any of the Best DeNiro films ever list, but thats a hard list to get onto as its usually take up with the usual films such as Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Casino, Heat, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and The Godfather Part 2. However its still a fun watch and a film that in all honestly I had never heard of until Arrow put together this great box set of early DePalma films, so a huge than you to them!
Special Features wise, well Arrow never let film fans down and with Greetings we get a full length audio commentary by Gleen Kenny , a New York Times film writer, who wrote a book called Anatomy of an Actor: Robert DeNiro and Glenn takes us through the film with great detail.
We are also treated to a couple of shortish featurettes on the film which total around 20 mins and are a fun watch. All in all Greetings is treated very well and preserved for film fans (like me) who had never heard of the film until recently.
We then move into the third film on this set which is 1970s Hi, Mom!,( originally named Son of Greetings), takes us back to the character played in Greetings by DeNiro who is now an aspiring maker of adult films and we once again are treated to more glimpses at late-sixties society, but this time the attention is turned to experimental theatre and cinema vérité. A very watchable film that not only features DeNiro and Jennifer Salt back on film again but also adds Charles Durning to the mix who is wonderful as the landlord.These three films were fun to watch and im super grateful to have been able to see them and to be able to tick off 3 films by DeNiro (and DePalma) from their very impressive filmography that spans decades. This set is definitely worth picking up and whilst Brian DePalma does have a huge following, Im sure that Robert DeNiro has an even bigger following and fans will pick these titles up and enjoy seeing the masters talent in films they may not have seen before.
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration of The Wedding Party from the original film negative, carried out exclusively for this release by Arrow Films
• Brand new 2K restorations of Greetings and Hi, Mom! from original film materials, carried out exclusively for this release by Arrow Films
• Original uncompressed mono soundtracks
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all three films
• Brand new commentary on Greetings by Glenn Kenny, author of Robert De Niro:
Anatomy of an Actor
• Brand new appreciation of Brian De Palma and Robert De Niro’s collaborations by critic
and filmmaker Howard S. Berger
• Brand new interviews with Charles Hirsch, writer-producer of Greetings and Hi, Mom!
• Brand new interview with actor Gerrit Graham on Greetings, Hi, Mom! and his other collaborations with Brian De Palma
• Brand new interview with actor Peter Maloney on Hi, Mom!
• Hi, Mom! theatrical trailer
• Newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
• Limited collector’s edition booklet featuring new writing on the films by Brad Stevens, Chris Dumas and Christina Newland, plus an archive interview with Brian De Palma and Charles Hirsch
Arrow Video brings the best in Catalogue cult and horror films in deluxe, definitive editions with uncut versions, newly commissioned artwork, specially curated extras and booklets. Starting as an offshoot label in 2009, the collection now spans more than 350 releases including films from Dario Argento, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter.
Recently the label has expanded into the US, whilst also moving into acquiring New Release content, debuting Mexican horror We Are The Flesh and British BAFTA-nominated debut feature The Ghoul in both the UK and US, and more recently The Villainess and The Endless in the UK.