Why Laserdisc Still Rocks

Some movies just aren't available in any other format. I once had a roommate who had a large collection of movies on laserdisc that were either unavailable on DVD or were otherwise greatly superior to the DVD versions. Among them was The Cheap Detective, written by Neil Simon and starring Peter Falk, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Stockard Channing, Sid Ceasar, Dom DeLuise, Abe Vigoda, and a half-score of others in a WWII detective spoof. It is one of those comedies, for which Simon had a penchant, that was able to pull off absurdity without devolving into farce. I actually like it better than its more-popular predecessor, Murder by Death.

Anyways, The Cheap Detective was filmed with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. But it was only ever released on VHS in pan-and-scan, which chops off over 44% of the picture area. The currently-in-production DVD available in the US is also a pan-and-scan copy. The film was only ever released on video in its full width on Laserdisc, in 1995.

Unfortunately for me, I no longer have that roommate. So I no longer have that Laserdisc copy of The Cheap Detective.

Allegedly, Amazon.ca sells a hybrid disc with both a pan-and-scan and a widescreen transfer. I don't know why this is only sold in Canada. As it stands, the 1995 Laserdisc release is the only complete copy of the film ever published in the US home video market.

I was going to buy the Canadian disc until I found out that the shipping from Canada costs more than the disc itself. I have a birthday coming up here pretty soon, so if anyone is looking for an inexpensive (under $20USD) gift that I would really, really appreciate . . . well, nudge nudge wink wink.

Tom G Varik