Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (4th February 2018).
The Film

"Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches" (2016)

The late Australian actor Rod Taylor, whose most recent role was in Quentin Tarantino’s Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth. During the 1950s through to 1970s he featured in many “A list” films: "The Time Machine", "The Birds", "The Train Robbers". He was one of the first leading actors to voice a Disney animated character when he portrayed the hero Pongo in "101 Dalmatians". He worked with directors such as the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, George Stevens, Michelangelo Antonioni, John Ford and George Pal. He made a seamless transition from feature films to TV and starred in popular TV series such "Hong Kong", "Bearcats", "Murder She Wrote", "Falcon’s Crest" and "Walker – Texas Ranger". In "Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches", a variety of actors, film critics, writers, directors and Rod reflect on his colorful life and career which spanned more than 50 years.

Born on January 11th 1930, Rod Taylor started his film career when he was in his early twenties in his native Australia. With his good looks, tough guy persona, and youthful yet masculine persona, it wasn't long until he crossed the Pacific to look for additional roles in Hollywood where he found continuous work in early television and film from the mid 1950s. It was the 1960s that Taylor's career rose to new heights, as he was cast in the lead role in the science fiction classic "The Time Machine" in 1960, played the leading man in Hitchcock's seminal "The Birds" and worked with many of the leading ladies of the decade. Jane Fonda, Maggie Smith", Ann-Margret, Julie Christie to name a few, Taylor was one of the top Australian exports of the day.

"Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches" is a biography documentary featuring the words of Taylor himself discussing everything from his childhood to his individual roles over the years. His days growing up, working as a painter, radio shows having a profound influence, Hollywood during the golden age - Taylor has a lot to say and as the title says, he pulls no punches. He talks about the fun as well as the not-so-fun times, with the great films he had made in his career mixed with the ones at the bottom of the barrel. The documentary also includes many additional interview clips with fellow actors, directors, and people that knew Taylor well including Tippi Hedren, Angela Lansbury, Jack Thompson, Bryan Brown, and Baz Luhrmann to name a few. The documentary is very fascinating to lovers of classic cinema, though surprisingly not too much is given about Taylor's personal life. His marriages and other personal details seem to be left out which leaves the cinematic personality on screen but slightly empty without the details.

Sadly Taylor would not live to see the completed film as he died from a heart attack on January 7th, 2015 at the age of 84, just four days before his birthday. With nearly 100 acting credits to his filmography over the period of nearly 60 years, he certainly left a mark on Hollywood with an Australian touch.

Note this is a region 0 PAL DVD which can be played back on any DVD or Blu-ray player worldwide with PAL capability

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in 1.78:1 with anamorphic enhancement in the PAL format. The new interview portions look very good with colors and depth while there are a few moments of interlacing seen in shots featuring very fast motion such as hand waves, but it is rarely noticeable. As for the vintage interview segments, the quality varies depending on the footage. Vintage trailers can have colors washed out and scratches visible, as well as behind the scenes footage and film clips, which should be of no surprise. Some of the interlacing is more noticeable in the vintage footage, but again nothing too distracting.

The film's runtime is 80:03.




















Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

There are no subtitles offered.

Extras

Extended Interview - Rod Taylor & Tippi Hedren (3:17)
The two stars reunite in a sit down conversation in which they talk about some behind the scenes stories of their work together on "The Birds" as well as some words on Hitchcock. Hedren's audio is on the left channel and Taylor's is on the right making some unnecessary audio panning throughout.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Burbank Film Festival Q&A: Sept 10, 2017 (16:39)
In a post-screening of the film at the Burbank Film Festival in California, Tippi Hedren, Veronica Cartwright, Robert de Young, Stephen Wellink, and Cari Beauchamp share their memories of Taylor and the films he was in. The audio on this extra is very poor, sounding low and echoey as it was not taken directly from the audio soundboards.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

The extras are fair, but very lightweight. The "extended interview" is very short, there are no additional comments or commentary, or even the trailer. Though not on the disc, here is the trailer courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment:

Packaging

The rear case mistakenly states the disc is region 4 only, but it is in fact a region 0 disc. The rear also lists the runtime as 100 minutes, which seems to be the total runtime of the disc rather than just the film.

Overall

"Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches" is a fascinating biography told through the words of the man himself. It's highly enjoyable looking back at many of his iconic roles over the years, and though he did not live to see the completed documentary, it will certainly please his fans as well as gain ground for newcomers as well. The Umbrella Entertainment DVD features fair video and audio with some minor extras.

The Film: B Video: B- Audio: B+ Extras: C Overall: B

 


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