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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox
The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox
Fox // PG // June 7, 2005
List Price: $9.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted May 16, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Ah yes, the "Western Comedy," that obscure little sub-genre that enjoyed a brief resurgence following the release of Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles in 1974. OK, sure: maybe you dig Jack Nicholson's Goin' South or the Gene Wilder/Harrison Ford comedy The Frisco Kid (I sure do), but do you have many fond recollections of Hal Needham's The Villain or the George Segal/Goldie Hawn travesty known as The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox?

Didn't think so.

As someone who's devoured the worst of the worst comedy movies ever made, I was looking forward to getting acquainted with The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox. At best it could offer a few chuckles and the chance to see Ms. Hawn at her youngest and most perky. At the very least it would be yet another forgotten farce that I could cross off of my "to see (eventually)" list.

What an absolutely inept and amateurish piece of dreck this is. As directed by Melvin Frank (who, once upon a time, made movies like Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House before closing out his career with garbage like Walk Like a Man), The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox feels a whole lot like two horribly miscast actors bound by contract to sleepwalk through one of the most worthless and grating comedies of the 1970s.

How's this sound? George Segal is a smooth-talking con-man hero-type. Goldie Hawn is a sleazy hooker who'll do just about anything/anyone for a few pieces of spare change. Segal cons some outlaws out of a Bag of Money, and, along with his new lady friend (a shrill and annoying whore), spends 80 aggressively aimless minutes trying to get the Bag of Money back.

Neither of these characters are even remotely charming, sympathetic, witty, or likable. You'll hate them within the first fifteen minutes of the movie ... and things just get worse from there. The alleged bouts of humor arrive via pratfall (he fell off the horse!), charade (a hooker posing as a duchess!), and double entendres so inept and obvious that, frankly, you're embarrassed for the actors forced to deliver them.

I expected The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox to be broad, predictable, and even somewhat stupid, but I just wasn't prepared for this sort of display. You'd never know that this movie was directed by a man with more than a dozen previous films under his belt. You get a sense that the movie was made in a big rush and with very little passion; the actors (particularly the two leads) seem well aware of the mindless swill they're swimming in; and the whole thing just reeks of cheapness and smarm. It's not funny, it's not particularly interesting, and it's most likely one of the very first films that Mr. Segal and Ms. Hawn would love to see stricken from their respective resum├ęs.

My apologies to those who hold this obscure little trashpile in some sort of nostalgia-induced regard, but I just call 'em like I see 'em -- and this is one of the limpest, laziest, and most worthless comedies I've seen in a while. And I see lots of 'em.

The DVD

Video: Fox does the double-side flip for most of their catalog titles, and The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox is no exception. You get a Widescreen Anamorphic (2.35:1) transfer on one side, and a Fullscreen (1.33:1) on the other. I can only assume that this will allow all of the film's fans to appreciate it in the aspect ratio of their own choosing -- which means Fox has made the day of about 18 people worldwide. And to be honest: the Widescreen transfer ain't so hot: it's tacky and grainy and fairly abusive to the eyes, which means it complements the movie quite accurately.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 (or Mono) English. Nothing spectacular, but you'll be able to hear the dialogue (and the wretched songs by Bobby Vinton) quite clearly, should you wish to do so. Also included are French 2.0 and Spanish 2.0 tracks, as are English captions and Spanish subtitles.

Extras: The original teaser trailer and theatrical trailer, which are both exponentially better than the main feature, if only for the fact that they run about 90 seconds apiece.

Final Thoughts

I consider myself a fan of both George Segal and Goldie Hawn, so while I certainly wasn't expecting anything brilliant, I was hoping to get a few goofy laughs from The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox. I did not. I rolled my eyes a lot, dropped my jaw here and there, and cringed about eleven times. This is a graceless and ugly film, and it's a comedy that offers precisely Zero in the laughs department.

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