Sisters features Margot Kidder as Siamese twins – yes, double helpings of Lois Lane!
After winning some patronising prizes on a cheesy TV gameshow, Danielle (Margot Kidder) – who won some cheesy kitchen cutlery, and Phillip (Lisle Wilson) – who won a meal for two at the local African Room restaurant, purely because he’s black, celebrate into the night back at her place.
Given how the apartment blocks of Staten Island overlook each other, and because they have very nosey neighbours, the next morning, the day of Danielle’s birthday, journalist Grace Collier (Jennifer Salt) believes she saw a murder take place there. The police don’t give a damn because, well, the police are only interested in doughnuts and sitting on their fat behinds, but in plot terms, it’s because Grace wrote a damning article about them, so she has to hire private eye Joseph Larch (Charles Durning) to look into it.
What was most of interest, in a later scene, is that as Grace goes to see a man called Arthur McLennen during her investigations, the relevance of which will be shown when you watch it, I instantly recognised the actor’s voice! The actor is Barnard Hughes and he was Max Merlin in the awesome 80s series Mr Merlin. I loved that show, and having just looked it up, I can’t believe it only lasted one season. Sadly, he passed away in 2006, and judging by the rest of the main cast, the two female leads are the only ones still alive.
There’s some interesting use of split-screen after the murder has taken place and with Grace reporting it. You can always expect De Palma to do something out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, for me, I found the overall film was fairly so-so. It starts off well and sets out its stall, but then ends up coasting along in second gear and doesn’t really feel like it achieves what it should, feeling lacklustre overall.
Sisters is available in a Dual-format Blu-ray/DVD package and I reviewed the DVD.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and looks very hazy to begin with, as old films often do, but settles down before too long. It’s still far from perfect, but bear in mind this is a 41-year-old film. That said, the hazy look is one that accompanies a great deal of Arrow releases. Watching on DVD, the image is obviously softer compared to a Blu-ray, so I expect that will have an overall similar look albeit in sharper, 1080p high defintion.
For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV with a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
The sound is in mono, as originally recorded, but there are times when it goes out of sync slightly, such as when Grace Collier is talking to the police when they arrive, about 33 mins in, and towards the end.
The extras on this disc are as follows:
- What The Devil Hath Joined Together: A Visual Essay (45:06): Split into 7 chapters, movie critic Justin Humphreys goes into great detail about Sisters, looking at the origins of the film and on what it was based, De Palma himself, the cast, the production, the theme of Siamese twins, Bernard Herrmann’s score, and De Palma’s personal trademarks in his films, which was a particular highlight of this extra.
- Cast and crew interviews: Interviews with Jennifer Salt (9:52) – aka Grace Collier, screenwriter Louisa Rose (9:59), editor Paul Hirsch (16:29), unit manager Jeffrey Hayes (4:51) and an audio-only one with the late William Finley (6:19)
- The De Palma Digest (29:45): Movie critic Mike Sutton looks back at the director’s career.
- Theatrical trailer (0:53): A very brief trailer in 4:3. I still think it gives too much away as I didn’t twig anything about a certain revelation until it happened.
- International poster gallery: 22 posters in total.
I reviewed just the disc on its own for this release, but the finished package also contains a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys, and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film, archive content and more.
As you put the disc in, the menu bursts into life with clips from the film and a piece of the main theme. There are subtitles in English, but when it comes to the chaptering, I feel one should come every five minutes on average. Arrow, like many other distributors, go for a low 12 however long the film. I would like them to increase that number.
Running time: 93 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: April 28th 2014
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 1.0 Dual mono
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Brian De Palma
Producer: Edward R. Pressman
Screenplay: Brian De Palma and Louisa Rose (based on an original story by Brian De Palma)
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Danielle Breton/Dominique Blanchion: Margot Kidder
Grace Collier: Jennifer Salt
Joseph Larch: Charles Durning
Emil Breton: William Finley
Phillip Woode: Lisle Wilson
Arthur McLennen: Barnard Hughes
Mrs. Peyson Collier: Mary Davenport
Detective Kelly: Dolph Sweet
Louise Wilanski: Olympia Dukakis (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.