An undercover FBI agent falls in love with a recently widowed mafia wife seeking to start her life over after her husband's murder and who is also pursued by a libidinous mafia kingpin seeking to claim her for himself.
Although it caught the eye of more than a few critics in 1988 (and nabbed Dean Stockwell a Best Supporting Actor nomination), I'm guessing there's more than a few of you who have never seen 'Married to the Mob'. That's a shame, because it's one of the most entertaining comedies of the 1980s, and one of this critic's all-time favorites.
The movie was directed by Jonathan Demme before he became a household name with The Silence of the Lambs. You won't see the darkness of that film here, but you will see a lot of the familiar faces (both in front of and behind the camera) that Demme has used throughout his career, including Director of Photography Tak Fujimoto, who always makes the director's films so interesting to watch. Here, he uses a wonderful array of colors that capture both the look and the feel of the decade in which the movie was shot.
'Married to the Mob' stars Michelle Pfeiffer as Angela de Marco, a young woman who finds herself in a troubled marriage with mob hitman Frank (Alec Baldwin). When Frank is bumped off by the head of the mob, Tony "The Tiger" Russo (Dean Stockwell), Angela decides to pack up her things and her young son and go build a better life for herself. That, however, is easier said than done. She has no skills in which to find a job, she has Tony looking to score with her, and she has Tony's insanely (literally!) jealous wife, Connie (Mercedes Ruehl), thinking that Angela really is having an affair with her husband and looking for payback.
The above description tells you a little about where the comedy in 'Married to the Mob' comes from, but the film also contains a sweet romance. FBI Agent Mike Downey (Matthew Modine, in my favorite movie performance he's given) gets assigned to tail Angela, and finds himself falling in love with her in the process. Modine is at his quirky best here, and the chemistry between him and Pfeiffer is so good, I'm surprised they never decided to make another film together.
'Married to the Mob' is a comedy that grows on you the more times you watch it. It's one of those films with great quotable lines and scenes (Dean Stockwell singing the 'Burger World' song is a personal favorite), in addition to little things that are so silly you have to cheer Demme for his willingness to have fun at every opportunity. It's obvious here that the cast is having the time of their lives, and that joy translates to the viewer.
Although this release from Kino Lorber is pretty much bare bones, 'Married to the Mob' might be the best blind buy in terms of catalog releases that you'll find this year. I've been waiting a long time for this movie to hit Blu-ray (I actually thought it might never see a release) and am thrilled to own the title in the best format currently available. If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out. You may love it (as I do) or you may hate it, but you'll certainly appreciate its style and sense of fun.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Married to the Mob' hits Blu-ray in a standard Elite keepcase, which house the single 25GB disc, with no inserts. After the Kino logo, the disc goes straight to the menu screen, which is just a still of the box cover, with menu selections along the bottom of the screen.
This Blu-ray release is Region A locked.
At first glance, the video quality here might disappoint some, but upon closer inspection you'll realize what a pleasant transfer this is. First, let's deal with the bad. The transfer still has a ton of dirt and defects in it, as both black and white flecks pop up in virtually every scene of the movie. Some scenes are worse than others, but it's always visible – and the bigger one's screen, the more this might prove a distraction.
Also, the video is somewhat 'soft' looking throughout, but the good news here is that Kino hasn't over-scrubbed or over-DNR'd the picture. It retains a very film-like quality to it, that's a good representation of what the movie looked like on theater screens. There are a lot of colorful segments in the movie, and I was worried that the studio would amp up the colors, which would have over-saturated many moments of the film. Thankfully, the color balance here is almost perfect. You can see how nicely it's done in the reddish scenes involving actors Dean Stockwell and Nancy Travis early in the film – a bad transfer would have oversaturated those moments and led to some 'bleed through" of the reds, but they look great here.
The movie maintains a healthy amount of grain throughout, although it's never to the point of distraction. While black levels aren't as deep as you'd find on a newer movie or a pristine transfer, there's not a whole lot of crush here, and in terms of glitches like banding, haloing, or aliasing, there was none that I could detect. I'm guessing others might feel that this transfer is a bit muted, but I think it's a great representation of how the movie did and should look, and I'm quite pleased with what Kino delivered on this release.
The only audio available is an English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is surprisingly well-done for an older movie. At first, one may not notice just how well-done this track is, but go to the scene about 20 minutes in where Matthew Modine's character is getting out of bed. Sit back and enjoy as the musical soundtrack playfully bounces different elements of the music between the two front speakers. Separation here is excellent, despite the use of only two speakers. Dialogue is clear throughout, and balance is solidly done.
I detected no flaws, such as hissing, dropouts, or other problems in the track. Everything is nicely balanced, and Demme's frequent use of soundtrack music and/or pop tunes never drowns out the spoken word.
It's always hard to get excited about a 2.0 track, as most of them don't really enhance one's viewing enjoyment. However, this is one of the better ones I've heard on Blu-ray, and while a new 5.1 mix might have been interesting, there's little to complain about here.
In addition to the lossless track, English subtitles are available.
Delightfully quirky and funny, 'Married to the Mob' has never received the kind of universal kudos it deserves for being a great piece of entertainment. Now on Blu-ray, perhaps the movie will finally get in front of plenty of new eyes who will be able to see what they missed out on. This is one of my favorite films of the 1980s and it deserves a spot in any movie lover's collection, despite the lack of extras on this release. Recommended.