The Private Eyes

The Private Eyes (1980)

Cast: Tim Conway, Don Knotts
Extras: Commentary Track, Theatrical Trailer, Still Gallery

For those of us who don’t live in New York, L.A., or Chicago, it’s a rare and exciting treat to see a film that was shot at a location that one is familiar with. That’s just one of the reasons that I’m excited about the recent release of ’The Private Eyes’. This 1980 comedy was shot at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, a scenic spot that I’ve visited many times over the years. The movie stars Don Knotts and Tim Conway, as the bumbling Inspector Winship and Doctor Tart. They have been summoned to Morley Manor to solve the murder of Lord and Lady Morley. The pair meet the odd assortment of characters who live in the mansion and then set about trying to solve the murders, as more bodies pile up. ’The Private Eyes’ is good, wholesome, old-fashioned comedy. And with Tim Conway and Don Knotts in the film, you know it’s going to be funny. Though the movie is very light on plot and most of the dialogue feels improvised (Conway admits that the film was written in two days!), seeing Conway and Knotts in action together is worth the price of admission alone. There are a couple of racy jokes (mostly dealing with the busty maid), but the majority of the film is fun for the whole family. Funny, exciting, and a bit creepy at times, ’The Private Eyes’ is a film that deserves to find a new audience.

I’m not very familiar with Hen’s Tooth Video, but they’ve done a pretty good job with ’The Private Eyes’ DVD. The film is presented in a full-frame format. The image is clear and sharp, and only shows a slight amount of grain. There is some fuzziness around the edges of the frame, but this is minimal. The picture is somewhat dark at certain spots in the film, but this doesn’t affect the color scheme, which comes across very well. The audio is a Dolby Digital Stereo presentation, which offers no surround sound, and only minimal distinction between the front right and left speaker, with the majority of the sound coming from the center channel. This audio mix offers clear and audible dialogue, which is important, as both Conway and Knotts have a tendency to mumble.

The DVD features an audio commentary with star Tim Conway and director/producer Lang Elliot (who worked on five films with Conway). Conway does most of the speaking here and is animated and loquacious throughout the film. It’s obvious that he’s very proud of ’The Private Eyes’ and speaks highly of the cast and crew. We also have the original theatrical trailer for the film, which is presented full-frame. The trailer is pretty grainy and has many audio snaps and pops. Finally, there is a still gallery with 35 production photos. This is a quality DVD release of a nice, little movie.