Olive Films’ Street Smart Blu-ray Release
A disc full of seedy 80s Times Square grime, a pimp named Fast Black, and Christopher Reeve. But no special features.
Published on August 6, 2015 | Filed under Review
Street Smart

Cannon Films tends to be synonymous with all things excess: big guns, big breasts, big explosions. But Golan and Globus got serious from time to time, even if it was all really in the name of big bucks. One of those attempts at being serious, albeit not exactly in a Cries and Whispers magnitude, is 1987’s Street Smart starring Christopher Reeve (in the same year as his last Superman outing, also put out by Cannon) and Morgan Freeman, prior to his late 80s blow up with Driving Miss Daisy and Glory. And it’d manage to still be as excessive as anything else Cannon would put out that year, which includes Masters of the Universe.

Street Smart is on the surface a drama about the ethics of TV news reporting, taking place in grimy 1980s NYC. Like Network and The China Syndrome before it (Broadcast News would release only months later in 1987), it wants to be a sort of cautionary tale about the powers of news journalism trapped within a highly engaging and sensational narrative. And sensational it is. Jerry Schatzberg (The Panic In Needle Park, Scarecrow) has no qualms with showing just how seedy Times Square was in the 1980s and that feeling of dread and grime permeates every minute of Street Smart‘s runtime. It may not be entirely successful as a drama on the ethics of journalists, but as a piece of sleazy entertainment featuring Freeman as a pimp named Fast Black that likes to guzzle “chocolate drink” and slap women, it succeeds amply.

Street Smart

Olive have released Street Smart on Blu-ray and it looks solid, though not perfect. This is another release that falls in line with Olive’s tendency to not really touch transfers much, if at all. And that is both good and bad. The source here is definitely worn, with visible damage present though never distracting. Grain is inherent and appearance is filmlike throughout. A lot of the film takes place outside at night, blacks look strong and colors appear faithful. It’s not going to wow anyone but it gets the job done well and without sacrificing anything. Audio is only available in DTS HD 2.0 which is how it should be for this. Sound is balanced throughout with dialogue always being clear, music and effects are also represented well. Presentation all around is solid.

There are no special features on the disc, unfortunately. Which is a shame considering there are two feature length documentaries about Cannon being released and Schatzberg is still around. Street Smart is a fun, sleazy “serious” outing for Golan and Globus that is anchored by two solid performances and some great footage of Times Square in the 1980s (fans of cinema marquees will be very happy). For fans of the film or those who just want to see everything that Cannon put out, this is worth picking up. Anyone who hasn’t seen it should give it a rent first.

Justin LaLiberty holds degrees in film preservation from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and film studies from Keene State College. He is the Creative Manager at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers and is an itinerant projectionist, ready to run reels if you’ve got ’em.

Justin LaLiberty