Peggy Sue Got Married on DVD: Properly Presented for the First Time

Kathleen Turner, Nicolas Cage, Barry Miller, Catherine Hicks, Don Murray, Barbara Harris, Jim Carrey, Wil Shriner, Maureen O'Sullivan, Leon Ames, John Carradine, Joan Allen, Helen Hunt. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 2.0 (Dolby Surround). 103 minutes. 1986. Columbia TriStar Home Video 81849. Rated PG-13. $29.98.

When one thinks of director Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather and Apocalypse Now come to mind. But there is one very special film that fans rarely associate with him: Peggy Sue Got Married. Unlike the films that made Coppola's reputation, Peggy Sue is a gentle, romantic fantasy that rates among his finest work as a director.

Peggy Sue Bodell is a middle-aged woman attending her bittersweet 25th high-school reunion. It's great to see all her old friends, but she's on the verge of divorcing her husband, Charlie, who was also her high-school sweetheart. The reunion serves as a painful reminder of what went wrong in Peggy Sue's life---a life she wishes she could live over again.

The evening progresses, and Peggy Sue is named Reunion Queen. As she reluctantly takes the stage to accept the honor, the emotional strain proves too much for her and she collapses to the floor. Dazed, she awakens to find herself back in 1960, where she is once more a high-school senior with her whole life ahead of her. Realizing that she's stuck in the past, she finds herself presented with the unique opportunity of undoing or avoiding her future mistakes.

Kathleen Turner received an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Peggy Sue. In the best role and performance of her career, Turner radiates warmth, sweetness, and humor as a teenage girl with the perspective of a woman in her 40s. Nicolas Cage delivers one of the oddest performances of his career as her boyfriend and husband, Charlie. Cage creates a character full of quirks that are perfectly suited to the awkwardness of a teenager in love, but the annoying nasal voice he affects is a bit much.

Barbara Harris is a joy as Peggy Sue's mother, a woman who thinks of her family first and herself last. Before he was the $20 million man, Jim Carrey worked in supporting roles, and he is ideally cast as this film's class clown. Hollywood veterans Maureen O'Sullivan and Leon Ames are delightful in their all-too-brief appearances. And how could anyone not want to spend a few moments with John Carradine?

All preceding video incarnations of Peggy Sue Got Married have been major disappointments because they offered only cropped versions of the film. A cropped presentation is included on this two-sided DVD as well, but this time, Peggy Sue can be also appreciated at home in its proper aspect ratio.

I don't think Jordan Cronenweth's Academy Award-nominated cinematography has ever looked better than it does on DVD---except in movie theaters, of course. The letterboxed transfer restores the film's 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, and the DVD incorporates anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 widescreen televisions. Cronenweth's spectacular use of light and color differentiates the two eras in the film, and it allows Kathleen Turner to play the younger and older Peggy Sue without the assistance of makeup appliances.

The meticulous transfer brings out all the detail in the image, including the darker night sequences. Color, which is so important to the look of this film, is reproduced flawlessly, including the strobing colored lights deployed during Peggy Sue's journey into the past. Saturation is excellent; all the warm, glowing hues of the past look perfectly natural. Digital compression artifacts are almost undetectable.

The packaging claims the film is in Dolby Surround, but the soundtrack is actually clean, clear monaural. There's no stereo imaging whatsoever on the soundtrack, but it should be turned up for John Barry's moving musical score. In fact, the score is so good, I wish this DVD had included it on an isolated stereo track. The DVD's only supplementary feature is a theatrical trailer, accessible through the simple interactive menus.