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In Tootsie, Michael Dorsey lands the role of a lifetime—as did the actor playing him, Dustin Hoffman. This multi-layered comedy from Sydney Pollack follows the elaborate deception of a down-on-his-luck New York actor who poses as a woman to get a soap opera gig; while “Dorothy Michaels” skyrockets to fame, Michael finds himself learning to be a better man. Given support by a stellar cast that includes Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Teri Garr, George Gaynes, Bill Murray, and, in a breakthrough performance, Jessica Lange, Tootsie is a funny, cutting, and poignant film from an American moment defined by shifting social and sexual identities. (Taken from the official synopsis.)


Criterion presents Tootsie on Blu-ray in a digitally restored (at 4K no less) presentation that is far removed from the broadcast quality versions of the film I grew up with. I never owned Tootsie on DVD, so I have no frame of reference there, but I don’t for a second believe DVD could have offered anything close to the quality of the Blu-ray’s visual presentation. The anamorphic photography is inherently soft, so it's not the sharpest picture you’ll ever see, but it's still very detailed nonetheless. Grain is finely resolved and there are very few (if any) film artefacts to be seen. The colour palette is natural, if often quite muted, but this lends the picture a look of authenticity often missing from modern productions. Black levels (and by extension shadow detail) are also solid.

Having read some disparaging comments about the general quality of Criterion's encoding—comments not entirely undeserved judging by various screen captures I've seen—I was curious as to whether Tootsie would suffer from the same problem. Truth be told, it does. Now I must stress that the compression is not a complete disaster by any means—most of the compression noise can be taken for the naturally occurring grain while the image is in motion—but it is a constant presence. With that said, I don’t believe the issue is so egregious as to spoil one’s overall enjoyment of the presentation. Films are supposed to be viewed in motion and the noise is most visible when the image is paused, or indeed when scrutinised at high levels of magnification (as some are fond of doing). Personally I still think it looks good, but your mileage may vary. In any case I’d rather mention it and be accused of nitpicking than fail to do so and be labelled a Criterion ‘fanboy’...


A no-frills LPCM 1.0 Mono track is the order of business here, replicating the film’s original theatrical audio presentation. To be completely honest there isn't really a whole lot to say about it; mono soundtracks will never offer the sort of dynamic aural experience you get with even the most pedestrian of modern features, so one has to adopt as lightly different approach when evaluating them. For me, as long as there are no major issues with fidelity or troublesome artefacts I’m happy, which is the case here. Dialogue is rendered clearly, the score sounds great, and no one element of the mix overpowers the others. It’s fair to say that this is a very pleasing track on the whole.


It’s hard to believe, but this is my first Criterion disc since the days of RoboCop and The Silence of the Lambs on DVD! I have fond memories of the bonus material created for those releases and I’m pleased to say that the quality doesn’t appear to have suffered in the transition to the high-definition era. The disc comprehensive selection of both new and archival material, as detailed below.

  • Audio Commentary
  • Interviews
    • Dustin Hoffman
    • Phil Rosenthal
    • Dorothy Michaels by Film Critic Gene Shalit
  • Vintage Documentary: Making of Tootsie
  • Documentary: A Better Man: The Making of 'Tootsie
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Screen and Wardrobe Test Footage
  • Trailers


Prior to this viewing I hadn’t seen Tootsie in years. I vividly remember watching it on TV many times in my youth, from a very early age right up until my teens. I had very fond memories of those viewings, which usually took place with family, so I was actually a little nervous as to whether the film would hold up. I needn’t have worried, because Tootsie is as enjoyable now as it ever was. This warm, humorous look at gender roles in the (then) modern world benefits from uniformly excellent performances from the principal cast, plenty of witty dialogue and some genuinely touching scenes. It’s not difficult to see why Tootsie is still beloved of many more than thirty years after its original release.

While not perfect, the disc is generally very good from a technical perspective. As mentioned above the only fly in the ointment is the sub-optimal encoding, but I imagine that the vast majority of people will be completely oblivious to the ‘problem’ and therefore more than happy with Tootsie’s visuals (it’s not like the image is a sea of blocks or anything like that). Still, it is frustrating to think that such a good master could technically have yielded even better results with a little more care and attention. Even so, I have no reservations about the audio or the bonus material, the latter of which provides hours of genuinely entertaining material, so overall it’s a fairly easy decision to recommend this release.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the true quality of the source.