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Music Box (1990)

Jessica Lange , Armin Mueller-Stahl , Costa-Gavras  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jessica Lange, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Frederic Forrest, Donald Moffat, Lukas Haas
  • Directors: Costa-Gavras
  • Writers: Joe Eszterhas
  • Producers: Hal W. Polaire, Irwin Winkler, Joe Eszterhas
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: May 20, 2003
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008RV0G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,282 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Music Box" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Scene Indez
  • Digitally Mastered

Editorial Reviews

Music Box provides celebrated director Costa-gavras another opportunity to weave a story of nail-biting suspense with frightening political overtones. In this intense courtroom thriller, Chicago attorney Ann Talbot (Jessica Lange) agrees to defend her Hungarian immigrant father mike Laszlo (Armin Mueller-Stahl) against accusations of heinous war crimes committed 50 years earlier. As the trial unfolds, Ann probes for evidence that will not only establish his innocence, but also lay to rest her own agonizing doubts about his past. When a hospitalized witness is suddenly located in Budapest, the trial moves to her father's homeland. Here crucial testimony plus Ann's personal investigation lead to astonishing results.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When the past comes knocking, it isn't always Teleflora December 11, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
What if your Dad, the loving and beloved head of your middle-class American family, was suddenly charged with war crimes? This is the scenario for THE MUSIC BOX, a 1990 release, in which Jessica Lange plays a criminal defense lawyer asked by her widower father to defend him against such charges being brought by the US government on behalf of Hungary. The father, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl, is alleged to have committed multiple atrocities as an officer of a neo-Nazi police unit in Budapest during World War II. A complicating element is the father's vocal anti-communism, for which, he claims, the Red regime back in the old country is masterminding a frame-up. (Remember, we're talking about bad ol' days of the Cold War here.) Anyway, the Old Man needs a hotshot attorney, so his dutiful and devoted daughter takes the case.

Another reviewer has concluded that the plot is "far-fetched". Hmm. I would think that those aging American residents who've actually been charged with Nazi war crimes during the past couple of decades might not find it so far-fetched at all. Some have even been deported. Perhaps he's referring to the storyline that calls for the accused to be defended by his own offspring. OK, that probably wouldn't happen in real life. But, what is an otherwise idle Hollywood screenwriter to do when called upon to help fabricate a box office success?

The plot's arguable implausibility aside, both Lange and Mueller-Stahl give forceful and bravura performances as two people caught up in the fading echoes of receding history. The final scene between the two should have earned Lange that year's Oscar, but sadly didn't.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Huge disappointment at the quality! November 21, 2005
Format:DVD
Having originally seen the film when it was released, and owning the VHS version ( which by the way has captions) I could not believe the extremely poor quality of the DVD. I have slowly been replacing my videos w/DVD versions. In this case I will keep the VHS and get rid of my just purchased DVD copy. The film, the director, actors, are all incredibly good. I would give it 10 if there were such a number available, but certainly a 5. However the quality of the sound is so poor that if there were minus numbers, I would use them. Others have already written of the format, etc. so I will not repeat all that, but I agree that it should have had the option of widescreen,etc. But for the sound, there is NO excuse. It is not only poor, but at times, when the actors are speaking in a low voice, the DVD is inaudible. There is NO such problem on the VHS, and if there were there is captioning to resort to. Since there is no problem w/the sound on the video, it never occurred to me that the DVD would have such a big one.

If you can find a VHS copy, I would recommend it over this DVD.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Entertaiment February 8, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Jessica Lange gives a great performance as the hungarian daughter who's father is accused of war crimes. Well plotted and suspensful, this film was overlooked at oscar time. It should have won a few.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This film contains the best performance of Jessica Lange's auspicious career hands down. This was also American audiences introduction to the wonderful Armin Mueller-Stahl in the role of Lange's father. Thank goodness I saw this film on the big screen, and then later on the Widescreen Laserdisc. I have never seen this film panned and scanned, and i refuse to now, even though it has been released on DVD. So, unless Artisan Home Video intends on re-releasing this outstanding film in the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio and in the 16x9 format, they are not getting my money.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHAT WERE THE DISTRIBUTORS THINKING? September 20, 2005
Format:DVD
I own this film on Laserdisc. It is in WIDESCREEN 2:35 anamorphic presentation. I once saw a VHS version in full screen. Awful! In a world where widescreen and 16x9 are common even for the most dopiest of films that Hollywood puts out, didn't anyone have the sense to care about its original aspect ratio? Guess not.

I did find a region 2 PAL DVD version from Spain that does offer it in WIDESCREEN; runs about $29 with shipping. I ordered it because it's unlikely this film will be redistributed here in widescreen anytime soon. Classic film with great performances.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Story March 27, 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
"The Music Box" is a wonderfully compelling story that highlights issues of personal integrity. In the lead role, Jessica Lange is faced with fundamental ethical quandries. Should she seek the truth? If the truth is harsh, should she face it or evade it? Should she excuse actions by one of her own that she would denounce in others? If you're one of the few looking life in the face, see "The Music Box."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jessica Lange in her most brilliant performance... July 28, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
This film is riveting. Every time I watch it, I am struck by the intensity of my emotional reaction. What daughter hasn't loved her father and wanted him to be her hero?

In "The Music Box," a fifty year old secret turns a family into a battleground. A father is accused of the most horrible crimes imaginable. His devoted daughter runs to his rescue. The pacing and suspense are superb. Scene by scene we see witness after witness reveal a knowledge of this man that the daughter cannot fathom. They have the wrong man. The wrong man, she states with resolve. Her defense is that it is a case of mistaken identity.

During his trial, she learns that her father has been having an affair with a neighbor for ten years. She realizes that her father is expert at keeping secrets. She is shocked that she never saw this aspect of his personality. Her secretary sees what the daughter cannot see. The secretary helps her find the courage she needs.

Forrest Tucker, who is prosecuting her father, is compassionate, yet determined to see her father brought to justice. But the daughter is brighter and better at the law than her opponent. She wins legal point after legal point.

Around all this emotional turmoil, we are once again reminded of the atrocities of World War II. We see the suffering and agony of the survivors of man's inhumanity against his human family.

The ending of this film makes my heart pound for about the last twenty minutes. If you gloss over truth in your life and trade in rationalizations, you might not enjoy this film. It is a film for those who are willing to lose what appears to be valuable,in return for what is only valuable,the absolute and undeniable truth.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, wait till the end!
Jessica Lange always comes thru. Worth the money!
Pick a nice guy out, munch, be merry and let the good times flow.
Published 7 days ago by jacqueline Wojciechowski
3.0 out of 5 stars Not good quality
The movie itself is great, but the quality was bad. There was a purple line through the movie and the sound and picture quality were very dated. Read more
Published 1 month ago by WannabelikeJesus
4.0 out of 5 stars great story
I saw this many years ago and it was as good as I remembered. It is a little dated but still plays well.
Published 1 month ago by Ronnie Roper
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story
Really well done with exceptional acting in this heart-wrenching story. Jessica Lange did an amazing job. The story was well-crafted and believable.
Published 1 month ago by Karen R. Katz
5.0 out of 5 stars My All-Time Favorite Movie!!
Music Box - I cannot rave enough about this movie. Jessica Lange presented a performance worthy of an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress (1990), not many people... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Manuel W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Jessica Lange - It can't be any better!
I don't think Jessica Lange would choose to work on a film project unless she knew its message and entertainment value served a purpose to the betterment of her fellow man. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Emmett Glenn
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
This movie keeps you hanging on and doubting all the way to the end. Excellent ending. Powerful!! I'm sure there are true cases like this.
Published 2 months ago by Erin Dierkes
2.0 out of 5 stars 'Music Box' DVD review
The DVD cover is flimsy (soft plastic, which does little to protect its product - this in comparison to other countries) and the quality of the film itself is NOT of Master Copy... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Zack Varfalvi
5.0 out of 5 stars Music Box
This movie is about a daughter and his son, who commited terrible crimes in budapest when the state departmenmt finds out that he raised his family in the usa they find out, its an... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Caroline Steinberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Music Box Movie
Hi

I ordered this movie because not to many people are aware of it. It is not played on TV/Cable etc . and I wanted family
and friends to view it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Linda I Tometczak
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