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Straight Time

4.7 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A paroled burglar tries to get a job and keep on the straight-and-narrow. His hard-core parole officer has different ideas and sends him back to jail. When he gets out again, he goes after the parole officer, steals his car and returns to a life of crime.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton, M. Emmett Walsh, Theresa Russell
  • Directors: Ulu Grosbard
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000N3SROU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,916 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Straight Time" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 15, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
A grim, rigidly understated, crime flick, featuring Dustin Hoffman as a tight-lipped, ill-fated career criminal. His onscreen transition from a docile but dignified parolee to a cold, calculating man of action is surprising and effective; the second half of the film is a dry-mouthed slow-drip of adrenaline and dread. Plenty of gritty '70s ambiance, and strong performances by Harry Dean Stanton, Gary Busey and a young Kathy Bates. Theresa Russell is absorbing as the good girl gone wrong who has a puzzling attraction to a very dangerous man. Worth checking out.
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Format: DVD
This 1978 film, co-written by Eddie Bunker--an actual con known for his realistic stories of criminals and prison life--stars Dustin Hoffman in one of his absolute best roles as Max Dembo, a con who has to contend with an arch-enemy in the form of his ultra-nasty parole officer, played perfectly by none other than M. Emmet Walsh.

Also on hand, as Dembo re-embarks on a life of crime after release from the slammer, are his buds, also former crooks, who are persuaded by Max to once again plunge into the dark side of crime. Gary Busey and Harry Dean Stanton are these guys, and the casting here is right on target. Stanton is always good, but here he's even better as a world-weary guy who's so jaded by his marriage that he's eager to get going with Dembo, rather than having to go through the endlessly boring days of domestic life with his wife (Kathy Bates in an early role, and great as usual).

This is a terrific companion piece to another Dustin Hoffman-starring film, Midnight Cowboy. In both films, we see how the actor gets under the skin of a character who's at rock bottom and teases out of this mess so much humanity that the viewer is glued to the screen. Hoffman in his prime? You bet. Just about no other actor around is this good in this kind of role. He's a malevolent force of nature in Straight Time who has a devastating impact on everyone around him.

One of the most unknown films of the 1970s--because it's so downbeat, the box office gross was really low at the time of its release. But it's a great film, a quintessentially American film whose focus on the underbelly of the great American dream is as strong as a bullwhip.

Get this, see it, and dig it. It's great.
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Format: VHS Tape
Dustin Hoffman is one of the finest actors of all time, no question about it. 1979 Hoffman won the best actor Oscar for Kramer vs Kramer and had been nomiated three times prior (Graduate '67, Midnight Cowboy '69, Lenny '74), but it's his work in this 1978 sleeper that really showcases just how good an actor he is.

Hoffman plays Max, a man just released from six years of prison and determined to get a job and play it straight. But, his friends draw him back into the life of crime. It's a very straight-forward story; what makes this movie work so well is the acting. 'Straight Time' was a small blip in theaters and it's easy to see why - it's not a crowd-pleasing movie. For those who did see it they knew just how good Hoffman and rest of the cast was. Hoffman should have received his fourth Oscar nomination for this film and both Harry Dean Stanton and M. Emmet Walsh were deserving of supporting Oscar nomations.

I highly recommend this film to anybody who is a Dustin Hoffman fan as I myself am. This is one of my favorite films and I cannot wait for it to be released on DVD.
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Format: VHS Tape
I last saw Straight Time several years ago, on television (with commercials and overdubbed swearing, of course). Yet this film has lingered in my memory - every time I think of Hoffman, I think of this film. Others here have reprised the general storyline. I've seen most of Hoffman's films, the great to not so great (thankfully I've never been subjected to 'Hook'). Most films with DH in them are indeed "Dustin Hoffman" films. In Straight Time however, he dissolves into the character of Max Dembo. You forget that it's Dustin Hoffman - you see a pathetic little guy, locked in his pathologies, with just the faintest glimmer of self-recognition, enough to despair for knowing that he'll always follow these lost paths. It is indeed one of the best films - and best performances - you've likely never seen. Beware - this ain't no 'Tootsie'. This is gritty and dark in tone, and will not leave you feeling uplifted. Then again, the same can be said for "Midnight Cowboy", and that doesn't make it any less worth the time viewing it. See it.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Simply put: one of the finest crime flicks ever made. Hoffman never better. Eddie Bunker has a cameo in it.

Check it out.

Isn't it about time they put this gem out on DVD?
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I am a Dustin Hoffman fan and this movie is a rarity. Dustin Hoffman is one of those actors who is careful to choose his movies, and a good character. This movie is true to life for what happens to a ex-con out of prison. This is one of the 1970's movie's that got tucked away, and is rarely shown anymore.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Again, one of those great mysteries: why did it take so long for this movie to make it to DVD? Perhaps it was a distribution snafu--this was made orginially under the banner of First Artists, sort of a latter day United Artists where the artists themselves, Dustin Hoffman among them, tried to take over the role of the businessmen. It didn't work, and one of the results was the shoddy distribution of this movie, which came out in 1978 and died a quick death. Which was a totally unwarrented fate for such a powerful film. This, to me, is 70's filmmaking at its best: a tight, tough story uncluttered by sentimentality or pandering to popular tastes, acted by some of the best in the biz. Hoffman, I think, at his best as the thoroughly ammoral Max Dembo for whom "straight time" after a lifetime spent in every kind of prison imaginable is ultimately the most secure prison of all, one he can't help but break out of. M. Emmett Walsh as the sadistic parole officer who enjoys humiliating ex-cons like Dembo; a young Gary Busey and the always great Harry Dean Stanton as Dembo's accomplices in crime; and a young Theresa Russell a marvel in the thankless role of the girl who falls for Dembo. This is straight-for-the-gut filmmaking by Ulu Grosbard, a story about very flawed and very real people, losers perhaps, but very real in their desires and wants and actions. This is the kind of film that died after the 70s and today would only be made on a shoestring indie budget. But if you want to see Dustin Hoffman when he was indeed one of the best actors in the business, if you want to see a tough heist film, if you want to see a commentary about the way we help create anti-social cases like Maz Dembo, then see this film. It's a great one.
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