Blu-ray, DVD Release: André Gregory and Wallace Shawn: 3 Films

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: June 16, 2015
Price: DVD $99.95, Blu-ray $99.95
Studio: Criterion

André Gregory and Wallace Shawn: 3 Films spotlights the cinematic collaborations between Gregory and Shawn–two longtime friends who “moonlight” as theater directors, writers and actors.

The projects they made together for the screen are penetrating works that exist on the edge of theater and film, and that both emerged out of many years of rehearsals with loyal troupes of actors.

Wallace Shawn and André Gregory in My Dinner with André

Wallace Shawn and André Gregory in My Dinner with André

Gregory and Shawn’s unique contributions to the cinematic landscape are shape-shifting, challenging, and entertaining works about the process of creation.

Here’s a rundown on the trio of movies and the bonus features included on Criterion’s Blu-ray and DVD editions:

My Dinner with André (1981)
In this captivating and philosophical film directed by Louis Malle (Zazie Dans Le Metro ), Shawn sits down with his friend Gregory at a restaurant on New York’s Upper West Side, and the pair proceed through an alternately whimsical and despairing confessional about love, death, money, and all the superstition in between. Playing variations on their own New York–honed personas, Shawn and Gregory, who also co-wrote the screenplay, dive in with introspective intellectual gusto, and Malle captures it all–the comedy and the drama–with a delicate, artful detachment.

Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)
In the early 1990s, Gregory mounted a series of spare, private performances of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in a crumbling Manhattan playhouse. This experiment in pure theater—featuring a remarkable

A group of actors get down to some serious Chekhovian business in Vanya on 42nd Street.

A group of actors get down to some serious Chekhovian business in Vanya on 42nd Street.

cast of actors, including Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride), Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) , Brooke Smith (Fair Game), and George Gaynes (Tootsie)—would have been lost to time had it not been captured on film, with subtle cinematic brilliance, by Louis Malle.

A Master Builder (2014)
Twenty years after Vanya on 42nd Street, Shawn and Gregory reunited to produce another idiosyncratic big-screen version of a classic play, this time Henrik Ibsen’s Bygmester Solness (Master Builder Solness). Brought pristinely to the screen by Jonathan Demme (Something Wild), this is a compellingly abstract reimagining; it features Shawn (who also wrote the adaptation) as a visionary yet tyrannical middle-aged architect haunted by figures from his past

DVD and Blu-ray features:

  • High-definition digital restoration of My Dinner with André, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray; restored high-definition digital transfer of Vanya on 42nd Street, supervised by director of photography Declan Quinn, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray; and high-definition digital master ofA Master Builder, supervised by Quinn, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
    • Interview from 2009 with André Gregory and Wallace Shawn about My Dinner with André, conducted by their friend the filmmaker Noah Baumbach
    • “ My Dinner with Louis,” a 1982 episode of the BBC program Arena in which Shawn interviews director Louis Malle
    • Documentary from 2012 about Vanya on 42nd Street, featuring interviews with Gregory; actors Lynn Cohen, George Gaynes, Julianne Moore, Larry Pine, Shawn, and Brooke Smith; and producer Fred Berner
    • New interviews about A Master Builder with Gregory, Shawn, director Jonathan Demme, and actors Julie Hagerty and Lisa Joyce
    • New program featuring Gregory, Shawn, and their friend the author Fran Lebowitz in conversation
    • Trailers for Vanya on 42nd Street and A Master Builder
    • Essays on the films by critics Amy Taubin, Steve Vineberg, and Michael Sragow; the prefaces written by Gregory and Shawn for the 1981 publication of My Dinner with André’s screenplay; and a 1994 report by Taubin from the set of Vanya on 42nd Street


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.