Upon first viewing the title, cover art and even the synopsis for the Vinegar Syndrome release of 1978’s Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff aka The Sin, I thought I was in for a semi-porn, sexploitation romp with hints of Blaxploitation and a whole lotta skin. Well there’s some skin and though it has moderate sex appeal at times between some violent sexual assaults, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It turns out that Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff is a very serious movie with historical context, a reputable director and with source material by William Inge. This is not a piece of exploitation cinema. This a riveting work that looks fantastic and will pose you questions that you may not necessarily find answers to. Vinegar Syndrome picked a great one and released it with all the trimmings.
Synopsis from Vinegar Syndrome:
Set in the small town of Freedom, Kansas in 1954, GOOD LUCK, MISS WYCKOFF stars Anne Heywood as Evelyn Wyckoff, a virginal high-school teacher who learns that she has started early menopause. Feeling hopeless and isolated, she is advised by her doctor (Robert Vaughn) and psychiatrist (Donald Pleasance) to find a lover, which results in a series of brutal and horrifying events.
Let’s talk about the presentation first as provided by the great VS and then talk about my reaction to the movie.
If you wanted to know how movies should be released on Blu-ray, movies that you love and care about, movies that deserve a full throttle restoration and extras that provide context and relevance to a movie, GLMW is the model. This comes as a three disc set. The Blu-ray is gorgeous scan from 35mm print in 2k from the original camera negatives. DTS-HD Master Audio, 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The DVD disc contains not only the feature movie but the re-release edition under the title The Sin. “Thoughts on William Inge” as provided by Academy Award nominated actress Shirley Knight provided context for the release as well as provides some background to playwright William Inge. Now this information may be common place to you filmies (that’s my name for the fancy pants film majors out there), but I’m a newbie (that means I don’t know shit). There are also trailers, TV spots and still gallery. In addition to the Blu-ray disc and DVD, Vinegar Syndrome provided the score on CD! That’s what I mean about an idyllic release. The score is beautiful, memorable and dramatic. It rounds out a superb presentation with updated cover art.
As for the movie itself, this is the dramatic tale of 1950’s Kansas. It’s a time where McCarthy put the scare into reds and non-reds alike and made the United States a paranoid place to live. That’s a major theme in the movie as well as racial tension and interracial sexual relations. It compartmentalizes some of the major themes of the era and tries to recapture the phobic, stigma soaked atmosphere of a time past while attempting to acting progressively to move the viewer forward in their conception of what it means to live and let live. While this movie is shot in 1978, post-Civil Rights movements and long since the strangehold of McCarthyism blacklisted all the “good people”, neither McCarthy’s paranoia or the ignorant telescopic view under the sheets of consenting adults had completely changed. Good Luck Miss Wyckoff serves as a portrait of a time as well as warning and maybe even a mirror into ourselves. That’s pretty heavy for a release provided by a company that also serves up double features of classic porn and skin flicks.
If you need a reason to watch this movie that isn’t the gorgeous presentation or intriguing plot, check out Donald Pleasance as a psychiatrist. He gives some damn good advice.
My strongest recommendation goes to this release for both the quality it offers and the message it conveys. It’s a well acted, well written and brilliantly shot piece of history, preserved lovingly by a company that obviously care about movies.