I would give this film four-and-a-half stars. Badly neglected by both audiences and critics at the time of it's original release, NUTS is a film that is ripe for reevaluation. Based on Tom Toplor's 1981 courtroom play, NUTS is definitely a dialogue-based film with little Hollywood flashiness. Though generally well-written (by Toplor, adapting his own work with Darryl Ponicsan and Alvin Sargent) and sharply staged and directed by veteran Martin Ritt, it is the cast whom is really responsible bringing NUTS to life. Barbra Streisand gives an absolutely bravura performance that should have earned her an Oscar nomination. Alternately hilarious and frightening, Streisand is always mesmerizing as she delves so far into character.
Richard Dreyfess is nothing less than Streisand's equal as her public defender. He too was robbed of an Oscar nomination. The supporting cast is a top-notch ensemble of professional character actors (Maureen Stapleton, Eli Wallach, Robert Webber, James Whitmore, and Karl Malden), all of whom work their craft flawlessly. Nuts' screenplay does indulge in the predictability of some of the typical courtroom-plot conventions a little too often, and it hardly gives us any surprises. However, I still praise Toplor's script for it's fascinating exploration of what constitutes as normality and whether or not the insane should be required to receive treatment. NUTS isn't going to win over any fans of 3-cuts-per-second action films, but it leave lovers of thought-provoking, expertly-acted dramas fascinated.
About the DVD: The picture quality is dark and grainy, however, I believe that this reflects the film's intended look. The sound is fine, and it's nice to have the film's trailer included. Streisand's intelligent and entertaining full-length commentary is the main extra here, and it more than makes up for the disappointing tracks she contributed to the WHAT'S UP, DOC? and MAIN EVENT DVDs.