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Those Redheads from Seattle (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Those Redheads from Seattle” may not be a well-known musical classic, but it is a notable American film as the first ever 3-D musical and the first widescreen film released by Paramount Pictures.  And now, one can enjoy the this wonderful Blu-ray release (in 2D and 3-D) courtesy of Kino Lorber.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Those Redheads from Seattle

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1953

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:66:1 Aspect Ratio

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2017


Directed by Lewis R. Foster

Written by Lewis R. Foster, Daniel Mainwaring, George Worthing Yates

Produced by William H. Pine, William C. Thomas

Music by Sidney Cutner, Leo Shuken

Cinematography by Lionel Lindon

Edited by  Archie Marshek

Art Direction: A. Earl Hedrick, Hal Pereira

Set Decoration by Sam Comer, Ray Moyer

Costume Design by Edith Head


Starring:

Rhonda Fleming as Kathie Edmonds

Gene Barry as Johnny Kisco

Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Edmonds

Teresa Bower as Pat Edmonds

Th Bell Sisters as Connie and Nell Edmonds

Jean Parker as Liz

Roscoe Ates as Dan Taylor

John Kellogg as Mike Yurkil

Frank Wilcox as Vance Edmonds

Walter Reed as Whitey Marks

William Pullen as Rev. Louis Petrie


Newly Restored in HD and 3-D from 2K Scans! A married woman (Agnes Moorehead) takes her four unmarried redheaded daughters (Rhonda Fleming, Teresa Brewer, Cynthia and Kay Bell of The Bell Sisters) to Alaska during the 1898 Gold Rush so they could help their father run his newspaper. All four are members of the singing sister act The Edmonds Sisters, and upon arriving in Yukon they find out their father was murdered. The four heroines get work at the saloon owned by Johnny Kisco (Gene Barry). Kathie Edmonds (Fleming) searches for her father s murderer, who may or may not be Kisco. Hollywood veteran Lewis R. Foster directed this wonderful and colorful musical, which was the first ever 3-D musical and the first widescreen film released by Paramount Pictures.


In 1953, the 3-D American Technicolor film “Those Redheads from Seattle” was released in theaters.

While “Kiss Me Kate”, the November 1953 MGM film adaptation of the Broadway musical, was considered as the first 3-D musical, Paramount Pictures “Those Redheads from Seattle” was released a month before and is now considered the first ever 3-D Musical.  Also the first widescreen film released by Paramount Pictures.

“Those Redheads from Seattle” was directed by Lewis R. Foster (who wrote the film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “The More the Merrier”) and co-written along with Daniel Mainwaring and George Worthing Yates.

The film stars Rhonda Fleming (“Spellbound”, “Out of the Past”, “The Spiral Staircase”), Gene Barry (“Burke’s Law”, “The War of the Worlds”, “Bat Masterson”), Agnes Moorehead (“Bewitched”, “Citizen Kane”, “The Magnificent Ambersons”), music artist Teresa Brewer, singing duo The Bell Sisters, singer Guy Mitchell and John Kellogg (“Twelve O’Clock High”, “The Greatest Show on Earth”).

The 3-D film was remastered in 2K and now “Those Readheads from Seattle” will be released (both 2D and 3-D versions together on Blu-ray) courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film is set in Alaska during the 1898 Gold rush and Dawson is a booming community. We see an article on the Dawson Daily Bonanza newspaper with the heaadline “No Place in Dawson for Klondike Club – say Law Abiding Ciizens” and how the newspaper would be publishing prison records of Klondike Club employees.  And then we see a man burning the newspaper and then we see the Daily Bonanza warehouse on fire.

Dawson Daily Bonanza publisher, Vance Edmonds (portrayed by Frank Wilcox) and the citizens suspect that someone working for John Kisco (portrayed by Gene Barry), owner of the Klondike Club is responsible.  And Edmonds confronts Kisco’s partner Mike Yurkil (portrayed by John Kellogg) and splashes water on him.

Despite the warehouse being burned down, Edmonds manages to use wallpaper to publish the latest newspaper and goes into the Klondike Club to present that day’s newspaper. Johnny confronts Mike and Mike admits that he burned the warehouse and John warns him to stop because it will give his place a bad name.

Seeing that Vance may pose a problem, while writing his family back home to not visit Alaska (due to the problems), while on his way to mail the letter, he is shot and killed by Mike, who then suddenly disappears.

Back home, we are introduced to the Edmonds family.  Pat (portrayed by Teresa Brewer) is the daughter he saw a burlesque and would love to be onstage doing that type of career, while oldest sister Kathie (portrayed by Rhonda Fleming) is more conservative.  Meanwhile, middle sister Connie (member of the Bell Sisters) has a similarity with her sisters that they each have red hair, with the exception of younger sister Nell (the other half of the Bell Sisters) who has blonde hair and often teased by her sisters because of her hair color and also because she tends to tattle on them.

While the Edmonds live a lavish life and each of them are well-educated, with their mother (portrayed by Agnes Moorehead) worried about her husband, she and the family make the decision to travel to Alaska. When they arrive, the family has been waiting for transportation to take them to Dawson but after a week waiting, they are still stranded in Skagway.

When the ladies arrive, middle sister Connie Edmonds strikes a friendship with Joe Keenan (portrayed by Guy Mitchell), a singer who comes to Alaska to perform at the Klondike Club and wanting to help the Edmonds family get to Dawson, convinces his friend Joe to bring the family and escort them to Dawson.  While John was unwilling, when he finds out that they are the family of Vance Edmond’s, feeling guilty for what his partner did to Mr. Edmonds, he decides to help the Edmonds family get to Dawson.

When the ladies and their mother arrive to Dawson to book a room at the hotel, he is unaware that the family does not know what happened to Mr. Edmonds.  While no one has the guts to tell them that Mr. Edmonds had passed, Johnny has Rev. Louis Petrie (portrayed by William Pullen) tell Mrs. Edmonds and the children the bad news.

But as there is an attraction by Kathie and Johnny, when she finds out that he knew that her father was killed, she wants nothing to do with him.  But to make things worse, while she still has feelings for Johnny, her sister Pat comes in and kisses him and reveals that she has become one of the burlesque dancers at his club (Johnny has feelings for Kathie but due to the circumstances, he knows that the kiss from Pat probably hurt his chances with her).

This leads Kathie to continue the work that her father had done and that is to be the new editor of the newspaper.

But what will happen between John and Kathie?  And will the murderer of Mr. Edmonds ever be caught?


VIDEO:

“Those Redheads from Seattle” maintains the Technicolor look and thanks to the restoration and 2K remastering, the film’s colors are much more vibrant, detail is much more evident.  But while the HD restoration no doubt makes this film look great on Blu-ray, watching the film in 3-D, was quite amazed of how much went into the 3-D of this film in 1953.

Credits are shown in different levels and for an older 3-D film, there is impressive depth, much better than a few modern 3-D films that I have watched.  Overall, a wonderful restoration by the 3-D Film Archive.

It’s important to note that to watch the 3-D version of the film, you must have a 3-D enabled Blu-ray player and 3-D glasses.  Otherwise you can select the 2-D version.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Those Redheads from Seattle” is presented in the film’s original 1953 monaural soundtrack (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0) and also a 3.0 soundtrack.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear through either soundtrack.

It’s important to note that the original 1953 3-channel magnetic stereophonic tracks no longer survive.  So, this is a new 3.0 stereo mix from existing elements.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Those Redheads in Seattle” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by film historians Hillary Hess, Greg Kintz, Jack Theakston and Bob Furmanek.
  • Restoration Demo – (5:25) 3-D Film Archive discusses the restoration demo through comparisons and the challenges they faced for the restoration.
  • 3-Channel Stereo Demo – (3:00) A demonstration via the song “Chick-a-Boom” and how the central channel is utilized with the front channels.
  • Interview with Rhonda Fleming – (8:15) An interview with Rohnda Fleming by Bob Furmanek at the 2006 3-D screening at the World 3-D Expo in Hollywood.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

“Those Redheads from Seattle” will historically be known to be one of the first drama/musical films to be released in 3-D.  In fact, technically it is the first 3-D drama/musical, despite MGM proclaiming “Kiss Me Kate” of being the first 3-D musical, the Paramount Pictures film came out one month before the MGM film.

The film would star the popular Rhonda Fleming (who starred in the Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, Alfred Hitchcock 1945 film “Spellbound”), while Gene Barry was known for his work on “The War of the Worlds”.

“Those Redheads from Seattle” would also star music artist Teresa Brewer (popular for her hit songs “Music! Music! Music!” and “‘Till I Waltz Again With You”), music duo The Bell Sisters (best known for their songs “Bermuda”, their cover of “Wheel of Fortune”) and music artist Guy Mitchell (known for his hits “My Heart Cries For You”, “Singing the Blues”, “Heartaches By the Number” and “My Truly, Truly Fair”).

The film is quite entertaining and also humorous.  As it deals with a love triangle between sisters Kathie and Pat vying for John Kisco.  Also, drama as Kathie is upset that John never told her that he knew about their father’s murder and that his partner was responsible.  This leads Kathie taking up the newspaper publisher/editor mantle of her deceased father and continuing his goal to stop the Klondike Bar, which is run by John Kisco.  John’s livelihood is the club but he also has fallen for Kathie Edmonds.

Comedy is primarily for younger Bell Sisters, Kay Strother, who places Nell Edmonds, the only sister with blonde hair.  And the treatment the redhead sisters give to their younger sister, treating her that she may not be part of the family, which upsets their very conservative mother, played by Agnes Moorhead.

And while the 2K restoration of this film look great on Blu-ray, what made me watch this film in awe is how well-planned the 3-D was for this film, when it came to how the credits were featured and the depth which was very great for its time and even bests a few of the 3-D films of today.  But of course, the technology of the time was not perfect, as viewers suffered headaches or eye problems during the earlier years of 3-D and not much was known about the technology, other than trying to get people into the movie theater as the theaters saw television being a major threat.  But whichever version you want to see, both 2D and 3-D version of the films are included.

Also, included is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 monaural soundtrack and also a new three channel stereophonic sound soundtrack as well.

As for special features, the Blu-ray comes with an audio commentary by film historians Hillary Hess, Greg Kintz, Jack Theakson and Bob Furmanek, a 2006 interview with actress Rhonda Fleming who plays the role of Kathie, the before/after restoration and a stereophonic sound demonstration.

Overall, “Those Redheads from Seattle” may not be a well-known musical classic, but it is a notable American film as the first ever 3-D musical and the first widescreen film released by Paramount Pictures.  And now, one can enjoy the this wonderful Blu-ray release (in 2D and 3-D) courtesy of Kino Lorber.

 

The Sheik (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Sheik” is a film that no doubt made Valentino popular despite the fact that in reality, he didn’t care for the film, nor being a Sheik. But it did cement him as Hollywood’s first sex symbol and those details may overshadow the actual film, “The Sheik” is still quite entertaining after all these years. And one should at least watch this film before watching “The Son of the Sheik”. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1921 BY AMOUS PLAYERS AND LASKY CORP. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Sheik

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1921

DURATION: 75 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p, Color tinted, DTS-Master Audio 2.0

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2017


Based on the Novel by Edith Maude Hull

Directed by George Melford

Adaptation by Monte M. Katterjohn

Music Composed and Performed by Ben Model

Cinematography by William Marshall


Starring:

Rudolph Valentino as The Sheik, Ahmed Ben Hassan

Agnes Ayres as Lady Diana Mayo

Ruth Miller as Zilah

George Waggner as Yousaef, Tribal Chieftain

Frank Butler as Sir Aubrey Mayo

Charles Brinley as Mustapha Ali, Diana’s Guide

Lucien Littlefield as Gaston

Adolphe Menjou as Dr. Raoul de St. Hubert

Walter Long as Omair, the Bandit


Hollywood’s first male sex symbol, Rudolph Valentino, appears in his most iconic roles in The Sheik (1921). Agnes Ayres stars as Lady Diana Mayo, a headstrong Western woman who infiltrates the private party of the handsome Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (Valentino). When the Sheik later encounters Diana in the desert, he abducts her and takes her to his sumptuous lair. Unable to resist the Sheik’s cruel magnetism, Diana’s defiant nature crumbles and she begins to develop affectionate feelings for her captor. The Sheik plays upon a long tradition of Orientalism in Western art, which romanticized the sands of Northern Africa as a hotbed or seduction and captivity. Theatrical organ score by Ben Model.


“The Sheik”, it was the film that launched Hollywood’s first male sex symbol, Rudolph Valentino.

A man who made women swoon and angered many men due to being different from the typical male actors of his time, as Valentino was seen as a man who was very much into high fashion, slicking back his hair and was considered by the American male populace as being effeminate.

Needless to say, while Valentino was very much a different looking man in Hollywood courtesy of his Italian father and French mother and raised with a European influence.

And with the success of the 1921 film, “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse”, earning $1,000,000 at the box office and Valentino’s looks, it would ear lead to Valentino working with Famous Players-Lasky (which would become Paramount Pictures) and Jessy Lasky wanting to capitalize on Valentino’s looks, cast him for “The Sheik” as the film’s protagonist Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan.

The film is based on the bestselling romance novel by Edith Maude Hull and the adaptation was directed by George Melford and the adaptation written by Monte M. Katterjohn.

“The Sheik” starred Valentino along with Agnes Ayres (“Forbidden Fruit”, “Eve’s Love Letters”), Ruth Miller (“The King of Kings”, “The Affairs of Anatol”), George Waggner (who would later become a director of films such as “The Wolf Man”, “77 Sunset Strip”, “Operation Pacific”), Frank Butler (who would go on to write films such as “Going My Way”, “Road to Morocco”, “Road to Bali”, Babes in Toyland”), Charles Brinley (“Moran of the Lady Letty”, “In the Days of Daniel Boone”), Lucien Littlefield (“Sons of the Desert”, “The Little Foxes”), Adolphe Menjou (“Paths of Glory”, “A Star is Born”, “A Farewell to Arms”) and Walter Long (“The Birth of a Nation”, “Intolerance”).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray  Kino Lorber in May 2017.

The film begins with an introduction to Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan as the Arabs are having a wife lottery.

Meanwhile, in the North African town of Biskra, we are introduced to the independent Lady Diana Mayo (portrayed by Agnes Ayres).  Many of the women are gossiping about Lady Diana because she plans to go to the desert alone and take on a month-long trip escorted only by natives.

While her brother tries to convince her to not go, Lady Diana is dead set in going.  And her friend proposes to her but she tells him that she doesn’t want to be married because it would make her a captive and she would rather live a life of freedom.

As she goes to a local casino, the people tell her she can not enter because an important Sheik, Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan is there for the evening and because she is not Arab, she is not permitted to go inside.  But when the Sheik arrives, he is captivated by Lady Diana’s beauty.

And Lady Diana decides to sneak into the casino by swapping clothes with a dancer and disguising herself as one of the women.  And what Lady Diana sees is women being given away for her marriage, which she can’t fathom.  And when Lady Diana is selected as one of the women to be put up in the lottery, the Sheik sees the woman’s reluctance and realizes its the woman he saw outside of the casino.  And for her protection, he escorts her out of the casino.  And he is told by Lady Diana’s guide that he will be escorting her for her trip.

As Lady Diana goes to ride with her guide for her month-long trip through the desert, the Sheik and his men arrive with their horses and while Lady Dianna tries to flee, the Sheik captures Lady Diana and takes her to his home.

As Diana is distraught and wants to leave, the Sheik tells her that she will learn to love him.

And as her captive, will she learn to love him or will she escape from him?


VIDEO:

“The Sheik” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is color-tinted.  It’s important to note that the last version I have of this DVD is the 2002 Image Entertainment DVD.  And I can say that the quality of the film on Blu-ray is much better in terms of clarity and sharpness.  The film is color-tinted and while there are scratches and some frames look blurrier, the entire film actually looks very good considering the film is nearly a hundred years old.  The picture quality is definitely an improvement over the 2002 DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Sheik” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and the music presented for this release is music composed and performed by Ben Model.  And once again, another splendid musical composition by Ben but I’m sure there are people who may be wondering if a second musical score is included, there is only one and the Gaylord Carter composition is not included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Sheik” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by historian Gaylyn Studlar.
  • Archival Footage  – (3:02) Archived footage taken at Rudolph Valentino’s funeral.
  • “Blood and Sand” (1922) Theatrical Trailer – (2:02) The original theatrical trailer.

Considered as one of the biggest box office silent films and also socially influential films of all time, “The Sheik” is also known for propelling the career of Rudolph Valentino, making him Hollywood’s first sex symbol.

In someway, the film was an unknown risk.  As Edith Maude Hull’s best selling novel “The Sheik” was controversial for racial miscegenation and rape, the film left out certain aspects from the film.

The other risk was by Jesse Lasky of Famous Players-Lasky (which would eventually become Paramount Pictures) casting the not too established actor, Rudolph Valentino.  But wanting to capitalize on Valentino’s “Latin Lover” reputation, the risk paid off as many women turned out to the film to watch Valentino on the big screen.

For me, watching the film again over a decade later, I appreciate the film much more today.  For one, the film features Lady Diana Mayo, an independent woman, who speaks against herself getting married, as she sees marriage as being in captivity and the end of independence.  And the character, keeps her strong demeanor throughout the film, despite being distraught of being captured and possibly being forced to do things against her will.

In the original novel, the character of Lady Diana was raped by the Sheik but in the film, while the Sheik wants to take advantage of her, he sees her crying and distraught, that he decides to leave her alone.  Many critics wrote that they wish there was no deviation from the original novel, but perhaps rape would be strong for a major film and it works to the favor of Rudolph Valentino as he is shown as a man with sensitivity and not going primal and making his captive, his sexual plaything.

I also am in awe of how far the director and film crew had gone to ensure a desert setting involving many extras, especially many who are on horseback.  And while there is no clear answer of where the film was shot, set design to costume design is really well-done for this 1921 classic silent film.

My enjoyment of watching this film on HD is seeing the clarity of the film on Blu-ray versus how things looked on DVD 15-years ago.  While not pristine, the film still looks much better than it ever has.  And for the accompany musical score by Ben Model, he did a wonderful job scoring the film from beginning to end.  And you also get a small featurette featuring Valentino’s funeral and the original theatrical trailer for “Blood & Sand”.

While “The Sheik” will be remembered for being a successful film that propelled both Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres, a film so beloved by women that it made women in the audience faint and “The Sheik” would also become part of teenage lingo and even created a fashion trend for Arabian clothing.  And the moniker “Valentino” has been used to describe certain type of guys still goes on today, despite many of those saying it, probably don’t know much about Rudolph Valentino at all.

“The Sheik” is a film that no doubt made Valentino popular despite the fact that in reality, he didn’t care for the film, nor being a Sheik.  But it did cement him as Hollywood’s first sex symbol and those details may overshadow the actual film, “The Sheik” is still quite entertaining after all these years. And one should at least watch this film before watching “The Son of the Sheik”.

Recommended!

 

Deluge (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Deluge” on Blu-ray can be seen as a watching an entertaining 1933 natural disaster film, which was once considered as lost. Others may find the Blu-ray as a wonderful collection of two films starring actress Peggy Shannon.  I will say that this Blu-ray release is a fantastic collaboration between Kino Lorber and Lobster Films giving audiences the opportunity to watch and enjoy two entertaining films from the 1930’s.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Kino Lorber. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Deluge

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1933

DURATION: 70 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1:33:1, English DTS-HD 2.0

COMPANY: Lobster/Kino Lorber Inc.

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: February 21, 2017


Based on the Novel by S. Fowler Wright

Directed by Felix E. Feist

Written by Warren Duff, John F. Goodrich

Produced by Samuel Bischoff, Burt Kelly, William Saal

Music by Val Burton

Cinematography by Norbert Brodine

Edited by Martin G. Coh, Rose Loewinger

Art Direction by Ralph M. DeLacy


Starring:

Peggy Shannon as Claire Arlington

Lois Wilson as Helen Webster

Sidney Blackmer as Martin Webster

Lane Chandler as Jack

Ronnie Cosby as Ronny Webster

John Elliott as Preacher

Ralf Harolde as Norwood

Samuel S. Hinds as Chief Forecaster

Fred Kohler as Jepson

Matt Moore as Tom


Newly Restored! Earthquakes in the Pacific send a massive tsunami around the globe, reducing New York City to rubble. Martin Webster (Sidney Blackmer, Rosemary’s Baby) survives the catastrophe but is separated from his wife (Lois Wilson) and children. Pairing up with a headstrong young woman (Peggy Shannon), Webster struggles to rebuild civiilzation and cultivate a new post-apocalyptic moral code amidst the pillagers and vigilantes who remain. For years considered a lost film, and later emerging in a poor-quality Italian-dubbed version, Deluge is the holy grail of disaster movies. In 2016, Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films, with the help of the Library of Congress, located the original 35mm film elements, including the English-language soundtrack, and it is from these materials that the restoration has been meticulously performed. Directed by Felix E. Feist (The Devil Thumbs a Ride, Donovan s Brain), DELUGE lives up to its near-mythic reputation. Not only are the destruction scenes truly extraordinary, the drama of survival among the rubble is presented with a dark candor that is far more complex than one expects of a film of this vintage. Also featured on this disc is the Pre-Code drama BACK PAGE, starring Peggy Shannon (DELUGE) as a small-town newspaper woman who tries to bring down a notorious white-collar criminal.


In 1933, RKO Radio Pictures released a loose adaptation of S. Fowler Wright’s 1928 novel “Deluge”.

A film about life after a worldwide disaster, the film was directed by Felix E. Feist (“The Big Trees”, “Donovan’s Brain”, “The Man Who Cheated Himself”) and a screenplay co-written by Warren Duff (“Angels with Dirty Faces”, “Varsity Show”, “Frisco Kid”) and John F. Goodrich (“My Lady’s Lips”, “The Last command”, “Lilies of the Field”).

The film stars Peggy Shannon (“Back Page”, “Hotel Continental”, “The Devil’s Mate”), Lois Wilson (“Guiding Light”, “Miss Lulu Bett”, “Bright Eyes”), Sidney Blackmer (“Rosemary’s Baby”, “High Society”, “Little Caesar”), Lane Chandler (“Winds of the Wasteland”, “Samson and Delilah”, “The Well”), Fred Kohler (“Underworld”, “Fighting Caravans”, “The Iron Horse”), Ralf Harolde (“Murder, My Sweet”, “I’m No Angel”, “Smart Money”) and Samuel S. Hinds (“It’s a Wonderful Life”, “You Can’t Take It With You”, “Scarlet Street”).

The film was a modest hit for RKO Radio Pictures but the film (which was later bought by Republic Pictures) is more remembered for its destruction footage which was used for films in the ’40s.

But for many decades, the film was lot until  an Italian print dub was found (note: there are two versions of how this Italian version of the film was found, one via a film archive in 1981 discovered by Forrest J. Ackerman.  The other is Wad Williams discovering a nitrate version of the film in an old mansion in Rome in 1981).  The film was eventually subtitled in English and released on VHS.

But in 2016, the nitrate dupe negative with the English soundtrack was discovered and Lobster Films did a 2K scan restoration and the film would receive a theatrical released and now a Blu-ray and DVD release courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film begins with scientists discovering that a violent storm is heading towards New York City and they issue warnings throughout the city.  Suddenly an eclipse of the sun leads to global destruction as unending earthquakes slam cities causing major tsunamis and leveling cities.

We are introduced to Claire Shannon (portrayed by Peggy Shannon), a world-class long distance swimmer who was supposed to go on another challenge but since the change of weather, she ends up going with a friend and staying with her family in the country.

We are then introduced to lawyer Martin Webster (portrayed by Sidney Blackmer) and his wife Helen (portrayed by Lois Wilson) putting their two kids to sleep.  As the couple know bad weather is coming their way and their home may be destroyed, Martin takes his children and wife to stay behind a huge boulder in hopes it would protect them from the bad weather.

As Martin knows they need more provisions and clothes, he leaves his wife and children to go back to the house.  But the next major earthquake hits, which destroys New York City and destroys the home.

Martin is knocked unconscious and when he awakes, his home and land is gone and water has covered  the ground all around him.  And he fears that he lost his family to the tsunami.

Meanwhile, at a small house nearby, two men, the burly Jepson (portayed by Fred Kohler) and the anxiety-filled Norwood (portrayed by Ralf Harolde) are afraid they may be the last two people on the planet.  As Jepson goes outside the cabin, he discovers an unconscious Claire.

Fastforward and over a month and a half has passed.  Martin has built a shelter behind a rock and uses a nearby tunnel in a cave to store many provisions.

As for Jepson and Norwood, the two get into a major disagreement of who owns Claire.  Jepson tells Norwood that since he found the house and Claire, she belongs to him.  As Jepson goes to work on the boat, Norwood tries to sexually assault Claire and Jepson walks in and angered, he chokes and kills Norwood.  As for Claire, it gives her the moment to slip away and swim away from Jepson.  Who then gets his rifle and boat to go after her.

As Martin walks out of his home, he sees a body from the distance.  He goes to it and discovers Claire who is nearly unconscious and nurses her back to health.  Meanwhile, he sees from a distance, Jepson arriving near his home with his boat.  As he trails Jepson from a distance, both men discover a woman who was raped and killed.

Jepson comes across a gang of ruffians and he tells him that he is looking for a woman that belongs to him.  Meanwhile, Martin goes back hom to make sure he can protect Claire.  And the two start to have feelings towards each other.

Meanwhile, not far from the area, survivors in a nearby town have gathered to start a new civilization.  Among the survivors are Helen and her two children.  One of the townsmen, Tom (portrayed by Matt Moore) has taken care of Helen (and has fallen in love with her).  He tells her to forget about her husband, but she says that she believes Martin is alive.  She can feel it.

Tom tells her that soon, the women in the town will be assigned a man.  If she wants to prevent being hooked up with someone else, she should marry him now.

What will happen to Martin, Claire and Lois?


VIDEO:

“Deluge” is presented in 1080p (1:33:1 aspect ratio). Before I begin, it’s important for everyone to know that when it comes to film cleanup, Kino Lorber and Lobster Films do not invest in significant cleanup compared to major film releases from the large studios or film foundations.  What you are going to get are HD scanning of the original negatives to feature the film in the best resolution, but you will see white specks, scratches, slight frame damage, mild flickering, etc.

For those who watch silent films to early talkies, I’m just grateful these films are released and for this release, Lobster Films had done a 2K scan of this film once considered lost.

Picture quality is good considering the age of the film and the fact that a nitrate version of the film with an English soundtrack, “Deluge” is no doubt a film that looks very good.  The film maintains its grain structure and I’ve seen classic Hollywood films with major damage and this film does not suffer from major damage.  Yes, there are white specks, scratches, and some frames with an occasional larger white speck but really, this is common with older films, let alone nitrate films.  So, I felt the picture quality was very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Deluge” is presented in English DTS-HD 2.0 Surround. The lossless soundtrack is crystal clear through the front channels and the dialogue and soundtrack is crystal clear with no major crackle or pops.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Deluge” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an insightful audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith.
  • Interview with Director Gabriel Mascaro – (21:09) Interview with filmmaker Gabriel Mascaro about “Neon Bull”
  • Back Page (1934 film) – (1 hr., 04 min.) In this film starring Peggy Shannon, the film features Peggy as Jerry Hampton, a young female reporter who was fired from a major big city newspaper.  Jerry decides to take over a troubled small town newspaper and learns about small town politics and the difficulties of finding advertisers to keep the newspaper afloat.  Also, the troubles she receives as people don’t feel confident a woman can run the newspaper.
  • The Hurricane Trailer
  • Avalanche Trailer
  • Meteor Trailer

“Deluge” is a fascinating 1934 natural disaster film that despite its visual effects for its time and at times for its corny dialogue, I actually enjoyed “Deluge” more than many other natural disaster films, including big budget natural disaster films that came out decades after.

A loose adaptation of S. Fowler Wright’s novel, “Deluge” focuses on a global natural disaster during a time when technology and natural disaster warnings was limited, where earthquakes become rampant and along with a tsunami, cities were destroyed and humanity is reduced.

While no one knows how many people survived, the storyline of “Deluge” shows a side of humanity that is often depicted in post-apocalyptic films and that is the worst of society where gangs are rampant and some reverting to troglodyte behavior.  Women are raped and murdered and women are seen as possessions and not equal partners.

Sure, its a film that rings loud and clear of society back in the 1930’s, but the film provides a glance of the 1930’s through its characters.

Ziegfeld Follies Peggy Shannon who was to be the new “It” girl, is glamorous and beautiful sporting a bikini (when most women wore one piece swimsuits) and a woman who behaved independently until being convinced by her protector that she must make a decision to fall in love.

I bring up Peggy’s character of Claire as being independent because Shannon starred in a film titled “Back Page” about a fired big city reporter who wants to prove that she can run a smalltown paper, despite people thinking she can’t do that because she’s a woman.  The 1934 film is also included on this “Deluge” Blu-ray release, which makes the release quite enticing because it’s a film that follows a woman determined to succeed despite the challenges she may face.

Unfortunately, like a few other Hollywood talent of that time who were hooked on drugs and alcohol, Peggy Shannon’s star career was dimmed due to her alcoholism.

“Deluge” also stars Sidney Blackmer and Lois Wilson.  Blackmer plays the main protagonist Martin Webster, a man who thinks his wife and children died from the earthquake/tsunami and has built a home near a rocky mountain and in better shape as he has managed to stockpile on provisions.  His life changes when he meets Claire and slowly falls in love with her, not knowing that his wife Lois and her children are very much alive.

The primary antagonist is Jepson (portrayed by Fred Kohler), a burly man who thinks he is one of the last people left alive and since he found a house and also an unconscious Claire, he assumes that she belongs to him and no other.

Claire escapes from him and thanks to her world class swimming skills, she swims to the area that Martin is staying.  But not far behind is Jepson, who wants nothing but to bring Claire back.  Jepson meets the Bellamy Gang, who raped and killed a woman.

The film manages to establish that there is a good number of riff raff and in the new world, but there are good people who are willing to fight back which we have seen in movies such as “Mad Max” and other storylines.

This classic film manages to incorporate a lot of action and drama and definitely one of the earlier lower budget natural disaster films that is upstaged by the bigger budget MGM natural disaster film “San Francisco” starring Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Jeanette MacDonald that was released three years later (1936).

Part of the problem with “Deluge”, while some may point to visual effects, while cheesy for today’s standards, I felt the visual effects were customary for its time and the fact it uses stock footage of a natural disaster (hurricane) in the film shows that RKO Film, really wanted to drive the images of chaos and panic, while many cities are being destroyed by a global natural disaster, leading to the death of millions.  And one must remember, this is a low budget RKO film, not a big budget MGM film.

Where “San Francisco” focused on few characters, it also tries to show humanity really being affected by a major disaster.  In “Deluge”, too many times where the female characters are just seen as objects meant to be possessed.  They must make a choice to be with a man or else it’s too late.

Because it’s a pre-code film, I do like the fact we see violence in the film.  People die in this film, not just through the natural disaster but because of greed or envy.  The film goes to show how people are affected by chaos but even for those in the side of good, I feel later in the film, they aren’t more affected by the natural disaster, but the fact that their relationships are affected.

With the 1936 film “San Francisco”, the film was ambitious in special effects but the 1906 earthquake gave writers the opportunity to craft a story about the human spirit of willing to rebuild a city and start over.  In the 1993 film, “Deluge”, it’s not about human spirit during a time of chaos but the man and woman and the importance of a relationship during a time of chaos.

But once again, there are differences between the two films from star power and money budgeted.  And “Deluge” is in essence a low budget film, with no major big name talent, but still you see talent who had true potential and a natural disaster film that rivals big budget natural disaster films made in the last 40 years.  I enjoyed “Deluge” and what they were able to accomplish.

And as mentioned, this Blu-ray release comes with the Peggy Shannon 1934 film “Back Page”, and it’s one of the few pre-code films which shows an independent business woman trying to prove everyone that she can be a leader and a woman who can run a small town newspaper.  Also, for “Winnie the Pooh” fans, the longtime voice of the popular character courtesy of Sterling Holloway, has a role in the film.

But I found “Back Page” quite interesting because you rarely find career-driven women in classic Hollywood films.  Far too often, women were portrayed as vamps seducing men, women who need saving by a man or women having to be good wives or mothers.  But “Back Page” was interesting to see a protagonist running a newspaper and one that is so driven and standing her own ground.  A rarity to see in older Hollywood films.

As for the Blu-ray, as mention earlier, picture quality is very good, not pristine but considering what Lobster Films was able to accomplish, I’m quite grateful to have the best presentation of “Deluge” and “Back Page” to date with this Blu-ray release.  The lossless soundtrack features no significant crackle or pops and the special features include a wonderful and insightful audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith.

Overall, “Deluge” on Blu-ray can be seen as a watching an entertaining 1933 natural disaster film, which was once considered as lost. Others may find the Blu-ray as a wonderful collection of two films starring actress Peggy Shannon.  I will say that this Blu-ray release is a fantastic collaboration between Kino Lorber and Lobster Films giving audiences the opportunity to watch and enjoy two entertaining films from the 1930’s.  Recommended!

 

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town: 80th Anniversary (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” is a timeless Frank Capra classic. Featuring wonderful direction by Frank Capra and an amazing performance by Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur, plus a 4K restoration and a digibook release, the “You Can’t Take It With You” Blu-ray release is highly recommended and the definitive version of the film to own!

Image courtesy of © 1936, renewed 1963 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

YEAR OF FILM: 1936

DURATION: 116 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, black and white, English Mono DTS-HD MA, French, German, Italian, Spanish Monaural, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Czech, Dutch Fininish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian), Swedish, Turkish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: October 4, 2016


Directed by Frank Capra

Screenplay by Robert Riskin

Story by Clarence Budington Kelland

Produced by Frank Capra

Cinematography by Joseph Walker

Edited by Gene Havlick

Art Direction by Stephen Goosson

Costume Design by Samuel Lange


Starring:

Gary Cooper as Longfellow Deeds

Jean Arthur as Babe Bennett

George Bancroft as MacWade

Lionel Stander as Cornelius Cobb

Douglass Dumbrille as John Cedar

Raymond Walburn as Walter

H.B. Warner as Judge May

Ruth Donnelly as Mabel Dawson

Walter Catlett as Morrow


Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper), a resident of small-town Vermont, leads a simple life until he inherits a vast fortune from a late uncle. Soon, unscrupulous lawyer John Cedar (Douglas Dumbrille) brings Deeds to New York City, where the unassuming heir is the object of much media attention. When wily reporter Babe Bennett (Jean Arthur) gains the trust and affection of Deeds, she uses her position to publish condescending articles about him — but are her feelings for him really that shallow?


As the legendary Frank Capra was known to churn out box office hits and win several Academy Awards with films such as “It Happened One Night”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Arsenic and Old Lace”, “Lost Horizon”, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, to name a few.

Back in 1935, a short story titled “Opera Hat” was written by Clarence Budington Kelland for “The American Magazine”.  Not long after, Robert Riskin would write a screenplay and once again, Riskin and Capra would collaborate for the fifth time.

While casting the film, Gary Cooper was Capra’s only choice for the film, but for the female lead, he had wanted Carole Lombard, who was the film’s original lead but quit three days before principal photography in order to star in the film, “My Man Godfrey”.  And he would choose actress Jean Arthur, which the film would be her first feature film debut as a leading character.

And the film would become another big hit for Frank Capra as he would receive his second Academy Award for Directing and the film was nominated for “Best Picture”, “Best Screenplay” (Robert Riskin) and “Best Sound Recording” (John P. Livadary).  The film would be nominated by the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review as “Best Picture of 1936”.

The film would star Gary Cooper (“High Noon”, “Sergeant York”, “Meet John Doe”, “Pride of the Yankees”), Jean Arthur (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “You Can’t Take It With You”, “Shane”), George Bancroft (“Stagecoach”, “Angels with Dirty Faces”, “The Docks of New York”), Lionel Stander (“Ince Upon a Time in the West”, “New York, New York”), Douglass Dumbrille (“The Ten Commandments”, “Road to Utopia”, “A Day at the Races”), Raymond Walburn (“Hail the Conquering Hero”, “The Sin of Harold Diddlebock”, “Christmas in July”), H.B. Warner (“It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Sunset Boulevard”, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”), Ruth Donnelly (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “Bells of St. Mary’s”, “The Snake Pit”) and Walter Catlett (“Bringing Up Baby”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, “Friendly Persuasion”).

In 2013, the film received a digital restoration by Sony Colorworks.  The digital images were restored frame-by-frame at Prasad Corporation to remove dirt, tears, scratches and this restoration would be fully restored and mastered in 4K for the film’s 80th Anniversary.

And now the film is available on Blu-ray ala Digibook courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” is set during the Great Depression and the wealthy, late uncle Martin Semple has left his money ($20 million dollars) to his nephew, Longfellow Deeds (portrayed by Gary Cooper).

Semple’s attorney, John Cedar wants some of that money and so he head to Mandrake Falls, Vermont and finds Deeds, who is a co-owner of a tllow works, a part-time greeting poet and a tuba musician.

Cedar brings Longfellow Deeds to New York in order for Deeds to receive his inheritance and to become the new chairman of the company.  But as Cedar tries to get Deeds to use his money for other things, Deed is not the type to follow everyone and prevents any greedy opportunists from taking his money.

Meanwhile, the journalists want to know more about Deeds and star reporter, Louise “Babe” Bennett (portrayed by Jean Arthur) disguises herself as a damsel in distress and pretends to be a poor woman named Mary Dawson.  And eventually wins his confidence and starts to hang out with Deeds and each time.

Eventually, Deeds starts to fall in love with her, but he does not know that she is hanging out with him, so she can write articles about his adventures and his country ways, which many people find as odd.  Nicknaming him “Cinderella Man”, Deeds becomes a popular person in media, embarrassing his uncle’s business partners.

But when Deeds finds out who Babe really is and that she is responsible for writing the “Cinderella Man” articles, it leads to Deeds spiral ling downward into depression.  Leaving himself vulnerable for people to go after his money.

Will Deeds be able to recover from his depression?


VIDEO:

“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town: 80th Anniversary” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is fantastic as white and grays are well-contrast while black levels are sharp. The film shows amazing clarity on Blu-ray showcases the detail of the film in high definition.

The print features the digital restoration that was done by Sony Colorworks in 2013 and the digital pictures were frame by frame digitally restored and dirt, tears, scratches and artifacts were removed. I personally did not notice any damage to the film and was very content with the beautiful picture quality of this classic film.

Comparing to the original DVD releases that I’ve had, clarity is evident. Sharpness is clearly evident, along with the black levels which were inky and deep. There is a good amount of grain throughout the entire film and no doubt, this is the definitive version of “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” in terms of picture quality!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town: 80th Anniversary” is presented in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio Monaural. The monaural lossless soundtrack is crystal clear with no sign of hiss, crackle or any popping.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Arabic, Danish, dutch, Finnish, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilan), Swedish and Turkish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town: 80th Anniversary” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Frank Capra Jr.
  • Frank Capra Jr. Remembers… “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town – (11:11) Frank Capra Jr. talks about his father and his father working on “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”.
  • Vintage Advertising Gallery -Featuring vintage posters, lobby cards, and more.
  • Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”.

EXTRAS:

“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town: 80th Anniversary” comes in a digibook package with 30-pages. Featuring photos from the film plus “The Making of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” essay by Jeremy Arnold and “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Restoration in 4K” by Rita Belda. 

Also, the Blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet Digital code for the film.


When “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” was released in theaters, it really affected a lot of people.  With the effects of the Great Depression still strong within viewers, you had an unlikely man becoming a wealthy multi-millionaire but also a man who didn’t exhibit the ego or attitude with one who has money.

If anything, Longfellow Deeds is a man who never had much and was content with what he had.  But now that he has money, everyone is after it and he has been quite defensive.  Especially when articles about him, dubbing him the “Cinderella Man” try to paint him as a goofball because of his country ways.

So, putting myself in that era, I can see why people gravitated towards the character of Mr. Deeds, but it helps when you have a talented actor such as Gary Cooper playing the role.

A film full of humor but also occasional drama, I personally enjoyed Frank Capra’s “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” because it’s main character is your everyman.  A man who believes in hardwork but a man who doesn’t mind living his life, the way he wants, even though it doesn’t appeal to others.   He is not a person who loves money nor is he controlled by it, he has the money and if he wants to give it away, its his own prerogative.  Unfortunately, others do not feel the same way.

While many of Frank Capra’s films of the mid-to-late ’30s are known to become more darker overtime,  “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” starts off lighthearted but slowly transitions to a film in which Deeds changes for the worse, after finding out the woman he loves, is not who he thinks she is.  And everyone, the rich and poor, wanting his money.  He realizes that money doesn’t always bring happiness and he no doubt must live through tough situations, considering he has become a media spectacle.

As Gary Cooper is well-known and did a magnificent job as the main character, Jean Arthur makes her film debut.  Known as the “Queen of Screwball Comedy”, even during the making of “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”, while the actress looked natural onscreen, is surprising that in reality, during the time of the film and even later in her career, she had extreme stage fright during production, which Capra would write about in his autobiography.

But Frank Capra did a magnificent job directing the film, Robert Riskin with the screenplay, Gary Cooper as the main protagonist and as for Jean Arthur, it was the film that helped make her a star.

As for the Blu-ray release, while I have owned “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” on DVD, this is no doubt the best version of the film to date. Fully restored in 4K, the picture quality looks absolutely amazing. The film is sharp, white and grays are well contrast and black levels are nice and deep. I saw no blemishes while watching this film (which I was expecting, considering the restoration that took place in 2013) and I was absolutely pleased with the overall look of the film. The lossless soundtrack is in DTS-HD Master Audio monaural. The special features includes an insightful commentary by Frank Capra Jr., but also good insight of the making of the film in a featurette featuring Frank Capra Jr.

And last, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” is released in digibook format with 30-pages and for anyone who is not familiar with digibook, they look like a book. There are pages with an essay and photographs from the film throughout the digibook.

Overall, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” is a timeless Frank Capra classic. Featuring wonderful direction by Frank Capra and an amazing performance by Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur, plus a 4K restoration and a digibook release, the “You Can’t Take It With You” Blu-ray release is highly recommended and the definitive version of the film to own!

 

In a Lonely Place – The Criterion Collection #810 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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If you love film noir, the Criterion Collection’s release of “In a Lonely Place” is worth watching and owning. Showcasing the wonderful performance by both Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame and also fantastic direction by filmmaker Nicholas Ray, you’ll see why “In a Lonely Place” is considered a classic. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1950, renewed in 1977.  Columbia Pictures Industries, LLC. 2016 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: In a Lonely Place – The Criterion Collection #810

YEAR OF FILM: 1950

DURATION: 93 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, Monaural

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: May 10, 2016


Directed by Nicholas Ray

Written by Andrew Solt

Adaptation by Edmund H. North

Story by Dorothy B. Hughes

Produced by Robert Lord

Associate Producer: Henry S. Kesler

Music by George Antheil

Cinematography by Burnett Guffrey

Edited by Viola Lawrence

Art Direction by Robert Peterson

Set Decoration by William Kiernan

Costume Design by Jean Louis


Starring:

Humphrey Bogart as Dixon Steel

Gloria Grahame as Laurel Gray

Frank Lovejoy as Det. Sgt. Brub Nicolai

Carl Benton Reid as Capt. Lochner

Art Smith as Agent Mel Lippman

Jeff Donnell as Sylvia Nicolai

Martha Stewart as Mildred Atkinson

Robert Warwick as Charlie Waterman

Morris Ankrum as Lloyd Barnes

William Ching as Ted Barton

Steven Geray as Paul

Hadda Brooks as Singer


When a gifted but washed-up screenwriter with a hair-trigger temper—Humphrey Bogart, in a revelatory, vulnerable performance—becomes the prime suspect in a brutal Tinseltown murder, the only person who can supply an alibi for him is a seductive neighbor (Gloria Grahame) with her own troubled past. The emotionally charged In a Lonely Place, freely adapted from a Dorothy B. Hughes thriller, is a brilliant, turbulent mix of suspenseful noir and devastating melodrama, fueled by powerhouse performances. An uncompromising tale of two people desperate to love yet struggling with their demons and each other, this is one of the greatest films of the 1950s, and a benchmark in the career of the classic Hollywood auteur Nicholas Ray.


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From Nicholas Ray, the legendary filmmaker of “Rebel Without a Cause”, “Johnny Guitar”, “King of Kings” and “Bigger Than Life” is his 1950 film noir “In a Lonely Place”.

The film is an adaptation by Edmund North which is based on the novel of the same name by Dorothy B. Hughes.

The film would star Humphrey Bogart (“Casablanca”, “The Maltese Falcon”, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, “The Big Sleep”), Gloria Grahame (“It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Oklahoma!”, “The Big Heat”), Frank Lovejoy (“The Adventures of McGraw”, “House of Wax”, “The Hitch-Hiker”), Carl Benton Reid (“The Little Foxes”, “The Great Caruso”, “Pork Chop Hill”), Art Smith (“Letter from an Unknown Woman”, “Quicksand”), Jeff Donnell (“Sweet Smell of Success”, “Tora! Tora! Tora”), Martha Stewart (“Daisy Kenyon”, “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now”, “Doll Face”) and Robert Warwick (“Sullivan’s Travels”, “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, “The Awful Truth”).

Considered as one of Humphrey Bogart’s finest performances in a film, the film has been included in top 100 lists and in 2007, was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

And now “In a Lonely Place” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection May 2016.

The film revolves around Dixon “Dix” Steele (portrayed by Humphrey Bogart), a Hollywood screenwriter who has a violent temper and has not had a hit screenplay since before the war.

While Dix is driving to meet with his agent, Mel Lippman (portrayed by Art Smith), he gets into a confrontation at the stoplight with another driver in which Dix threatens to fight the man.

As Dix and Mel meet, Mel tries to convince Dix to adapt a book for a film.  Dix meets the hat-check girl, Mildred Atkinson (portrayed by Martha Stewart) and she reads his screenplay which she loves.  Meanwhile, Dix has another violent outburst when a young director bad mouths Dix’s friend Charlie (portrayed by Robert Warwick), who has not had any success in a very long time and is considered a washed-up actor.

Too tired to read the novel, he invites Mildred to come home with him and read it.   As the two walk towards his apartment, they pass by one of the new tenants, Laurel Gray (portrayed by Gloria Grahame).  As Dix and Mildred enter his home, Dix tries to let her know that she is there to read and he’s not trying to seduce her.  But as she describes the book, Dix loses interest and thinks the book is trash and tells Mildred to go home, giving her cab fare, as he is tired.

The following morning, his old army friend and currently a police detective, Brub Nicolai (portrayed by Frank Lovejoy) comes to visit and tells Dix that he needs to come downtown for questioning by Captain Lochner (portrayed by Carl Benton Reid).

They explain to Dix that Mildred, the hat-check girl was found murdered and that Dix is the subject.  Meanwhile, Laurel Gray is brought in to confirm that Dix and Mildred came home together, which she confirms.

While Brub doesn’t think Dix is guilty, Captain Lochner is not put off by the fact that Dix is not showing any sadness, sympathy or emotion towards the death of Mildred.  But the Captain is not aware that after the questioning, Dix anonymously sends two dozen white roses to Mildred.

When Dix goes home, he connects with Laurel and finds out that she is an aspiring actress.  They eventually start to fall in love and Dix gets the passion to write the screenplay adaptation.  But Laurel starts to notice Dix’s violent outbursts and starts to question her relationship with him but also wondering if he may be responsible in the murder of Mildred Atkinson.


VIDEO:

“In a Lonely Place – The Criterion Collection #810” is presented in 1:33:1 aspect ratio in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is fantastic, the film features great clarity, wonderful detail and sharpness.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This 2K digital transfer was created on a Spirit datacine from a new 35 mm fine grain master positive made him from the original camera negative.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “In a Lonely Place – The Criterion Collection #810” in LPCM 1.0 Monaural audio.  The lossless soundtrack is crystal clear with no signs of major hissing, crackle or audio pops.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24 bit from the original 35 mm soundtrack negative at Chace Audio by Deluxe in Burbank, California, under the direction of Grover Crisp and Bob Simmons.  Additional restoration was undertaken by the Criterion Collection using Pro Tools HD and iZotope RX 4.”

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“In a Lonely Place – The Criterion Collection #810” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring the audio commentary by film scholar Dana Polan.
  • I’m a Stranger Here Myself: A Portrait of Nicholas Ray – (40:33) A 1975 documentary about director Nicholas Ray, presented in a slightly condensed form.  Featuring interviews with Ray, filmmakers Francois Truffaut and actors Natalie Wood and John Houseman, among others.
  • Gloria Grahame – (16:39) Author Vincent Curcio (“Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame” discusses her talents, her marriage to Nicholas Ray and her unforgettable life.
  • “In a Lonely Place”: Revisited – (20:23) Filmmaker Curtis Hanson discussing “In a Lonely Place” and why its an enduring cinema classic.
  • Suspense Episode 287 – (59:56) (audio) A radio adaptation of Dorothy B. Hughes novel which differs from Nicholas Ray’s film.  Priginally broadcast on March 6, 1948 as part of the CBS radio series “Suspense”.  Stars Robert Montgomery and Lurene Tuttle.
  • Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for “In a Lonely Place”.

EXTRAS:

“In a Lonely Place – The Criterion Collection #810” comes with a six-page foldout which comes with the essay “An Epitaph For Live” by Imogen Sara Smith (author of “In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City” and “Buster Keaton: The Persistence of Comedy”).


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Years after “In a Lonely Place” debuted in theaters, the film has become a film noir classic.

Beloved by classic film fans for the performances by legendary actor Humphrey Bogart and actress Gloria Grahame.

But for cineaste, many found it to be as captivating because of the director Nicholas Ray and how the two characters in the film, were inspired by the real life relationship and failed marriage between Ray and his wife, the film’s lead actress, Gloria Grahame.

A film that would make one wonder, is the character Dix innocent or is he actually guilty for murder?  Known for his violent temper, the way Nicholas Ray would manage to find balance in trying to portray the character as possibly innocent and possibly worked to the film’s efficacy.

But for actress Gloria Grahame, this is probably the film that would showcase the actress in a whole new light, allowing her to be the leading lady of a screen legend but showing that she is fully capable to take on a lead role in which the character goes through many emotional highs and lows.

The film benefits from the cinematography of Burnett Guffey, for example, one scene in which Bogart describes how Mildred may have been murdered, he is able to shine a light on Bogart, making the character visually frightening as the character of Dix starts to beam during his discussion of something quite macabre.

I also have to say the film also incorporates great writing and the quotes are memorable, especially:

“I was born when you kissed me. I died when you left me. I lived a few weeks while you loved me.”

As for the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release, the film does a great job of honoring both Nicholas Ray and his return to filmmaking after leaving the industry while he was one of the most wanted directors in Hollywood but also the good times and also the troubled life of actress Gloria Grahame (and how her fourth marriage would be to her ex-husband, Nicholas Ray’s son).  You also get a the radio episode from 1948 of “In a Lonely Place” included as well!

As expected from the Criterion Collection, the picture quality of the film features wonderful clarity and sharpness and a clear soundtrack.  No damage and the film looks and sounds great in HD.

Overall, if you love film noir, the Criterion Collection’s release of “In a Lonely Place” is worth watching and owning.  Showcasing the wonderful performance by both Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame and also fantastic direction by filmmaker Nicholas Ray, you’ll see why “In a Lonely Place” is considered a classic.  Recommended!

 

The Kid – The Criterion Collection #799 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“The Kid” is a Charles Chaplin masterpiece which any cineaste or silent film fan should have in their collection.  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Kid – The Criterion Collection #799

YEAR OF FILM: 1921/1922

DURATION: 53 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, black and white/color-tinted, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Monaural

COMPANY: Janus Films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: February 16, 2016


Directed by Charles Chaplin

Written by Charles Chaplin

Produced by Charles Chaplin

Music by Charles Chaplin


Starring:

Carl Miller as The Man

Edna Purviance as The Woman

Jackie Coogan as The Child

Charles Chaplin as A Tramp


Charlie Chaplin was already an international star when he decided to break out of the short-film format and make his first full-length feature. The Kid doesn’t merely show Chaplin at a turning point, when he proved that he was a serious film director—it remains an expressive masterwork of silent cinema. In it, he stars as his lovable Tramp character, this time raising an orphan (a remarkable young Jackie Coogan) he has rescued from the streets. Chaplin and Coogan make a miraculous pair in this nimble marriage of sentiment and slapstick, a film that is, as its opening title card states, “a picture with a smile—and perhaps, a tear.”


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In 1921, Charles Chaplin released his first full-length film as a director titled “The Kid”.

The film is produced, written, directed and music composed by Charles Chaplin, the film would feature the America’s first child star Jackie Coogan  (who would become popular three decades later as Uncle Fester in the hit TV series “The Addams Family” from 1964).  The film would also star Edna Purviance, an actress who would play the leading lady in many of Charlie Chaplin’s early films.

In 2011, “The Kid” was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and is considered one of the greatest films of the silent era.

And now “The Kid” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

“The Kid” begins with an unwed woman (portrayed by Edna Purviance) leaving a charity hospital with her newborn son.  Meanwhile, the father is shown looking at her photo and the photo falling into the fireplace and would burn up.

Struggling with a decision to abandon her child, the woman leaves her baby in the back seat of an expensive automobile and she leaves behind a note with him about caring and providing love for the baby.

As the woman leaves, two thieves steal the car, unaware a baby is in the back seat.  Meanwhile, the woman has second thoughts and when she returns back to get her baby, she sees the car no longer there.    When she goes to the wealthy home where the car was parked, she finds out from the chauffeur that the car was stolen and the woman faints.

As the two thieves drive to an area of town, they hear the baby cry and put the baby near a trash can.

The baby is found by the tramp (portrayed by Charles Chaplin).  While the tramp tries to rid of the child onto other people, with police walking nearby, he is unable to and decides to raise the baby after seeing the note that came with him.

Five years later, the child (portrayed by Jackie Coogan) has been raised with street smarts, thanks to the tramp.  The tramp has taught the boy to be his partner in crime, making money by the boy breaking windows and the tramp being paid to fix them.

Meanwhile, the child’s real mother has become a successful and wealthy star.  But despite her financial success, she contributes her time doing charity work with the poor as a way to make amends for abandoning her child.

But one day, she ends up going to the neighborhood where the Tramp and child are living.


VIDEO:

“The Kid – The Criterion Collection #799” is presented in 1:33:1 black and white and in 1080p High Definition. The film looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray!

White and grays are well-contrast, black levels are nice and deep and the detail and sharpness is fantastic. I did not notice any issues with the picture quality with blurriness or any scratches or dust during my viewing of the film.

The film is a new 4K digital restoration of Charlie Chaplin’s 1972 re-release version of the film.

According to the Criterion Collection, “this new high-definition digital transfer was created from a 35 mm first-generation 1921 element preserved by the Cineteca di Bologna.  The element was scanned on an ARRISCAN film scanner and edited to match Charlie Chaplin’s 1972 rerelease; for a severely decayed 370-foot portion for the film, a first-generation 1921 fine-grain from the collection of Roy Export was used instead.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “The Kid – The Criterion Collection #799” is presented in LPCM 1.0 and features Charles Chaplin’s original score. The soundtrack is fantastic and Chaplin’s score as conducted by composer Timothy Brock is just great to listen to in HD without any buzzing or crackle.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from 35 mm magnetic tracks. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD and Izotope RX 4.

Features English intertitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Kid – The Criterion Collection #799” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chaplin historian Charles Maland.
  • Interviews – Featuring interviews with Jackie Coogan (11:04), Lita Grey Chaplin (10:00), cinematographer Rollie Totheroh (7:48 – audio only) and distributor Mo Rothman (9:42 – audio only).
  • Jackie Coogan: The First Child Star – (19:09) A video essay by Charles Chaplin scholar Lisa Haven about the first child star Jackie Coogan and the legacy he left behind to other child actors.
  • A Study in Undercranking – (25:09) Featuring silent film specialist Ben Model discussing how films were made and how cameras were cranked by hand.
  • Charlie Chaplin Conducts the Kid – (2:04) Brief footage shows Charlie Chaplin conducting his newly composed score for “The Kid” in 1971.
  • From the 1921 Version – (7:22) The deleted scenes Chaplin made when revisiting the film in 1971, removing three scenes featuring “The Woman” Edna Purviance.  Also, including the original First Nationa opening titles, various intertitles and closing card.
  • “Charlie” On the Ocean – (4:00) A newsreel which documents Charlie Chaplin’s first trip back to Europe after relocating to the US from England in 1914 to become a movie actor.
  • Nice and Friendly – (10:53) Filmed at Pickfair, the home of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in 1922, as a wedding present for Lord and Lady Mountbattten, this short features Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan and the newlyweds.  Featuring a new score by composer Timothy Brock.
  • Trailers – Theatrical trailers for “The Kid”.

EXTRAS:

“The Kid – The Criterion Collection #799” comes with a six-page foldout with the essay “The Grail of Laughter and the Fallen Angel” by Tom Gunning.


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“The Kid” is a silent film that I have adored for many years but watching it on Blu-ray and seeing the detail and the beauty of the film in HD, I have fallen in love with this film once again.

It’s no doubt a masterpiece from Charles Chaplin, who wrote, starred, directed, produced and even composed the music for the film.  Going through strains of a marital breakdown and literally so much personal drama, he was able to craft a film showing how much of a cinema genius at the time.  And even now, not far from a century since this film was released in theaters we can only marvel of how well-crafted “The Kid” really is.

In fact, there were high expectations for this film, so much that Ralph Kettering, representative of Jones, Linick & Schaefer Co. stated, “The First National exhibitions’ circuit paid over to Mr. Chaplin $800,000 in gold for the purchase of this picture and we have paid an enormous sum to secure the first screening anywhere on earth here in Chicago”.

But the high expectations for Chaplin was because gossip of his divorce and his life had captivated America who hasn’t seen much of the actor.  But when his six-reeler was released, film critics were positive of his film.

The legendary silent film critic Carl Sandburg of the Chicago Daily News wrote, “‘The Kid’ is a masterpiece and should satisfy either those who want knock down and dragout or something the whole family will enjoy.”

But one must have to admit that what made this film work was finding the right child actor.  Watching many silent film with child actors, not many have that skillset as the young Jackie Coogan.  I’ve read of how mature this child was at such a young age, so much that Chaplin and other well-known silent film talents included the child in a personal film together made for a friend, but it’s the fact that this film features a wide-range of emotion and Chaplin was able to bring that out with the young Jackie Coogan.

Also, what makes this film so relevant today is the fact that the situations featured in “The Kid” still resonate strongly today.  Single parent unable to afford their child, struggles to give their baby up.  Edna Purviance as the mother who lives with her decision and is able to change her life and give back to charity in order to make amends, is something that viewers can sympathize with.

Similar to Coogan, Purviance has had a long career with Chaplin and like the short films, he is able to showcase her talent and emotions with efficacy.

But it’s that fatherly role which Chaplin provides to the kid that makes us feel laughter, sadness and just knowing that for the tramp, despite being poor and not living in the best conditions, he does what he can to parent the child and raise him.

As for the Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection, this is a fantastic release with a good number of special features and in depth look into the film thanks to audio commentary by Chaplin historian Charles Maland, a wonderful featurette about Jackie Coogan courtesy of Chaplin historian Lisa Haven and more.

The Blu-ray is the best I have seen of “The Kid” by far.  The details and sharpness are magnificent in HD, the new score by composer Timothy Brock is fantastic!

But I have to mention that this Blu-ray release features the 1972 re-release version of the film.  An older Chaplin wanted to make some revisions for the re-release, so if you want the full version of the film, a complete version was released on LaserDisc long ago.  But the good news is that “The Kid” features the deleted scenes in the special features.

For those who owned the 2004 Warner Bros. DVD, you still want to hang on to that DVD for the Chaplin and Coogan shorts.  But it’s definitely worth upgrading to the Criterion Collection Blu-ray as this release is magnificent.

Overall, “The Kid” is a Charles Chaplin masterpiece which any cineaste or silent film fan should have in their collection.  Highly recommended!

 

Speedy – The Criterion Collection #788 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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While my favorite Harold Lloyd film will always be “Safety Last!”, I enjoy “Speedy” in a much different level, mainly for the adventure that Harold Lloyd takes the viewer and enjoying New York City of that era but also the fascinating stunts and scenes that will surely entertain generation after generation. A wonderful Criterion Collection silent comedy Blu-ray release that I recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Speedy – The Criterion Collection #788

YEAR OF FILM: 1928

DURATION: 86 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, black and white/color-tinted, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Janus Films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: December 8, 2015


Directed by Ted Wilde

Story by John Grey, Lex Neal, Howard Emmet Rogers

Executive Producer: Suzanne Lloyd  Hayes

Producer: Kevin Brownlow, David Gill

Associate Producer: Peter Langs

Cinematography by Walter Lundin

Edited by Carl Himm

Art Direction by Liell K. Vedder


Starring:

Harold Lloyd as Harold “Speedy Swift

Ann Christy as Jane Dillon

Bert Woodruff as Pop Dillon – Her Grand-daddy

Brooks Benedict as Steve Carter

Babe Ruth


Speedy was the last silent feature to star Harold Lloyd (Safety Last!)—and one of his very best. The slapstick legend reprises his “Glasses Character,” this time as a good-natured but scatterbrained New Yorker who can’t keep a job. He finally finds his true calling when he becomes determined to help save the city’s last horse-drawn trolley, which is operated by his sweetheart’s crusty grandfather. From its joyous visit to Coney Island to its incredible Babe Ruth cameo to its hair-raising climactic stunts on the city’s streets, Speedy is an out-of-control love letter to New York that will have you grinning from ear to ear.


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Harold Lloyd, one of the three kings of silent comedy in the United States has entertained many with films such as “Safety Last!” (1923), “The Freshman” (1925), “The Kid Brother” (1927), to name a few.

But in 1928, he would create his final silent comedy, “Speedy”, which was directed by longtime Harold Lloyd confidant and director, Ted Wilde (his final film as he would die of a stroke at the age of 36 while working on another film project).

Beloved by silent comedy fans, especially for its footage from Hollywood and New York City and the film was one of the films to be nominated for the short-lived “Academy Award for Best Director of a Comedy”.

The film would star Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy (“Halloween”, “The Love Charm”, “Dream House”), Bert Woodruff (“Spring Fever”, “Children of the Dust”, “The Delicious Little Devil”), Brooks Benedict (“The Freshman”, “Follow the Fleet”, “What Price Hollywood?”) and baseball great, Babe Ruth (as well as a very short cameo from fellow New York Yankees, Lou Gehrig).

While the film will be known as Harold Lloyd’s final silent film, the film also gets its reputation for Harold Lloyd showing off his middle finger (possibly the first middle finger gesture seen in a film).  But for its extensive location shooting, it is one of the best films to capture New York City during the late 1920’s.

Considered as one of his highlights of his oeuvre, “Speedy” was released on Blu-ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

“Speedy” revolves around Harold “Speedy” Swift (portrayed by Harold Lloyd), a man who can’t keep a job for more than a week and is dating Jane Dillon (portrayed by Ann Christy).

Her father Pop (portrayed by Bert Woodruff) is the owner of a horse-drawn streetcar, one of the last ones in the city.  But the wealthy railroad entrepreneur Steve Carter (portrayed by Brooks Benedict) wants to build a trolley system in the city, but unfortunately the route is being used for many years by Pop Dillon.  And the only way he can lose it, is if he doesn’t provide rides on the route for 24 hours.  Something that Pop has not missed since starting his business.

But when Pop is willing to negotiate for $10,000 for the route and streetcar, seeing a newspaper article of how badly Steve Carter needs the route, Speedy changes the $10,000 to $70,000 which Carter refuses to pay.

Now Steve Carter will do all he can to prevent Pop from operating his streetcar and force him out of business.  But wanting to protect Pop’s business, Speedy decides to operate the street-car.

Featuring a day between Speedy and his girlfriend Jane at Coney Island, watching a New York Yankees game and also giving New York Yankees star, Babe Ruth a ride, “Speedy” is one of Harold Lloyd’s most memorable silent films ever created.


VIDEO:

“Speedy – The Criterion Collection #788” is presented in black and white and color-tinted (1:33:1 aspect ratio). The film is well-preserved and looks fantastic compared to its earlier DVD set release in the “Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection”.  The film features better picture quality, better sharpness and detail for the characters.

According to the Criterion Collection, “this new digital transfer was created 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from a safety fine-grain master positive deposited at the UCLA Film & Television Archive by the Harold Lloyd estate; certain insert segments were scanned in 4k from the archive’s preservation negative.  The film was restored by Digital Film Restore in Burbank, California.”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Speedy – The Criterion Collection #788”. The soundtrack features the musical score by composer Carl Davis from 1992, synchronize dand restored under his supervision and presented in uncompressed stereo.

Intertitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Speedy – The Criterion Collection #788” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary with Bruce Goldstein, director of repertory programming at New York’s Film Forum and Scott McGee, director of program production at Turner Classic Movies.
  • “In the Footsteps of ‘Speedy'” – (31:06) A short documentary featuring Bruce Goldstein, director of repertory programming at New York Film Forum and founder of Rialto Pictures visiting and discussing several of the key New York locations in “Speedy”.
  • Babe Ruth – (40:25) Featuring David Filipi, director of film and video at the Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University, presenting and discussing a selection of rare Hearst Metrotone newsreel footage featuring Babe Ruth from the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
  • Narrated Stills: Deleted Scenes – (4:24) Bruce Goldstein, director of repertory programming at New York’s Film Forum narrates a selection of rare stills featuring scenes that were deleted from the final release version of “Speedy”.
  • Home Movies – (17:46) Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd narrates a selection of home movie footage shot around the time that “Speedy” was made.
  • Bumping Into Broadway – (25:51) A 1939 Harold Lloyd short shot entirely in Los Angeles and the first two-reeler to star Lloyd’s glasses character.

EXTRAS:

“Speedy – The Criterion Collection #788” comes with a six-page foldout with the essay “The Comic Figure of the Average Man” by Phillip Lopate.


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A final silent comedy by Harold Lloyd before he became interested in creating talkies a year later with “Welcome Danger”, “Speedy” is a film in which the well-known silent film director/actor wanted to go grand by shooting in New York.

Featuring wonderful video footage of scenery of New York City long ago, and utilizing hidden cameras to shoot various scenes, especially Harold Lloyd and Ann Christy’s adventures in Coney Island, one can easily marvel on how Harold Lloyd was able to pull this film off.

As thousands of people became the film’s extras, many crowds gathering…and would typically stop film production and stunt scenes that were risky and dangerous, “Speedy” was no doubt an ambitious film but yet still within the scope of focusing on create an entertaining and riveting silent comedy film.

But in terms of being even more ambitious, what was supposed to be Lloyd’s final silent film in 1929 with “Welcome Danger”, Lloyd chose to reshoot and utilize audio technology for its time and create a Harold Lloyd comedy for the “talkies” era.  While “Welcome Danger” did well in the box office as moviegoers were excited to hear this new technology and wanting to hear what Harold Lloyd sounds like, his talkies afterward, would never achieve the same success as his silent films.

So, here we are with “Speedy” now released in HD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.  The film looks absolutely fantastic compared to its Warner Bros. DVD counterpart.  The sharpness and detail are much better, as can be expected.  But its the subtle details in watching in HD that you see things in the background that catch your attention.

And this is where “Speedy” is quite effective because of its location shooting throughout New York City, you get to see New York of yesteryear.  There are a few films, especially from Harold Lloyd that showcase a city background and in many ways, historically are significant for capturing the lifestyle and pop culture of that era.  And “Speedy” has so much to give, as the characters are seen in Coney Island and New York City, not for a short moment, but for a significant amount of time.

The audio retains the 1992 Carl Davis musical score, which will leave purists happy and there are a number of special features that really go into the making of the film but also showcasing New York Yankees slugger, Babe Ruth and really going into details of the legend’s career as a player and manager.

Also included are glimpses of home movies and also the two-reeler “Bumping into Broadway” featuring the 2004 musical score by Robert Israel.

For silent comedy fans, the Harold Lloyd films released by the Criterion Collection have been wonderful and timing has been perfect as Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton have been the focal point of many Blu-ray releases, it’s great to have Criterion Collection honoring the third king of silent comedy with another release in HD.

While my favorite Harold Lloyd film will always be “Safety Last!”, I enjoy “Speedy” in a much different level, mainly for the adventure that Harold Lloyd takes the viewer and enjoying New York City of that era but also the fascinating stunts and scenes that will surely entertain generation after generation.

A wonderful Criterion Collection silent comedy Blu-ray release that I recommend!

 

You Can’t Take It With You (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“You Can’t Take It With You” is a timeless Frank Capra romantic comedy classic.  Featuring wonderful direction by Frank Capra and an amazing performance by James Stewart and Jean Arthur, plus a 4K restoration and a digibook release, the “You Can’t Take It With You” Blu-ray release is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1939, renewed 1968 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: You Can’t Take It With You

YEAR OF FILM: 1938

DURATION: 126 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:37:1 aspect ratio, black and white, English 1.0 DTS-HD MA, French, German, Italian, Spanish Monoraul, Subtitles: English, Arabic, Czech, Dutch Fininish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Spanish (Latin America), Swedish, Turkish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: December 8, 2014


Directed by Frank Capra

Based on the Play by George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart

Screenplay by Robert Riskin

Produced by Frank Capra

Music by Dimitri Tiomkin

Cinematography by Joseph Walker

Edited by Gene Havlick

Art Direction by Stephen Goosson


Starring:

Jean Arthur as Alice Sycamore

Lionel Barrymore as Martin Vanderhof

James Stewart as Tony Kirby

Edward Arnold as Anthony P. Kirby

Mischa Auer as Kolenkhov

Ann Miller as Essie Carmichael

Spring Byington as Penny Sycamore

Samul S. Hinds as Paul Sycamore

Donald Meek as Poppins

H.B. Warner as Ramsey

Halliwell Hobbes as DePinna

Dub Taylor as Ed Charmichael

Mary Forbes as Mrs. Anthony Kirby

Lillian Yarbo as Rheba

Eddie “Rochester” Anderson as Donald

Clarence Wilson as John Blakely

Josef Swickard as Professor


Academy Award(r) winner James Stewart (1940 Best Actor, The Philadelphia Story), Jean Arthur, Academy Award(r) winner Lionel Barrymore (1931 Best Actor, A Free Soul) and Edward Arnold star in this classic screwball comedy. Arthur stars as Alice Sycamore, the stable family member of an offbeat clan of free spirits who falls for Tony Kirby (James Stewart), the down-to-earth son of a snooty, wealthy family. Amidst a backdrop of confusion, the two very different families rediscover the simple joys of life. Based on the phenomenally successful Kaufman-Hart play, You Can’t Take It With You was directed by Frank Capra and won two Academy Awards(r) (1938 Best Picture, Best Director). Now fully restored in 4K, this heartwarming and timeless classic is perfect for every family.


 As the legendary Frank Capra was known to churn out box office hits and win several Academy Awards with films such as “It Happened One Night”, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”, “Lost Horizon”, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”.

While Frank Capra and James Stewart have had a wonderful work collaboration, it began in 1938 with the romantic comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” and the first collaboration between Stewart and Jean Arthur (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”).

While the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards (and winning two Academy Awards for “Best Picture” and “Best Director”) and was the highest grossing picture of 1938, the film would continue to elevate Frank Capra’s career as a filmmaker as the film was his third Oscar for “Best Director” in five years.

The film is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play (of the same name) by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart and was released on Blu-ray in Dec. 2015 and the film has received a full restoration in 4K and will be released as a Digibook, with rare behind-the-scenes photos and an all-new essay about the making of the film.

The film begins with an introduction of wealthy banker Anthony P. Kirby (portrayed by Edward Arnold), who has returned from Washington D.C. after being granted a government-sanctioned munitions monopoly, which will make him and his partners even more wealthy.  But he needs to buy the property within a 12-block radius around a competitor’s factory in order to put them out of business, and as all owners were quick to sell, only one has resisted, no matter how much money they are offered.

Kirby tells his real estate broker, John Blakely (portrayed by Clarence Wilson) to cause trouble for the family in order to get them to move.

Meanwhile, his son Tony (portrayed by James Stewart) is the vice-president and possibly successor to the family’s business.  Tony is in love with the company’s stenographer, Alice Sycamore (portrayed by Jean Arthur) and wants to marry her.

When Tony’s mother (portrayed by Mary Forbes) sees him flirting and kissing Alice, Alice is scared because she feels that her parents will look at her family as poor and not want Tony to marry her.  But Tony doesn’t care, he wants to marry her.

Alice also turns out to be the granddaughter of Grandpa Vanderhof (portrayed by Lionel Barrymore), the patriarch who is holding out of selling his home to the Kirby’s (Tony is unaware of this).

At the Vanderhof home, this is where many people live and do experiments for their inventions.  It’s also the home that Vanderhof does not want to sell because it’s where he and his deceased wife had lived, and will never let the home go.

Meanwhile, without Alice’s knowledge, Tony has his parents come to her home and visit her parents.  But unfortunately, the home is in disarray and it leads to more trouble for both sides of the family.


VIDEO:

“You Can’t Take It With You” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is fantastic as white and grays are well-contrast while black levels are sharp. The film shows amazing clarity on Blu-ray showcases the detail of the film in high definition.

The print features the digital restoration that was done by Sony Colorworks in 2013 and the digital pictures were frame by frame digitally restored and dirt, tears, scratches and artifacts were removed.  I personally did not notice any damage to the film and was very content with the beautiful picture quality of this classic film.

Comparing to the original DVD releases that I’ve had, clarity is evident. Sharpness was evident, along with the black levels which were inky and deep. There is a good amount of grain throughout the entire film and no doubt, this is the definitive version of “You Can’t Take It With You” in terms of picture quality!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is presented in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. The monaural lossless soundtrack is crystal clear with no sign of hiss, crackle or any popping.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Chinese Traditional, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Spanish and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“You Can’t Take it With You” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Frank Capra Jr. and author Cathrine Kellison.
  • Frank Capra Jr. Remembers… “You Can’t Take It With You” – (25:37) Frank Capra Jr. talks about his father and his father working on “You Can’t Take It With You”.
  • Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for “You Can’t Take It With You”.

EXTRAS:

“You Can’t Take It With You” comes in a digibook package with 28-pages. Featuring photos from the film plus “The Making of You Can’t Take It With You” essay by Jeremy Arnold plus an ultraviolet code for the film


When “You Can’t Take It With You” was released in theaters, there was a lot of speculation of how the film would hold up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning play.

If anything, becoming the box office hit of 1938 and also earning seven Academy Award nominations, suffice to say, “You Can’t Take It With You” was a major success.  And for many film critics, the majority were positive about the film adaptation but with those who were passionate about the original play, were the main viewers to criticize the film for not being a 100% faithful adaptation.

I personally enjoyed Frank Capra’s “You Can’t Take It With You”.  In a historical cinema sense, both James Stewart and Jean Arthur had amazing chemistry which would get even better with each Capra film afterward.

It’s also one of the more joyful romantic comedy’s from Frank Capra considering that his films later in the ’30s become more darker, but the film does have a little touch of darkness but not as much as we would see later in Capra’s films.

The film has its moments where the character Martin Vanderhof is presented with doses of reality, that wealth is not everything and when you go on the path of not caring, bad things can happen.

But as Lionel Barrymore did a wonderful job as playing the elder Vanderhof, as did Edward Arnold did in playing Anthony P. Kirby, with a large cast, the film does rely on the talent of James Stewart and Jean Arthur.

From their tender moments and scenes of flirtation early in the film, as Martin holds on to Alice’s hand, while the phone is ringing.  She answers the phone by using her teeth on the telephone cord.  It’s a scene that you just don’t see happen in Hollywood films.

But the film and future films would escalate the popularity of James Stewart as an actor and as for Jean Arthur, cementing her role as the “Queen of Screwball Comedy”.  Both were true professionals and for Jean Arthur who looked as natural onscreen, is surprising that in reality, during the time of the film and even later in her career, had extreme stage fright during production, which Capra would write about in his autobiography.

But for Capra fans, the film is entertaining but as Screwball Comedy fans of the 1930’s, the film is truly heightened by its significant collaborations.

While I have owned various versions of “You Can’t Take It With You” throughout the years, this is no doubt the best version to date. Fully restored in 4K, the picture quality looks absolutely amazing. The film is sharp, white and grays are well contrast and black levels are nice and deep. I saw no blemishes while watching this film (which I was expecting, considering the restoration that took place in 2013) and I was absolutely pleased with the overall look of the film. The lossless soundtrack is in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0.  The special features includes a wonderful documentary but also good insight of the making of the film courtesy of Capra’s son, Frank Capra Jr.

And last, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is released in digibook format with 28-pages and for anyone who is not familiar with digibook, they look like a book.  There are pages, but at the front and back is where the Blu-ray’s are inserted.  Also, digibooks are released for a short time and are often changed to the usual Blu-ray casing later on. If you are a digibook collector, you will definitely want to get this film when it’s released.

Overall, “You Can’t Take It With You” is a timeless Frank Capra romantic comedy classic.  Featuring wonderful direction by Frank Capra and an amazing performance by James Stewart and Jean Arthur, plus a 4K restoration and a digibook release, the “You Can’t Take It With You” Blu-ray release is highly recommended!

 

Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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I know that many people prefer the silent films of Chaplin, and there are those who are not familiar with his later films. But “Limelight” is a later Chaplin film that is recommended for viewing. There is no doubt that Chaplin put his heart and soul into this film and in essence, you can look at it as the great entertainer passing his baton to a new generation of talent. Chaplin’s final American film receives a magnificent Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection and is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756

YEAR OF FILM: 1952

DURATION: 137 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:37:1 aspect ratio, English Monaural LPCM 1.0, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Janus Films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: May 19, 2015


Directed by Charles Chaplin

Original Story and Screenplay by Charles Chaplin

Produced by Charles Chaplin

Music by Charles Chaplin

Cinematography by Karl Struss

Edited by Joe Inge

Art Direction by Eugene Lourie

Costume Design by Riley Thorne


Starring:

Charles Chaplin as Calvero

Claire Bloom as Thereza

Nigel Bruce as Postant

Buster Keaton as Calvero’s Partner

Sydney Chaplin as Neville

Norman Lloyd as bodalink


Charlie Chaplin’s masterful drama about the twilight of a former vaudeville star is among the writer-director’s most touching films. Chaplin plays Calvero, a once beloved musical-comedy performer, now a washed-up alcoholic who lives in a small London flat. A glimmer of hope arrives when he meets a beautiful but melancholy ballerina (Claire Bloom) who lives downstairs. An elegant mix of the comic and the tragic, this poignant movie also features Buster Keaton in an extended cameo, marking the only time the two silent comedy icons appeared in a film together. Made at a time when Chaplin was under attack by the American press and far right, Limelight was scarcely distributed in the United States upon its initial release, but it is now considered one of his essential and most personal works.

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The 1950’s were not the kindest to Charles Chaplin.

The film star that was on top of the world in the teens and twenties and a career that continued to stay strong in the ’30s, became more involved in politics much to the dismay of J.Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI and a smear campaign was developed to destroy Chaplin.

With a film career now waning in the late ’40s and ’50s and with the failure of his film “Monsieur Verdoux” (1947), Chaplin would begin working on the story for his next film “Limelight”.

Because many theaters decided to pass on showing “Limelight”, Chaplin would hold the world premiere in London and by the time he left with his family in September 1952, the attorney general revoked Chaplin’s re-entry permit and that if he intended to re-enter the U.S., he must submit to an interview concerning his political views and moral behavior.  And because of this, Chaplin would cut his ties with the United States to never appear until 1972 when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences offered Chaplin an Honorary Award.

That year, “Limelight” would be re-released in the United States, twenty years after its initial release.  And through the year’s the film would grow in reputation, considered as Chaplin’s last great film and would also be the only film to star two of silent film’s kings, Chaplin and Buster Keaton.  It will also become known as his most personal and introspective film.

While many feel it is an autobiographical film about Chaplin’s fall from grace in cinema and Chaplin insisting the film’s primary character was about stage actor Frank Tierney, there is no doubt that the film does mirror Chaplin’s own personal life.

And now, “Limelight” will be released by the Criterion Collection on Blu-ray and DVD in May 2015.

“Limelight” is set in London 1914, the eve of World War II, and a once famous stage clown named Calvero (portrayed by Charles Chaplin) is now a drunk.

As he is entering his apartment complex, he smells gas and finds a young dancer named Thereza (portrayed by Claire Bloom) unconscious.

Calvero eventually saves the young woman but finds out that Thereza a.k.a. “Terry” had tried to kill herself after suffering an injury that will prevent her from dancing again.

Eventually he has Terry live with him and help her regain her self-esteem, help her get back on her feet and walk again.  While he tries to help her, she returns to dancing and is recognized for her dancing and becomes famous.  Unfortunately for Calvero, his comeback is not successful.

A young military man named Neville (portrayed by Sydney Earl Chaplin) tries to get closer to Terry and falls in love with her, but for Terry, she is in love with Calvero and does not care about their age difference.

Wanting to give Terry a chance with Neville, Calvero leaves her in hopes she will succeed on her own.


VIDEO:

“Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio).  The film is well-contrast with white and grays featuring fine detail.  Blacks are inky and deep.  There is a good amount of grain and for the most part, there is no discoloration, blurriness and picture quality is magnificent.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new restoration was undertaken by the Criterion Collection in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna. For the restoration, a new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35mm original negative at L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, flicker, and jitter.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756” is presented in English LPCM 1.0 monaural. Dialogue is clear with no sign of hiss or crackle.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The original monaural soundtrack was digitized at 24-bit, using COSP technology, from the 35mm sound negatives. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX4.”

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756″ comes with the following special features:

  • Chaplin’s “Limelight” – (21:11) Chaplin biographer David Robinson explores the evolution and personal nature of “Limelight”.
  • Claire Bloom and Norman Lloyd – Interview with actress Claire Bloom (15:53) and actor Norman Lloyd (14:53).
  • Chaplin Today: “Limelight” – (26:43) A 2002 program directed by Edgardo Cozarinsky featuring interviews with filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, Claire Bloom and Sydney Chaplin.
  • Outtake – (4:31) An outtake that was included in the original premiere of “Limelight” in 1952 but was removed before the film was distributed worldwide.
  • Charlie Chaplin Reads from Footlights – (2:16) Chaplin reads two excerpts from his novella “Footlights”, the basis for “Limelight” (audio only).
  • Short Films – Featuring two shorts: “A Night in the Show” (1915, 25:06) – Chaplin’s 12th film from Essanay Film Manufacturing Company.  And “The Professor” (1919, 6:27) – An uncompleted short by Charles Chaplin.
  • Trailers – Featuring the English and Italian trailers for “Limelight”.

EXTRAS:

“Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756” comes with a 42-page booklet featuring the essays “Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man” by Peter Von Bagh and “Hollywood Chaplin” by Henry Gris.


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Chaplin’s final American film “Limelight” is a film that I felt entertained but also made me feel sad for the great entertainer.

For those of us who are able to live today, to watch a Chaplin film in HD, to read nothing but praise but also to celebrate his career and acknowledging how great he was as a man of all trades is amazing.  Charlie Chaplin was no doubt an amazing man that directed, wrote, produced, starred, composed a lot of his films but to know that the way we look at Chaplin today, was a much different experience for viewers during the ’50s is heartbreaking.

To know that the FBI would do all they can to damage his career but prevent him from coming back to the United States is one of the great entertainment tragedies to play out in media, considering how much he has given to cinema but also entertain millions of people worldwide.

The community hunt for those in the entertainment industry is well-documented but “Limelight”, although Chaplin insists in his books that it was about a real life stage actor not of himself, does seem autobiographical in the sense that a Chaplin in his ’50s, was no longer loved in the entertainment world as he was once decades ago.

He felt at the time that this would be his final movie because all that has gone on in his personal life but yet, with great resolve and being the professional that he is, he created a magnificent film that many Americans and theaters passed on.

While the film was re-released in 1972, 20-years later to coincide with him receiving an honorary Academy Award, for many Americans not familiar with his later films, thanks to the Criterion Collection, many will get to see his last great American film.

The film would become the springboard for stage actress Claire Bloom (who would go on to star in “The King’s Speech”, “Cash of the Titans”, “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, “The Haunting”) who continues to have a strong acting career today.

“Limelight” would be the first pairing of the two silent comedy kings, Chaplin and Buster Keaton but also a film that shows how grateful Chaplin was to his friend by giving him a part in his film, considering the troubles that Keaton had in his personal life.

The movie would also become the debut of Sydney Chaplin, the second son of Charles and his second wife Lita Grey, as the man who falls for Terry.

The film would also feature Chaplin’s children – Charles Chaplin Jr., Geraldine, Josephine, Michael and wife Oona Chaplin would also appear in the film.

But “Limelight” is a fitting final American film for Charles Chaplin (his final film was in 1969 titled “A Countess from Hong Kong”), as if it was created to be the last hurrah for the great entertainer.

The Criterion Collection also made sure that viewers and collectors would have a magnificent product thanks to the wonderful picture and audio quality but also the number of special features which includes two Chaplin short films.

Overall, I know that many people prefer the silent films of Chaplin, and there are those who are not familiar with his later films.  But “Limelight” is a later Chaplin film that is recommended for viewing.  There is no doubt that Chaplin put his heart and soul into this film and in essence, you can look at it as the great entertainer passing his baton to a new generation of talent.

Chaplin’s final American film receives a magnificent Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection and is highly recommended!

 

Make Way For Tomorrow – The Criterion Collection #505 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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A touching yet hearbreaking Leo McCarey classic.   The film will forever have its relevance in American society today and the future as every family must deal with how they will handle their aging parents.  A fantastic film and a worthy addition to the Criterion Collection!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Make Way For Tomorrow – The Criterion Collection #505

YEAR OF FILM: 1937

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, English Monaural LPCM 1.0, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: May 12, 2015


Directed by Leo McCarey

Based on the novel “The Years are So Long” by Josephine Lawrence

Based on the play by Helen Leary, Nolan Leary

Written by Vina Delmar

Produced by Leo McCarey, Adolph Zukor

Music by George Antheil, Victor Young

Cinematography by William C. Mellor

Edited by LeRoy Stone

Art Direction by Hans Dreier, Bernard Herzbrun

Set Decoration by A.E. Freudeman


Starring:

Victor Moore as Barkley Cooper

Beulah Bondi as Lucy Cooper

Fay Bainter as Anita Cooper

Thomas Mitchell as George Cooper

Porter Hall as Harvey Chase

Barbara Read as Rhoda Cooper

Maurice Moscovitch as Max Rubens

Elisabeth Risdon as Cora Payne

Minna Gombell as Nellie Chase

Ray Mayer as Robert cooper

Ralph Remly as Bill Payne

Louise Beavers as Mamie

Louis Jean Heydt as Doctor

Gene Morgan as Carlton Gorman


Make Way for Tomorrow, by Leo McCarey, is one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces, an enormously moving Depression-era depiction of the frustrations of family, aging, and the generation gap. Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore headline a cast of incomparable character actors, starring as an elderly couple who must move in with their grown children after the bank takes their home, yet end up separated and subject to their offspring’s selfish whims. An inspiration for Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story, this is among American cinema’s purest tearjerkers, all the way to its unflinching ending, which McCarey refused to change despite studio pressure.


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In the 1930’s, both Leo McCarey and Frank Capra are held to the highest regard.

Legendary American film critic Andrew Sarris wrote of McCarey, “McCarey represents a principle of improvisation in the history of the American film.  Noted less for his rigorous direction than for his relaxed digressions, McCarey has distilled a unique blend of farce and sentimentality in his best efforts.” (The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968, Andrew Sarris)

For many classic cinema fans, McCarey was known for his directorial efforts in silent films for Hal Roach’s Little Rascals, Charley Chase’s silent shorts to directing many popular hits for Laurel and Hardy and also the Marx Brothers.

As McCarey is known for classic films such as his Academy Award winning films “The Awful Truth” (1937) and “Going My Way” (1944) in 1937, McCarey received recognition for his film “Make Way for Tomorrow” (1937).

Unfortunately, due to America was still suffering the sting of the Depression, American cinema faced major challenges in attracting people to the box office and despite receiving critical praise, the film was a box office failure.  But since its theatrical release in 1937, the film has been considered one of the greatest American films of all time and a film that would inspire screenwriter Kogo Noda in writing the 1953 film “Tokyo Story” directed by Yasujiro Ozu.

McCarey believed that “Make Way for Tomorrow” was his finest film created and in his Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Director for “The Awful Truth”, McCarey said, “Thanks, but you gave it to me for the wrong picture.”

And now “Make Way For Tomorrow” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

“Make Way for Tomorrow” revolves around the Cooper family.  The children are brought together at the home of their father Barkley (played by Victor Moore) and their mother Lucy (played by Beulah Bondi).  The children are informed that their parents will be losing their home because Barkley has not made any money for four years and is unable to make any payments.

So, the children decide what will happen to their parents.  Unfortunately, many of them don’t have the room for two people, so the only decision is to split them up for at least three months and each child can take their turns watching over a parent.

Lucy will stay with her oldest son George’s (played by Thomas Mitchell) home while Victor will stay with Cora (played by Elisabeth Risdon) for three months.  But the truth is, the children have their own lives and having a parent live with them becomes a bit intrusive and we start to see how life for Victor and Lucy will be away from each other and how their children and their families deal with having to take care of a parent.

For George, he loves his mother but his wife Anita (played by Fay Bainter) feels that Lucy is quite intrusive to her personal life as a Bridge teacher.  Since Lucy is missing her husband considerably and has no one to talk to, she is feeling depressed.  Whenever Anita feels disturbed by Lucy, she tries to have her daughter Rhoda (played by Barbara Read) watch over her grandmother.

Meanwhile, Victor is not having that much fun living with Cora either.  She and her husband are quite mean to him and if anything, he misses his wife a lot and the only thing he can do is try to find a job (which no one is hiring an older person) and making friends with store owner Max Rubens (played by Maurice Moscovitch).

With each parent missing each other considerably and have never been separated this long in their 50 years of marriage, they don’t know when they will ever see each other and despite their children telling them that they will reunite in three months, both parents have a feeling that they may never see each other again.

“Make Way for Tomorrow” is a film that takes place before social security and before there was any organized government programs for the elderly.  The film gives us a snapshot of how things were back then for families trying to take care of their elder parents but also how relevant the story is today as families also must deal with this issue of aging parents and what they must do for them, especially with the social security program that was created to help those when they grow older, now probably not going to be existent for aging parents in the near future.


VIDEO:

“Make Way for Tomorrow – THE CRITERION COLLECTION #505″ is presented in 1080p High Definition and in 1:33:1 black and white.  For a film released in 1937, the picture quality of this film is very well done.  There is a fine layer of grain and scratches are quite light.  Blacks and grays show a very good contrast and for the most part, the film looks fantastic on Blu-ray and sharper, well-contrast compared to its older DVD counterpart.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm fine-grain master positive.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean system, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix system was used for small dirt, grain and noise reduction.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Make Way for Tomorrow – THE CRITERION COLLECTION #505″ is presented in English LPCM 1.0.  Dialogue is clear but I have to admit that at times, there was certain dialogue spoken by Victor Cooper I couldn’t tell what he was saying (more because of the way he was saying the dialogue), I had to rewind and turn on the English subtitles to find out what was said.  But that is more about me having difficulty understanding the dialogue clearly.  But the soundtrack seems much clearer than its older DVD counterpart.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm optical soundtrack print. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and lZotope RX 4”.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Make Way for Tomorrow – THE CRITERION COLLECTION #505” comes with the following special features:

  • Tomorrow, Yesterday and Today – (19:53) A new video interview featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of Leo McCarey and “Make Way for Tomorrow”.
  • Gary Giddins – (20:09) New video interview with critic Gary Giddins in which he talks about McCarey’s artistry and the political and social context of the film

EXTRAS:

“Make Way for Tomorrow – THE CRITERION COLLECTION #505” comes with a 28-page booklet booklet featuring new essays by critic Tag Gallagher and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, and an excerpt from film scholar Robin Wood’s 1998 piece “With This Wedding, I Thee Unwed”.


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“Make Way for Tomorrow” is an excellent Leo McCarey film that will always resonate strongly with me.

From the magnificent and heartbreaking performance by Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi, to the well-planned camera shots showing the emotions of the characters and most of all, the pacing of the film and not showing that one person is to blame but it’s a part of life that families need to deal with.

The issue of aging parents have been featured in quite a few films in the past but it was McCarey’s that really struck a chord with the audience and because of the film’s nature, released during a time of the Great Depression, Americans were just not in the mood to deal with a realistic and heavy issue, no matter how critically acclaimed the film was.  It’s the type of film that many people just don’t want to deal with until that time comes.

And that was in 1937, flashforward 78-years-later to 2015 and its still a major issue today.

But the film tries to make the viewer sympathetic.  Granted, you would expect the children to be a little more understanding and helpful after all their parents did for them, raising them and you want to see that same type of respect from the children to their parents but realistically, not many people in America are like that.  We look at George’s family who has to take care of her mother and immediately, we know that things are not going to work out.

When George’s wife Anita tries to teach Bridge to her students who are wearing tuxedos and nice dresses, all Lucy wants is companionship because her husband is not there and no one else in the family is willing to communicate with her.  So, she does what is natural.  She tries to sit and be quiet and watch them play, but her rocking chair makes too loud of a noise for the students to concentrate and embarrasses Anita.  But possibly one of the most interesting and saddest scenes in the film is when Lucy receives a call from her husband and you can feel the sadness in her voice of being away from her husband and really missing him.  And just that moment where the students can not play because they are entranced to her conversation with her husband, it was a sad scene of the film.

But what is probably the most difficult scene is to see both Lucy and Victor together, as they visit the city and reminisce of the locations they one shared when they were younger.  These scenes are not just fun to watch but it’s also very sad that knowing what will become of the two.  During 1937, there was so social security, there was no government programs to assist the elderly and their children have their own lives and none of them have the extra room to take in both parents.  Some of the children are willing to take one, others are not willing to do anything anymore knowing that having their parent in their house is a big responsibility.

And what is so sad is that parents have to go through so much in order to raise their children when they are young.  But when it’s reverse and the children have to take care of their parents, too many decide its not worth their stress and none are willing to take on that responsibility.  And for both Lucy and Victor, they know that.  They know it’s an inconvenience and they know that what is going to happen next in their life, they know they may have to take on these challenges alone rather than together.

You can watch “Make Way for Tomorrow”, watch the excellent performance by Bondi and Moore and just see the faces on both Lucy and Victor’s face as they spend which may be their final day together as husband and wife.  It’s heartbreaking and it was very noble of director Leo McCarey of going through with this film despite the studio wanting him to change the ending.

I have seen many Leo McCarey films and none have resonated this strongly with me than “Make Way for Tomorrow” and I know people tend to misuse the word “masterpiece” when describing a film but the truth is “Make Way for Tomorrow” is a masterpiece filmed and released during the depression-era.  As heartbreaking as Ozu’s “Tokyo Story”  or De Sica’s “Umberto D.” was in the ’50s and “Bicycle Thieves” was in the late ’40s, “Make Way for Tomorrow” was an American film during the Golden Era of Hollywood that really captured a storyline of family and aging parents successfully.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality for this Blu-ray release is fantastic!  Compared to the 2010 DVD release from the Criterion Collection, the Blu-ray release is much sharper, features better black and gray levels and the two special features and the 28-page booklet are great inclusions.  Leo McCarey fans should be happy with this release as well as any Criterion Collection fan.  It’s definitely a worthy release worth checking out!

Overall, “Make Way for Tomorrow” is a magnificent film that will stand the test of time and will continue to be relevant for many generations to come.  Definitely recommended!

 

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