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Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

This set is amazing and is the definitive Alfred Hitchcock set to own (featuring many of his films from 1942-1976) and any cineaste wanting to own these magnificent Alfred Hitchcock films on Blu-ray will want the Ultimate Collection. And this 2017 release is even better with 10 additional TV episodes included. This set is no doubt a 5 STAR release! “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: Saboteur (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), The Trouble with Harry (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), Torn Curtain (1966), Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), Family Plot (1976)

DURATION: Saboteur (1 hr., 49 min.), Shadow of a Doubt (1 hr, 48 min.), Rope (1 hr, 21 min.), Rear Window (1 hr., 52 min.), The Trouble with Harry (1 hr., 39 min.), The Man Who Knew Too Much (2 hrs.), Vertigo (2 hrs., 8 min.), North by Northwest (2 hrs., 16 min.), Psycho (1 hr., 49 min.), The Birds (1 hr., 59 min.), Marnie (2 hrs., 10 min.), Torn Curtain (2 hrs., 8 min.), Topaz (2 hrs., 23 min.), Frenzy (1 hr., 56 min.), Family Plot (2 hrs.) + 7 TV Episodes from “Afred Hitchcock Presents” and 3 TV Episodes from “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour”

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 17, 2017


Universally recognized as the Master of Suspense, the legendary Alfred Hitchcock directed some of cinema’s most thrilling and unforgettable classics. Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection features 15 iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career including Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest and many more. Starring Hollywood favorites such as James Stewart, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Paul Newman, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery and Kim Novak, this definitive collection showcases a true cinematic master at his best. Featuring over 15 hours of insightful bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate Hitchcock experience.


 

For the cinema fans who are fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Universal has released “Alfred Hitchock: The Ultimate Collection” which comes with 15 movies and 10 TV episodes plus over 15 hours of bonus features and a booklet.

Included in the “Alfred Hitchcok: The Ultimate Collection” are the following films:

  1. Saboteur – A 1942 film noir spy thriller.  The film revolves around Barry Kane (portrayed by Robert Cummings) who works at Stewart Aircraft Works in Glendale, California.  When he and his friend Mason (portrayed by Virgil Summers) bump into a man named Fry (portrayed by Norman Lloyd), not long afterward, a fire is started and when the men go to stop the fire, Mason is burned to death.  When investigators interview Barry, he tells him that the fire took place after they bumped into a man named Fry, but there are no records of Fry ever working for the company.  And now Barry is accused of sabotaging his worksite and killing his friend.  Barry becomes a fugitive and is helped by a blind man (portrayed by Vaughan Glaser), and when his niece, Patricia “Pat” Martin (portrayed by Priscilla Lane) visits, Barry tries to please his innocence to Pat.  But she is more intent of reporting him to the police.  What happens when he kidnaps Pat?  Will Barry find a way to prove his innocence?
  2. Shadow of a Doubt – A 1943 psychological thriller film noir.  The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  The film revolves around Charlie Newton (portrayed by Teresa Wright) who is excited when her Uncle Charlie (portrayed by Joseph Cotten) is coming to visit.  When two men come to do a national survey, they want to feature the family but Charlie gets upset when a photographer takes his picture and demands for them to give the film to him.   The men reveal to Charlie that they are detectives and suspect that Charlie is the “Merry Widow Murderer”.  Will Charlie help her uncle or will she keep tabs on him for the detectives?
  3. Rope -A 1948 psychological crime thriller film noir based on the 1929 play by Patrick Hamilton inspired by the real-life murder of Bobby Franks in 1924.  One of Hitchcock’s first Technicolor films.  The film revolves around two intellects, Brandon Shaw (portrayed by John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (portrayed by Farley Granger) who strangled their former classmate from Harvard University, David Kentley (portrayed by Dick Hogan).  The two committed the crime as an intellectual exercise and wanted to prove themselves by committing the “perfect murder” inspired by their prep-school housemaster, publisher Rupert Cadell (portrayed by James Stewart) who talked with them about the intellectual concepts of Nietzsche’s Ubermermensch and De Quincey’s art of murder as a means to show one’s superiority over others.
  4. Rear Window – A 1954 American Technicolor mystery thriller based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1942 short story “It Had to Be Murder”.  Considered as one of the greatest movies ever made, the film received four academy award nominations and was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  The film revolves around professional photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies (portrayed by James Stewart) being confined in a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment after breaking a leg while trying to photograph a racetrack accident.  While keeping his windows open to stay cool, he observes various people across the street. One night during a thunderstorm, he hears a woman scream and then the sound of glass breaking.  He sees the woman no longer there and a man with a large knife and handsaw.  Jeff is convinced that the man, Lars Thorwald (portrayed by Raymond Burr) may have killed his bedridden wife.
  5. The Trouble with Harry – A 1955 black comedy.  In the small town of Highwater, Vermont, the body of Harry Worp (portrayed by Philip Truex) is found.  The problem is who the person is, who was responsible for the death and what to do with the body.  No one is upset that Harry is dead.  No one really cares.  And each hope that the body will not bring the attention of the authorities to come to Highwater.
  6. The Man Who Knew Too Much – A 1956 suspense thriller film noir and a remake of Hitchcock’s own 1934 film of the same name.  The film won an Academy Award for Best Song for “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” by Doris Day.  The film revolves around an American family, Dr. Benjamin “Ben” McKenna (portrayed by James Stewart), his wife Jo (portrayed by Doris Day) and their son Hank (portrayed by Christopher Olsen) vacationing in Morocco.  One day, they see a man being chased by the police.  The man who was stabbed in the back approaches Ben and before he dies, tells Bernard that a foreign statesman will be assassinated in London soon and gives him the name “Ambrose Chappelle”.  But when Hank is kidnapped and Ben receives a call that his son won’t be harmed if the McKenna’s say nothing about the warning message Bernard received.  Will the McKenna’s get their son back?
  7. Vertigo – A 1958 film noir psychological thriller based on the 1954 novel “D’entre les morts” (From Among the Dead) by Boileau-Narcejac.  The film focuses on former police detective John “Scottie” Ferguson.  Scottie is forced into early retirement because an incident in the line of duty which caused him to develop acrophobia (an extreme fear of heights) and vertigo (a false sense of rotational movement).  His friend and ex-fiance Midge Wood (portrayed by Barbara Bel Geddes) tells him that perhaps a severe emotional shock may cure him.  One day, Scottie is hired by an acquaintance, Gavin Elster (portrayed by Tom Helmore), as a private investigator to follow his wife, Madeleine (portrayed by Kim Novak) who is behaving strangely.
  8. North by Northwest – A 1959 thriller film considered as one of the “Greatest Films of All Time”.  Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  The film revolves around two thugs looking for George Kaplan and a waiter calling out for him, meanwhile at the same time, advertising exec Roger Thornhill (portrayed by Cary Grant) is summoning a waiter.  Immediately, Roger is mistaken as George Kaplan and is kidnapped.  He is brought to the estate of Lester Townsend and interrogated by a spy, Phillip Vandamm (portrayed by James Mason).  Roger tries to explain that he is not George Kaplan but they do not believe him.  And now Roger’s life is at risk.
  9. Psycho – A 1960 psychological horror film based on the 1959 novel by Robert Bloch. Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.  The film revolves around a real estate secretary named Marion Crane (portrayed by Janet Leigh) who talks with her boyfriend Sam Loomis (portrayed by John Gavin) how they can’t afford to get married due to his debts.  After lunch, her boss asks her to deposit a $40,000 cash deposit for her company at the bank.  Instead of depositing the money, she steals the money and gives it to Sam to pay off his debt.  But while leaving town, she sees her boss and she becomes paranoid.  While driving, she decides to stop for the night at the Bates Motel, which Norman Bates (portrayed by Anthony Perkins) and his mother operates.
  10. The Birds – A 1963 horror-thrilller film based on the 1952 story by Daphne du Maurier.  Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.  Melanie Daniels (portrayed by Tippi Hedren) is a young socialite known for her racy behavior and her pranks.  While going to Bodega Bey to visit Mitch Brenner (portrayed by Rod Taylor) and her family, they all noticed that something unusual is happening to the birds and they are attacking people.
  11. Marnie – A 1964 psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the 1961 novel by Winston Graham. The film revolves around Margaret “Marnie” Edgar (portrayed by Tippi Hedren) who steals $10,000 from her employer’s safe and flees.  She changes her appearance and identity and heads to Virginia and Baltimore.  Meanwhile, Mark Rutland (portrayed by Sean Connery), hires Marnie for his company.  But what happened when she tries to pull of the same heist on her new boss?
  12. Torn Curtain – A 1966 political thriller about a US physicist and rocket scientist named Michael Armstrong (portrayed by Paul Newman) who is traveling to Copenhagen with his assistant and fiance, Sarah Sherman (portrayed by Julie Andrews).  As he receives a radiogram to pick up a book, he sees a message which prompts him to go to Stockholm.  She follows him but instead of Stockholm, they are flying to East Berlin and he is welcome to the East German government.  Has Armstrong defected?
  13. Topaz – A 1969 spy thriller based on the 1967 Cold War novel by Leon Uris. The film follows a French intelligence agent who becomes entangled in the Cold War politics which lead up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and eventually the breakup of an international Soviet spy ring in France.
  14. Frenzy – A 1972 British thriller film based on the novel “Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square” by Arthur La Bern.  In London, a serial killer is raping women and strangling them with neck ties.  Who is responsible?
  15. Family Plot – A 1976 Technicolor dark comedy/thriller and the final film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the novel “The Rainbird Pattern” by Victor Canning.  The film is about two couples, a fake psychic and her cab driving boyfriend and another that are professional thieves and kidnappers.

“The Best of Alfred Hitchcock Presents” features the following episodes:

  1. Revenge
  2. Mr. Blanchard’s Secret
  3. Lamb to the Slaughter
  4. Poison
  5. Arthur
  6. Mrs. Bixby and the Colonels Coat
  7. Bang! You’re Dead

“The Best of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour” features the following episodes:

  1. I Saw the Whole Thing
  2. Three Wives Too Many
  3. Death Scene

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Saboteur” comes with the following special features:

  • Saboteur: A Closer Look
  • Storyboards: The Statue of Liberty Sequence
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s Sketches
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Shadow of a Doubt” comes with the following special features:

  • Beyond a Doubt: The Making of Hitchcock’s Favorite Film
  • Production Drawings by Art Director Robert Boyle
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Rope” comes with the following special features:

  • Rope Unleashed
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Rear Window” comes with the following special features:

  • Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary
  • A Conversation with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes
  • Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of the Master
  • Breaking Barriers: The Sounds of Hitchcock
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Masters of Cinema
  • Feature Commentary with John Fawell (Author of “Hitchcock’s Rear Window: The Well-Made Film”)
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Re-Release Trailer Narrated by James Stewart

“The Trouble with Harry” comes with the following special features:

  • The Trouble with Harry Isn’t Over
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“The Man Who Knew Too Much” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of the Man Who Knew Too Much
  • Production Photographs
  • Trailers

“Vertigo” comes with the following special features:

  • Obsessed with Vertigo – New Life for Hitchcock’s Masterpiece
  • Partners in Crime: Hitchcock’s Collaborations
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Foreign Censorship Ending
  • The Vertigo Archives
  • Feature Commentary with Director William Friedkin
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lew Wasserman Era
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Restoration Theatrical Trailer

“North by Northwest” comes with the following special features:

  • Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest
  • North by Northwest: One for the Ages
  • The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style
  • Feature Commentary by Screenwriter Ernest Lehman
  • Stills Gallery
  • Trailer Gallery

“Psycho” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Psycho
  • Psycho Sound
  • In the Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerps
  • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho
  • The Shower Scene With and Without Music
  • The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass
  • The Psycho Archives
  • Feature Commentary with Stephen Rebello (Author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho)
  • Lobby Cards
  • Behind-the-Scenes Photographs
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Re-Release Trailer

“The Birds” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scene
  • The Original Ending
  • The Birds: Hitchcock’s Monster Movie
  • All About the Birds
  • Storyboard Sequences
  • Tippi Hedren’s Screen Test
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Universal International Newsreels
  • Production Photographs
  • 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Marnie” comes with the following special features:

  • The Trouble with Marnie
  • The Marnie Archives
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Torn Curtain” comes with the following special features:

  • Torn Curtain Rising
  • Scenes Scored by Bernard Hermann
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Topaz” comes with the following special features:

  • Alternate Endings
  • Topaz: An Appreciation by Film Historian and Critic Leonard Maltin
  • Storyboards: The Mendozas
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Frenzy” comes with the following special features:

  • The Story of Frenzy
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Family Plot” comes with the following special features:

  • Plotting Family Plot
  • Storyboards: The Chase Scene
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“The Best of Alfred Hitchcock” comes with “Alfred Hitchcock: A Look Back”

“The Best of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour” comes with “Fast Your Seatbelt: The Thrilling Art of Alfred Hitchcock”

EXTRAS:

“Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” comes with a 60-page booklet and slipcase.


For any true cinema fan, owning Alfred Hitchock films comes with the territory of a being a true cineaste.

Alfred Hitchcock films are must-own films (unless you are the type who have foresaken physical media and have gone the digital route) and should earn a spot in your cinema collection.

For this review, I’ve already reviewed many Hitchcock films, so I’m going to approach this set of why you should own “The Ultimate Collection” and whether or not it’s worth upgrading from “The Masterpiece Collection”.

When it comes to Alfred Hitchcock films, to enjoy Alfred Hitchock films,  one must know that Hitchock has worked for numerous companies in his long career.  And that there are several releases that are no doubt key collections to own.

“Alfred Hitchcock: The Classic Collection” (MGM but on Blu-ray), “Classic Hitchcock” (Hitchcock’s British films + 1 American film from the Criterion Collection on Blu-ray), “Alfred Hitchcock: The Signature Collection” (Warner Bros. on DVD) and “Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection” (MGM on DVD)  are no doubt the best collections featuring his films from 1927-1941. His first two films “The Pleasure Garden (1925) and “The Mountain Eagle (1926) may not be easy to find but the majority of Hitchcock films can be found in various collections.

But for his major cinema works from 1942-1976, the Universal Studios release of “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” was no doubt the collection to own back in 2005.  Back then, the set featured a 14-movie collection on DVD. But in 2012, a 15-movie collection was released on Blu-ray and DVD and in 2013, Universal releasing a UK version “Alfred Hitcock: The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection” with film reel type casing for the Blu-ray’s and poster art cards.

One wouldn’t think that Universal would release another Alfred Hitchcock set so soon, and if anything, one would probably think that a 4K version release would be on the horizon in the near future.  But here we are, five years later since the release of “The Masterpiece – Limited Edition Set” and Universal has now upped the ante by releasing the “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” on Blu-ray and DVD featuring the 15 films from the previous set but now including 10 TV episodes from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” (NOTE: All TV episodes are on DVD, not on Blu-ray).

And simply, “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” is the definitive Hitchcock Blu-ray set to own!

While Alfred Hitchcock has had a wonderful list of films in his oeuvre, his Universal films are no doubt the more memorable films.  Films such as “Psycho”, “The Birds”, “Vertigo”, “Rear Window”, “North by Northwest” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” are films that people tend to hold Hitchcock to the highest regard.  But films such as “Saboteur”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Topaz”, “Marnie” are entertaining and showcase that wonderful Hitchcock style of filmmaking.

There are no cinema duds in this set.  Sure, some people may find Hitchcock venturing into black comedy for “The Trouble with Harry” may be too different from his other films for their tastes but that is the beauty of Hitchcock films. He took on different types of films and gave it his own personal style.  From his earliest work to “Family Plot” (his final film), we see Hitchcock evolve as a filmmaker and even with his work for Universal, we see Hitchcock show why he is the Master of Suspense.  His style of filmmaking evolving from “Saboteur” to a film such as “Rear Window”, “North by Northwest” and “Psycho” and to even his final film, “Family Plot”.

Hitchcock was a filmmaker who took on various types of films and to this day, these classic films featured in the “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” are still revered, still talked about many decades later and will continue on as topics of discussion among cineaste generations from now.  That is how long-lasting, how effective and how well-respected his cinema work is.

As for the Blu-ray release, as for picture quality, all films are presented in 1080p High Definition.  The first three films are presented in full frame 1:33:1 aspect ratio, while the majority of the films are in widescreen 1:85:1.  The TV episodes are in full frame 1:33:1 aspect ratio.  The films that received the new restoration look fantastic.  Actually, all films look fantastic on Blu-ray compared to the 2005 Masterpiece DVD set.  So, picture quality-wise, you can’t go wrong!  While some may question Universal for not upscaling the TV series to Blu-ray, the fact that you get 10 additional episodes, over 15 hours of bonus features and the booklet is quite amazing.

As for the lossless audio, one should remember that the majority of all Hitchcock films were recorded in monaural and the films are presented in English DTS-HD Master 2.0.  With the exception of “Saboteur”, the other soundtracks for the films include a French DTS Surround 2.0 Mono soundtrack, the only films that have other language selections are Vertigo (which has an Espanol DTS Surround 2.0 soundtrack) and “North by Northwest” which feature a Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese 1.0 soundtrack.

As for subtitles, all films come with an English SDH  and Spanish subtitles.  Only “Saboteur”, “Rear Window”, “Vertigo”, “North by Northwest”, “Psycho”, “The Birds” and “Topaz” come with an French subtitles.

Now, everything I mentioned is positive.  What about the negatives?  Really, there aren’t any.  But if I had to nitpick, I wish that Hitchock’s 1955 film “To Catch a Thief”, which was included in the 2013 UK Blu-ray set “Hitchcock: The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection” but was never included in both the US release of “The Master Collection” or this 2017 “The Ultimate Collection”.  I would imagine because it’s a Paramount Pictures film and what was allowed in UK, was not possible for the US release. It’s also important to note that “To Catch a Thief” from “The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection” had no special features whatsoever and unlike the other discs on that set, “To Catch a Thief” had no label.  So, quality-wise, on that set, the UK received an inferior Blu-ray version of that film.  So, it wouldn’t have matched with this set, as every film disc in “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” has special features.

A big question that some may ask is if one should upgrade their “Masterpiece Collection” for “The Ultimate Collection”.  My answer is if you own the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” DVD sets, then no.  But if you don’t, ask yourself if the additional ten hours of non-film entertainment is worth it for you.

The booklet is the same.  The digibook style sleeves are the same with the addition of the additional pages to hold the TV series but other than that, if you own the Masterpiece Collection, there is no additional special features as they are the same Blu-ray discs.  “The Ultimate Collection” just includes the additional 10 TV episodes.

Overall, this set is amazing and is the definitive Alfred Hitchcock set to own (featuring many of his films from 1942-1976) and any cineaste wanting to own these magnificent Alfred Hitchcock films on Blu-ray will want the Ultimate Collection.  And this 2017 release is even better with 10 additional TV episodes included.  This set is no doubt a 5 STAR release!

“Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” is highly recommended!

The Color of Money: 25th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Paul Newman’s character of “Fast Eddie” returns in Martin Scorsese’s “The Color of Money”.  Featuring a wonderful performance by Paul Newman and wonderful cinematography when it comes to capturing the essence of competitive pool play.  But I wish the video quality of this Blu-ray would have been better.

Images courtesy of © 2012 Buena Vista Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Color of Money: 25th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1986

DURATION: 119 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: R

Release Date: June 5, 2012

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on the Novel by Walter Tevis

Screenplay by Richard Price

Produced by Irving Axelrad, Barbara De Fina

Associate Producer: Dodie Foster

Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus

Edited by Thelma Schoonmaker

Casting by Gretchen Rennell

Production Design by Boris Leven

Set Decoration by Karen O’Hara

Costume Design by Richard Bruno

Starring:

Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson

Tom Cruise as Vincent Lauria

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen

Helen Shaver as Janelle

John Turturro as Julian

Bill Cobbs as Orvis

Forest Whitaker as Amos

Revisiting one of his most memorable roles, Newman stars as Fast Eddie Felson from The Hustler. Eddie forms a profitable alliance with the flashy and talented young pool shark Vince (Cruise), but all bets are off when Vince’s arrogance costs them more than just a few matches. Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this dazzling classic – now better than ever on Blu-ray!

Back in 1961, “The Hustler” directed by Robert Rossen and a film adaptation of the 1959 novel by Sidney Caroll was released in theaters.

The film would feature Paul Newman (“The Sting”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “Road to Perdition”) in the role of a small-time pool hustler named “Fast Eddie” Falson who wanted to become the best pool player in the world.

“The Hustler” was an amazing success, receiving nine Academy Award nominations and winning two.  The film would earn Paul Newman a “Best Actor in a Leading Role” nomination and is considered a classic.

Over 25-years later, director Martin Scorsese and writer Richard Price would bring back the character of Eddie Falson for the 1986 film “The Color of Money”.  A film adaptation based on the 1984 novel by Walter Tevis.

“The Color of Money” would feature Paul Newman reprising his role as “Fast Eddie” Felson but also star actor Tom Cruise (“Top Gun”, “Rain Man”, “Cocktail”) and actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (“The Abyss”, “Scarface”, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”).

And similar to the first film, “The Color of Money” was a major success.  Praised by film critics, influenced the popularity of pool like it did back in 1961 and also receive Academy Award nominations but this time, Paul Newman would win the Academy Award for “Best Actor”.

And now “The Color of Money: 25th Anniversary Edition” has been released on Blu-ray.

“The Color of Money” begins with Eddie Felson, now a liquor salesman trying to get the bar owner Janelle (as portrayed by Helen Shaver) to purchase some of the liquor he is selling.  Meanwhile, a young man named Vincent Lauria (as portrayed by Tom Cruise) is beating everyone at pool.  At the same time, Eddie who was once excellent in pool, has missed playing the game.

Seeing the potential within Eddie, he figures that he can use Vincent’s talent to make money for him and his girlfriend and manager, Carmen (as portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio).  So, Eddie returns to the life as a stakehorse and trains both Vincent and Carmen on how to hustle other pool players and make a lot of money.

And as Eddie teaches the two all he knows, wanting to get back into competitive pool playing, he decides to dump both Vincent and Carmen to pursue competitive pool play and recommends they go to Atlantic City and use the skills he taught them to make more money.

But what happens when both men take part in a professional tournament circuit and Eddie must go against his young protege, Vincent?

VIDEO:

“The Color of Money: 25th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  First the good.  The good news about the film is that the cinematography by Michael Ballhaus (“The Departed”, “Goodfellas”, “Gangs of New York”) is fantastic and he captures the essence of competitive pool playing effectively.

With that being said, now the bad.  I don’t know what to say about the video quality of this film but to say that this is the first Blu-ray release that I have found myself extremely disappointed about a transfer. Colors are murky, muddy and just doesn’t look good at all.

For a 2012 Blu-ray release, there is no reason why a Blu-ray should look like its DVD counterpart.  In fact, the first ten minutes into the film looks so bad.  I have seen many films made decades before this film that look much better on Blu-ray but the colors for “The Color of Money” are murky, the film looked aged and there is a lot of noise (not grain).  Not what I expected for a 25th Anniversary Edition release.

While the video does get better as the movies goes on, I’m quite shocked because I was really hoping for an amazing transfer in HD.  But that was not the case…”The Color of Money” and its overall PQ was disappointing.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Color of Money” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and French 2.0 Dolby Digital.  The film is primarily dialogue driven but whenever you hear the pool stick hit the ball, there is a good use of LFE.  The crowd ambiance is OK but for the most part, the film is dialogue driven.  Music also plays a big part of the film and having owned the original soundtrack to this film, the music sounds good on Blu-ray but the film is primarily front and center-channel driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

There are no special features included on this Blu-ray release.

For the 25th anniversary Blu-ray release of “The Color of Money”, I’m not sure what happened to this Blu-ray release but its the first time I watched a film and not only was it a barebones Blu-ray release but it sports possibly the worst video quality I have seen on Blu-ray.

But before I get to that, let’s discuss the film.

“The Color of Money” is a film that I recommend people to watch after they have see “The Hustler”.  The first film is important to see where Eddie Felson is coming from, his life as a skilled pool player and his passion for making money through bets and why we see this hustler change in “The Color of Money”.

Paul Newman is wonderful as “Fast Eddie” and as much as he enjoys making money, he is also a competitive man.  Sure, he’s been out of competitive pool playing for quite some time but when he starts to see his protege start to succeed as a hustler but also a competitive pool player, Eddie’s competitive spirit just comes out and quite simply, he wants to beat Vincent in a game!

Tom Cruise was good in playing the young pool hustler Vincent but his role was not as strong  as it was in “Top Gun”.  If anything, his character is cocky and often annoying.

And as much as I enjoyed Martin Scorsese films, “The Color of Money” felt incomplete.  Yes, Paul Newman was fantastic.  The way that Scorsese was able to make pool so entertaining to watch in the film was well-done.  The storyline complimented his character amazingly well, but unlike “The Hustler”,  I felt “The Color of Money” was not as good as its predecessor.

Which leads me to the Blu-ray release.  How disappointed I was to see the film in such bad shape.  I don’t think I have ever seen a film look so bad on Blu-ray and this is a rarity for me.  And because the film looked so bad and this Blu-ray was a barebones release, it dampered my enjoyment of the film.

Overall, “The Color of Money: 25th Anniversary Edition” features a strong performance by Paul Newman but the film itself paled in comparison to its predecessor, “The Hustler”.  But the poor quality of this Blu-ray release is surprising and there is no reason why this film should have looked this bad on Blu-ray.  Unless you are a fan of the film or its talent, then I can understand why you want to get this film on Blu-ray.  But if you are concerned about video quality, you may want to pass.

Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys! (as part of the “Joan Collins Collection”) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A clever sexual comedy made during the tough Hollywood censorship years in America.  Featuring a wonderful performance by Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Joan Collins.  The remastered DVD looks absolutely great and you also get a good number of special features and extras included in this wonderful set!    Otherwise, if you were captivated by Joan Collins in this film, you will definitely enjoy the “Joan Collins Collection” (5-DVD Box Set).

Images courtesy of ©1958 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys! (as part of the “Joan Collins Collection”)

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1958

DURATION: 107 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, Widescreen (2:35:1), English 4.0 Dolby Surround, Spanish Mono, French Mono, Closed Captions, Subtitles: English, Spanish

COMPANY: Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: 2007

Directed by Leo McCarey

Screenplay by Claude Binyon, Leo McCarey

Based on the novel by Max Shulman

Produced by Leo McCarey

Music by Cyril J. Mockridge

Cinematography by Leon Shamroy

Edited by Louis R. Loeffler

Art Direction by Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler

Set Decoration by Stuart A. Reiss, Walter M. Scott

Starring:

Paul Newman as Harry Bannerman

Joanne Woodward as Grace Oglethorpe Bannerman

Joan Collins as Angela Hoffa

Jack Carson as Capt. Hoxie

Dwayne Hickman as Grady Metcalf, Comfort’s Suitor

Tuesday Weld as Comfort Goodpasture

Gale Gordon as Brig. Gen. W.A. Thorwald

Tom Gilson as Corporal Opie

O.Z. Whitehead as Isaac Goodpasture

Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Joan Collins make a hilarious love triangle in this “wild comedy of romantic confusion and suburban turmoil” (The Film Daily) in a small town with big problems. Full of seductive laughs and uproarious situations, this “audience-rocking comedy” (L.A. Examiner) ends with one hell of a bang!

Harry Bannerman (Newman) is a normal, if not unhappy, guy. His only problem is a wife (Woodward) too busy looking after the community to look after the bedroom. But his pent up troubles explode when a sultry and determined neighbor (Collins) takes interest in their shared marital neglect at the same time the Army decides to build a missile station in the town! Now, caught between his crusading wife and the temptress next door, Harry will have to get real busy real fast if he’s to save the town from becoming Ground Zero and keep his marriage from moving to DEFCON 1.

Max Shulman was one of America’s popular writers and humorists known for Dobie Gillis and when it came to novels, many of his work received film adaptations.  One of them was “Rally Round the Flag, Boys!”, film that would star Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Joan Collins and Jack Charson.

Directing the film would be the very popular Leo McCarey (“An Affair to Remember”, “Going My Way”, “Duck Soup”, “Make Way For Tomorrow”), who co-wrote the screenplay with Claude Binyon (“Holiday Inn”, “This is the Army”, “Pepe”).

The film would be one of the few to feature husband and wife Newman and Woodward and for the role of  Angela Hoffa, Jane Mansfield was being considered for the role but the Newman’s put their support behind actress Joan Collins who was eventually hired and made a big impression, showcasing her physical comedy and sexuality.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!”, Twentieth Century Fox not only released a remastered version of the film on DVD but also released the “Joan Collins Collection” 5-DVD box set featuring the following films: “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!”(1958), “The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing” (1955), “Sea Wife” (1957), “Seven Thieves” (1960) and “Stopover Tokyo” (1957).

“Rally Round the Flag, Boys!” is a sexual comedy which takes place in the fictional town of Putnam’s Landing.

For PR specialist and constantly commuting, Harry Bannerman (played by Paul Newman), he just wants some alone time with his beautiful but busy and active wife Grace Bannerman (played by Joanne Woodward).  He wants to block out any time that he can to relieve his sexual frustration but with two children and an activist wife, she is too busy to make the time for him.

While coming home one day, Harry gets a ride from his equally frustrated neighbor, Angela Hoffa (played by Joan Collins), who has a husband that works in the entertainment industry.  But where most men are captured and hooked by Angela’s beauty, her husband is too busy for her.  So, Angela begins to fancy Harry and try to ask him hypothetical questions about their marriage and if he would go for someone like her.  After a short while of flirting, Harry comes to his senses about wanting to be with his wife and children.

But while Harry tries to find an open date for his wife and get that alone time, as the two go to a city council meeting, the big topic in Putnam’s Landing is how the military is planning a top secret mission to the area.  The women of Putnam’s Landing are against the military coming to their town and possibly corrupting the single daughters in town.  So, as the town decides to put their support against the military, the council wants Grace to be in charge of the project.

This angers Harry because he wants alone time and now this latest project will take more time off the busy housewife as it is.

Once again very busy, Grace asks her neighbor Angela to give Harry a ride home.  Angela knows now is a good time for her to put her sexuality out there and see if she can charm her way into getting closer to Harry.  The two neighbors have a hilarious time and even moreso as Harry, frustrated about his wife, gets drunk.  Even going so far to telling Angela how frustrated he is.  Knowing the details of what Harry really needs, Angela wants to ease his sexual frustration.

As Harry travels on the job and goes to pitch his PR skills to General Thorwald (played by Gale Gordon), he quickly doesn’t get along with the idiotic Captain Hoxie (played by Jack Carson).  Harry was able to make his pitch to represent the military and so, his trip to visit Thorwald seems to be a positive meeting.

When Harry gets back to his hotel, he is told that Mrs. Bannerman is waiting for him inside their hotel room.  Surprised and happy, Harry is excited that his wife has come all the way to see him and now they can have some quality alone time.  But when he gets to his hotel room, waiting for him is Angela Hoffa.

Shocked to see Angela waiting for him, he knows that he must stop her before they go too far.  But when Angela pulls out a bottle of the perfume (which drives Harry crazy…), she asks for Harry to open the bottle and in the process, spills the perfume on his jacket and on the front of his pants.   Harry has no choice but to take off his pants and wait for the perfume to dry.

Meanwhile, Harry tries to tell Angela to get dressed and leave the hotel room and while Angela is getting dressed, surprising Harry is a visit by his wife Grace.

Grace agrees that the two need some alone time together and as she is ready to put on her nighty, out of the bathroom comes Angela, dancing for Harry.  Now Grace thinks her husband and Angela are having an affair.

Now Harry’s marriage to Grace is in shambles and as much as Harry tries to explain to her that it was a mistake, Grace doesn’t want to listen.

The following day, as the military is about to come to Putnam’s Landing, Grace Bannerman leads the charge with other mothers to prevent the military from coming in to town.   And each time the media focuses on Grace, she comes out looking better than the moronic Lt. Hoxie.  Knowing that Lt. Hoxie is making the military look bad, General Thorwald had no choice but to hire Harry for the PR job and to fix the problem.

As Lt. Hoxie and his men try to think up a plan to defeat the picketing women who are blocking the entrance to town, Hoxie decides to take the truck and drive through the picketers.  But it was all a setup and Lt. Hoxie ends up crashing his vehicle in the water.

With a big PR mes now on their shoulder, fortunately the military has Harry Bannerman, while Putman’s Landing has Grace Bannerman.  Thus setting a confrontation between the once happily in-love couple.

It’s a battle of the sexes and a battle between husband and wife.  With Grace so upset with Harry for having an alleged affair with Angela, she definitely wants to win against her husband.

But with Harry is wanting to be close to her and the kids and wanting to work with Grace in a compromise that will help both the military and the people of Putnam’s Landing.  Meanwhile, Angela Hoffa still wants Harry and she will do whatever it takes to get close to him.

Which side will end up winning?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!” is presented in widescreen (2:35:1).  I have to admit that I was pretty happy to find out that 20th Century Fox put in the time to remaster the film and remove as many speckles as possible.  For a film that is over 50-years-old, the film look absolutely great!  In fact, because the colors are vibrant and the overall picture quality was cleaned up, I could only hope that this film is considered for a Blu-ray release.

I was doing a few tests, especially during the more motion-based scenes and was expecting to see some interlacing but fortunately, there are none.   Overall, picture quality on DVD is very good but this film deserves a Blu-ray release!

As for audio, “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!” is presented in English 4.0 Dolby Surround and Spanish and French mono.   The film is pretty much a dialogue-driven film and I don’t really recall hearing the surround channels fully utilized but the film is primarily center and front channel-driven and sounds very good.  Dialogue is clear and even the music soundtrack is very good. I detected no hissing or crackle during my viewing of the film.

As for subtitles, the film is presented with English and Spanish subtitles and the film also has closed captions.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary by Author and Film Historian Aubrey Solomon – An insightful audio commentary by film historian Aubrey Solomon who talks about the challenges of filming certain scenes during the years of censorship.
  • Animated Photo Gallery – (3:55) Featuring a photo and video montage from behind-the-scenes of Joan Collins from “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!”.
  • Restoration Comparison – (2:24) Featuring a comparison of video of the 1997 unprocessed HD remaster and the improved version that underwent a visual improvement processing pass to reduce smaller dirt and film blemishes.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer– (3:28) The original theatrical trailer featuring an introduction by Bob Hope and Leo McCarey.
  • Interactive Pressbook – Featuring a series of still images which can be viewed and selected via remote.
  • Advertising Gallery – A series of advertising still images which people can navigate via remote.
  • Vintage Press Release – A series of press release still images which people can navigate via remote.

EXTRAS:

“Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys! (as part of the “Joan Collins Collection”)” comes with four lobby cards featuring still images from the film.

“Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!” is a sexual comedy which had a storyline that needed to be clever.

For director Leo McCarey, it was his job to maintain 1950’s wholesomeness under the strict rules of the censorship group and of course, to dilute any references of sexual innuendo as much as possible.  But while the film never gets blatantly sexual, Joan Collins knew how to bring sexiness to her role.  May it be her in a bathtub with only her legs showing or her seductive flirtation, it may not seem so much today, but for many years, Hollywood studios in America had to abide by strict rules and to not showcase anything immoral or deviant.

We know that Harry is one heck of a horny husband who wants to have sex with his wife.  Of course, the film doesn’t use the words in that manner but you can sense Harry’s sexual frustration as his wife is too busy and it’s not that she doesn’t want to have sex (or in this case, time at a romantic hotel), she is too involved in the committees and it irks Harry Bannerman.

While it was great to have husband and wife, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward working together, their real love for each other made great chemistry and they have doneso for many years offsreen.  These two talents were a Hollywood couple but a couple that were truly in love and so to have them on the big screen and having marital problems, it was actually a big deal back in the day.

Joan Collins did a fantastic job of playing the seductress Angela Hoffa and while censors would not allow her to have her had on his face or doing anything sexual, the clever writing, Collins playing Angela and seeing her character so persistent and willing to ease Harry’s sexual frustration was fun to watch.  And if you have grown up to watch Joan Collins in these type of roles, especially in “Dynasty”, it was quite interesting to see how she was during her younger years and instead of the “bitchy, wealthy diva”, “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!”, Angela is wealthy but her demeanor is much more playful.

If anything, you have a great combination of strong performances by the Newman’s, Collins but also from Jack Carson as the dopie, moronic Capt. Hoxie and then you also have an ensemble cast of characters such as the military men who want some boojum (I have not heard of this word until I watched this film) and the various people living in Putnam’s Landing.

While most of the film was very entertaining and fun, there are some cheesy moments such as Comfort Goodpasture (played by Tuesday Weld)  squealing when Grady Metcalf (played by Dwayne Hickman) starts playing the guitar and sings “You’re my Boojum”.  That was a bit too saccharine sweet for my taste but considering the time and how teenage girls reacted to Elvis Presley, I suppose Comfort’s squealing scene worked for the audience back then.

As for the DVD, “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!” looks great with the remaster and there are a few special features included on the DVD as well.  You also get four lobby cards included with this DVD and you can easily purchase this movie alone or as part of the “Joan Collins Collection”.

If anything, “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!” was a perfect film to showcase Joan Collins as a comedy actress but also a very sexy actress who shines on the big screen.  It’s a wonderful inclusion for this DVD box set and considering you have two acting powerhouses with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward doing a wonderful job on the film, it’s Joan Collins that absolutely shines each time she is on screen.

Overall, if you are a Joan Collins fan or you just became a fan, I highly recommend checking out the “Joan Collins Collection” DVD box set.


ROAD TO PERDITION – ON BLU-RAY 8/3/10

May 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

TOM HANKS, PAUL NEWMAN AND JUDE LAW STAR IN DIRECTOR SAM MENDES’ RIVETING DRAMA
ARRIVING ON BLU-RAY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER

ROAD TO PERDITION

Atmospheric and Enthralling Film Debuts on Blu-ray August 3, 2010 with
Over an Hour of New Bonus Material Including an Introduction by Sam Mendes,
a Tribute to Renowned Cinematographer Conrad Hall and More


HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. – Academy Award®-winning director Sam Mendes’ powerfully taut mob drama ROAD TO PERDITION makes its highly-anticipated Blu-ray debut on August 3, 2010 from Paramount Home Entertainment.  Featuring a stellar cast including Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds and Jennifer Jason Leigh, ROAD TO PERDITION is a “brooding, powerful, exquisitely made” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times) meditation on the complicated relationships between fathers and sons.  The mesmerizing story of a mob enforcer set against the backdrop of the Great Depression is both astonishingly beautiful and darkly atmospheric thanks in large part to the extraordinary talent of legendary cinematographer and three-time Oscar® winner Conrad Hall.  This new high definition transfer captures every detail of Hall’s breathtaking work down to the very last raindrop.
“I was a bit of a Blu-ray skeptic because I thought the movie looked pretty good to begin with, so I immodestly wondered how it could be better!  But the difference when you watch the film on Blu-ray really is astonishing. The depth and the colors and the texture really are a joy to behold,” said director Sam Mendes. “Very sadly, Conrad Hall — who shot the movie, and won the Academy Award — is no longer with us.  But I like to think that he is smiling down on this beautiful new version of his final film.”
The ROAD TO PERDITION Blu-ray features over an hour of new bonus material including an introduction by director Sam Mendes, a documentary tribute entitled “A Cinematic Life: The Art & Influence of Conrad Hall” and “The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of Road To Perdition”. The disc also includes commentary by Mendes, deleted scenes, the Making of Road To Perdition and the theatrical trailer.

ROAD TO PERDITION Blu-ray:

The ROAD TO PERDITION Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.  The following new bonus features are presented in high definition as indicated:

  • Sam Mendes Feature Introduction (HD)
  • A Cinematic Life: The Art & Influence of Conrad Hall (HD)
  • The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of Road To Perdition


Previously released bonus material is presented in standard definition, except as noted:

  • Commentary by director Sam Mendes
  • Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by Sam Mendes)
  • The Making of Road To Perdition


About Paramount Home Entertainment
Paramount Home Entertainment (PHE) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.  PPC is a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands.  PHE is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment products on behalf of various parties including: Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Paramount Famous Productions, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, CBS and PBS and for providing home entertainment fulfillment services for DreamWorks Animation Home Entertainment.

Rachel, Rachel (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

“The first film featuring Paul Newman as director and his wife Joanne Woodward as the main lead.  Woodward’s amazing performance as Rachel is believable and even though this film was made back in 1968, it still has relevance in today’s modern world.”

DVD TITLE: Rachel, Rachel

DURATION: 101 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Subtitled in English and French

COMPANY: Warner Bros, Entertainment Inc.

RATED: R

Released on February 17, 2009

Produced and Directed by Paul Newman

Based on “A Jest of God” by Margaret Laurence

A KAYOS Production

Screenplay by Stewart Stern

Music composed and conducted by Jerome Moross

Starring:

Joanne Woodward as Rachel Cameron

James Olson as Nick Kazlik

Kate Harrington as Mrs. Cameron

Estelle Parsons as Calla Mackie

Frank Corsaro as Hector Jonas

Donald Moffat as Niall Cameron

New England schoolteacher Rachel Cameron’s life is small and safe.  Too small and too safe for a warmhearted woman who wants to do something – anything – to keep from slipping into spinsterhood.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward joined their stellar talents on this powerfully human movie, he debuting as a director and she giving one of her hallmark screen performances.  Both won New York Film Critics and Golden Globe awards for their work, and the film garnered four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.  The Newmans teamed afterward on other masterful films (The Glass Menagerie, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, Empire Falls).  But for tenderness, insight and artistry, none surpasses Rachel, Rachel.

“Rachel, Rachel”, which won two Golden Globe Awards back in 1969 for “Joanne Woodward – Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama” and “Paul Newman – Best Motion Picture Director” and was also nominated for four Academy Awards.

The film would feature Paul Newman in his first directorial debut and wife Joanne Woodward as the main actress in a 1968 film that still is relevant today.

The film is about a 35-year-old school teacher Rachel Cameron.  Rachel has a ho-hum life.  She lives at home with her mother and takes care of her needs since her mother has a heart condition.  Always at home, Rachel tends to imagine the worst things happening to her.

She feels her life is slipping away now that she is 35 and wants to be a normal woman.  To be married, to have children but she’s stuck at home.

Each time she meets a man, she imagines herself caressing the man or making love to the man, a virgin at 35 and really hasn’t explored the world.  Her only friend is a Calla, teacher who has become dedicated to the church and almost like Rachel, somewhat alone and in her mid-30’s looking for something in life.

She keeps thinking about her past as a child.  Her father worked at the funeral home, always busy embalming the dead and always curious about her father’s work but because of the chemicals, was forced to stay in the house.  She remembers a young Nick Kazlik and his twin brother dying at a young age.

Coincidentally, while picking up a few supplies at the local shop, she runs into Nick.  Nick wants to take her out to the movies, as he is looking for some “action”.  But she tells him that she must take care of her mother.

Calla has invited Rachel to a church session and Rachel, wanting for some change in her life now that she’s 35 (and in her mind, everything goes downhill from there), despite not wanting to hear about the church, she decides to go.

Of course, the church session may have been a bit much for her as the doors are locked, hippies are in the church spouting their love and peace and a guest at the church chooses Rachel to hold his hands and embrace love and even has her putting his arms around him.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s imagination goes awry as she thinks about being with the man but at the same time feeling suffocated.  She eventually faints.

Her friend Calla is so apologetic, trying to help her friend and the next thing you know, Calla starts kissing Rachel on the lips.  Rachel, is shocked and gets away from her friend.

Now life is even more complicated for Rachel.  But somehow the experience at the church and with Calla has given her more strength and probably go out on a date with Nick.  The two eventually go out on a date and things are starting to look up for Rachel but the problem still remains, is she forever destined to stay at home and take care of her ailing mother?  Will she ever have a life for herself?

I would imagine that this film would strike a chord with many viewers at that time.  I’ve read of how controversial the film was but with the film 41 years old, so accustomed to seeing things now, you can only imagine how shocking certain things were back then.

The film touches upon pregnancy and although not implicit, I would imagine abortion, two women kissing each other (one quick scene) and a use of a device which I am not quite clear what that thing was.  Growing up and either having a life or staying at home and taking care of your aging parents, it was relevant then and it’s still relevant now.

Paul Newman does a wonderful job for his directorial debut but what truly shined was Joanne Woodward’s performance as Rachel.  There were so many layers to this character.  You wonder how miserable she is as an adult.  Why does she dream about when she was young or the time with her father?  Why does she feel compassion for a student who always misses school?  There is sadness but yet a glimpse of happiness and then independence with the character of Rachel.  A wonderful performance!

VIDEO & AUDIO:

The DVD is featured in a “matted” widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of its original, theatrical exhibition, enhanced for widescreen TV’s.  For a 1968 film, the video quality was actually pretty good.  I’ve seen films in the 70’s exhibit a lot of grain but for a late 60’s film, it looks as if the video source was kept in good condition and picture quality was overall pretty good.

The audio is Dolby Digital stereo.  The film is dialogue-based, so no need for special effects or anything.  There is music which was composed and conducted by Jerome Moross which was quite nice.  But overall,  the audio is all about the acting in this film!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“RACHEL, RACHEL” comes with two special features:

  • Vintage “A Jest of God” Exhibitor Promo Footage (Silent) – About five minutes long, this silent footage features Paul Newman behind the camera and literally behind-the-scenes look at the filming.
  • Theatrical Trailer – This is not your standard trailer. This trailer starts off with Joanne Woodward winning an Oscar back in 1958 for “The Three Faces of Eve” and then the film goes into Paul Newman commenting on the film, working with his wife and his directorial debut.  A different type of trailer that didn’t show just scenes from the film but behind-the-scenes photos of Paul Newman working with his wife and the cast.

The 1968 film “Rachel, Rachel” is now available on DVD and part of Warner Bros. “Paul Newman Film Series”.  One of the films showing tribute by Warner Bros. to Newman (who passed away on Sept. 2008) as an actor and director.

“Rachel, Rachel” is one of those films that an actress is given a chance to shine, that is if she could pull off a complex character such as Rachel.  Joanne Woodward manages to pull it off.

Rachel Cameron is a woman that feels that her life of being alone, just taking care of her mother and not having any social life, no man in her life, no children and thus feeling old and her life going downhill.

As mentioned, the film was released in 1968 but 41-years later, I feel that this film still has its relevance because anyone who has to make a decision of taking care of their elder parents or have a life.  I don’t know how many times I was told by my grandparents that we must succeed in order to take care of our parents as they age.  And for the character of Rachel, her father died at the time she graduated college and thus moved back home to take care of her mother.  Her mother didn’t want to be alone.  Her mother felt that her daughter must be there for her at all times because of her heart condition.  And so Rachel, showing her obligations as a daughter and caretaker but at the same time, feeling she was stuck in the small town, stuck caring for her mother.  It was indeed a performance that was acted marvelously by Julianne Woodward.

As for Paul Newman, the man knows film.  Having appeared in many films himself, there was no doubt that a popular talent would know what kind of shot he wanted and what performance he wanted to get.  In fact, during the theatrical trailer commentary, he talked about how tough it was for him to direct his wife.  But the two and also the rest of the cast and crew managed to pull it off.

I’m sure this film was controversial when it was released in theaters especially during that time in film.  But I would assume the film also was important showing a woman’s thoughts, emotions and her gaining the strength to become independent and able to make her own choices.

A classic worth watching!

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