Overall | Don't Bother to Knock (1952) | How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) | The Seven Year Itch (1955) | The Misfits (1961)

Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection-Volume 1 (1952)

Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection-Volume 1 (1952)

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Released 23-Jul-2002

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Overall Package

    Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection Volume 1 collects together four films of, without doubt, the ultimate screen sex goddess. The fact that we seem to consider the tragic Marilyn Monroe as such is to seriously understate her ability as an actress.

    However, as a sex goddess there is no doubt that no one has ever come close to equalling her sheer sex appeal. Her modern day successors have not a clue as to what sex appeal is. Too often it is equated with simply removing as much clothing as possible. As the legend proved, real sex appeal does not come from removing clothes. It comes from within, it comes from a glance, it comes from some incandescence that really cannot be distilled down into some obvious explanation. What just about every film in the Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection Volume 1 proves is that even though it cannot be distilled down to pure explanation, you can see it leap out of every frame involving the legend.

    The films featured in Volume 1 comprise the 1952 thriller Don't Bother To Knock, How To Marry A Millionaire from 1953, the iconic The Seven Year Itch from 1955 and Marilyn Monroe's last completed film - The Misfits from 1961. This represents an interesting mix of films. The thriller Don't Bother To Knock sees a definite attempt to show that the lady could act and there is no doubt that she carried off her role well. Switching to comedy mode sees the delightful romp How To Marry A Millionaire that also featured two other great screen legends in Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall.

    The comedy continues in The Seven Year Itch, a film which has reached almost iconic stature owing to the most iconic moment of any Marilyn Monroe film. It has become a legendary scene, so much so that you don't really need to mention what the scene is. Finally we end up with a drama that remains something of an ambivalent coda to her career - The Misfits. Not a film that I rate overly highly, but others certainly do rate. As a demonstration of how the sexiest woman ever to grace the screen had changed over her career, this remains unexcelled however.

    The four DVDs making up the box are of quite similar standard, with only The Misfits really showing any significant drop in that standard. Overall, this is a good selection of films and the box set is well worthwhile adding to the collection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
Other Reviews
DVD Net - Gavin T

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Don't Bother to Knock (1952) | How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) | The Seven Year Itch (1955) | The Misfits (1961)

Don't Bother to Knock (1952)

Don't Bother to Knock (1952)

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Released 24-Jul-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:35)
Featurette-Restoration Comparison (1:22)
Gallery
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1952
Running Time 73:04 (Case: 76)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Roy Baker
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Richard Widmark
Marilyn Monroe
Anne Bancroft
Donna Corcoran
Case ?
RPI Box Music Lionel Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
French
German
Italian
Norwegian
Spanish
Swedish
German Titling
Italian Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    There is something quite interesting in switching between Marilyn Monroe's later films and her earlier films. Despite the passage of little more than a decade, the changes we see in the tragic screen goddess are quite startling. Despite the startling nature of the changes however, there is one thing that does not change: the fact that she was and remains to this day one of the most beautiful and sensual women ever to grace the silver screen. Don't Bother To Knock is an important film for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that it was one of Marilyn Monroe's first lead roles. Not only that, it was one of the first genuine attempts to showcase her talent as an actress rather than just as a drop dead gorgeous woman. It was also the debut film for Anne Bancroft, at the tender age of twenty, and it is interesting to see the aplomb with which she handles her role.

    Nell Forbes (Marilyn Monroe) is a woman with a tragic past. Her boyfriend Philip was a pilot who went missing whilst flying to Hawaii. His disappearance had a devastating effect upon Nell, who spent quite a deal of time in an institution before being declared well enough to be released into the custody of her Uncle Eddie (Elisha Cook, Jr.). Eddie is an elevator operator at a city hotel, and has been for fourteen years, and wishes to do what he can to get Nell's life back on track. He organises for her to baby-sit the daughter of Mr and Mrs Jones (Jim Backus and Lurene Tuttle), whilst they attend a dinner function at the hotel. It is figured that the young Bunny Jones (Donna Corcoran) should not prove too much for Nell to handle. The hotel is the central fixture of the film, for it is also where the other main character of the film has his problems. Jed Towers (Richard Widmark) just so happens to be a pilot and is in the throes of being ditched by his girlfriend Lyn Lesley (Anne Bancroft), a lounge singer at the hotel. After something of an argument with Lyn, basically over the fact that he is an unfeeling b******, Jed returns to his hotel room, whereupon he espies the lovely Nell across the courtyard in another room. Being in the mood, he works out what room she is in and telephones her to arrange a little meeting. Once he gets to meet her though, Jed starts to figure out that perhaps all is not what it seems, especially as Nell seems to become increasingly confused as to what is going on. This film noir plays out most of its action in Room 809 that single night.

    It really is not too bad a story but what makes it work is that Marilyn Monroe plays the confused woman really very well. It might not have been the greatest stretch in the world given her later life travails, but I would suspect more than a few would have been very surprised at how effective she was in a role that not all would be able to carry. It of course helps that she is surrounded by a bunch of good, solid professionals. Richard Widmark is effective in his role as the confused and dumped pilot, and convinces well with the changes in his character as the film progresses. It might have been Anne Bancroft's first film, and the dubbing of her singing might be a little on the obvious side, but she certainly proves that later success was no fluke. Lurene Tuttle and Elisha Cook, Jr. can always be relied upon to produce a steady professional job and they do it well here, especially Elisha Cook, Jr. as the somewhat obsequious elevator operator. Very well directed by Roy Baker, the overall result is a pacy, quite solid film that holds up pretty well in the overall summation of the career of Marilyn Monroe.

    A worthy film in the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection, even if not the most obvious demonstration of her acting ability.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    It might be getting a little clichéd but the restoration job has really done a good job of returning a lot of the former glory to the transfer, even though it is blessed with one consistent, albeit relatively minor, problem.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format that closely approximates the Academy ratio of the theatrical release. It is not 16x9 enhanced. For some reason that will be obvious to someone, the opening credits are windowboxed.

    Apart from the seemingly obligatory soft focus shots of the lady herself that are occasionally employed, this is a better than average transfer as far as sharpness and definition go. There are a few lapses but nothing to get really riled up about given the nature of the film. Shadow detail could have been a little better in places, but given the film-noirish nature it is not really a bothersome problem. There was a little bit of grain floating around, such as at 5:18, but none of this was really unexpected and certainly was nothing that would overly distract from the transfer. Clarity is pretty good and there is no low level noise in the transfer. There is some flickering in the image around 16:15 and at times the transfer does have a distinctly dirty look to it.

    The black and white tones could well have done with a bit more depth to them - this really is more across the well handled grey scales rather than black and white. This is not much of an issue however, as the grey scales are very nicely defined and nothing gets close to being murky. Obviously, there is a lack of depth to the blacks.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. The main issue with the transfer really is the film-to-video artefacts, most especially a consistent, albeit generally minor, problem with moiré artefacting. This can be seen in Nell's dress at many points (6:57, 18:30 and 66:46 amongst them) as well as some in Jed's jacket (39:38 and 44:21). It does get a little distracting once you notice it. There is also a deal of minor aliasing in the transfer, such as the microphone lead at 10:43, in the book at 11:47 and the barman's shoulder at 17:23. Again the restoration has cleaned up the source material nicely and there are little in the way of film artefacts to distract.

    In the absence of again locating any layer change, and given the shortish length of the film, I would suggest that this is a Dual Layer DVD.

    There are thirteen subtitle or titling options on the DVD. The English efforts sampled are good with only relatively minor dialogue omissions in general.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are four soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack. English was once again my soundtrack of choice.

    The audio transfer is good and in general the dialogue comes up very well and easy to understand. There does not appear to be any significant audio sync issues with the transfer.

    The original music comes from Lionel Newman and is a not bad effort at all that does a fair job of supporting the pace and mood of the film without sounding clichéd.

    Being a mono soundtrack, there is no need for subwoofer and surround speakers here. Everything comes pretty much from the centre speaker, in a decent sounding manner. It is not at all strident and has a nice mellowness of tone that suits the film well.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A fairly typical collection of extras, similar to most we have seen in the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection.

Menu

    Fairly basic efforts, although reasonably decent looking and they are 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:35)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with reasonable Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Again there is a fair bit of grain in the transfer as well as a few film artefacts. It does give a good idea of how well the restoration has treated the feature.

Featurette - Restoration Comparison (1:22)

    Another typical effort with three comparisons after the notes this time. The first compares the pre-restoration film with the restored film elements with video restoration. The second compares the existing video master with the same elements, whilst the third comparison is between the restored film elements and the restored film elements with video restoration.

Gallery - Stills

    Comprising twenty three stills, a mixture of stills from the film, posters and publicity shots.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as we can ascertain the Region 4 release misses out on:

    The Region 1 version misses out on:

    Given that available reviews do not rate the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix that highly, there is once again nothing of substance between the two versions.

Summary

    One of the early attempts to prove that Marilyn Monroe was a legitimate actress, and given good direction by Roy Baker, Don't Bother To Knock is a good film featuring some rather startlingly prophetic acting. The technical quality here is perhaps not quite up to the mark we have seen for the bulk of the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection, but that should not stop investigation of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Friday, August 16, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Gavin T
The DVD Bits - Nathan L

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Don't Bother to Knock (1952) | How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) | The Seven Year Itch (1955) | The Misfits (1961)

How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

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Released 24-Jul-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer-3
Featurette-Restoration Comparison (4:34)
Featurette-Movietone News: How To Marry A Millionaire In Cinemascope
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1953
Running Time 91:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:41) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jean Negulesco
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Marilyn Monroe
Betty Grable
Lauren Bacall
William Powell
Case ?
RPI Box Music Alfred Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.0 L-C-R-S (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.55:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.55:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Croatian
Czech
Danish
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
French
German
Greek
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Italian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Spanish
Swedish
Turkish
German Titling
Italian Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Marilyn Monroe fans rejoice! Twentieth Century Fox have finally delved into their vaults and pulled out for release some dozen of the films of the biggest sex symbol Hollywood has ever seen. Whilst her life was something of a tragedy, there is no doubt that even today Marilyn Monroe remains in a class of her own. Perhaps the most instantly recognised actress of all time, there is little doubt that she was also the sexiest. For generations of men she has been the epitome of a sex symbol and these films will go some way to explaining to those that don't understand exactly what was so special about Marilyn Monroe. We have already seen her in Some Like It Hot, with the operative word being "hot", so in some ways it is thankful that one of the first batch of DVDs we have for review is How To Marry A Millionaire. Why? Well, pretty obvious really - Marilyn Monroe, World War Two pinup girl Betty Grable and thrown in for good measure Lauren Bacall. Has any film managed to gather together three such wonderful specimens of womanhood? Talk about hot!

    The title of the film pretty gives away the entire story here. Three part-time models, Schatze Page (Lauren Bacall), Pola Debevoise (Marilyn Monroe) and Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable), hire an up-market apartment in New York City as part of a plan to capture wealthy husbands. Loco is the first to pick up a guy when she visits a convenience store on the way over to the apartment, although Tom Brookman (Cameron Mitchell) is soon dismissed as a gas pump jockey by Schatze and is cast aside in the quest for millionaires. Cute he might be but money is everything according to Schatze. The plan of course does not go that well and money runs out very quickly, despite the disposal of assets that aren't really theirs to sell. When they almost reach the end, out of the blue is discovered J.D. Hanley (William Powell), who invites the girls to an evening with a bunch of oil barons and bankers. Thereupon things start to look up a little, but for various different reasons. Despite the fact that she is very happy with J.D., who happens to be quite wealthy, Schatze finds herself being the object of Tom's desire - a desire she continually knocks on the head. Never get involved with those gas pump jockeys. Still, the dreams of the girls don't quite get met. Oh sure, Loco heads off to a lodge in Maine with her "catch", only to fall into the arms of Eben (Rory Calhoun), whilst the blind-as-a-bat Pola meets up with the owner of the apartment they rent. Only Schatze seems to be able to hold on to the plan...

    Perhaps one of the reasons for How To Marry A Millionaire enduring as a film, other than its three female leads, is the fact that at heart this is a very simple story - with a rather obvious message. But let's face it - the film really goes where it goes because of the three ladies! 1953 was a big year for Marilyn Monroe. She had three films released - Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How To Marry A Millionaire - all of which were pretty big hits. By the time this one rolled into theatres, she was just about the brightest star on the planet and about to blast off in a very big way. However, she had yet to demonstrate much of a depth to her talent and really all she was expected to do was look sexy - which she would do very well indeed here. There are the inklings of a genuine actress here though, and from here on through to The Misfits of 1961, despite the increasing problems her life would bring to every set, she slowly showed that she could indeed act as well as be the ultimate sex symbol. By the time this film came out, Betty Grable had already been a pinup girl for ten years and to some extent this was the beginning of the end of her career. She only made five or six films after How To Marry A Millionaire, and it has to be said that whilst she had a great pair of legs and looked fantastic, she was not a great actress. Still, I doubt too many were really bothering about that when the film was released! Whilst having Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable as co-stars would have intimidated most actresses, Lauren Bacall was one of the few who could hold their own in such company. She did so with ease and then some. Not as overtly sensual as Monroe, nor as obvious a beauty as Grable, Bacall had a certain presence and style about her that today defines a different style of sensualness. The fact they they were three beautiful women, but for very different reasons, is another reason why the film succeeds so well.

    The film also scores in other ways. There has perhaps been no more pompous a start to a film as here. Being one of the very first CinemaScope films, Twentieth Century Fox went out of their way to use the format. Thus, the film opens with a five and a half minute orchestral piece that demonstrates how much different the CinemaScope and Stereophonic processes were to others. Completely out of character with the rest of the film, the opening nonetheless remains one of the high points of the show. The film was also dotted with interesting little throwaway lines that add enormously to the underlying comedy of the film. In the lodge, Betty Grable misidentifies a song on the radio as being from Harry James ("I know a Harry James song and that is a Harry James song") - she was of course married to Harry James for a number of years. Lauren Bacall has a throwaway line about the old bloke in The African Queen: the reference is of course to her husband Humphrey Bogart. It is little things like this that make the film such an enduring and endearing one.

    It is by no means the best film that Marilyn Monroe made, but it certainly is a thoroughly enjoyable one. It probably remains an underrated film in her filmography but is a film that I love to return to time and time again. With this wonderful DVD release, now we can all enjoy the film the way it is supposed to be.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film itself is rapidly approaching its fiftieth anniversary of release (a sobering thought for those who can actually remember the theatrical release of the film), so I guess the expectations going in are that some allowances have to be made for the transfer. Well, the restoration performed on the film, as briefly touched upon in the extras, ensures that what allowances you have to make are no more than you would for a ten year old film. Suffice it to say that Twentieth Century Fox have done the right thing by the film and the result is almost an eye-opener.

    Being one of the very first films to be released in CinemaScope, the theatrical aspect ratio was 2.55:1. The transfer we have here has a measured ratio of 2.52:1, which is pretty much on the money. The transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The general quality of the transfer can be gauged from the fact that my notes for the entire review session comprised of six items, of which one was related to the musical intro! Even making no allowances for the age of the source material, there is not much to raise an issue about at all. The restoration has done a great job of bringing the transfer back to its original glory. The definition is generally superb throughout, with the opening musical sequence in particular being almost jaw-dropping in quality. In fact, there is no point during the film where you could really raise even an eyebrow regarding the quality of the definition - a very far cry from the Very Hazy System tape that I have lived with for years. Shadow detail is again superb, although there really is not much in the film where it would really come into play. Whilst the grain that was present in the Very Hazy System tape is very much a thing of the past, there are still some places where a residual problem is evident - 13:19 and 38:54 are examples. As a result, clarity throughout the film is excellent. Low level noise is a non-issue here.

    Perhaps the one area where the age of the transfer is evidenced is in the colours. Nothing major I hasten to add but just that fluctuation of colour that we tend to find in earlier colour films. Otherwise this is an excellent effort: the colours are very nicely rendered, have come up gorgeously well in the restoration and have a very nice tone to them. I would not call them the most vibrant I have ever seen but the tones are bright and pretty consistent. The blacks in the opening sequence are very well done in particular. There is no indication of oversaturation at all, although being finicky I could say that on occasions the colours are a little undersaturated. Colour bleed is not an issue at all.

    There is nothing much in the way of MPEG artefacts in the transfer, other than a little loss of resolution in the grainy pan shot at 13:19. Whilst there was nothing significant in the way of film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, if you look really hard you might find some very minor aliasing here and there. The big plus for the transfer, though, is the relative lack of film artefacts. The amount of clean up that has gone into the restoration is excellent and the result is some very minor dirt and scratch marks here and there that you would really have no issue with.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 66:41. It is very well hidden in a black scene change and is virtually unnoticeable and completely non-disruptive to the flow of the film.

    There are twenty two subtitle options on the DVD, of which three relate to titling of the extras. I confined myself to the English for the Hearing Impaired efforts, which I have to say are a little disappointing. They seemed to miss a fair bit of the dialogue at times, which might impact a bit upon the nuances of the film for those with hearing impairments.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 4.0 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I stuck with the English soundtrack, which sounds as if it has a configuration of L-C-R-S.

    The audio transfer is not quite in the league of the video transfer, but is nonetheless very good. Obviously this is a very dialogue-based film and it is therefore important that the dialogue comes up well and is easy to understand. It is. There does not appear to be any problem with audio sync in the transfer.

    The original music comes from Alfred Newman, with the showcase being the opening musical number. This sweeping opening is somewhat out of character with the film but there is no denying it is a great showcase for the man. I cannot honestly say that the rest of the score does a fat lot for me, but I suppose that in the overall scheme of things it is a decent enough effort that supports the film pretty well.

    The general soundtrack is completely adequate without being especially memorable. Obviously lacking any LFE channel activity, the obvious thing here is the fact that there is little if anything in the way of distortion or hiss. Not a bad effort for a fifty year old soundtrack! Despite the configuration of the sound, much of the activity is actually quite frontal with little surround action. This is no bad thing considering that the film very much relies upon dialogue rather than action, and the overall effect is quite natural sounding.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Considering the age of the film, a not bad little extras package has been assembled for the DVD.

Menu

    Fairly basic efforts, although looking pretty classy and they are 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:22)

    This is the US trailer and you might just get the idea the film was shot in CinemaScope from it! You have Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall in a film and you promote it on the basis of CinemaScope? Only a marketing type could think of that! Yes, I know it was an early CinemaScope film but please - Monroe, Grable and Bacall! Interestingly the trailer is black and white and presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound that is decidedly strident sounding, suggesting it is mono. Technically speaking it is very ropey - plenty of film artefacts and a hissy, crackly sound.

Theatrical Trailer (2:29)

    This is the Italian trailer and boy is it wildly different to the US effort! For starters, it is in a widescreen format that looks like 2.35:1 and it is in glorious colour. It is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound that sounds decidedly less strident. It is a bit grainy at times, has some oversaturated colours but is otherwise of very good quality technically.

Theatrical Trailer (2:29)

    This is the German trailer and is pretty much the same as the Italian effort barring the language. It is noticeably more blighted with film artefacts but is otherwise of similar technical quality to the Italian effort. It is in an aspect ratio that looks like 2.35:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Featurette - Restoration Comparison (4:34)

    This is a moderately interesting look at the restoration of the film. After some self running notes about the extent of the restoration required, the featurette ends with a split screen comparison. This compares firstly the original film restoration and video restoration with the original film restoration alone and then the previous video master (demonstrating huge chunks of grain!). The whole is presented in a full frame format, with no sound accompaniment other than the film dialogue. Interesting if not exactly lengthy.

Featurette - Movietone News: How To Marry A Millionaire In CinemaScope (1:18)

    A fairly typical effort for Movietone News footage, meaning not exactly lacking in film artefacts and fairly strident, mono sound. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and the sound is Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as we can ascertain the Region 4 release misses out on:

    The Region 1 version misses out on:

    In broad terms there is nothing significantly different between the two releases, so call this one even.

Summary

    Whilst some don't rate How To Marry A Millionaire highly, I have always felt this to be one of the stronger Marilyn Monroe films. Not in the same league as say Some Like It Hot, but certainly well worth investigating, The restoration afforded the film has resulted in a generally excellent DVD that few would find any significant complaint with. If this is the quality we will be getting throughout the collection, then I for one am going to be very happy indeed.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Lorraine A
DVD Net - Gavin T

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Don't Bother to Knock (1952) | How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) | The Seven Year Itch (1955) | The Misfits (1961)

The Seven Year Itch (1955)

The Seven Year Itch (1955)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 24-Jul-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer-2
Featurette-Restoration Comparison (3:19)
Featurette-Movietone News: Sneak Preview (0:34)
Featurette-Back Story: The Seven Year Itch (23:27)
Deleted Scenes-2
Gallery-One Sheets
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1955
Running Time 100:08
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Billy Wilder
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Marilyn Monroe
Tom Ewell
Evelyn Keyes
Case ?
RPI Box Music Alfred Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 3.0 L-C-R (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.55:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.55:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Croatian
Czech
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Yes, this is the film with that scene in it! There is probably no more famous, nor replayed scene, in Hollywood than that famous scene over the subway vent, a scene that drove male Marilyn Monroe fans wild. Just how wild? Well, check out the featurette in the extras section for some indication, and a good reason why - one that did not make the film. Looking back on the scene, and indeed the film in general, with the benefit of forty seven years of movie making, it is a little hard to understand what was so provocative about the scene, and indeed the whole film.

    Yet really it should not be that hard. After all, to some extent Hollywood is still the most restrained movie-making place on Earth. You rarely see mainstream films from Hollywood willing to tackle the "hard" subjects, nor embrace a more liberal presentation of film. In many ways, Hollywood has not progressed far from the restrictive days in which this film was made. Back in the 1950s, risqué could be found basically in one place - theatre. With its longer traditions, it had tended to push boundaries, and had been allowed to push boundaries, much further than film and certainly more than the fledgling television. So with its foundation in adultery, The Seven Year Itch was always likely to be a very popular play. However, trying to make it into a film was always going to be an issue. It took a lot of hard work, and a lot of compromising, to get the film passed by the censors of the day. So when you watch the film from the aspect of the general morals of our age, the whole thing comes across as quite tame. Even that famous scene reveals very little other than a pair of legs (not bad ones though), yet in its day raised howls of protest from the moral majority (otherwise known as a few religious zealots). It was all good publicity though, and it is doubtful that a more instantly recognisable Marilyn Monroe film exists.

    Of course one of the reasons why the film could be made was Marilyn Monroe - she did not need to cavort around semi-naked to get the temperature rising. Just lounging around fully clothed, showing just a modicum of leg, was enough to put plenty of suggestion in the minds of the male population, which is precisely what makes this film what it is. There is nothing the slightest bit "naughty" here but there is plenty of very well-handled suggestion. There would have been very few female leads in movie history who could have carried this role off as well as Monroe.

    The story is centred around one man in one apartment in that well known den of iniquity, New York, during the customary summer period when the heat drives the wives and children away to the cooler climes. The man in question is Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell, reprising his Broadway role), and he has just seen his wife Helen (Evelyn Keyes), off to Maine for the summer with his son, Ricky. So he now joins the thousands of unattached males in the heat of a New York summer with plenty of time on their hands and no marital restrictions. Let the party begin. Mind you, Richard has good intentions of giving up smoking, giving up drinking and not chasing skirt all over town. This good-intentioned plan lasts just as long as it takes to find out that the upstairs neighbours have let their apartment to a young lady whilst they are overseas. The Girl is all we call her and she is of course played by Marilyn Monroe. Okay, so you are a summer bachelor and Marilyn Monroe lives upstairs from you - are you really going to be a monk?

    That is the story - the wrestling of Richard with his devotion to his wife and the obvious attractions of The Girl upstairs. Having once suffered the heat of New York in the middle of summer, I can attest to the effect it has on a person. If you have ever stood outside the Guggenheim Museum and looked down Fifth Avenue and seen that fifty or sixty metres of brown gunk that hangs above the street, you might have an inkling of what it is like. So, the effect of heat upon a man when in the (close) presence of a goddess would come as no surprise. Whilst the film basically comprises two roles only, it is fair to say that the biggest role is that of Marilyn Monroe. Proving that the current infatuation with anorexic-type bodies is completely unfathomable, she exudes sexuality with just about every look or move. It is certainly a cliché and a half but they sure do not make them like Marilyn anymore - more's the pity. Take her out of this film and there would be little left to watch. Try as hard as he can, Tom Ewell can only just keep up. That is a pity as he really is very good, but is just overshadowed by the presence of Marilyn Monroe.

    This is not the only time that Marilyn teamed up with Billy Wilder, and is also not the only time that they hit the jackpot. It has to be said that their other combination (Some Like It Hot) is a far superior film in just about every way, but I have yet to meet a Billy Wilder film that I did not enjoy.

    Whilst this occasionally comes across as a play rather than as a film, the mere presence of Marilyn Monroe is guaranteed to raise the temperature. Just in case you are wondering, 71:37 is where you can find that scene.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Whilst it has to be said that the transfer here is not as good as that afforded How To Marry A Millionaire, it is still an impressive enough transfer for its age. The only one disappointing area is the consistent colour bleed found in the transfer, most notably during what would have presumably been the third reel of the film - between 51:00 and 65:00 in particular.

    This is yet another of those very widescreen CinemaScope films - the theatrical aspect ratio was 2.55:1. The transfer we have here has a measured ratio of 2.51:1, which is pretty much on the money. The transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    Once again the restoration has done a pretty good job of bringing the transfer back to its original glory. The definition is generally very good throughout, although there seemed to be a few places where the transfer tended towards the soft side of things. An example can be found around the 83:00 mark. Shadow detail is not much of an issue here, notably due to the fact that the film was shot in such a way as to not highlight the shadows that much. Grain is not much of an issue here either, with very little to impinge upon the generally excellent clarity of the transfer. There are no problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    The colours here tend a little towards the muted end of the scale, but not disturbingly so in the context of the film. Much of it is shot indoors, mainly in the apartment and the muted colourscape suits this well enough, even though skin tones tend towards being a little too pale. Whilst there are occasions where you could have wished for a bit more in the way of dazzle in the colours, this is a significant improvement upon all earlier incarnations of the film I have seen and is probably as close to the original theatrical presentation as there has been since 1955. The one issue is, as previously mentioned, the colour bleed and this is especially noted during the times indicated above due to one main culprit: Richard's tie. It is very poorly dealt with and always has a red tinged with yellow bleed to it. It becomes quite distracting after a while and is very disappointing. There is also some bleed in the flesh tones around the face in the same sequence. The fact that it is predominant during these fourteen or so minutes is perhaps indicative of some underlying problem with the source material that the restoration could not fix. Certainly it is indicated on some US review sites that this is the case. There is also the colour pulsation that we tend to expect in transfers of this age, although again just a little more noticeable than I would like here. Oversaturation is not a problem in the transfer.

    The only indication of any MPEG artefacts in the transfer is a slight loss of resolution in the pan shot at 47:05. There were just a few more instances of film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, notably aliasing that was more obvious than in How To Marry A Millionaire. Examples can be clearly seen at 8:05 (hat), 27:20 (furniture), 48:08 (chest of drawers) and 66:51 (hose), amongst others. There were also some extraneous colour flashes, one being at 66:09, that would appear to indicate some sort of problem in the printing process carried through from the source material. Once again, the clean up of the transfer has been successful and there were very few film artefacts to be seen.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 53:09. It is again very well hidden in a black scene change and is virtually unnoticeable and completely non-disruptive to the flow of the film.

    There are thirteen subtitle options on the DVD. It is a bit perplexing to me that if the DVDs are supposed to form part of a coherent Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection why there is no consistency in the presentation of subtitles and soundtracks. I stuck with the English for the Hearing Impaired efforts, which are once again a little disappointing. They again miss a fair bit of the dialogue at times, which might again impact a bit upon the nuances of the film for those with hearing impairments.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is, somewhat inconsistently, only one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 3.0 soundtrack which has a configuration of L-C-R. Since the DVDs in the series are all likely to feature remastered soundtracks, it seems odd that a consistent presentation has not been offered.

    The audio transfer is more than acceptable and does a good job of presenting the dialogue in a clear and easy manner. There does not appear to be any problem with audio sync in the transfer.

    The original music once again comes from Alfred Newman. This is another unpretentious effort that ultimately does the job of supporting the film very well - although the repeated motif during the film is of course drawn from Sergei Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto, a great classical work used quite effectively in the film.

    There is nothing else to report about the soundtrack, with my notes being entirely devoid of any reference. Obviously lacking any LFE channel activity, and equally obviously lacking anything in the way of distortion or hiss. The configuration of the sound indicates a quite frontal sound which is what we get and altogether an apt one too.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Once again some effort has been made with the extras package and whilst it obviously cannot compete with the likes of recent blockbusters, there is some interesting stuff here.

Menu

    Fairly basic efforts, although looking pretty classy and they are 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:18)

    This is the US trailer and it has to be said not the best. It is grainy at times and there is a strong background crackle to the Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:18)

    This is the Spanish trailer and it is virtually identical to the US trailer except in the aspect ratio! Here it is in a ratio that looks like 2.35:1, which is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Featurette - Restoration Comparison (3:19)

    Another moderately interesting look at the restoration of the film. After some self running notes about the extent of the restoration required, the featurette ends with a split screen comparison. This compares the previous video master with the original film restoration alone and video restoration. There is also an example of before restoration and after restoration, just to demonstrate how worthwhile restoration actually is.

Featurette - Movietone News: Sneak Preview (0:34)

    Another fairly typical effort for Movietone News footage, meaning not exactly lacking in film artefacts and fairly strident, mono sound. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and the sound is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Featurette - Back Story: The Seven Year Itch (23:27)

    Now this is where it gets interesting. This is a modern show, made for television I would suspect, looking at the problems of making the film. In its rather shortish length is packed quite a deal of information and it adds enormously to the understanding of the difficulties of bringing a provocative play to the big screen. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and the sound is Dolby Digital 2.0. Whilst some of the source material used is very grainy, as a whole this is very much the main attraction in the extras package.

Deleted Scenes (2)

    Not so much deleted scenes but rather extended scenes that were referred to in the above featurette. Since they were mentioned, it is nice that they are included even if to some extent they duplicate material in the featurette. They are presented in an aspect ratio appearing to be 2.55:1, they are not 16x9 enhanced and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Considering they were lost in the vaults for quite some time, they really are of quite good quality from a technical point of view. The two scenes are an extended Bathtub scene (1:22) and a version of the Subway scene (2:08).

Gallery - One Sheets

    Well, now I have been educated. One sheets are posters, and here we have five of them demonstrating various aspects of the promotion of the film. They are 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as we can ascertain the Region 4 release misses out on:

    The Region 1 version misses out on nothing.

    In broad terms there is nothing significantly different between the two releases, so call this one even too.

Summary

    I would suspect that thanks to that scene, The Seven Year Itch is probably one of the best known films of the greatest screen sex symbol. Funnily enough, I don't rate it as highly as, say, How To Marry A Millionaire, but like most of Marilyn Monroe's films, there is certainly plenty to enjoy. The transfer is not quite to the same high standards as that afforded How To Marry A Millionaire, but still remains generally above average for a film of its age. As such, despite the qualms, it remains a recommendation.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, July 14, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Lorraine A
DVD Net - Gavin T

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Don't Bother to Knock (1952) | How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) | The Seven Year Itch (1955) | The Misfits (1961)

The Misfits (1961)

The Misfits (1961)

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Released 12-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (3:33)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 119:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Huston
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Clark Gable
Marilyn Monroe
Montgomery Clift
Thelma Ritter
Eli Wallach
Case ?
RPI ? Music Alex North


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In the annals of Hollywood films, The Misfits holds something of an interesting place. It was the last completed film of the immortal Marilyn Monroe, although finished under some degree of duress it would seem. The problems that Marilyn Monroe brought to a film set during the later stages of her career are the stuff of legend itself, but even by her standards this was an endurance for all. Indeed, the famed comment of Clark Gable at the end of filming was "Christ, I'm glad this picture's finished. She d*** near gave me a heart attack". Prophetic words indeed in view of the fact that a day later he did suffer a heart attack and was to die eleven days later. Since he died so soon after completion of filming, obviously this was also Clark Gable's final film. Unlike the rather patchy performance of his co-star however, he at least went out on a high with what is, aside from Gone With The Wind, arguably his finest moment on film. Not to be left trailing in the dirt, the film also represents one of the last quality outings for Montgomery Clift, a great actor whose problems with substance abuse and health generally were to severely hamper the latter part of his career. With all these sorts of issues going on around the film, it is a wonder that it ever got completed!

    The choppy nature of the film itself is perhaps indicative of the problems that beset the production. Whilst it might add arthouse credence to the film, the way in which characters flit in and out of the film really does not make for a truly coherent story. Yet despite the choppy nature, in the end the film broadly succeeds in its purpose - namely looking at the changing face of the American West. The credit for that is probably due to the cast as well as director John Huston, for the story alone would not have achieved this. The story begins in the divorce capital of America, Reno, Nevada where Roslyn Taber (Marilyn Monroe) is going through a divorce which is leaving her a little scared, a little scarred and generally unable to work out what she wants and where she wants to go. The aid given her by her friend Isabelle Steers (Thelma Ritter) is basically to read her courtroom lines to her and celebrate the result in a local casino - where they happen to meet sometime mechanic, sometime pilot Guido (Eli Wallach) and aging cowboy Gay Langland (Clark Gable). This collection obviously forms a group of misfits from which the film derives its name. With Guido and Gay (the irony of this name is not lost by the way) vying for the attentions of the vulnerable Roslyn, we get to discover a chunk about the nature of relationships. Just for good measure we add into the group a rodeo rider by the name of Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift) and the ingredients for the film are in place. The core of the action takes place out in the country where ultimately the misfits seek direction in the form of chasing wild mustangs for sale as dog food. The effects this has upon their relationships as well as the sad parody the modern day cowboy has become is the purpose behind the at-times disjointed story line.

    For once we have a Marilyn Monroe film where there is little positive to say about her. This is a very different Marilyn to the one we became familiar with during the 1950s and even from a visual perspective, she is much changed. She is not as radiant, and demonstrates her vulnerability perhaps too easily. In some ways, she doesn't even look like what we expect Marilyn Monroe to look like. This is a strange film from her perspective - at times terribly over-acted and at others demonstrating that she could act, and act well too. Even Montgomery Clift fell foul of the acting gods and turns in a curious performance. Whilst ultimately he does the role justice, the way he goes about it leaves one pondering what the motivation was for the role. Thereafter things do improve. Thelma Ritter was an excellent actress and despite the choppy way she was used in the film, this is another solid effort from a true professional. Similarly Eli Wallach does a stand up job as the slightly off-centre ex-wartime pilot trying to cope with a changing world. But it was Clark Gable in a stand-out performance that carries the film. His portrayal of an aging cowboy refusing in many ways to accept the changes in his business is terrific. John Huston did his best with the somewhat compromised story but in the end it never really convinces you that he got on top of the deal.

    As a coda of sorts to the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection, this film has its moments even though they are at times hard to find. In some ways it is a sad epitaph on the shortened career of Marilyn Monroe and reminds us of what a tragic figure she was. It is almost like all the problems that ailed her and sped her towards her untimely death by overdose can be seen in the film in some way. Compensating, however, is the fine performance of Clark Gable and it is worth plenty of viewings for that alone. The Misfits is an interesting, if flawed, film that is certainly worthy of investigation.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    John Huston choose to shoot this film in black and white for reasons that he felt were very valid at the time. After a succession of colour films in the Marilyn Monroe filmography, I have to say that this comes as bit of a shock. A shock, too, is the fact that this has not been restored in any way, with the result that from the opening credits you know that this is not going to be an easy ride.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced, still quite unusual for a black and white widescreen film. There is some conjecture as to the correct theatrical aspect ratio for the film. The Internet Movie Database suggests that it was 1.85:1, whereas a number of reviews of the Region 1 release suggest that it was 1.66:1. It would be interesting to find out who is correct, especially as there is no clear evidence in the transfer that the image was especially cropped.

    Noticeably in this film, there is a deal of use of soft focus whenever Marilyn Monroe is on-screen in close up. In some ways it detracts from what is otherwise a quite decently sharp and detailed transfer. Shadow detail could have been a little better - just check out 27:30 as an example - but overall it is acceptable enough. Clarity is not that great as there is a bit of grain here and there, notably during some exterior shots around 90:00 which are not easy on the eye. Low level noise is an occasional problem, but not distractingly so.

    The black and white on display here is not really terrific and the transfer could definitely have done with some solidity to either end of spectrum. The grey scales in the middle of the spectrum are however generally well handled and nicely defined. The overall look of the transfer is quite bright and vibrant.

    Apart from some indication of pixelization around the 90:00 mark, there are no significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are a few more film-to-video artefacts than I would prefer, with aliasing being the most obvious problem. As you might expect, it is the fine detail in the truck and plane that present the biggest problems - 90:49 and 118:25 are examples. The main issue, though, is film artefacts and foremost amongst these are very noticeable and very distracting reel change markings. Other than that there are dirt spots, a few scratches and so on that really do tend to draw the eye in.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming mid-scene at 63:33. Despite being mid scene, it is not really noticeable on my setup, although I would suspect on my previous setup it would have been very noticeable.

    There are nine subtitle options on the DVD. The English efforts sampled are good with only relatively minor dialogue omissions in general.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five soundtrack options on the DVD, all being Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks. The language choices are English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. I listened to the English soundtrack.

    The audio transfer is reasonably good and in general the dialogue comes up well and is easy to understand. There does not appear to be any significant audio sync issues with the transfer.

    The original music comes from Alex North and it is a reasonably good effort, somewhat understated but adding enough to the mood of the film to be a positive influence in the overall package.

    With minimal use of anything but the centre speaker, this is distinctly mono sounding stuff. This is not a bad thing as the film is highlighted by the verbal jousts between the various characters, but there are times when a little more body and presence would have been appreciated. Thankfully lacking any noticeable background noise, there is nothing much to hamper the sound that would not have been fixed by a full remaster - which might well have been detrimental to the film itself in some ways. A full remaster might well have impinged upon the artistic integrity of the film in this instance.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Considering the position the film holds in the careers of two genuine legends of the silver screen, this has to be considered a ropey collection at best.

Menu

    Nothing overly exciting here, although they are 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (3:33)

    Can you spell woeful? Well, this gets very close indeed with a veritable snowstorm of film artefacts thrown into the mix with some obvious cross colouration issues between 2:40 to 3:05. Added into the equation is some rather ropey Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, so all in all we have a distinctly sub-standard technical effort even in comparison to some of the weaker efforts we have seen in the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced. Whilst the technical quality is not great, the trailer in itself is a good example of the art.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as we can ascertain the Region 4 release misses out on:

    The Region 1 version misses out on:

    The reviews read with respect to the Region 1 release indicate that the transfer is presented in the more European aspect ratio of 1.66:1 which is claimed to be the original theatrical aspect ratio. The Internet Movie Database lists the original theatrical aspect ratio as 1.85:1, so there is something of a problem with respect of the transfer. Of little doubt is that the Region 4 release is 16x9 enhanced, a not common occurrence with black and white films, as opposed to the Region 1 release. If the original aspect ratio of the film was 1.85:1, then the Region 4 is the hands down winner. If the original aspect ratio of the film was 1.66:1, then you have to balance that against a non-16x9 enhanced transfer - which would be a tough call, albeit one marginally in favour of the Region 1 on the basis of correct aspect ratio.

Summary

    With the film representing the final completed film for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, I really would have expected a much more satisfying package than this. At the very least a full restoration would not have gone astray, which would have cleaned the transfer up a-plenty, and using a somewhat more original interpositive would certainly have been expected. The reel change markings here really do annoy I am afraid. The film itself is an interesting one, arguably a classic and equally arguably the finest performance of Clark Gable on film, after Gone With The Wind of course. The star though was John Huston and the film is more a testament to him than the bevy of stars cast in the film, particularly in view of the reputed difficulties under which the film was made. Worthwhile checking this one out despite all the faults.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Friday, August 09, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
marilyn's performance - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
Misfits documentary - TurkeyTom
R4 version R1 - R4 is a clear winner - Anonymous