Night and Day (1946)

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Due Out for Sale 10-Nov-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Short Film-Musical Movieland (20:23)
Short Film-Desi Arnaz And His Orchestra (10:09)
Short Film-Cartoon - The Big Snooze (7:03)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1946
Running Time 122:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:14) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Michael Curtiz
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Cary Grant
Alexis Smith
Monty Woolley
Ginny Simms
Jane Wyman
Eve Arden
Carlos Ramirez
Donald Woods
Mary Martin
Case ?
RPI Box Music Max Steiner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Night And Day is a grossly fictionalised bio-pic of the life of renowned songwriter Cole Porter. This is hardly surprising as in 1946 you could not make biographically accurate films about homosexuals.

    The story starts in 1914 with Cole Porter (Cary Grant) spending more time at and attention to a local music hall and his friendship with Gracie Harris (Jane Wyman) than he devotes to his supposed law studies at Yale. It probably does not help that his professor, Monty Woolley (Monty Woolley), seems to have an equal penchant for music halls and finding a new fighting school song to be sung at football games. With his grade point average (that's current American parlance for marks) heading south at a rapid rate, he embarks upon a visit home for Christmas with Monty in tow for some desperately required legal tuition. However, he knows he is not going to be a lawyer, despite the intent of his grandfather, and promptly drops out of Yale to create wonderful music. The other thing he discovers over the Christmas break is Linda Lee (Alexis Smith), whom he initially mistakes for his cousin Nancy (Dorothy Malone). So with Yale ditched, Cole Porter heads off to fame and fortune - not.

    With Monty acting as front man, they raise the funds for his first Broadway show, See America First, which might have been a complete success but for one tiny little detail - it was sunk quite literally by the sinking of the Lusitania. With no other immediate prospects, Cole Porter goes off to do his duty for his country in Europe, where he is injured and ends up in a hospital subject to the tender mercies of ... Linda Lee. Returning to America, it then becomes success after success as America succumbs to the wonders of Cole Porter's genius for song. Success results in him being asked to prepare a production for London - where Linda is now in residence. They wed - but rather than going on honeymoon, they return to New York to prepare yet another Broadway smash. This is the trend set for their marriage, to the extent that Linda eventually leaves Cole - who despite loving her does little to stop her leaving. Tragedy then befalls Cole as he has an accident whilst riding and has to undergo a succession of operations in order to walk again. All this is unknown to Linda but when Cole makes a triumphant return to Yale, guess who turns up?

    Okay, it might not bear much relationship to the truth of his life, but if we ignore that, the story itself is not that bad. However, where this all falls down is that despite the obvious quality in the songs on offer, the whole film is curiously unengaging.

    Part of the reason is that Cary Grant really seems, at least by his standards, to be going through the motions here and whilst that is still better than most are capable of, it simply does not work here. What also does not work is that he does not carry off the "younger" period from 1914 through to the early 1920's. However, for my mind the problem lies with the casting of Monty Woolley as Monty Woolley - it might be authentic but it simply does not work for me. The relative ages of the two characters simply fails to convince me at all. Alexis Smith was a decent enough actor and is undeniably beautiful but she and Cary Grant simply do not seem to have any chemistry at all here. She is supposed to be the love of his life but their meetings have no sparkle whatsoever. There is a little more believability in the minor roles, but that really is not enough to raise this out of mediocrity at all. Michael Curtiz is well known as a director - Casablanca anyone? - but this is not one of his career high points (but then again what would beat that well known film?).

    Having everything ever done by Cary Grant on DVD would be a great aim, but if it is to happen, something slighter better than Night And Day could surely have been an early issue? Not a bad film, but equally not a good one either. It might be watchable but you probably would not want to see it too often.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is not without its problems and given that this was preferred over some really great comedies featuring Cary Grant, it is a little disappointing. It is presented in a Full Frame aspect ratio that is very close to the old Academy ratio of the original theatrical presentation. It is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    As you can see from the screen capture above, one of the main problems with the transfer is the rather ordinary definition noted throughout the credits and portions of the film. To call it soft is to be very kind, and some portions of the film are even worse - such as around 7:40 where the right hand side of the image is almost headache-inducingly bad. Everything seems to improve after the first reel, but there is always a hint of softness to the definition that really does detract from what we have on screen. Obviously the softness robs the image of some of the detail and at times there is something of a flatness to the look of the film, which seems to also be a reflection of a narrow depth of field to the image.

    Shadow detail is generally pretty good and grain is not really a big issue. If you don't like edge enhancement, then you may have a problem with this transfer as it is used quite noticeably at times - such as at 89:10 with the heads needing some help to stand out against the background trees.

    The colours are a little underdone, which is probably a reflection of the age of the source material rather than anything else (well, that and the fact that we are not talking an original interpositive here as the source). The look is a little flat at times, but nothing that is really objectionable. I just wish that there was a little more vibrancy to the colours at times as this is the sort of film where it could do with some sparkle. There is nothing in the way of obvious over saturation, and colour bleed seems to be kept reasonable well in check, although there is a distinctly green ghost to the image around the 7:40 mark to accompany that softness.

    There are nothing in the way of noticeable MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts are a little more prevalent than I would have hoped, mostly of the not too eye-catching variety but for a few instances such as in the stalls at 28:34. The main issue with the transfer is the film artefacts, of which there are plenty with specks, dots and scratches to the fore. The main culprits are however the reel change markings - with the pairs starting at 15:14 and 15:22 then continuing at 32:42 and 32:50 and so on. They are very obvious and completely inescapable from a watching point of view.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 63:14. Since I did not notice it during the playback of the film, it would seem to be completely non-disruptive to the flow of the film.

    There are six subtitle options on the disc, including English and English for the Hearing Impaired. They are generally pretty good, although some dialogue is lost.

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

Audio

    There are three soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack that is presumably the original mono soundtrack for the film, a French Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack and a Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack. I stuck with the English effort of course.

    Since it is more than likely the original soundtrack, there really is not an awful lot to whinge about with what we have been given. There is some background hiss that really will only bother the most anal. The dialogue comes up well in the soundtrack and there does not appear to be any audio sync issues.

    The original additional score comes from another of the greats of the art in Max Steiner. It is of course all totally superfluous to the main deal of the film - the music of Cole Porter. Nonetheless, the score stands up quite well and does a fair job of supporting the film.

    There is nothing really nothing much wrong with what we have here and mostly you just sit back and enjoy the wonderful songs of the maestro.

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

Extras

    Given the selection of extras available on the DVD, I am beginning to wonder whether the decision on the contents of the extras package was made either during an office party when everyone was inebriated, or else during one of those work experience sessions when someone thought it might be a good idea to have some unfortunate kid choose the extras from a random selection of options made available by the bean counters - all as a cost saving effort. You would be hard pressed to figure any other reason for coming up with this odd mismatch of extras.

Menu

    Nothing really special and the main menu comes with some audio enhancement. Once again they are rather perversely in widescreen format.

Short Film - Musical Movieland (20:23)

    Well there is a connection here with the main feature - it was directed by LeRoy Prinz who was responsible for the dance numbers in Night And Day. A tenuous connection I know but a connection nonetheless, and I am otherwise grasping for any connection whatsoever that would warrant this being included in the extras package for the feature film. Otherwise they do have in common a colour presentation in Full Frame format (close to the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1). This rather weakish effort is basically an excuse to take the movie audience behind the scenes at the Warner Bros studio to see films being made. Naturally this predates by several decades the current situation where the tourist side of the studio is a vast enterprise indeed bringing in plenty of bucks in its own right, and the back lot tour of which is anything but a stroll around the lot. Along the way the tourists in the film get to see some at times cringeworthy song and dance efforts from several films. The low light was probably the Indian (sorry Native American) dance number... From a technical point of view this is not too bad, with film artefacts obvious but perhaps less so than expected. The main problem is the sheer inconsistency in the colour which noticeably fluctuates between being distinctly overdone in the reds (skin tones very noticeably are over red) to being distinctly pale and underdone (with almost a paleish green tint in the skintones). The sound is acceptable enough.

Short Film - Desi Arnaz And His Orchestra (10:09)

    Aside from some song and dance, I am definitely battling to find any connection between this and the feature. It seems a most odd choice for inclusion here. Basically introducing the future Mr Lucille Ball as a band leader, we get a few song and partial dance numbers from him and the band and that is about all she wrote. Eminently forgettable - and the reason why this is so short is because I have forgotten most of it already. The presentation is Full Frame and the sound is decent enough Dolby Digital 2.0. Technically it is reasonably ropey with plenty of obvious black film artefacts floating around, especially early on in the short, and a fair dollop of grain at times.

Animated Short Film - The Big Snooze (7:03)

    Whilst it might be rather good in its own right, and certainly the best thing included in the extras package, what connection does it have to the feature? Best response in invisible ink on the back of a $100 note wins a prize... Notable for being the last cartoon made by Robert Clampett before he left Warners (a few others were in the pipeline at the time and were completed by others and released later), it is quite funny as Elmer Fudd tears up his contract and walks out on Bugs Bunny. Come to think of it, this is probably better than the feature. Nothing much awry with it from a technical point of view (at least nothing that could not be fixed with a full restoration), the presentation being the obligatory Full Frame format with decent enough Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. You do know who Robert Clampett is don't you?

R4 vs R1

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

    Night And Day is also included in the Region 1 release The Cary Grant Signature Collection, which is the closest Region 1 equivalent to the Region 4 The Cary Grant Collection. It is also available separately for those wanting just this film, an option not yet available in Region 4. It is very similar to the Region 4 release barring the trailers on the DVD: the Region 1 release features five trailers for Cole Porter musicals. The only other review I have located is of the Region 2 (Netherlands) release which seems to be exactly the same as the Region 4 release (subject to my atrocious grasp of Dutch).

    On the strength of the trailers however, the Region 1 release would technically be the version of choice at the moment.

Summary

    Very much a product of its time, this is described as a bio-pic but really is far more akin to pure fiction. Of course, back in the 1940's they could not possibly have made a genuine bio-pic about the homosexual Cole Porter with any degree of realism. So aside from the fact that it is basically just a pile of fiction, there is not much wrong with the film. There is nothing really special about it either. Standing alone as a musical of sorts, the highlight is of course the music of the man - and there is certainly little wrong with the music. Night And Day however is not blessed with copious quantities of great acting and truth be told were it not for the rather gorgeous Alexis Smith, this would barely rate above mediocre. The video transfer is not the best and desperately in need of some restoration work. At some level it is good to have the film available on Region 4 DVD - but equally there are far better that deserved a release before this one.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Friday, December 03, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. 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
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