Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)

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Released 10-Nov-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 87:02
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Robert Trachtenberg
Studio
Distributor
Turner Classic Mvies
Warner Home Video
Starring Helen Mirren
Jeremy Northam
Case ?
RPI Box Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Dutch
Swedish
English for the Hearing Impaired
German 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

    Archibald Leach managed to make quite a few films in his career. He also managed to get married five times, the last at the age of 77 to Barbara Harris who was considerably younger than himself, whilst also being involved in one rather torrid affair with the then emerging young star Sophia Loren. He once refused to make a film - A Star Is Born - simply because star Judy Garland was a drug addict. He donated many of his film earnings during the Second World War to British and American war relief. He was a notorious tightwad but capable of great generosity. He was also one of the first true independents and managed to get percentage deals long before most had even thought of the concept. He was rumoured to be homosexual due to his close friendship with Randolph Scott, with whom he shared a house when his marriages unravelled, yet at least one of his wives attests to the fact that they were f***ing all the time. And above all he was a debonair gentlemen whose on-screen persona was the epitome to which many aspired.

    Cary Grant was one of the genuinely great screen stars of all time, a man whose talents were best seen in a genre that really was not the province of male actors at the time - the screwball comedy. Yet despite his obvious talents, he made as many average films as brilliant ones. Still, the brilliant ones are pretty d*** good: Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings, The Awful Truth, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic And Old Lace, Holiday, Penny Serenade, Suspicion, Notorious, His Girl Friday, North By Northwest, Charade and others. Amongst the not so brilliant ones were still some rather enjoyable films: Houseboat and Monkey Business amongst them. The interesting thing is that Cary Grant felt that most of his films were worthwhile - because they made money, the indicator that he worked to it seems (not surprising I suppose if you have a percentage of the takings coming your way).

    All this and more can be gleaned from this informative and enjoyable look at the life of Cary Grant. It is well worthwhile checking out, even if it could perhaps have been an hour longer...

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Despite the recent derivation of the documentary, made for television one guesses given the well spaced black scene fades during the programme, the presentation is in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is all over the place as it comprises newer interview material, older archival interview material, archival newsreel footage and excerpts from a fair sprinkling of the films that the man made. The newer material is generally quite sharp, well detailed and very easy to watch. The older interview material tends towards being somewhat soft, exhibiting only moderate detail and being a little less easy to watch. The older material is rather variable indeed - from soft to reasonably well defined, with moderate to excellent detail and being reasonably easy to watch. None of this is of course unexpected and overall everything is pretty good all things considered. Shadow detail is generally pretty good and grain is not that big an issue.

    The colours are well handled in the new interview material, generally quite well saturated and rather nice looking. There is no obvious tendency towards oversaturation and colour bleed is not an issue. The archival material is somewhat different - the colour material is generally underdone, lacking saturation and looking quite flat, whilst the black and white stuff is rather inconsistent depending on age and origin. There is nothing wrong with the best looking stuff but the poorer looking stuff could certainly do with some serious improvement in the black tones and grey scales.

    There are nothing in the way of noticeable MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were a rather different matter and aliasing is very noticeable throughout the programme. One of the more obvious and appalling occurrences can be seen at 42:38. The new interview material is clean and free from film artefacts, but the same cannot be said of the archival footage and some of the film excerpts. Specks and scratches are the most obvious problems to be seen.

    This is a single layer DVD so we have no layer change to worry about.

    There are seven subtitle options on the disc, including English and English for the Hearing Impaired. They are generally very good, with no obvious dialogue being missed.

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

Audio

    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack. It seems a bit unusual to have a mono soundtrack for a programme made this year, but you really don't need much more. At least it fits in with most of the film excerpts included in the programme.

    The dialogue comes up well in the soundtrack and there does not appear to be any audio sync issues.

    There is nothing really nothing much wrong with the soundtrack as it stands, although some of the film excerpts do suffer a little from hiss. It is however not a major drama and hardly impacts upon proceedings at all.

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

Extras

    Given that this DVD is in essence the extras in The Cary Grant Collection, it is hardly surprising that there is nothing else on the disc barring the documentary.

Menu

    Nothing really special although it comes with some audio enhancement.

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 I can ascertain, there has yet to be a Region 1 release of Cary Grant: A Class Apart and the Region 2 release is the same as the Region 4 release.

Summary

    An interesting documentary about one of the great stars of the silver screen, Cary Grant: A Class Apart is a fitting look at the man and his career. After watching it, you are left in no doubt as to the heights that good old Archie Leach managed to attain. The body of work covers some truly great films, and some pretty ordinary ones too, but if you want to measure how successful he really was, look not at the pitiful number of Oscar nominations but rather at the stature of the people he worked with. With names like Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Leo McCarey and George Cukor frequently appearing in the list, you know that Cary Grant was one of the best. A fitting conclusion to The Cary Grant Collection.

    Now all it needs is someone to explain to me how the heck this piece of work has managed to garner an M-rating from the imbeciles at the Office of Film and Literature Classification for "low level coarse language". This is so G-rated, with the sole exception of one use of the word "f***ing" (and I might add used in the true sense of the word), it is not funny. If this is the sort of thing that the OFLC manages to assess an M rating for, then frankly it's about time we got rid of the OFLC. I have heard worse language on music DVDs which are exempt from classification...

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Saturday, December 04, 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
Comments (Add)
Cary Grant was not gay. - cztery
Re: Gary Grant is not gay - Jace
Misisng Films - cztery
Packaging gripe - cztery