Overall | Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) | Destination Tokyo (1943) | Night and Day (1946) | North by Northwest (1959) | Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)

The Cary Grant Collection (1943)

The Cary Grant Collection (1943)

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

Released 10-Nov-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Overall Package

    Whilst this is not the first anthology collection of one of the great stars of the silver screen, it does hopefully indicate that we may be seeing far more of these sorts of collections. I for one find that an exceedingly interesting prospect. However, that interest would be much heightened if the collections represent the opportunity to also bring to DVD some of the classic films of those actors that we have yet to have the pleasure of seeing.

    That is perhaps one of the great disappointments of The Cary Grant Collection. Don't get me wrong - there are few more deserving actors or directors for such a collection than Cary Grant. But why it is necessary to half fill a collection with previous DVD releases when there remains serious scope for new releases? We had the same issue with The Bogart Collection One and The Bogart Collection Two. In this instance, the strong points of the collection are also the two films previously released on Region 4 DVD. Okay, so they are exceedingly brilliant films but why include them in this collection when other equally brilliant films remain unreleased?

    There is no real equivalent Region 1 release of this collection. There is however a very similar release, which features an exceedingly similar slick cover, known as The Cary Grant Signature Collection. In most respects it is a far more satisfying collection than this Region 4 effort. Why? For the simple reason that it includes five films that we had not previously seen on DVD of which two are common with this Region 4 release: Destination Tokyo and Night And Day. The other three films on that Region 1 release - Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House, The Batchelor And The Bobby-Soxer and My Favorite Wife - represent some of the very best comedies made by Cary Grant. Whilst both collections are slightly let down by the inclusion of Destination Tokyo and Night And Day, on the balance I would have much preferred the Region 4 release to include those great comedies that were included in the Region 1 release. Still, it does I suppose create some expectation of a second collection that will include those great films, and I sincerely hope that we do see further collections sooner rather than later.

    So what does The Cary Grant Collection have going for it? Well, if you don't already own Arsenic And Old Lace and North By Northwest, then it presents an excellent opportunity to acquire these great films at a reasonable price, with an excellent documentary - Cary Grant: A Class Apart - included for good measure. As an added bonus, you get two decent but hardly outstanding films in the form of Destination Tokyo and Night And Day. Overall, in that scenario, this represents excellent value. On the other hand, if you already own those two excellent films, then there are far less compelling reasons to go out and buy this collection. Sure, the excellent documentary is well worthwhile getting, but not at the overall price of this collection unless you are a serious fan of Cary Grant and desperately need to acquire the other two films.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) | Destination Tokyo (1943) | Night and Day (1946) | North by Northwest (1959) | Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

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

Released 2-May-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Listing-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 1.0 (2:44)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1944
Running Time 113:13
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Frank Capra
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Cary Grant
Raymond Massey
Jack Carson
Peter Lorre
Priscilla Lane
Edward Everett Horton
James Gleason
Josephine Hull
Jean Adair
John Alexander
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Max Steiner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian 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
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian 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

    One of the big differences between the range of DVDs available in Region 1 and the range available in Region 4 has been the comparative lack of back catalogue titles in Region 4. Now whilst in relative terms this is an arguable case, there is certainly no doubt that an extensive collection of back catalogue classics has not yet been built up in Region 4. The single biggest complaint I hear about Region 4 is funnily enough the lack of a decent back catalogue, and in broad terms it is my own complaint. Now by back catalogue I do not mean successions of B-grade flicks (or worse) from the 1980s and 1990s, but rather classics from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Whilst there have been a few notable examples of Region 4 DVDs from these eras, it is a sad indictment of the state of Region 4 that there is a fairly extensive catalogue of the generally deplorable films of that noted non-actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, yet few if any films from the ilk of Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness, Cary Grant and even Humphrey Bogart (perhaps the best represented of all the great actors from the pre-1970 era).

    2001 has thus far seen some redressing of the situation with the release of films such as Lawrence Of Arabia and The Sound Of Music, amongst others. Warner Home Video have now done the cause of back catalogue titles a great service through the release of a few true classics: Strangers On A Train, North By Northwest and Arsenic And Old Lace. In issuing the latter, we not only see another truly classic film but also the very belated appearance of Frank Capra on the Region 4 release sheets. It is of course profoundly disturbing that we have had to endure so many Jean-Claude Van Damme and even Dennis Rodman films before we get to see films of one of the true greats amongst directors. Currently ranked at Number 145 in the Top 250 films of all time on the Internet Movie Database, Arsenic And Old Lace is but one of the truly memorable films from the master. Hopefully, we will be seeing that string of gems in Region 4 before much longer, but for now we have his first film released after the hiatus of World War 2 which saw him making films for the War Department in the United States between 1939 and 1945. It should be noted that the film was actually made in 1941 but was not released until 1944 (after the play upon which it was based had ceased its run), so really predates the enforced hiatus. When one considers the string of gems prior to the war, it is interesting to speculate how many more we would have had should World War Two never have taken place.

    Even fifty-seven years on, this remains one of Frank Capra's best comedies. Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) is a dramatic critic and a confirmed bachelor, having written on the subject of marriage in the negative. So what exactly is he doing at a marriage license bureau with the attractive Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane)? Returning home after their marriage, Mortimer and his new bride have one hour to get packed and head off on their honeymoon to Niagara Falls (watch the film and you will understand what is so significant about the destination). There he breaks the news of his nuptials to his doting and dotty aunts Abby (Josephine Hull) and Martha (Jean Adair) and the celebrations are about to begin. Except for what he finds innocently stuffed into the window box seat! Things start to unravel in a most absurd manner as Mortimer tries to find a solution that will deflect suspicion away from his aunts and to his rather insane Uncle Teddy (John Alexander) who thinks he is President Teddy Roosevelt, and at the same time try and return some sanity to his own life! That might have been an easy enough task were it not for the sudden reappearance of his long-forgotten brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey) with his personal plastic surgeon Dr Einstein (Peter Lorre).

    Arsenic And Old Lace is a beautifully-handled story that is highlighted by the wonderful characterizations from what is an excellent cast. Sure Cary Grant is a little over-the-top in his facial expressions but that only adds to the absurdity of the comedy at times. He produces a great characterization of a normal man thrown into increasingly absurd situations in order to protect his favourite aunts. Jean Adair and Josephine Hull are absolutely terrific as the two dotty aunts (reprising their Broadway roles in the play), a highly amusing pair that have these characters down to an absolute T. The high point of their performances are the little subtle things, like the the little jumpy run they have, superbly indicative of something a little bit different from what they seem. Raymond Massey has a fair grasp of the other slightly insane member of the family and adds enormously to the absurdity, but to be honest is outshone by the brilliant Peter Lorre as his sidekick of sorts. Whilst he plays a role that is pretty familiar to him, since this is the sort of role that he was often asked to play, he never fails to add a sufficiently different veneer to his performance every time. Basically he seemed incapable of producing a bad performance. The role of Uncle Teddy required a really whacky portrayal and that is precisely what John Alexander provided. Superbly directed by Frank Capra, there is barely any fault in the composition of any scene in the film.

    All-in-all this is a superb film and a terrific testimonial to the art of Frank Capra. There is really little to complain about here and some of the absurd comedy is as good as you are ever going to see - and a demonstration of an art that really has to a large extent disappeared. Whilst by no means the best film he ever made, it is certainly one of the best half dozen he made and for any genuine fan of film is an essential addition to the collection. Thankfully, Warners have given it the sort of video treatment that it deserves.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    Yes, it is fifty-seven years old, but it wears the years lightly. Sure, it is not the best black-and-white transfer I have seen but there really is not much wrong with it and is probably as good as the film has looked in years.

    Since it predates general widescreen use by a number of years, the transfer is presented in a Full Frame format that closely approximates the 1.37:1 Academy ratio in which the film was originally presented. Obviously it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Whilst I could imagine a better black and white transfer, I seriously doubt that I will see it that often or that soon. This would rank amongst the better ones I have seen, especially for a film of its age, and you really cannot expect much better than that. Apart from a couple of lapses, some of which are the usual soft focus shots of the female lead, this is about as sharp and detailed a transfer as I could desire. There is certainly nothing here that tends to be oversharp and the result is an eminently watchable transfer. There are a few minor quibbles with the shadow detail at times, most notably the scene shot in the house without lighting other than light seeping in from other rooms, but this is not entirely unexpected in a film of this age and overall I really have no serious complaints here. The general quality of the detail is very good. The transfer is generally quite clear but like many a film of this age demonstrates just the odd hint of grain in the backgrounds that perhaps could have been reduced by using a dual layer DVD. There is just the odd hint of noise in some of the larger backgrounds in the transfer, but again nothing that I find too objectionable.

    The black and white tones here are very good indeed, with a very nice depth to the blacks in particular. Whilst it would have been too much to expect greater white tones, the overall colour is distinctive and has a lovely balance across the scales, without ever descending really into those murky grey tones that I hate. In its own way it is quite a vibrant transfer. There is nothing in the way of diffuseness of the tones and no bleed is evident.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were a couple of instances of aliasing in the transfer, with the most notable being at 9:02, but that would be the extent of the film-to-video artefacts. For a film of its age this is a very clean transfer and film artefacts are hardly any impediment to the film at all.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks on offer on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack. Not willing to make the review session any more difficult, I stuck to listening to the English soundtrack only.

    The dialogue comes up very well in the soundtrack, clear and easy to understand. There did not appear to be any audio sync problems in the transfer.

    The original musical score comes from one of the true greats of the genre in Max Steiner. Whilst this is not one of the truly great soundtracks from the man, it is still an excellent score that does a great job of supporting the film. Probably not deserving of an isolated music score, but better than many a soundtrack from lesser men.

   There is really not much to say about the soundtrack. Obviously lacking anything in the way of surround and bass channel use, the whole soundtrack is very frontal as is expected. In this instance, it suits the film well as it is entirely dialogue-driven - and the dialogue does not require any distraction at all. Despite its years, there is nothing here that is a distraction in the way of hiss, crackles or other distortions. Nothing truly spectacular but definitely more than adequate for the task required here.

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

Extras

    Well, the packaging indicates that there is nothing on the DVD, but in actuality there are a couple of things. Not much of a package I admit but then again the single layer DVD would not have allowed much more to be included in any case.

Menu

    Reasonably themed if nothing else.

Theatrical Trailer (2:44)

    This is almost a priceless gem in its own right and a terrific, albeit dated, piece of promotion for the film. Presented in the same Full Frame format as the feature with the same Dolby Digital 1.0 sound, this naturally is less pleasing to look at than the feature. It is a little darker and more prone to film artefacts, but probably better looking overall than expected.

Listing - Cast and Crew

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 the available, reliable online reviews indicate, the Region 1 release contains nothing more than the film. Given that they too indicate a general excellence in the transfer, it would appear that Region 4 is the region of choice with the minimal extras we have to add to PAL formatting.

Summary

    Arsenic And Old Lace is a terrific film that despite the over-the-top performance from Cary Grant succeeds as a sublime piece of comedy. You will rarely see absurd comedy of this quality and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this as an essential inclusion in any representative collection of films of the last century. You will not see it looking better than here and there is no real complaint with any aspect of the DVD. Just buy it.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Wednesday, May 23, 2001
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
DVDownUnder - Matt G

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) | Destination Tokyo (1943) | Night and Day (1946) | North by Northwest (1959) | Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)

Destination Tokyo (1943)

Destination Tokyo (1943)

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

Released 10-Nov-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Audio
Short Film-Gem Of The Ocean (21:50)
Trailer-Cary Grant Trailer Gallery
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1943
Running Time 129:22
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Delmer Daves
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Cary Grant
John Garfield
Alan Hale
John Ridgely
Dane Clark
Case ?
RPI Box Music Franz Waxman


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 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Dutch
Portuguese
Finnish
Swedish
Hungarian
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

    Debonair, suave and very gentlemanly Cary Grant is probably much better known for his romantic comedies and especially the goof ball comedies for which he was unsurpassed. So Destination Tokyo is something very different from the average Cary Grant film.

    The sole contribution of Cary Grant to the war effort, Destination Tokyo is very much a propaganda film and it does not bother to hide it at all. Cary Grant plays Captain Cassidy, captain of the U.S.S. Copperfin and an obviously well liked and experienced officer who may be on his way out of the silent service by way of promotion. What will be will be however, and his immediate concern is for the next tour of duty for which the orders have just been issued - curtailing his crew's leave just before Christmas. Casting away from San Francisco, the captain and crew know only that they are heading into the North Pacific as the orders will not be opened until they have been at sea for twenty four hours. So we get to meet the crew of the Copperfin as it sets off on its mission: men like Wolf (John Garfield) who seems to have nothing but dames on his mind, Mike (Tom Tully) the seasoned veteran who takes the newbies like Tommy Adams (Robert Hutton) under his wing, pharmacist mate Pills (William Prince) who got the job simply because he passed chemistry at college, Cookie (Alan Hale) who has a decent self preservation streak in him and Tin Can (Dane Clark), the son of a Greek émigré who has a yearning to kill some Japs. This collection of characters, who unlike a real crew seem incapable of bad language and any serious hijinks, and the rest form the band that Captain Cassidy is proud to lead.

    But once the orders are opened, things become really serious - no guessing where these guys are headed! Tokyo here they come, right smack bang into the middle of Tokyo Bay to land an aerologist (John Ridgely) in order to gather vital information for a special mission being put together by the Americans - the bombing of Tokyo by B-25 bombers being launched off the U.S.S. Hornet. Now all they have to do is actually get to Tokyo Bay, evading the Japanese Imperial Navy all the way, hide outside until an opportunity arises to get in through the submarine nets protecting the bay, land the small team to gather the information and then hide until the mission is over - then get the heck out of there all the way back to San Francisco. Nothing to it really - especially when this is the good old United States Navy.

    If you want nice, gritty, realistic stuff where they have not got a cat's chance in hell of pulling off this near-impossible mission, then you will not be looking at Destination Tokyo. There is no way the American public is going to be denied victory on this mission. So with little more than a heavy sweat from the captain, the crew's survival can in general be pretty much guaranteed - despite the efforts of about half the Imperial Navy to depth charge them into oblivion in Tokyo Bay.

    This is really one war film that has not weathered the passing of time too well. That is not to say that it is a bad film but rather that the level of reality here is rather superficial. The biggest problem the film faces in the digital medium, however, is that the effects are rather poor. Not that it starts out with ease anyway - as we all know, any special effects involving water were always the worst to try and carry off well, as water in miniature simply does not act in a realistic way. So when those obvious models start to churn across the obvious tank of water, realism is pretty well forgotten. Even worse are the underwater effects where the model submarine plays amongst underwater greenery that towers over it in size, amongst boulders that are unrealistically huge. I know it is not fair to d*** a film for the shortcomings of the time in which it was made, but this one really gets way too obvious at times and I feel this detracts from the gripping drama that is trying to be played out here.

    On the plus side of things, the cast do a pretty good job all in all and the story was reasonably decent.

    I don't recall having seen the film before, which would be rather remarkable given that this would seem to be ideal matinee fodder. Perhaps if I had seen it before my expectations would have been lower than they were, but sadly they weren't and so the film left me a little disappointed. Way too much propaganda stuff populates this film, and obviously so, with too many clichés included to boot, with the inevitable result that it is very much a product of its time and only its time. It is nice to have it on DVD, though, as anything by Cary Grant is well worth seeing, but I wish it left a rather more telling impression upon me than it has.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    Since the film was made during World War Two, you can pretty much guess that it was made in the old Academy ratio, very close to the 1.33:1 ratio that we have here. It is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    It should be noted straight out that the film does use stock footage for some sequences, as well as specific footage from actual events around which the film is based - most notably the B-25 bombers taking off from the U.S.S. Hornet for the raid on Tokyo. As such, you have to expect a rather wide variance in the quality of the material, and that is what we get here - the inconsistency might not be to everyone's taste but I had no real problems with it.

    The original film material is quite reasonably sharp and well detailed, although there are one or two places where the image does degrade noticeably to something a bit soft. Shadow detail is rather variable but rarely gets more better than average, perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the transfer. There is an occasional problem in the film material with light grain, but nothing too serious. The serious problem with grain is in the stock footage, which is at times well plagued with heavy grain. There is nothing in the way of low level noise and clarity is generally pretty good.

    The black and white image is also pretty good with good range across the grey scales in the film material. The stock footage is noticeably worse in this regard. The only time that the image degrades significantly is during some of the nighttime stuff where the poor shadow detail combines with some very black colour scales that really don't aid the film at all.

    There are nothing in the way of noticeable MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts are also noticeably absent, but everything changes when considering film artefacts: there are a fair dollop of them, and mostly quite noticeable. The opening two minutes or so of the film includes a rather noticeable scratch down the right hand side of the image and you fear the worst. It does get better after that but there are still plenty of issues - especially in the stock footage.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 64:18. 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 nine 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 is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, an English Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack that is presumably the original mono soundtrack for the film.

    Since it is more than likely the original soundtrack, making it over sixty years old, we really cannot complain too much about the quality on offer. The dialogue comes up fine in the soundtrack and there does not appear to be any audio sync issues.

    The original score comes from one of the greats of the art in Franz Waxman. This is not the best he ever did but it still has plenty of those Franz Waxman touches to it, being quite bold and dramatic and very well suited to the film. Its the sort of soundtrack that would be good to listen to on an isolated music track, even though it does not have a really distinctive theme to it.

    There really is not much to say otherwise about the soundtrack. Even though it is the original mono soundtrack, it is thankfully free from any major blemishes and the only issue of note is the occasional presence of some light hiss that is easy to ignore.

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

Extras

    Not an inspiring extras package, but still better than nothing at all.

Menu

    Nothing really special and the main menu comes with some slightly strident audio enhancement. They are rather perversely in widescreen format.

Short Film - Gem Of The Ocean (21:50)

    I am really struggling to understand why this of all things was chosen for inclusion in the extras package of Destination Tokyo. Aside from the fact that they have the sea as a setting there is nothing that remotely connects the short with the feature, at least as far as I can see. Dating from 1934, from what I can find out this is quite a rare film and is one of the very few films in which French singer Jeanne Aubert appears: she was apparently better known as a stage actor and singer, appearing frequently on Broadway in musical comedies. No, I had never heard of her either. Not at all my cup of tea and frankly eminently avoidable given the lack of any real connection with the feature film, the ordinary performances and the mediocre musical numbers. It is of course presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, very close to the Academy ratio of 1.37:1 of its theatrical presentation. The video is very much showing its age with film artefacts galore, with scratches, reel change markings and assorted specks amongst the problems noted. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 notably for the constant hiss throughout the presentation, to which crackles add occasional harmony. The sound is also a tad strident and ever so slightly out of sync at times. The setting is an ocean liner, presumably travelling from New York to France, and the story revolves around a French singer and her beau, and a thief. The short is described as a Wartime Short on the box set slick, adding to the lack of quality.

Cary Grant Trailer Gallery

    Presenting the theatrical trailers for all four films contained in The Cary Grant Collection, of which Destination Tokyo is one. The efforts for Arsenic And Old Lace (2:42) and North By Northwest (2:08) appear to be the same efforts as we have already seen in the separate releases of those films, so only the efforts for Destination Tokyo (2:09) and Night And Day (2:12) are actually new to us. All four suffer in some way, be it some fairly film artefact riddled video or some rather strident sound. That for Night And Day suffers too from some rather average colour, as well as being a bit dark. All barring North By Northwest are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 that is of course not 16x9 enhanced (North By Northwest is in 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced). The sound is uniformly 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.

    Destination Tokyo is 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, however, 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 a variation in the trailers: unlike the four available on this Region 4 version, the Region 1 version presents nine different trailers. It would appear that the general quality of the release is on a par with the Region 4.

    I have not been able to verify any other releases of the film on DVD, although presumably the same release will be forthcoming in Region 2. On the strength of the additional trailers however, the Region 1 release would be the version of choice on a technicality at the moment.

Summary

    Quite obviously a piece of propaganda, Destination Tokyo has really not worn the years well. Whilst some proclaim it amongst the better war films made during World War Two in Hollywood, I really cannot concur with that assessment. I really did not find it a gripping piece of work and its obvious lack of authenticity (everything is so sanitised it is not funny) weighs heavily against it. Also weighing heavily against it is the rather obvious special effects work, way less than stellar and brutally exposed in the digital era as such. This is perhaps one instance where the old VHS tape could hide a multitude of sins and thus the film's shortcomings were more easily hidden. It is still an enjoyable effort, though, and Cary Grant is always worthwhile watching, even though this is the sort of stuff that really was not his forté.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, November 29, 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
The DVD Bits - Nathan L

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) | Destination Tokyo (1943) | Night and Day (1946) | North by Northwest (1959) | Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)

Night and Day (1946)

Night and Day (1946)

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

Due Out for Sale 10-Nov-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

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.

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

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
Comments (Add)
Extras and picture quality - cztery

Overall | Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) | Destination Tokyo (1943) | Night and Day (1946) | North by Northwest (1959) | Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)

North by Northwest (1959)

North by Northwest (1959)

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

Released 3-May-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Ernest Lehman (Screenwriter)
Featurette-Destination Hitchcock:Making Of North By Northwest
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Isolated Musical Score
TV Spots
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 130:46
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (83:43) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Cary Grant
Eva Marie Saint
James Mason
Jessie Royce Landis
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Bernard Herrmann


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score 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
Italian
French
Spanish
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    It would seem that the comments I made in my review of Arsenic And Old Lace regarding the lack of back catalogue titles in Region 4 struck a chord with a number of readers. Well, the good news is that once again we have a good back catalogue title to review. Well, okay, a little better than good. For North By Northwest is arguably the best of the films from the true master of the suspense/thriller genre, Alfred Hitchcock. But it is an arguable point, for he did make some beauties: Rebecca, Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho amongst them, which does allow plenty of room for plenty of argument! What is undeniable is that the film is in the American Film Institute's Top 100 films of all time, and is well and truly ensconced in the top twenty five of the Internet Movie database Top 250 films of all time. Only great films can achieve such lofty accolades and this is a great film.

    This film really does have all the Hitchcockian touches in perhaps his best rounded effort. At its core is his favourite plot line - an ordinary man thrown into extraordinary circumstances and having to battle his way through them. The poor unfortunate in this instance is Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), an advertising executive on Madison Avenue. He is at a business meeting when he inadvertently asks a message boy about sending a telegram (remember those?) just when the message boy is seeking one George Kaplan. Thus is laid the case of mistaken identity that results in everything that follows! Everything that follows basically involves his kidnapping by a couple of unsavoury characters working for one Phillip Vandamm (James Mason), a businessman under investigation for his possible passing of secret information out of the United States - one of Phillip's investigators has been an elusive George Kaplan. Determined to finally be rid of Kaplan, Vandamm resolves to have Thornhill killed but he manages to avoid that fate. After escaping the clutches of death and the law, Thornhill/Kaplan decides to locate the mysterious Kaplan, but his first port of call results in him being framed for a murder which serves to complicate the process of clearing up what is going on. Along the way he meets up with a real agent by the name of Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) and naturally the sparks fly. Everything else will be revealed by watching the film.

    The end result is a quite brilliant film that is highlighted by a great story from Ernest Lehman and some great cinematography. However, this great film is a great blend of all aspects of film making: great acting, great effects, great story, great cinematography, great score. Even forty-odd years on, this remains an excellent film that stands well in comparison to films even one quarter its age.

    It is interesting to watch this film after Arsenic And Old Lace simply to see Cary Grant in action in his final collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock. This really is a superb acting job and is arguably the best thing he did (even though he received no Oscar for the performance). He brings to the role a certain charm, wit and intelligence that certainly indicates exactly why he would have been a great James Bond (unfortunately he was too old when the Bond franchise was in its infancy). He is perfectly complemented by the beautiful Eva Marie Saint, Alfred Hitchcock's personal choice for the role even though the studio wanted to use other contracted actresses including Cyd Charise. Goes to show that Mr Hitchcock had a far better grasp of film-making than the studio executives, and it is difficult to imagine the role of the femme fatale spy being played by anyone else nowadays. The often underrated James Mason brings a very stylish portrayal of the baddie to the film that is not often encountered in film. So basically across the board the performances are top notch and even the smaller roles like Clara Thornhill, Roger's mother, is delightfully played by Jessie Royce Landis. The backdrop against which these performances were brought to life ranged from the streets of New York to the Mount Rushmore National Monument, settings which used the Vistavision format of the film to the utmost. However, the film did use a lot of special effects, mainly through the use of matte backgrounds and projected backgrounds. Whilst these were very much state-of-the-art in 1959, they are decidedly passé nowadays and in the digital medium it is easy to pick up where backgrounds have been inserted or projected. This is perhaps the one disappointing aspect of the film, but it does give the film a different feel to it. Rounding out a great package is a terrific score from a true great of the genre.

    There is no doubt that this is a rare classic film that thoroughly deserves its lofty status on the AFI Top 100 list, and there is really no excuse for this not being in every film collection.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is actually quite contemporary to my own life since it was first released way back in 1959, the year of my birth. Naturally enough, I have never seen the film before for some reason, even though it has long been on my list of must-see films. Well, I might have waited my entire life to see it (quite literally), but the wait was well worth it.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which is very close to the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Thankfully the transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    Some time ago I made mention in a review about the tendency of early Technicolor films to be oversaturated, which broadly affected the clarity of the transfer. Well, this transfer is the exception that proves the rule! This is a d*** fine transfer all things considered. It is quite sharp throughout without having to resort to edge enhancement. In fact, the stunning and original opening credits shine like a film less than half this age. Really quite unbelievable stuff. The transfer is blessed with good to very good detail throughout, and there are certainly no complaints about the depth to the transfer presented here. Shadow detail is quite excellent too, with even the night-time scenes not presenting any sort of issue here. Clarity is excellent and there is little or no evidence of grain at all. There is also no evidence of noise in the transfer.

    Rather than the slightly oversaturated tones of Technicolor films of the era, this one has a slightly undersaturated look to it at times. Overall, it presents an excellent palette of colours throughout and is usually very vibrant. Even though there is not much in the way of bright colours here, and the night-time scenes are just a little too light for my taste, the transfer is in general very believable. As a train buff, the excellence in the transfer for me is highlighted by the excellence of the colours on the New York Central diesel locomotives: these are really quite accurate representations indeed. There are plenty of other examples, not the least of which is in the Townsend residence. The tones are consistently solid throughout and the blacks in particular have a fine depth to them for a film of this age. There are no issues with oversaturation here at all, and colour bleed is also not an issue. The only thing of note is that the first half of the film seems to be slightly better in quality than the second half - but that is a very relative difference, sort of like comparing the excellence of colour in a Van Gogh painting compared to a Manet painting.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were a couple of instances of aliasing in the transfer, but these were generally of a quite minor nature: the worst example is perhaps the car grille at at 66:42, but even that was hardly a great distraction. There did not appear to be any other film-to-video artefacts. I was quite stunned by the lack of film artefacts in the transfer: I failed to note any of consequence at all.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming mid-scene at 83:43. Whilst it was not too disruptive to the film, it really was a little too obvious and I cannot help but feel that it could have been better handled.

    Overall, this is another quite excellent remastering from this source and clearly demonstrates that when the time is taken to do the job properly, the quality that can be obtained in older film transfers can be quite exceptional.

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

Audio

    There are four soundtracks on offer on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an Italian 1.0 soundtrack, an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack and an Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack. I sampled the English soundtrack, the English Audio Commentary and extensively sampled the Isolated Music Score.

    The dialogue and music come up very well in the soundtrack, clear and easy to understand. There did not appear to be any audio sync problems in the transfer, apart from the famous (or infamous, depending upon your point of view) dubbed line during the dining car sequence on the train: the one where Eve is looped saying "I never discuss love on an empty stomach" but actually is mouthing "I never make love on an empty stomach".

    The original musical score comes from another of the true greats in Bernard Herrmann, who did more than a few Hitchcock films. Whilst probably best known for Vertigo, this is another great soundtrack with a very hauntingly original opening theme. Listening to the Isolated Music Score just illustrates how great the soundtrack is, and how effective it is in underpinning the action sequences of the film. Utterly superb stuff and deserving of the Isolated Music Score treatment.

   When I saw that this had a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, I had fears that it may have been inappropriately handled. I should not have held such fears for the remastering has been done in an entirely sympathetic manner. There has been no attempt to add too much into the mix, but rather to subtly improve the overall soundscape somewhat from what I would presume was the original mono. So, there is no great improvement in rear channel ambience and surround channel use is relatively restrained, used to just open up the sound a fair degree and to ensure that there is no congestion in the sound.

    The bass channel does not get great use, but is brought into action only when really necessary - such as during the plane crash and subsequent explosion. Even this has been done in a nicely restrained manner so that it does not come across as a falsely enhanced portion of the overall soundscape.

    Really, the whole soundtrack ends up being an entirely believable effort that is more open than I would have expected and is remarkably free of any blemishes. An excellent example of remastered sound in an older film.

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

Extras

    For a film of this age, we have been given a most gratifying extras package.

Menu

    A rather striking animation introduces the main menu, which also features some nicely handled animation and audio enhancement. Very nicely done without being garish. The menus are 16x9 enhanced.

Listing - Cast and Crew

Audio Commentary - Ernest Lehman (Screenwriter)

    This is unlikely to make anyone's list of the top commentaries available on Region 4 DVD. He has a rather relaxed approach to the whole deal and there are extensive periods of silence. Some of the commentary has obviously been lifted from the interviews conducted for the featurette, which does not add to the enjoyment either. There is not an awful lot of film enhancing stuff here, but I suppose that any sort of commentary for a forty one year old film is an unexpected bonus, irrespective of the actual content. Possibly worthwhile suffering through this once but I really doubt that you would ever want to listen to it a second time.

Featurette - Destination Hitchcock: The Making Of North By Northwest (39:29)

    With the added bonus of being hosted by Eva Marie Saint, this really is a terrific effort. Loaded with behind-the-scenes stuff and plenty of interview input from some of the crew as well as Hitchcock's daughter Pat. Presented in a Full Frame format, which is not 16x9 enhanced, it comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. I found this to be very enjoyable and informative, and it certainly does not pull too many punches. You will love the goof that they point out during the climactic scene of the film!

Theatrical Trailer (2:10)

    This is actually the re-release trailer and not the original trailer. Whilst that is a tad unfortunate, there is not much else to complain about here. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound. The sound is a little strident, but otherwise the quality is very good with no really distracting film artefacts.

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 1 release differs from the Region 4 in having the original theatrical trailer as well as the re-release theatrical trailer. It also appears to have full cast and crew biographies. Reliable reviews would indicate that the technical quality of the Region 1 release is very much on a par with the Region 4 release, so I suppose it gets down to whether that additional theatrical trailer is worth the cost of importation. Call this one even.

Summary

    North By Northwest is a classic film in every sense of the word and should be in every representative film collection. It has been given a generally superb video transfer and a wonderful audio transfer. The extras package is a heck of a lot more than I was expecting for a forty one year old film. Another film that I wholeheartedly recommend you add to your collection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Friday, May 25, 2001
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
DVDownUnder - Matt G
DVD Net - Paul D (read my bio here or check out my music at MP3.com.)

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) | Destination Tokyo (1943) | Night and Day (1946) | North by Northwest (1959) | Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)

Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)

Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)

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

Released 10-Nov-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

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...

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

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