A Delicate Balance (1973)

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Released 13-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Crew-Edward Albee (Writer)
Interviews-Crew-David Watkin (Cinematographer)
Interviews-Cast-Besty Blair-Reisz (Actor)
Trailer-American Film Theatre Trailer Gallery (7)
Notes-AFT Cinebill For A Delicate Balance
Notes-Article - "Edward Albee And A Delicate Balance
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 128:03 (Case: 133)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (102:38) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Tony Richardson
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Katharine Hepburn
Paul Scofield
Lee Remick
Kate Reid
Joseph Cotten
Betsy Blair
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English 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 None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    This release in the American Film Theater series is Tony Richardson's film of Edward Albee's play. After the experience of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which Albee considered had succeeded almost by accident, the author wanted to retain some creative control over his work. On this film he had casting approval and was involved in much of the production. He was not able to get his original choice of director (Ingmar Bergman!), but he did manage to attract an exceptional cast.

    There isn't really a great deal of plot to this film. It deals with relationships within a family and is very much a dialogue-driven rather than a plot-driven play. Tobias (Paul Scofield) and Agnes (Katharine Hepburn) live in a fine old home. Agnes worries about growing old and losing her faculties. Her sister Claire (Kate Reid) is an alcoholic. Tobias and Agnes had two children: Teddy, who is dead, and Julia (Lee Remick), whose fourth marriage has just failed and is returning home. But before she gets there Tobias and Agnes get a visit from their old friends Harry (Joseph Cotten) and Edna (Betsy Blair), who have had a senior moment and decide to move into Julia's old room.

    The performances are all very good. Hepburn shows some of the signs of her Parkinson's-like affliction, but is still much like the girlish actress of forty years earlier. Scofield at this time rarely appeared in films (despite having won an Oscar) but still manages not to seem theatrical in his portrayal. Kate Reid is very good despite having come onto the project very late following the dismissal of Kim Stanley (ironically because of her alcoholism).

    The play deals with the issues of growing old, of dependency and loneliness. While it is not especially profound there is plenty of choice dialogue for the actors to work with, and as in the works of Shakespeare much of the enjoyment comes from listening to the actors delivering long speeches. The work is as much a pleasure for the ears as for the mind. A couple of times this comes unstuck (for example in Agnes' final speech), but with intelligent direction by Richardson this doesn't jar very much. I had not seen this film before, but I think it is one of the best in the AFT series.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is transferred in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.

    The transfer is not bad compared to previous releases in this series, but is still not as good as would be hoped. The transfer is reasonably sharp and detailed. Colour is acceptable but it does look a bit washed out. Contrast is also acceptable. There are no significant problems with shadow detail.

    As in the previous discs in this series, there are some compression artefacts. Low level noise is often visible, and there are MPEG artefacts apparent in backgrounds. The transfer is grainy but not excessively so. Film artefacts are limited to white spots and occasional larger damage that appears on screen briefly. Some telecine wobble is evident.

    There are no subtitles provided. The disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change at 102:38, placed at a cut.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, reflecting the original audio mix.

    Dialogue is clear throughout. The audio is a little harsh and sibilant, not really sounding as though it was in a realistic acoustic. Given that the dialogue is the key to this play, this is unfortunate.

    There is no music score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The menu is animated with a brief snippet from the film, with some music that, while it doesn't appear in the film, seems to be the theme for the DVD series.

Interviews-Crew-Edward Albee (Writer) (19:41)

    An interview with the playwright conducted during the late 1990s or early 2000s, in which he discusses in depth his involvement with the making of the film. Unlike the other extras, this material is not 16x9 enhanced, though it is widescreen.

Interviews-Crew-David Watkin (Cinematographer) (24:47)

    This is a generic interview for the series, in which Watkin discusses his use of lighting, especially in The Homecoming. He seems quite chipper and has some anecdotes about Hepburn.

Interviews-Cast-Besty Blair-Reisz (Actor)(19:54)

    This is the best interview on the disc, as Blair talks candidly about the movie and her experiences on it.

Trailer-American Film Theatre Trailer Gallery (18:32)

    Seven trailers for releases in this series.

Notes-AFT Cinebill For A Delicate Balance

    This contains four articles that were included on the cinebill given to the original subscribers to the AFT seasons. They comprise a reminiscence of Hepburn by George Cukor, notes by Albee on getting his films to the screen, and articles on Tony Richardson and Paul Scofield.


    A handful of production and publicity stills.

Notes-Article - "Edward Albee And A Delicate Balance"

    A biographical article by Michael Feingold.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 release appears to be identical to both the UK Region 1 and the US Region 2.


    One of the better entries in the AFT series, with a very good cast.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    There are some useful extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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