The Front Page (Directors Suite) (1974)
Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Hollywood Remembers - Walter Matthau
Featurette-Hollywood Remembers - Jack Lemmon
|Year Of Production||1974|
|Running Time||100:22 (Case: 105)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (80:52)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Billy Wilder|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In 1974, Billy Wilder was coming towards the end of a long and illustrious career as a movie director, writer and producer. He was nominated for a staggering 21 Oscars during his career, winning 6. This film, The Front Page was his third last film as a director and is the most recent film in the Madman Billy Wilder Collection. Despite not being nominated for any Oscars itself, it was nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Comedy or Musical and Best Actor noms for co-stars Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. On the other hand, if the Razzies had been invented in 1974 I feel sure that Carol Burnett would have been given a nod for her portrayal here. This is a quality film and one which I certainly enjoyed watching, although modern audiences would probably find it dated and the very play-like screenplay hard to contend with. It is, of course, based on a play by Ben Hecht & Charles Macarthur which has actually been made into a film a number of times. The most famous other versions are probably, His Girl Friday, starring Cary Grant and directed by Howard Hawks from 1940 and the 1980's comedy Switching Channels starring Kathleen Turner and Burt Reynolds.
The Front Page (which is also the name of the stage play) follows a day in the life of Hildy Johnston (Jack Lemmon) an ace newspaper reporter for the Chicago Examiner and his amoral boss, Walter Burns (Walter Matthau), the editor. Hildy has decided to resign from his job and get married to his sweetheart, Peggy Grant (a young Susan Sarandon). The plan is also to move with her to Philadelphia and work for her father. Walter, naturally, does not want his ace reporter to leave and tries a number of ways to get him to stay. He especially does not want Hildy to leave on this particular day as a major story is breaking. A convicted cop killer, Earl Williams, is due to be hung the following morning and all the best reporters in Chicago are gathering at the press room located above the scaffold, which is being erected in the jail courtyard. Hildy only turns up to wish his newspaper colleagues goodbye but the details of the case start to draw him in, especially as it becomes obvious that more is going on than just the proposed hanging. Carol Burnett appears as Earl's friend, Molly Malloy, a prostitute with heart. He performance is very ordinary and jars badly with the rest of the film. In fact, the whole character is hard to believe and quite superfluous.
If you can get past the very stagey production there is much to enjoy in this film with excellent performances from the leads, snappy dialogue and some very funny moments. There is also some quality political satire in amongst the other humour. There is some obvious use of 'comedy' fast forward which also dates the film. Recommended, certainly for fans of the director or stars.
The video quality is good but not overwhelmingly so.
The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.
The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout although some scenes were softer than others. There was no evidence of low level noise. There is some light grain to be seen throughout especially noticeable at 2:53 and 16:51.The shadow detail was reasonable.
The colour was good generally (despite being a little pale) although there was some bleeding from light colours which affected the sharpness.
Aliasing was quite noticeable throughout. Examples can be seen at 2:45, 3:09 & 3:40. There were also some jagged edges.
There are no subtitles which is annoyingly common on Madman releases.
The layer change occurs at 80:52 causing quite a bad pause.
The audio quality is good.
This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s.
Dialogue was very clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.
The score of this film consists mostly of trad jazz which adds to the dated feeling of proceedings, although obviously suits the late 1920s/early 1930s.
The surround speakers were not used.
The subwoofer gets some minor use on my set-up kicking in for music in the credits and an scene involving an organ..
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu design is simple to operate and includes some music from the soundtrack.
A very light look at the career of Walter Matthau which very briefly covers his childhood and war service but mostly consists of scenes from movie trailers with a voiceover. No real insights.
Very similar to the Matthau one, mostly movie trailers with a voiceover.
A pan & scanned trailer for the film which is in much worse condition than the main feature.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
On this basis Region 4 wins unless you need subtitles.
The video quality is good but no overwhelmingly so.
The audio quality is good.
The set has a few extras but nothing of any great quality.
|DVD||Pioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output|
|Display||Sony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Monitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer|