Hers to Hold (1943)
|Year Of Production||1943|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Frank Ryan|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, Frequent social smoking : War time.|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Hers To Hold was the third time Deanna Durbin was to play Penny Craig, the "smart girl" of 1936 who "grew up" in 1939. However, in 1943 the world was at war and the movies reflected those tumultuous times. Perhaps hedging their bets, Universal surrounded Miss Durbin with the tried and true, but were brave enough to venture into a more socially responsible film world. As a result Hers to Hold is an at times uncomfortable mix of romantic comedy and romantic drama, with quite a lot of "home front" footage thrown in. Nevertheless there are ingredients here that make this a worthy film experience - despite the condition of the print.
The screenplay, by Lewis R. Foster out of a story by John D. Klore, has rich young woman Penny Craig (Deanna Durbin) enjoying all that money can buy. Penny still lives with Father and Mother (Charles Winninger and Nella Walker once again), while the other two, never seen "girls" have married. Also dwelling in the Craig mansion is Binns, the Butler, (Ludwig Stossel replacing Ernest Cossart). Penny meets, and falls in love with, flyer Bill Morley (Joseph Cotten), taking a job on the production line in an aircraft factory to prove her love and do her bit in the war effort. Bill, a fatalist about his future, resists serious attachment, and after romantic interludes on beaches, in cars and elsewhere, he breaks up with Penny. So the scene is set for heartbreak, reunion and farewell, this movie evidently being a triple hanky piece in 1943. The first section of the film is pure romantic comedy fluff, with Deanna back in the comfort zone of her earlier films. To the credit of all concerned, the shift to romantic drama is seamless and it is only the lengthy factory segments that fracture the movie. Almost documentary in their execution - apart from the accelerated race by the star to get back to work on time - these sections are a tribute to the war effort of the wives, mothers and girlfriends back home, who staffed the factories while their men were "overseas". Some of the footage is fascinating with Deanna, wide-eyed, awestruck and proud, admiring the construction work. Watching a plane being craned cross the workplace floor Deanna is informed, "That's a B 17". "Oh! A flying fortress!" she replies in wonder. Such emotional flag waving - for want of a better term - was common in films of the early 40s. It is commendable and historically interesting, but the narrative does suffer. One of the great things about all art is that in some way it must reflect its time. I wonder what the future will make of the current popular obsessions that are reflected in movies - violence, vulgarity and cars.
Deanna Durbin's performance has all her usual qualities - humour, naturalness, charm and warmth. She glides through the early scenes effortlessly, at her mature mischievous best, and then handles the later emotional scenes with surprising depth. She also looks beautiful, slim and trim ,whether in Adrian gowns or factory overalls. A huge contributor to the success of this movie lies in the performance of Joseph Cotten, one of the very best Hollywood actors of the 40s. (In the same year the actor appeared brilliantly in what many consider Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Shadow of a Doubt.) Tall, handsome and possessed with a beautiful speaking voice, Cotten always was able to present a calm, suave exterior, while at the same time suggest dark, psychological depths. He is wonderful in the early comedic scenes, so unusual for him, and then makes the film's transition into a more serious mode totally inevitable. Miss Durbin is at her very best working with the him. The publicity shot on the cover of the disc's slick says it all.
There was not a dud in the supporting cast. Charles Winninger is so much better than when in his "old trouper" routine at MGM, Nella Walker partnering him with charm and grace. Gus Schilling contributes valuable comedy as Cotten's buddy, while Evelyn Ankers has some effective moments as an old flame.
Musically Deanna proved that she still had what it takes. There is a fiery Seguidilla from Carmen, Kashmiri Love Song, God Bless America, an exciting Begin the Beguine and, to most popular acclaim, one new song in Say a Prayer for the Boys Over There - Oscar nominated, but beaten by You'll Never Know.
Not a great movie by any means, Hers to Hold remains a sentimental "weepie" with considerable entertainment value, despite the documentary element. The mixture of romantic comedy and drama works remarkably well, due to the personalities and considerable talents of the two stars.
Now for the bad news. This transfer of Hers to Hold is a major disappointment.
The image is presented in a 4x3 transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the original presentation having been 1.37:1.
Although there are no actual missing frames, every other conceivable kind of damage or flaw seems to be present.
There is hardly one frame that does not have some form of debris.
The film seems to be compiled from a number of sources.
Reel one begins with considerable damage, with bad scratches (09:38) and numerous noise reduction problems (13:28).
The second reel is alarmingly "washed out", but does have less debris.
The third reel has some major debris problems on the right hand edge of the screen from 56:20 to 57:00. I initially thought a mouse was climbing up my plasma screen!
At 57:00 there is a relatively short lived bout of the shutter jitters.
There is more major debris again at 58:08.
During Reel 4 the image is cleaner but not as sharp. In addition the image continually moves in and out of focus.
In the last reel the screen frequently becomes extremely dark, with the edges of the image disappearing into blackness. I haven't seen this sort of thing since the very early days of TV with telecine prints of old movies, or in very bad transfers of old "public domain" movies.
The image is watchable, but only barely. At least the film is all there.
There are no subtitles and the disc is single layered.
The audio is also disappointing.
There is only one language, English, in a Dolby Digital 2.0 reproduction of the original mono Western Electric Noiseless Recording.
The dialogue is clear, more a tribute to the actors of the time than to the quality of the disc.
There are no sync problems.
The sound on the first reel is harsh and has distortion on all loud passages.
The second "washed out" reel has louder, brighter and clearer sound, but there is still distortion on loud passages.
Distortion mars all vocals. I am sure that Begin the Beguine was an exciting interlude, but not with this sound.
There is constant background "rumble" and frequent crackles and pops.
There are no dropouts.
|Surround Channel Use|
The box set of nineteen movies on nineteen discs contains a Sixteen Page Souvenir Booklet.
Apart from this booklet and the Stills Galleries on five of the titles - no gallery on Hers to Hold - there are no other extras on the entire nineteen discs, not even a trailer. The reverse of the slick for Hers to Hold contains small reproductions of seven stills and one poster.
The picture disc reproduces the title's cover.
There are no subtitles.
All menu screens are 4x3.
The main menu design is extremely basic. The screen comprises two stills from the film, with orchestral audio.
The options are :
Scene Index: Selecting this option gives a new screen with two further stills and a list of ten scenes. No thumbnails, no sound.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Region 1 does not have a current release of Hers to Hold.
The nineteen title box set is available in Region 2 where it is more than double the Australian price. Hers to Hold is also available separately or in The Deanna Durbin Collection : Box 3, which also includes It Started With Eve, Up In Central Park, Nice Girl? and His Butler's Sister.
|DVD||Onkyo-SP500, using Component output|
|Display||Philips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|