Lady on a Train (1945)

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Released 7-Nov-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy thriller None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1945
Running Time 90:34
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Charles David
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Deanna Durbin
David Bruce
Ralph Bellamy
George Coulouris
Dan Duryea
Edward Everett Horton
Patricia Morrison
Elizabeth Patterson
William Frawley
Allen Jenkins
Jacqueline De Wit
Case Custom Packaging
RPI Box Music Miklos Rosza
Cole Porter


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, Nightclub society smoking
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   

    Good news for those contemplating buying the nineteen disc set  Deanna Durbin : The Collection! Roadshow have announced an April price drop to $150 "for Mother's Day".

   

" It's Deanna ... on a man (Oh! Man!) Hunt !"

     Another big surprise in the Deanna Durbin box set! Lady On a Train is an excellent comedy thriller. It has murder, suspense, comedy, sex, glamour, three songs and a top production. The comedy thriller is a difficult genre, requiring a style that today's moviemakers never seem to have. This sharp little movie is a lesson in how to do it.


    Start with a good script. From a story by Leslie Charteris, creator of The Saint, Edmond Beloin and Robert O'Brien, writers for Jack Benny, produced a screenplay that was fast and witty, witty not only in the actual dialogue but in the entire structure of the plot. It bounces from incident to incident , from comedy to suspense and back again with enormous energy. The story opens in a train on an elevated New York track. A young lady (Deanna Durbin) is intently reading a thriller, The Case of the Headless Bride by Wayne Morgan. The train grinds to a halt and, through the train window and the window of a building adjacent to the track, she witnesses a brutal murder. Once at Grand Central Station she hurries to the police station but the desk sergeant (William Frawley) does not believe her story - seems she's a thriller addict. The young lady, we now know she is Nikki Collins, decides to turn detective and tracks down the thriller author Wayne Morgan (David Bruce) to enlist his "professional" assistance. Here she is again rebuffed. Nikki uncovers the identity of the murdered man - in a very funny scene I will not spoil - and in the dark of night goes to his eerie mansion. From this point Nikki becomes involved with the alternately spooky and nutty relatives, masquerades as the dead man's nightclub singer girlfriend, finds herself in death threatening situations, and finally unmasks the dastardly culprit. To give away details would be mean, as there is so much pleasure in watching them unfold. This is a terrific, tight script.


    Get the right cast. Who would have though that this was material for Deanna Durbin? She is delightful. Blonde and beautiful, kittenish and sexy, she is a wonderful lady in distress. There are three musical "numbers". She croons Silent Night over the phone to her father, photographed by Woody Bredell looking like a Playboy covergirl - in 1945 it would have been "looking like a Petty girl". She performs the cute Give Me A Little Kiss (Pinkard / Turk / Smith) in a nightclub setting looking and sounding like a seductively sexy 40s big band singer, and then there is a full voiced Night and Day, again in the nightclub and happily including the verse to this Cole Porter classic. The songs, however, are incidental and not an important feature of the movie. They just happen to be so darn good.


    David Bruce is very good in this film. After impressing in Christmas Holiday and a thankless small role in Can't Help Singing, he finally has the male lead and he carries it off perfectly. At times like a young William Powell, he is extremely funny, very good in the physical comedy, and makes a handsome romantic partner for Durbin. Also worth singling out are a young Dan Duryea with some very funny lines as "Cousin Arnold" , Ralph Bellamy as "Cousin Jonathan", a cat stroking George Coulouris, Morgan's society model girlfriend Patricia Morrison (Broadway's Kiss Me Kate star), Elizabeth Patterson's extremely odd "Aunt Charlotte" and, by no means least, Edward Everett Horton as Deanna's New York "guardian". A quality cast with no exception.


    Produced by Felix Jackson, Miss Durbin's second husband, production values are top. There is some clunky rear projection of the heroine walking along railroad tracks, but this was 1945. Compensating for this there is some unexpected location work on the track, using a double. Mansion sets, nightclubs, apartments all look great, as do the costumes. Direction by Charles David, who was to be Miss Durbin's third and final husband - until his death in 1999, is slick, fast and inventive, whether in the comic or the suspenseful scenes. Photography was first class, with Woody Bredell excelling in every shot, from extreme glamour close-up to mountains of grain in a warehouse.

 The musical score is by a master, Miklos Rosza. As well as the nerve tingling suspenseful and dramatic passages, Rosza has supplied some extremely humorous and whimsical underscoring for the many comic scenes in the film.


    A totally unexpected pleasure. If you enjoy movies like The Thin Man series, I totally recommend this to you. It's fast, funny and suspenseful and, if you were buying a ticket, it would be worth the price of admission to see this blonde, sexy and beautifully funny Deanna.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This release of Lady on A Train provides a very good print of the film, with a similar soundtrack.
     
    The image is presented in a 4x3 transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the original presentation having been 1.37:1.
    The titles have been slightly reduced to accommodate all of the written information.

    The print used appears to be undoctored, without any restoration. Reel cues are still in evidence.
    
    The image is steady and sharp, even the close ups looking very good, with almost undetectable grain.
    Shadow detail is  pleasing, notably in the many night scenes.
    The transfer reproduces the original picture very nicely. Blacks are deep and solid - the "creepy" scenes look very good - and the whites do not flare.
    The grey scale is very good and makes for a most attractive black and white image.
     
    Film to video effects were difficult to find, with just a few cases of low level noise noted.
    

    Film artefacts are also hard to find, apart from the occasional white fleck.
    As stated above, reel cues are still in place, but there is no damage at the ends of reels. There is a slight jump during the opening Universal trademark.
    There may have been some slight sprocket damage, resulting in a momentary jitter of the image (24:50) and a negative scratch was seen for a few seconds (28:40).
    Not one trace of debris was noted.
    

    This appears to be an unrestored print of the film, with consistent quality from reel to reel. It is basically in good, clean condition and delivers a solid, reliable and enjoyable image. .

    There are no subtitles and the disc is single layered.
    
    

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

Audio

    The audio on this unrestored print is very pleasing, with not one major problem.
    There is only one language, English, in a Dolby Digital 2.0 reproduction of the original mono Western Electric Noiseless Recording.
    There are no sync problems.
    
    
    At times a background "rumble" can be detected, but you really have to put your ear to the speaker to hear it.
    There is a small amount of crackle throughout some scenes, while in others there is a total background "silence".
    No "pops" were heard, even at the reel changes.

    The clarity of the sound on this film is extremely pleasing. The human voice is produced sharply and cleanly - in dialogue and song. There is no trace of distortion.
    Miklos Rosza's  background orchestrations sound very impressive, full and detailed, with individual instruments clearly defined. This is an imaginative score, suspenseful and dramatic at times, and humorous and playful at others. The quality of the mono sound makes it possible to really enjoy Rosza's music.
    
    There are no dropouts.
 

   

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

Extras

    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 Lady On A Train - there are no extras on the entire nineteen discs, not even a trailer.
    The inside of the cover slick has small reproductions of seven stills from the film, and the sheet music cover for Silent Night, Holy Night.
    The picture disc reproduces the title's cover.
    There are no subtitles.

Menu    
   

    
    All menu screens are 4x3.
    

    The main menu design is extremely basic. The screen comprises one still from the film, with orchestral audio.
    The options are :
        Play Film
       Scene Index: Selecting this option gives a new screen with another still and a list of ten scenes. No thumbnails, no sound.

R4 vs R1

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

    

    Region 1 has released Lady On A Train in the Deanna Durbin : Sweetheart Pack along with Three Smart Girls, Something In the Wind, First Love, It Started With Eve  and Can't Help Singing. This issue has thumbnails for the Scene Selection screen on Lady On A Train.
    
    The nineteen titles box set is available in Region 2 where it is more than double the Australian price. Lady On A Train  is also available separately.

Summary

     Lady On A Train  is a tight, taught comedy / thriller. Expertly written and produced it is a delightful, sometimes suspenseful, romp that hits the bullseye with every shot. A surprising entertainment treat and a real audience pleaser.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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