Love Story (1944)
|Category||Drama||Main Menu Audio & Animation-Live footage in cinema recreation, vintage projector audio.|
|Year Of Production||1944|
|Running Time||108:13 (Case: 107)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Leslie Arliss|
Beyond Home Entertainment
|Case||6 Clip and Ring|
|RPI||Box||Music||Hubert Bath - "Cornish Rhapsody"|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, Pat Roc unattractively smokes almost constantly.|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Beyond Home Entertainment have recently given us the release of a number of movies under the banner Classic Matinee Triple Bill. Each case contains three separate discs, with three separate titles featuring the same leading actor. The first of these sets that I have seen is Classic Stewart Granger, which contains that actor's Love Story (1944), Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) and Blanche Fury (1948).
Although the slick for this release claims that these films are all "gems from the (J.Arthur) Rank catalogue", Love Story - renamed A Lady Surrenders in the U.S.- was actually produced by Gainsborough Pictures, with the famous logo of the Gainsborough Lady still elegantly intact at the beginning of this release. J. Arthur Rank was to purchase the entire Gainsborough organization during the production of Caesar and Cleopatra the following year, including the services on Gainsborough's contract stars. Gainsborough had been a company initially famed for its comedies, but during the years of World War II a new genre became recognized as the mainstay of Gainsborough productions. With the appearance of The Man in Grey (1943), Gainsborough became forever associated with "a group of lurid and often ludicrous melodramas". These romantic offerings were frequently period costume pieces, but their themes and attitudes were strongly tied to the particular social pressures on British women in wartime, many of them forming romantic, basically sexual, relationships with soldiers they might never set eyes on again. Although Love Story is not in the customary Gainsborough period melodramatic mould, it does feature a central woman whose life is determined by external social forces, and it also features three of Gainsborough's leading stars Stewart Granger, Patricia Roc and Gainsborough's biggest female star, Margaret Lockwood. (The other two major Gainsborough stars were James Mason and the delightful Phyllis Calvert.)
In his autobiography Sparks Fly Upward, Stewart Granger has only this to say of Love Story: " ... it was crap. I played a man going blind. The villagers dislike me as they think I should be in the army. Why don't I tell them I'm going blind? Margaret Lockwood is dying of some unnamed disease. We meet. I don't tell her I'm going blind. She doesn't tell me she's dying. The audience knows all this but we don't. We fall in love. Great stuff! She is a pianist/composer and writes the Cornish Rhapsody - the best thing in the film, incidentally - and so it goes on. I was wrong, of course. It was a smash hit and there wasn't a dry eye in the house."
Margaret Lockwood was the biggest British female star of the early forties. Having starred for Alfred Hitchcock in The Lady Vanishes, Miss Lockwood's screen image became forever associated with the Gainsborough films The Man in Grey and The Wicked Lady (1945) - was any lady ever so wicked on screen? Immediately after the conclusion of the war the popularity of the actress promptly waned. Despite trying, she seemed unable to shake her so firmly established wicked and wayward screen persona, which was out of place in the new post-war morality. The actress did have later success on television when she starred as no-nonsense barrister Julia Stanford in Justice from 1971 to 1974, and she still looked stunningly glamorous in her final film, The Slipper and the Rose in 1976. Here in Love Story the star is directed once again by Leslie Arliss, who had helmed both The Man in Grey and The Wicked Lady. Under his efficient and clean direction, the actress plays a dying concert pianist, displaying more charm and sweetness than in most of her screen appearances. Making a fine fist of the pantomimed piano playing in the climactic six minute performance of Cornish Rhapsody, she creates an attractive and sympathetic heroine. Stewart Granger is all large-framed handsome masculinity, and is as equally charming. The actor was unusual for British cinema, indeed also for American cinema of the time, with a large burly frame, proudly displaying his massive torso when the opportunity arose. This was an era when most male stars were on the slim side, and a leading man who bared a generous torso - Granger, Ricardo Montalban, Victor Mature, Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster - was fairly rare, creating quite a stir in the stalls (that's "downstairs" to any youngster reading this) when his chest was bared. Along with his Gainsborough co-stars, Granger’s contract was bought by Rank , and later in 1950 the actor moved to Hollywood under a lengthy contract with MGM. Under Leo's banner he was to score heavily with King Solomon's Mines, Young Bess, Bhowani Junction and The Little Hut amongst many others less notable. Then came freelancing years, the actor working consistently through to his death.. If we are to believe his autobiography, Granger was more interested in extra-curricular macho activates, such as hunting, than his actual work on the screen.
Also in the cast is prettily attractive Patricia Roc, Gainsborough's resident ingénue, here with a little more spine and venom than usual. Unfortunately Miss Roc is required by the script to smoke in almost all her scenes. She looks extremely awkward with a cigarette dangling from her fingers or her lips, continually asking her male co-stars to "give (her) a light". This very quickly becomes a distracting and irritating aspect of her performance. Even Granger "lights up" when trapped underground in one sequence, where surely the quality of the scarce air would be crucial. A tobacco company must have had some money in this one.
The almost pristine print makes the most of some attractive Cornish location work, unfortunately juxtaposed with equally unattractive and unconvincing soundstage footage. Photography in general is fine, particularly in that final sequence of the star at the keyboard, and other technical features are extremely high for a British film of that period. The direction of Leslie Arliss is crisp and efficient and the sound recording is certainly of a very high quality. This is a three-hanky weepie, featuring the biggest British female star of the time co-starred with her regular stable mates. There is heaps of nostalgia, loads of war-time references such as rationing and a dismissive attitude towards theatricals in war-time directed at Miss Roc's open-air production of The Tempest.This is vintage British cinema from years when the sight of the nodding "Gainsborough lady" guaranteed that we were in for a couple of hours of first-rate cinema entertainment.
The video transfer of Love Story on this disc is very close to being excellent. So many old films, particularly British films, have suffered from the poor prints we have seen on TV since the introduction of that medium. It is wonderful to see this vintage movie looking fresh and sparkling in this quite luminous presentation. Obviously taken from a very good print, there has been some digital enhancement, but only minor artefacts were noted.
The original 1.37:1 image is here presented at approximately 1.30:1. The black and white image is rock steady, sharp, crisp and clean, with modest grain and a wide and attractive grey scale. Blacks are deep and solid, and whites are stable and without flare. The image detail is extremely good, even in the occasional darker scene.
The digital processing has resulted in some minor artefacts, but these are not troubling. There is some minor aliasing, examples seen on the beach umbrella at 29:23 and Miss Lockwood's sweater around 52:00. There are also some noise reduction problems with some background rocks (32:35), but these are minor issues in a basically very fine transfer. The print is completely free of debris, and reel cues have been removed. Film artefacts are only minor, with the occasional white fleck and a couple of momentary vertical white scratches at 34:15.
There are no subtitles.
There in one audio stream on the disc, English mono Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kbps.
The almost seventy year old soundtrack is in extremely good condition and complements the outstanding image on the screen. Dialogue is beautifully recorded, with not a trace of any sync problems. There is a very slight background hiss in some sequences, but this is only noticeable at high volume with your head virtually in the speaker. There is one very fast "glitch" or pop at 48:28, that has to be replayed to make sure that it is indeed a "glitch".
The mono sound is generally full and satisfactory, with the piano and orchestra in the final musical sequence sounding very fine indeed. The original composition, Cornish Rhapsody, was composed by Hubert Bath and is performed by The National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sidney Beer. The pianist heard on the soundtrack is Harriet Cohen, under the musical direction of Louis Levy. The rhapsody is featured extensively throughout the film, and the old mono sound does an extremely good job of presenting this romantically lovely piece.
|Surround Channel Use|
Apart from the Main Menu the disc contains only the feature film.
There is a quite attractive graphic of a cinema ceiling and proscenium, with curtains flanking the wide screen. On the screen are scenes from Love Story, unfortunately blown up to fill the dimensions of the screen, with top and bottom of the image cropped. The accompanying audio is the sound of an ancient projector.
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There is no Region 1 release of this title. In Region 2, two generous box sets have been issued which both include Love Story.
The first is The Stewart Granger Collection (12 discs) which includes Adam and Evelyne, Blanche Fury, Caesar and Cleopatra, Captain Boycott, Fanny by Gaslight, The Lamp Still Burns, Love Story, Madonna of the Seven Moons, The Magic Bow, Waterloo Road, Woman Hater and Caravan.
The other set is The Margaret Lockwood Collection (6 discs) which includes The Lady Vanishes, Love Story, The Wicked Lady, Bank Holiday, Highly Dangerous and Give Us the Moon.
Both of these sets are available from Amazon UK, the Granger set costing ₤23.97 less tax plus freight, the Lockwood set ₤12.93 less tax plus freight.
Very much a product of the wartime years, this much loved British film is here presented on a quite wonderful DVD transfer. Three of the biggest British stars of that era are showcased in an almost epic weepie, filled with patriotism, Cornish scenery, quaint British folk and romantically lush music. As the first in a budget three-disc set of Stewart Granger movies, this is great value.
|DVD||SONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|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)|