Interlude (Directors Suite) (1957)

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Released 18-May-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Interviews-Crew-Beyond Melodrama (13:18): Kathryn Bigelow on Sirk
Theatrical Trailer-(2:12) Original good condition,4x3 at 1.80:1
Notes-Inside slick 500 words on Sirk.
Filmographies-Crew-Inside slick : Sirk from 1934 to 1978.
Alternative Version-(87:50) 1939's When Tomorrow Comes w Dunne & Boyer.
Theatrical Trailer-(2:29) Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life : 4x3, 1.33:1.
Theatrical Trailer-(2:25) David Lean's Summertime : 4x3, 1.33:1.
Theatrical Trailer-(2:47) Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows : 4x3, 1.33:1.
Theatrical Trailer-(2:46) Otto Preminger's Whirlpool : 4x3, 1.33:1.
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1957
Running Time 85:22
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:10)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Douglas Sirk
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring June Allyson
Rossano Brazzi
Marianne Koch
Françoise Rosay
Keith Andes
Frances Bergen
Lisa Helwig
Herman Schwedt
Anthony Tripoli
John Stein
Jane Wyatt
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $34.95 Music Frank Skinner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

 "The camera is the main thing here, because there is emotion in the moving pictures.
Motion is emotion, in a way it can never be in the theatre." 
                                                                                                Douglas Sirk 


    The latest in Madman's series of Douglas Sirk releases is the 1957 Universal melodrama Interlude, widely distributed in the United States as Forbidden Interlude. Although the film offers a great deal of emoting, there is very little real emotion. Sirk made over twenty films at Universal during the 1950s, some more successful at the box-office than others. There were the smash success melodramas Magnificent Obsession (1953), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956) and Imitation of Life (1958). There were others in that genre that were less successful, as least at the box-office, plus double bill entertainments more typical of the studio, such as Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1953), No Room for the Groom (1952), Sign of the Pagan and Captain Lightfoot, both 1954. His final trio of films for Universal contain some of his best work, beginning with the black and white brilliance of The Tarnished Angels (1957), followed by the war torn love story A Time to Love and a Time to Die, and, for his Universal swansong, the supreme melodrama, Lana Turner's Imitation of Life (1958). Immediately before this trio of great films came Interlude.

   This was the second of three remakes undertaken by Sirk of stories which had been earlier filmed for Universal by John M. Stahl, the other two being Magnificent Obsession and Imitation of Life. Stahl's version, entitled When Tomorrow Comes, included here on a second disc as an "extra",  was filmed in 1939 reuniting Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer fresh from their triumph in Love Affair at Paramount. (Love Affair became An Affair to Remember at Fox in the 50s for Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, and then back to its original title in 1994 for Annette Bening, Warren Beatty and the great Kate Hepburn in her final screen appearance.) It seems that remakes have provided the screen with a great deal of material for many years. At least the original  Interlude was just that, an original. In 1939 Universal and Stahl were in a hurry to cash in on the enormous popularity of the Dunne-Boyer pairing, and an original screenplay was rapidly commissioned from Dwight Taylor (Pickup on South Street), to be based on a story by James M. Cain of The Postman Always Rings Twice fame. In 1957 Sirk wanted a new, fresh adaptation, which was provided by Inez Cocke, whose other major credit is a Ronald Reagan / Dorothy Malone western Law and Order. The social commentary of the first film, involving unemployment and strikes, is abandoned and in its place is a very clean and more conventional storyline. A youngish American woman, Helen Banning (June Allyson) travels to Munich to take up a position at America House and to seek romance and excitement. She meets a wealthy and/or famous European - in this case a famed conductor, Tonio Fischer (Rossano Brazzi) - and falls in love. On Helen's backburner is stalwart American doctor, Morley Dwyer (Keith Andes) working temporarily in Munich, who offers a homegrown alternative to the exotic Tonio. Helen discovers that the conductor has a wife, Reni (Marianne Cook originally Koch), who is mentally unstable and totally dependent on her straying husband. Will Helen kick over her Yankee traces and opt for Tonio or will she take the safe route back home with the handsome, worthy but dull doctor? Also along for the ride are Francoise Rosay (virtually wasted) and Jane Wyatt (totally wasted).

    This weepie concoction is presented very attractively by Sirk and producer Ross Hunter (Pillow Talk). The superficial ingredients of another Sirk melodrama are here.The Munich locations are beautiful, though marred by some awful stock footage. The settings, such as the conductor's country mansion,  are beautiful and colourful and the costuming most attractive. The original score, from Frank Skinner, Universal's resident composer from Deanna Durbin movies in the 30s through to the mid 60s is appropriately lush and romantic.Sirk once again exhibits his masterful control of colour and camera, though I question the decision to dress the star so frequently in white, and even have the script refer to it. Yet there is nothing in the drama to relate to this virginal imagery. There is, as you would expect, great widescreen cinematography from Director of Photography William H. Daniels (How the West Was Won). Sadly Sirk does not have as much success with his actors. The director seemed to be on some sort of crusade to resurrect the careers of fading Hollywood stars, and he generally succeeded. Jane Wyman, Barbara Stanwyck, Ann Sheridan and Lana Turner instantly spring to mind. June Allyson had never been a big talent, having soared to success at MGM on the combination of a bouncy blonde bob, a winning smile and a husky voice. She could sing a little - under the coaching of that genuine diva Kay Thompson - and dance a little. She was at her peak in 1948 in Words and Music, delivering the definitive performance of the Rodgers and Hart classic "Thou Swell". Also in 1948 was The Three Musketeers, followed in 1949 by Little Women and The Stratton Story. Interestingly, as Little Women's "Jo March", Allyson ended in the arms of Rossano Brazzi in his first Hollywood studio film. The actress's career was boosted when she was loaned to Universal in 1954 for The Glenn Miller Story, which had reunited her with her Stratton co-star Jimmy Stewart. By the time she came to Interlude,  just three years later, she had been dropped by MGM, and the forty-year old star seems bored and disconnected. She bounces incessantly across the screen, hair bobbing and shoes clip clopping noisily on the terrazzo. The script repeatedly refers to the character as a "girl" and has Helen declaim that she is "not that sweet girl" everyone thinks she is, yet despite this dialogue I could not find anything in the performance to justify these words. The actress receives no help from Brazzi, who is his usual wooden self. This stolidness works fine if the script and co-star are right. Think of the actor's effectiveness in Summertime with Hepburn, Three Coins in the Fountain with Jean Peters, The Barefoot Contessa with Ava Gardner, The Light in the Piazza with Olivia de Havilland  or South Pacific with Mitzi Gaynor. The combination of stars in Interlude does not work.There is no magic here on screen between these two lovers, and we simply do not care what happens to them. Keith Andes, who a few year earlier had wrapped his bulging biceps around a beautifully buxom Marilyn Monroe in Clash by Night,  is pleasant and stoic and not much more.

    This is not one of Douglas Sirk's better films, but it is still a polished, pleasant, if not involving, diversion. The scenery is pretty, the star still lovely, the music attractive and the resolution dramatically satisfying. Having the Irene Dunne / Charles Boyer original as an "extra" is certainly a bonus, though it makes this remake pale by comparison.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is a very pleasing one.
    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
    We are given the full, original CinemaScope image, with action at times at the extreme edges of the widescreen image.
    The transfer is extremely sharp and clear throughout, with moderate film like grain. Detail is very good, the interiors and concert scenes looking very impressive. The location exteriors, in particular the opening sequence with June Allyson arriving in Munich, are of lesser quality, and there is some poor quality stock footage. Apart from this, though, the film is a very attractive viewing experience.
    There is a modest amount of grain, giving a totally cinemalike experience to the viewing.
    Blacks are deep and dark and the colour is bright and covers the full spectrum.
    There is no low level noise.
    
    The only film to video artefact noted was very brief evidence of edge enhancement. Apart from that, this looks like a very clean, unmanipulated transfer.
    Reel cues have been removed and  film artefacts are negligible.

    There are no subtitles.
    The layer change occurs at 56:10, invisible in the fade-to-black at the end of Chapter 8.

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

Audio

    The audio is quite satisfactory. The soundtrtack is in good shape without any sonic distinction.
    There is one audio streams, English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoded at 224  Kbps.
    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand, even Brazzi's at times heavy accent.There were no sync problems, though looping was evident in some exterior sequences.
    There were only a couple of instances of background noise, but no evidence of a crackle or pop. There were no dropouts.
    
    Frank Skinner's romantic musical score provides a dramatic and romantic accompaniment to the emoting on screen. With lyrics provided by Paul Francis Webster ( Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, Secret Love and hundreds more), the lovely main theme is sung very attractively over the opening credits by The McGuire Sisters. Phyllis McGuire had romantic linkings to the Las Vegas mobsters, and made solo recordings for Sinatra's Reprise label. In addition there are classic offerings "conducted" by Brazzi. Despite the limitations of the original mono source, the music all sounds fine, if a little tinny at times.

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

Extras

   
   
    Although the extra on Disc 1 is not really title specific, for me that is more than compensated for by having the original film version included on a second disc.

Disc One:

Menu

    The Main Menu is presented very basically, 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced, with the art work from the cover of the disc. There is no animation, but the main love theme is played from the film's opening credits.
    The options presented are :  Play Feature
                                               Select Scenes : Two screens, each with six CinemaScope ratio thumbnails. No music or animation.
                                               Extras : Selecting this option brings up a second screen with a coloured still of the two stars, without any music. The options here are :
                                                           Beyond Melodrama : Kathryn Bigelow on Douglas Sirk 
                                                           Original Theatrical Trailer

Interview :
Beyond Melodrama : Kathryn Bigelow on Douglas Sirk (13:18)
Presented 1.78:1 in very nice quality this is a personal response from the director of The Hurt Locker to the question of the influence of Douglas Sirk on her filmmaking. There really is nothing here to give us any insight into the work of Sirk, either in general or in relation to this particular film. Bigelow is obviously genuine in her appreciation of the director, but her comments are very general.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:12) :
Given a 4x3 transfer and at the ratio of 1.80:1 the original trailer is in fairly good shape, though trimmed at the sides from the original 2.35:1. The colour is good, the image sharp and sound good. This is a well constructed 1950s trailer, and does its job by making the film look better than it actually is.


Disc 2 :

Main Menu :

The title of the film is written across a quite beautiful black and white portrait of the two stars, Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, with the theme from Interlude once again used for the soundtrack.
Options presented are : * John M. Stahl's original 1939 film When Tomorrow Comes on which Interlude is based.
                                    * Directors Suite Trailers : Selecting this option brings up a second screen, minus music, with mini posters of the four trailers included, which are :
                                                                            Imitation of Life
                                                                            Summertime
                                                                            All That Heaven Allows
                                                                           Whirlpool



Original 1939 Feature : When Tomorrow Comes (87:50) :
For me, this is a far more valuable "extra" than any amount of learned comment from film experts. It is immensely interesting to compare the two films, and see what changes were made and what was kept. The locales are different, with Dunne's Helen never leaving the United States, and large sections of plot have been discarded. Yet there are lines of dialogue that are retained word for word.
    Apart from plot changes, the major difference is in the two stars. Irene Dunne is one of the greatest female stars of all time. A brilliant comedienne and a sensitive dramatic actress, she was a unique screen presence, without ever reducing herself to gimmicks or the surface of a performance. Here Helen convinces us that she is a "working girl". I never believed for one moment that June Allyson's character ever actually "worked" in Munich. And what can you say about Charles Boyer. Whether wooing Hedy Lamarr to the Casbah or terrorising Ingrid Bergman under Gaslight , Boyer was a seductively fascinating actor. Here there is no menace, just sheer charm. These two are screen magic, and there can be no comparison with their 1957 counterparts.
    The film itself is in fine shape. The film is clean, without any trace of debris and without cue marks. There are some scratches and flecks, and the occasional - very occasional - evidence of sprocket damage. The penultimate close-up of Irene Dunne in the final restaurant scene does have more scratches and it would be interesting to know why. However all of this is extremely minor. The image itself is sharp, with a great grey scale, deep blacks and no flaring on the whites. Even the shadow detail is good in the lengthy candlelight sequences. The sound is fine also, though there is some background hiss and the occasional crackle or pop, but nothing that is distracting. There are no sync problems.
    The inclusion of this version of the story is a wonderful bonus.


Directors Suite Trailers :
Here is an enjoyable collection of  trailers related in some way to Interlude. Two are directed by Douglas Sirk, one stars Rossano Brazzi in another story of an American woman abroad falling for a married European, and the fourth finds the star, Gene Tierney, in a melodrama based around psychiatry. All four are the genuine, original theatrical trailers and are intact and complete. There is minor film damage and some sound inadequacies, especially when orchestras surge, as they frequently do in this type of trailer. However the images are sharp and clean.All are presented in 4x3 transfers.

Imitation of Life (2:29) : Douglas Sirk's 1959 classic for Universal with a gorgeous Lana Turner, handsome John Gavin and Sandra Dee. The trailer has great lurid highlights that really sell the film. The wide screen image is slightly matted. The colours are a little orange, but apart from that, and the occasional minor damage, looks fine.

Summertime (2:25) : David Lean's unforgettable Venetian love story with the sublime Katharine Hepburn as the gauche, middle-aged tourist and Rossano Brazzi as her married lover. Presented at 1.33:1, the colours are a trifle washed out, but the trailer is a wonderful tease for the extraordinary pleasure of the film itself. Darren McGavin is seen doesn't get a mention.

All That Heaven Allows (2:47) : A sensational trailer for Douglas Sirk's 1955 Universal tearjerker. Those wonderful closeups and the brilliantly shadowed lighting of the incandescent stars simply make you want to see the film again. Presented at 1.33:1, the widescreen image is cropped at the sides, so the fabulous stars are reduced to "ane Wyman" and "ock Hudson".

Whirlpool (2:46) : Here the studio is Fox, the year 1949 and the director Otto Preminger, working once again with his Laura star, Gene Tierney.(An interesting note is that three years before Whirlpool, Miss Tierney had been directed by John M. Stahl in one of her finest roles, Leave Her to Heaven.) This was an excellent black and white feature, and has been released in Fox's "Film Noir" series in the United States. Jose Ferrer is heavily plugged in his second film, the year after his debut in Bergman's Joan of Arc, and a year beffore his Oscar win as Cyrano de Bergerac. This trailer shows that he was just as hammy back then as he was later in his career.



Notes : Inside of Slick :
    Madman once again reproduce this valuable information found on previous Sirk releases, with approximately  five hundred words on Sirk, plus a Hollywood Filmography listing Sirk's twenty-nine Hollywood films, from Hitler's Madman (1942) through to Imitation of Life (1958).

R4 vs R1

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

    There is no release of Interlude at present available in Region 1 or Region 2.

Summary

    This lush melodrama came from Universal in 1957 and had much to offer. Directed by Douglas Sirk, with three attractive stars, lovely Munich locations, original and classical music, all packaged up in CinemScope and Technicolor. However, this time there is no magic. The just under ninety minutes are divertingly filled, but this one never soars. Madman have included the 1939 original as an extra. Though the storyline here may be a little on the quaint side, the stars are Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, and these two light up the screen. So, taken as a whole, this is a good package.
    

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Monday, July 04, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung 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 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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