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Hellraiser Collection [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Hellraiser Collection [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £6.35

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HELLRAISER COLLECTION [2014] [4 Movie Multi-Feature] [Blu-ray] [US Import], 18 Mar. 2015
HELLRAISER COLLECTION [2014] [4 Movie Multi-Feature] [Blu-ray] [US Import] You Open It, They Come For You, And They Will Tear You Apart!

This Blu-ray Hellraiser Collection is of the Four films from the HELLRAISER franchise which includes:

HELLRAISER IV: Bloodline [1996] Three generations of the same family deal with the consequences of unleashing the forces of hell. In 18th-century France, Paul L'Merchant [Bruce Ramsay] works as a toymaker until he's coerced into creating a box that serves as a portal between hell and Earth. The box summons demonic Angelique [Valentina Vargas] and Pinhead [Doug Bradley], who 200 years later hunt down John Merchant [Bruce Ramsay]. Then, centuries later, Phillip Merchant (also Bruce Ramsay) prepares for a final confrontation.

HELLRAISER V: Inferno [2000] Joseph Thorne [Craig Sheffer] is an intelligent yet corrupt Los Angeles detective police detective who regularly indulges in drug use and infidelity during the course of duty. At the scene of what appears to be a ritual murder, Joseph Thorne discovers a strange puzzle box, which he takes home in order to indulge his fascination with puzzles. After solving the box, Thorne begins to experience bizarre hallucinations, such as being seduced by a pair of mutilated women and being chased by a creature with no eyes or legs. His only means of leaving is with Pinhead's [Doug Bradley] puzzle box.

HELLRAISER VI: Hellseeker [2002] Pinhead [Doug Bradley] and his demons terrorize a man [Dean Winters] after surviving a car accident that apparently kills his wife Kirsty Cotton-Gooden [Ashley Laurence] when their car plunges off a bridge into the river below. Trevor manages to escape with his life, but even though police divers find both car doors open there is no sign of Kirsty.

HELLRAISER VIII: Hellworld [2005] The film introduces a circle of youths who are addicted to playing Hellworld, an online computer game based on the Hellraiser series. The film opens at the funeral of Adam, one of the friends who was obsessed with the game and ultimately committed suicide after becoming too immersed in the game. The remaining five friends blame themselves for not having prevented Adam's suicide.

Cast: Doug Bradley, Bruce Ramsay, Valentina Vargas, Kim Myers, Adam Scott, Christine Harnos, Charlotte Chatton, Mickey Cottrell, Paul Perri, Pat Skipper, Tom Dugan, Craig Sheffer, Nicholas Turturro, James Remar, Nicholas Sadler, Noelle Evans, Lindsay Taylor, Matt George, Michael Shamus Wiles, Ashley Laurence, Dean Winters, William S. Taylor, Michael Rogers, Rachel Hayward, Trevor White, Lance Henriksen, Katheryn Winnick, Christopher Jacot, Khary Payton, Henry Cavil and Désirée Malonga

Directors: Kevin Yagher (credited as Alan Smithee), Joe Chappelle, Scott Derrickson, Rick Bota and Rick Bota

Producers: Nancy Rae Stone, Joel Soisson, W.K. Border, Michael Leahy, Rob Schmidt and Rob Schmidt

Screenplay: Peter Atkins, Paul Harris Boardman, Scott Derrickson, Carl V. Dupré and Tim Day

Composers: Daniel Licht, Walter Werzowa, Stephen Edwards and Lars Anderson

Cinematography: Gerry Lively, Nathan Hope, John Drake and Gabriel Kosuth

Video Resolution: 1080p and 1080i

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 and 1.85:1

Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: None

Running Time: 85 minutes; 100 minutes; 89 minutes and 95 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1


Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: HELLRAISER IV: Bloodline [1996] In the year 2127, Dr. Paul Merchant [Bruce Ramsay] has illegally commandeered the space station he designed, Space Station Minos, and sent its entire crew away in life pods. A team of soldiers arrives and successfully retakes the station, Merchant too occupied with other matters to offer much resistance. In captivity, Merchant is debriefed by female soldier Rimmer [Christine Harnos]. His explanation of why he had to commandeer the station is an unusual one, to say the least. Merchant’s tale begins in France in the late 1700s. His ancestor, a toymaker named Phillip Le Marchand (play also by Ramsay), is commissioned by a wealthy patron, Duc De L’isle [Mickey Cottrell] to create a familiar looking puzzle box that fans by now known as the Lament Configuration. When Le Marchand arrives to deliver his commission and collect his fee, he inadvertently witnesses De L’Isle and his young assistant Jacque [Adam Scott] sacrificing a young woman, Angelique (Valentina Vargas). They skin her corpse and conjure a demon that uses her skin as a façade while under De L’Isle’s control. Jacque and the demonic Angelique betray De L’isle and Le Marchand is killed while trying to recover the box from De L’Isle’s estate. Concluding his story in the 22nd century, Dr. Merchant reveals that the space station he designed is the realization of his family’s legacy: a giant device inspired by the Lament Configuration and designed to capture and concentrate light in the hope that it can be used to burn Pinhead and his minions away forever.

HELLRAISER V: Inferno [2000] This film plays like a cross between Bad Lieutenant and Jacob’s Ladder and is my kind of cop: he does drugs, indulges himself with prostitutes, totally ignores his wife and child and backstabs his partner and he is looking for redemption (aka Bad Lieutenant) and that salvation is finding this missing child. Once he opens the "Lament Configuration" karma kicks in hard. He’s plunged into a confusing world of demons, gore and weirdness. Joseph Thorne [Craig Sheffer] is forced to face his own demons…and it’s not pleasant. Craig Sheffer eventually won me over. I will admit that at first I felt his performance was awkward but as the film moved on I grew to like him, the film is on his shoulders. Nicholas Turturro is on automatic pilot playing a cop…again. James Remar does what he has to do…not much. Doug Bradley shows up to collect his check, Pinhead has nothing to do with this film. All of the female parts are too underwritten to mention. The film does feel familiar. This terrain has been walked on before: ‘Angel Heart,’ ‘The 9th Gate,’ ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ even ‘Seven.’ But if you like that genre (I loved it) I wouldn’t see why you wouldn’t appreciate this one. There’s enough morbid imagery here to satisfy the "Goth" in all of us, enough gore to quench the thirst but not enough Pinhead to call this a Hellraiser flick.

HELLRAISER VI: Hellseeker [2002] A shady businessman attempts to piece together the details of the car crash that killed his wife and rendered him an amnesiac and left him in possession of a sinister puzzle box that summons monsters. Directed by Hellraiser regular Rick Bota comes another odd entry into the Cenobium-driven franchise. This time it wears the more promising flag of returning star Ashley Laurence reprising her role as Kirsty Cotton.We get a hint of this thru dialog later but not to the point of referencing “too” much from the original Hellraiser films she appeared in. (We learn that Kirsty lost her dad to mysterious circumstances when she was youner…aka plucked away by cenobites). Taking a cue from once again the ‘Jacobs Ladder’ approach, this particular entry is a bit weirder than others. We’ve seem to have gotten into his cycle where Hell and Cenobites are like Twilight zone players only taunting at their victims as they experience a barrage of nightmarish circumstances. But adding to that further…it follows this Jacobs Ladder-style that presents as their current lives with a few odd things stuck between. To add to the visuals, we get a brief encounter with a few Joel Peter Witkin inspired scenes, but nothing too elaborate, just a prop here and there inspire by his photographs. Cenobites this round I assume were introduced on a limited budget as while we get to see a few new demons, they are only brief and uneventful. Doug Bradley as Pinhead is unflawed as usual. You have to love his lines and his character’s ability to disregard the human condition always answering in a riddle sermon-sort-of response. It’s the meat that holds his character together and paints him as a cold bastard of a demon. HELLRAISER VI: Hellseeker [2002] is worth checking out, though as mentioned, there is not much cenobite action to partake in. Maybe the routine of only revealing them in small portions is what fans want.

HELLRAISER VIII: Hellworld [2005] A group of Hellworld fans (an online Hellraiser video game) go to a Hellworld shin-dig, see the macabre sights. HELLRAISER VIII: Hellworld had its game on and then some! It established its surprisingly not very likeable nerdy teen idiots, and it is a type of groovy William Castle-esque premise, loosely referenced the Hellraiser mythos along the way, and of course we have the token Lance Henriksen for that touch of oh so important class and then lets with typical hardcore! What follows is a highly amusing, shameless and well-paced horror rollercoaster ride.

Blu-ray Video Quality – HELLRAISER IV: Bloodline [1996] The fourth film in the series doesn’t look too bad in its original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The 1080p HD transfer is very dark, the norm for the franchise, and it does show off some heavy film grain/noise. However, detail levels were decent enough and the colour array, when we do get to the lighter scenes, weren’t bad.

HELLRAISER V: Inferno [2000] The next one in line, Hellraiser V for those keeping track, looks considerable worse as it’s also the first of the numerous direct-to-video sequels. This time the video, 1080i HD, shows off a ton of pixilation and the black levels are OK but all around it’s an average transfer. I should note that there is quite a bit dust and scratches so it doesn’t appear, not surprisingly, that the studio did any work with the transfer.

HELLRAISER VI: Hellseeker [2002] Hellraiser VI looks a bit better but not much. The 1080p transfer shows off some decent detail level but nothing special. I didn’t notice as much in regards to flaws but on occasion there will be some scratches or dust marks.

HELLRAISER VIII: Hellworld [2005] And the last of the bunch on this set doesn’t look too bad but suffers much of the same flaws of its predecessors. Here, the 1080p high-definition transfer at times looks alright, even half-decent, but in some scenes, especially the oddly lit ones, I noticed quite a bit artifacting as the scenes/shots don’t look very smooth.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – HELLRAISER IV: Bloodline, HELLRAISER V: Inferno, HELLRAISER VI: Hellseeker has been given a really good substantial 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio surround tracks and while none of them are particularly special, they get the job done with clear dialogue levels and some audio effects for the action sequences is audible. HELLRAISER VIII: Hellworld being the newer film in this franchise set, has a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and is on par with the other 3 films that are much better than the others and that there is some substantial audio surround coming via the rear channels.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

The disc only has a menu to select the 4 films. The film will start playing during which you can use the pop-up button to get to the chapter menu or go to another movie. Otherwise, there are no features for any of the films.

Finally, overall, the MIRAMAX 4-film set of HELLRAISER sequels is sadly barebones in terms of special features, but I guess if you’re a fan of this franchise, I think the audio and video transfers are a step up from their DVD counterparts. At a brilliant low price, and it’s also not a bad deal but know you’re not going to get anything special, but despite this, I am pleased to add this to my HELLRAISER Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Total Recall Se [Blu-ray] [1990] [US Import]
Total Recall Se [Blu-ray] [1990] [US Import]

5.0 out of 5 stars TOTAL RECALL [1990/2015] [Mind-Bending Edition] [Blu-ray + Digital HD ULTRAVIOLET] [US Import], 16 Mar. 2015
TOTAL RECALL [1990/2015] [Mind-Bending Edition] [Blu-ray + Digital HD ULTRAVIOLET] [US Import] Get Ready For The Ride Of Your Life!

Experience ‘Total Recall’ [Mind-Bending Edition] the way it was meant to be seen with a pristine director-approved 1080p HD transfer! Action star extraordinaire Arnold Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast as Doug Quaid, a 2084 construction worker haunted by dreams of mars in this crowd-pleasing science fiction spectacular. Against the wishes of his sexy blonde wife [Sharon Stone], Doug Quaid goes to Rekall Inc., a company that implants artificial memories, so he can “remember” visiting the red planet that is now being settled by human inhabitants. However, Doug Quaid is actually a secret agent from Mars – or is he?

FILM FACT: 63rd Academy Awards® Nominations: Nelson Stoll, Michael J. Kohut, Carlos Delarios & Aaron Rochin for Best Sound Mixing. Stephen Hunter Flick for Best Sound Editing. Won: Eric Brevig, Rob Bottin, Tim McGovern and Alex Funke for Best Visual Effects for Special Achievement Award.

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside, Marshall Bell (Kuato), Mel Johnson, Jr., Roy Brocksmith, Michael Champion, Ray Baker, Rosemary Dunsmore, David Knell, Alexia Robinson, Dean Norris, Mark Carlton, Debbie Lee Carrington, Lycia Naff, Robert Costanzo, Michael LaGuardia, Priscilla Allen, Ken Strausbaugh, Marc Alaimo, Michael Gregory, Ken Gildin, Mickey Jones, Parker Whitman, Ellen Gollas, Gloria Dorson, Erika Carlsson, Benny Corral and Robert Picardo (Voice of Johnny cab)

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Producers: Andrew G. Vajna, Buzz Feitshans, Mario Kassar and Ronald Shusett

Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon, Gary Goldman and Ronald Shusett

Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Cinematography: Jost Vacano

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 2.0 HD-DTS Master Stereo, French: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and German: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, French and German

Running Time: 113 minutes

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 1


Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: In ‘Total Recall’ [Mind-Bending Edition] Arnold Schwarzenegger finds himself facing an existential quandary. It is the 21st century, and the technology of the day makes it possible for fully formed memories to be inserted into the minds of unsuspecting victims. So is Arnold Schwarzenegger actually a happily married construction worker named Doug Quaid?

Arnold Schwarzenegger finds himself facing an existential quandary. It is the 21st century, and the technology of the day makes it possible for fully formed memories to be inserted into the minds of unsuspecting victims. So is Arnold Schwarzenegger actually a happily married construction worker named Doug Quaid? Or is Doug Quaid's whole identity a convenient fiction? Does he live on earth, as he appears to, or does he have another existence on Mars? Is he a person, or is he a dream?

$50 million dollars’ worth of exploding glass, blazing bullets, ear-splitting noises and sometimes clever, sometimes gut-wrenching special effects say that Arnold Schwarzenegger is no figment of anyone's imagination except, possibly, his own. ‘Total Recall’ is a thunderous tribute to its star's determination to create, out of the unlikeliest raw materials, a patently synthetic yet surprisingly affable leading man. Melding the ever-more-workable Arnold Schwarzenegger mystique with a better-than-average science-fiction premise, the director Paul Verhoeven has come up with a vigorous, super violent interplanetary thriller that packs in wallops with metronomic regularity. Paul Verhoeven is much better at drumming up this sort of artificial excitement than he is at knowing when to stop.

Doug Quaid's troubles begin when he visits Rekall Inc., a space-age travel agency specialising in no-fuss, no-muss vacations. But when Doug, who is haunted by mysterious dreams of a red-hued life on Mars, agrees to buy two weeks’ worth of Martian travel imagery that is ''first-class'' and ''complete in every detail,'' something goes haywire. An apparently real set of memories is activated, throwing Doug Quaid's earthly existence into turmoil and eventually sending him to Mars to resolve his problems. Mars, he discovers, is a seamy, mutant-filled colony that is racked with rebellion and ruled by a tyrant Vilos Cohaagen [Ronny Cox] who charges exorbitant prices for air.

The first half of ‘Total Recall’ (screenplay by Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon and Gary Goldman from a story by Phillip K. Dick) is the film's introductory phase, which toys ingeniously with gimmicks like household holograms and robot-driven taxis as it outlines the interesting confusion inside Doug Quaid's mind. This culminates in a riveting scene, the film's best, in which a doctor Dr. Edgemar [Roy Brocksmith] visits Doug Quaid in his Martian hotel room and tells him that he is still dreaming, and still in fact at the Rekall Inc. offices. When Doug Quaid fails to believe this, the doctor scathingly accuses him of being someone who imagines himself ''the victim of an interplanetary conspiracy to make him think he's a lowly construction worker on earth.'' At this point, the film provides some helpful guidelines for differentiating flesh-and-blood doctors from imaginary ones.

The visual style of ‘Total Recall,’ which in its latter stages is loaded with gargantuan, greyish machine-shop imagery and filled with ever-more-sickening cosmetic touches, is wearing in its own way. Continually upping the special-effects ante, Paul Verhoeven saves the eye-popping and hand-severing for last, not to mention a mutant character who appears as a slimy infant troll attached to another character's stomach. Showing a foot stepping on a bleeding, quivering corpse is more characteristic of the film's violence. This sort of thing happens early, and often.

Opposite Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin provides a tough, albeit somewhat bland, resistance fighter heroine, but her thunder is stolen by Sharon Stone as the wife who is tired of tolerating the stranger in her husband's mind. No doubt also tired of dull love interest roles in second rate melodramas, Stone throws herself into the part with real vigour and gives it a physical edge that at times makes her seem genuinely threatening even to the famous muscleman. Ronny Cox and genre stalwart Michael Ironside round out the villainous roles, whilst Marshall Bell and Mel Johnson Jr provide memorable turns as quirks characters Quaid meets along the way, and Robert Picardo is sadly the unforgettable voice of the Johnny cab.

With inventive stunt work and great set pieces, ‘Total Recall’ is a triumph of visual effects design. It's funny, energetic and packed with genuine thrills. Yes, there's a large helping of cheese, but it only adds to the flavour. The games it plays with identity and reality sit intriguingly alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger's work in ‘True Lies’ and ‘Last Action Hero,’ and highly quotable lines help to secure its place in the blockbuster science. As a science fiction action adventure, ‘Total Recall’ delivers as exactly that. It’s filled with fantastic futuristic imagery, trademark Paul Verhoeven satire, and memorable Schwarzenegger antics and one liner.

Blu-ray Video Quality – LIONSGATE trots out this 2015 re-release ‘Total Recall’ as often as they do ‘Terminator 2,’ but the ‘Total Recall’ remake has put them in a position to treat this Paul Veerhoven as a real tour-de-force. With this new scan, better encode 1080p image, and refreshed colour timing, this is the Blu-ray we should have seen with the dawn of the format. The transfer has been framed at the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Where the Blu-ray disc comes alive is definition. Resolution feels greatly enhanced and focused with the close-ups meticulously consistent. The number of shots where ‘Total Recall’ feels photographed yesterday is enormous. It’s to the benefit of everything, from the wicked cool make-up effects to those astonishing miniature shots that show off the Martian landscape. It’s all fine detail, all the time. As with previous inferior video editions of this film, with this upgraded image is truly an amazing experience. Sharpness, contrast, and colour saturation levels are good throughout with some of it looking good reference. The reds of Mars are handled quite beautifully with no blooming, banding or false contouring found in earlier inferior releases. Flesh tones have a natural appearance in tone. Black levels are good and well defined in depth.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio has also been reworked into a fuller, richer. Astonishing is the awesome Jerry Goldsmith score, which from the opening credits, lands those high peaks without so much as a flutter or strain. There are no signs of diminished returns in regards to age. Even when mixed in with the other elements or heavy gunfire seated above the music, it’s still perky, focused, and clean. The subway shoot-out places a few seconds of shattering glass in the rears but it’s so subtle that it barely registers. Much of the activity spreads across the front soundstage, enough to space out the effects and add directionality, especially with the rumbles with superiority, generous in its application to make ships rock the room, and explosions feel full. Even if it’s an after effect and not part of the original mix, the application is sound and natural. It doesn’t elevate or feel out place. Pieced together with the score, it takes on another layer of effectiveness. This is the super deluxe final edition of ‘Total Recall’ we have been waiting for.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Audio Commentary: Commentary with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Verhoeven: This is the same audio commentary from previous releases. It's fun and often very informative, though there's a certain "ick" factor when Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about "waking up" next to Sharon Stone with few clothes on, considering the bad press he's had over the past couple of years. Both director Paul Verhoeven and star Arnold Schwarzenegger love to talk and often talk over one another getting out their words. Both pretty much narrate the film and also providing upcoming spoilers to later events in the film, but only rarely reveal some interesting anecdotes about making the picture.

Special Feature: Interview with Director Paul Verhoeven [2012] [1080p] [1.85:1] [34:46] In this all-new interview with director Paul Verhoeven and touches on quite a few aspects of the filmmaking process. He discusses the problems he had with the third act of the script, how much he enjoyed working with the Mexican crew, the storyboards used for the film, and with Rob Bottin’s expert help, especially with his insistence on Arnold Schwarzenegger for the film. Paul Verhoeven talks about walking the tightrope between dream and reality in the film, but he's also honest about third act problems in the film, even after 42 drafts of the script.

Special Feature Documentary: Making-of Total Recall [1990] [480i] [4:3] [8:23] This is a vintage feature, which has snippets of the film playing out in between cast and crew interviews. The brief interviews we have Paul Verhoeven, make-up effects supervisor Rob Bottin, and co-stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside.

Special Feature Documentary: Models and Skeletons: The Special Effects of Total Recall [2010] [1080p] [1.85:1] [23:14] This is a really interesting look at the then state of the art special effects of the film. Several members of the SFX crew are featured in this fascinating piece. We get introductions to miniatures supervisor Mark Stetson and CGI supervisor Tim McGovern who discuss their two departments in the making of the film. McGovern was one of four men on the special effects team who went home with Oscars for their work on the film.

Special Feature Documentary: Imagining Total Recall [2001] [480i] [31:28] This is another older piece documentary featuring interviews with the director, production designer William Sandell, screenwriters Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon, editor Frank Urioste, stars Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, effects supervisor Eric Brevig, and composer Jerry Goldsmith, all describing their years of work to bring the story to the screen.

Special Feature: Restoration Comparison [2012] [1080p] [1.85:1] [5:13] Here get a selection clips presented as a slide show, where you get to see the old 1990 inferior images, and you a get a white line slide across the image to reveal the 1080p pristine director-approved HD transfer.

Special Feature: Photo Gallery [1080p] [1.85:1] [1:03] Here you get to see loads of publicity images throughout the slide show, but a big bonus, you get the glorious Jerry Goldsmith ‘Total Recall’ music in the background.

Theatrical Trailer [1990] [408i] [16:9] [2:07] This is the Original Trailer for ‘Total Recall.’

Sneak Peaks: ‘Haywire’ [Blu-ray + DVD] [1080p] [2.55:1] [1:26]; ‘The Expendables’ [Blu-ray + DVD] [1080p] [2.55:1] [1:12]; ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ [Blu-ray] [1080p] [2.55:1] [1:22]; ‘Stargate – 15th Anniversary Edition’ [Blu-ray] [1080p] [2.55:1] [1:34] and ‘EPIX – We Get Big Movies Promotion’ [1080p] [1.85:1] [1:18]. Unfortunately, this starts showing when the Blu-ray loads up and you cannot go straight to the menu.

Finally, with inventive stunt work and great set pieces, ‘Total Recall’ [Mind-Bending Edition] is a triumph of visual effects design. It's funny, energetic and packed with genuine thrills. The games it plays with identity and reality sit intriguingly alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger's work on ‘True Lies’ and ‘Last Action Hero’ and highly quotable lines help to secure its place in the blockbuster science. ‘Total Recall’ remains one of the best Arnold Schwarzenegger films, one that is smart but visceral. It may stretch the bounds of credulity as it kind of stumbles through a still awkward third act, but overall this is still an incredibly effective and impressive piece that blends an intelligent screenplay with some great looking special effects. While some may have some niggling complaints about not all of the previously released supplements having been ported over to this new release, otherwise this is a completely stellar effort that offers superior video and audio. I now feel this is THE ultimate edition to the ‘Total Recall franchise. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Chicken Run [Blu-ray]
Chicken Run [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Mel Gibson
Offered by Amazin' Movie Store
Price: £22.95

5.0 out of 5 stars CHICKEN RUN [2000] [Blu-ray] [French Import], 15 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Chicken Run [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
CHICKEN RUN [2000] [Blu-ray] [French Import] From the Creators of Wallace and Gromit! The Cinema Experience in High Definition! This Ain’t No Chick Flick!

Unlike anything ever seen on the big screen, ‘Chicken Run' [2000] is that year's most original comedy hailed by critics and audiences alike as "magical entertainment for all ages!" While the chickens on evil Mrs. Tweedy's farm dream of a better life, a clever hen named Ginger is hatching plans to fly the coop for good! The only problem is, chickens can't fly - or can they? Every escape attempt goes fowl until Rocky, a smooth-talking all-American rooster, who crash-lands into the coop. It's hardly poultry in motion when Rocky attempts to teach Ginger and her fine feathered friends to fly...but, with teamwork, determination and a little bit o' cluck, the fearless flock plots one last daring attempt in a spectacular bid for freedom! Featuring unforgettable characters, incredible animation, and all-star voice talent, this instant classic from the Academy Award® winning creators of “Wallace and Gromit” and is eggs-traordinary fun for the whole family!

FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: Won: Broadcast Film Critics for Best Animated Feature. Won: Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics for Best Animated Feature. Won: Los Angeles Film Critics for Best Animated Feature. Won: New York Film Critics for Best Animated Feature. Nominated: BAFTA Awards for Best British Film and Best Visual Effects. Nominated: Empire Awards for Best British Director Nick Park and Peter Lord, Best British Film and Best Debut for Nick Park and Peter Lord. Nominated: European Film Awards for Best Film.

Voice Cast: Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, Tony Haygarth, Benjamin Whitrow, Timothy Spall, Phil Daniels, Jane Horrocks, Imelda Staunton, Lynn Ferguson, John Sharian, Jo Allen, Lisa Kay, Laura Strachan

Directors: Nick Park and Peter Lord

Producers: Nick Park, Peter Lord, David Sproxton and Jeffrey Katzenberg

Screenplay: Nick Park, Peter Lord Karey (original story) and Kirkpatrick (screenplay)

Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell

Cinematography: Dave Alex Riddett, Frank Passingham and Tristan Oliver

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1

Audio: French: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: French

Running Time: 85 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: DreamWorks Pictures / Aardman Animations

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: This is a film for both children and adults. ‘Chicken Run’ [2000] is a film that will easily be understood by all who watch it and it is a film by the same creators of "Wallace and Gromitt," and equally entertaining. ‘Chicken Run’ not only proves that Aardman Animations can deliver a full-length feature film with panache; and it offers genuinely superb entertainment as well.

Known to millions across the globe as the creator of the characters Wallace and Gromit, where a British inventor Wallace, with a penchant for inventing devices, especially in collaboration with his smart companion dog Gromit, Nick Park can no longer live in the obscurity he once enjoyed. It has been half-a-decade since the last Wallace and Gromit short reached audiences, and Nick Park has been quiet since then. The reason can be summed up in two words: ‘Chicken Run.’ An ambitious, full-length motion picture employing Nick Park's signature "Claymation" style, albeit without Wallace or Gromit. ‘Chicken Run’ represents an attempt by Nick Park to break free of his status as a cult figure and move into the mainstream. To that end, he has recruited some instantly recognisable voices, such as Miranda Richardson and Mel Gibson, and to voice his characters, Nick Park and Peter Lord struck a distribution deal with DreamWorks Pictures.

But life is tough if you're a chicken. It's especially tough if you're one of the chickens incarcerated in Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy run a failing Chicken Farm in a grim Yorkshire institution. run in the style of a Second World War POW camp, where the chicken fowls in question are lined up each morning for a military-style inspection. There's no apparent-pleasing sanitisation going on here: a few minutes into the film, one unlucky hen is being decapitated after falling behind in the laying stakes. The scene is made all the scarier for being depicted solely via suggestive shadow and a nasty chopping sound.

Things take an even darker turn, when the fearsome Mrs. Tweedy [Miranda Richardson] decides that her eggs aren't bringing in enough cash, and invests in a pie-making machine instead. A fantastically inventive monstrosity of slicing, spinning blades, gravy-spurting pipes and flaming ovens, it prompts one of the hens, the dim-witted Babs [Jane Horrocks] to observe, in one of the film's most-quoted lines: "I don't want to be a pie... I don't like gravy."

It's this balance between danger and wit that makes `Chicken Run,' the first feature-length animation from Wallace and Gromit makers Aardman Animations, such a treat for adults and children alike. The film, which follows Mrs. Tweedy's hens as they make a bid for freedom, is essentially ‘The Great Escape’ with chickens, an engagingly ridiculous tagline, which the animation lives up to with charm and verve.

Julia Sawalha steals the show as Ginger, a plucky heroine, determined not to end up as a plucked heroine. Meanwhile, Mel Gibson is on brilliant form as American intruder and "lone free ranger" Rocky, who crash-lands on the farm with a cry of "freeeeedom," is one of Chicken Run's many, many film references and in-jokes. The distinctive "Claymation" animation is as charming as it was when the animation film came out in 2000.

A naive hen, Babs [Jane Horrocks], who serves as a counterpoint to Ginger's desire to feel the grass under her feet, and two rodents, Fletcher [Phil Daniel] and Nick [Timothy Spall] who have an unusual passion for chicken eggs, make for some sharp and humorous moments, thanks to a clever screenplay by Karey Kirkpatric. There are many film references, including `The Great Escape,' `Stalag 17,' `Indiana Jones,' `Star Trek,' `Mission: Impossible' and many double meanings, which are good for a few thought-provoking laughs.

The very best thing about `Chicken Run,' however, is its exuberant final act, in which Mrs. Tweedy's demented metal beast of a pie machine is contrasted with the chickens' home-made aircraft, inspired by the exploits of ex-RAF mascot rooster Major Fowler [Benjamin Whitrow]. Old-fashioned, British home-spun inventiveness wins out, while the big, bad corporate-style machine collapses in a mad explosion of gravy, in a finale that manages to be beautifully silly and rather clever all at the same time.

The painstaking animation, done by moving clay models in miniscule amounts over time, comes off as a labour of love. The set design is incredible: from the chicken coop to the pie-making machine, Nick Park and Peter Lord (who also co-directs) and transports us to a world that not only goes beyond our reality but also the realm of traditional animation. Like with many other good animations, the voices, most of them British, are what make Chicken Run work so well. Every single voice is executed perfectly. I particularly liked the fact that the strongest character was a female and Julia Sawalha pulls off a Ginger, who deserves respect and admiration. `Chicken Run' is highly endearing, consistently attractive, and incredibly refreshing. While there's not one particular part in the film that had me rolling with laughter, I was constantly amused and at the end, I was filled with euphoria as the credits rolled up the screen.

‘Chicken Run’ is truly an unusual endeavour since, unlike every other animated motion picture reaching screens, its primary aim is not to astound viewers visually. In fact, with its old-fashioned approach to animation, it looks clunky in comparison to some of its competitors. Of course, that's part of ‘Chicken Run' and its charm, but a lot of children will probably will not get the jokes and go right over their heads, whereas the more adult viewers will get the many in jokes. And, since a significant portion of the target audience will not accept a motion picture that doesn't offer start-to-finish action or eye-popping visuals, ‘Chicken Run’ is beginning its theatrical life with a handicap. Hopefully, adults, won over by the smart-yet-uncomplicated script and charming execution, will encourage their offspring to see the film. Children will almost certainly enjoy the animation film if they give it a chance.

At the dawn of the third millennium, animation has become the domain of the United States and Japan, so it's a rare pleasure to see another movie industry enter into the fray. With Chicken Run, Park has taken all that was enjoyable about Wallace & Gromit, brought it into a barnyard, and extended it to feature length. Fans of the previous Aardman Animations shorts, which two have won Academy Awards® and will undoubtedly shower Nick Park and Peter Lord with plaudits for what they have accomplished with this stunning animation film. All that remains is for audiences at large to discover the simple-but-engaging entertainment of ‘Chicken Run.’

Blu-ray Video Quality – I have to admit that it is hard to find an image transfer for an animated film recently that is not reference quality. But with the 1.77:1 anamorphic transfer of `Chicken Run' I can honestly say that this is among one of the best 1080p encoded transfers I have ever seen. There are no moments where the print becomes anything less than jaw-droppingly good. Detail and sharpness are both perfect, as is the use of colour in many of the daylight scenes. The black levels are done well with no grain at all, and there were no instances of shimmering or pixilation. This is one of the best transfers I have ever seen and another great effort by the DreamWorks Pictures and Aardman Animations team.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – With what is becoming a tradition for DreamWorks Pictures and Aardman Animations, `Chicken Run' is presented with both French and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. While neither track is especially active, they each get the job done. The first half of the film is primarily dialogue and music driven, with the surrounds kicking in when the pie factory makes it appearance. There isn't a very noticeable difference between the French and English 5.1 DTS-HD surround versions mix and this animation film feature provides a bit more music in between the back surrounds and does a good job at enveloping the viewer. While not a showy mix, these tracks each offer clean and well-defined sound.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: When you view all of the extras, the French Subtitles appear automatically. To get rid of them you have to go to the SUBTITLES button on your Blu-ray remote and with the up arrow key button you can set it to off.

Audio Commentary: Commentary with Directors Peter Lord and Nick Park: Directors Peter Lord and Nick Park tell us in great detail why they produced the animation film like they did, especially in homage to the film `The Great Escape.' We also get to hear their love to all "Claymation" characters, and especially the in jokes for the chicken Edwina, which was in honour to the ex-Member of Parliament Edwina Curry [Health Minister], who had to resign from the British Government over the scandal over eggs, provoking outrage by saying most of Britain's egg production is infected with the salmonella bacteria. They also inform us why they chose specific actors to dub the voices for the "Claymation" characters. They also inform us that they had too many ideas for the film, but because of the time limited, they had ditch a lot of the ideas. What is so beautiful about this audio commentary is that the stereo separation is spectacular as each person is exactly in the left and right speakers. A must view audio commentary.

Special Feature Documentary: Fowl Play: The Making of Chicken Run [2000] [1080p] [4:3] [22:43] Here we get to see a very intimate and rare behind-the-scene look at the making of `Chicken Run,' and all involved in this 5 year project to bring this awesome Aardman Animations to the silver screen. Contributing to this beautiful made documentary is directors Peter Lord and Nick Park; Julia Sawalha [Ginger]; Miranda Richardson [Mrs. Tweedy]; Mel Gibson [Rocky]; Jake Eberts [Executive Producer]; Jeffrey Katzenberg [Executive Producer]; Dave Sproxton [Producer]; Jane Horrocks [Babs]; Harry Linden [Production Manager]; Merlin Crossingham [Key Animator]; Guionne Leroy [Key Animator]; Tim Farrington [Art Director]; Lynne Ferguson [Mac]; James Mather [Supervising Sound Editor] and John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams. Narrated by Timothy Spall.

Special Feature Documentary: The Infernal Pie Machine [2000] [1080p] [4:3] [14:26] Directors Nick Park and Peter Lord talk in great detail on how they produced the animation piece with the Pie Machine for ‘Chicken Run.' They also tell in great intricate detail about how the "Claymation" is made to look so good on the silver screen. On top of all that they give you lots of information on the task before them to produce the animation film, plus you also get lots of clips from `Chicken Run,' especially with infernal pie machine.

Special Feature Documentary: The Secrets of Dubbing the Voice [2000] [1080p] [4:3] [26:58] First off we get to see the actor Gérard Depardieu sitting in the French recording studio telling us about his involvement with dubbing his voice for the animation character "Rocky" with the French Cinema release. Other contributors to the documentary explaining their input into dubbing the animation characters are Josiane Balasko; Valérie; Jean-Marc Panneteir [Artist Director for Dubbing]. [French with no English Subtitles].

Theatrical [Bandes] Announcements:

Theatrical Trailer for `Chicken Run' [2000] [480i] [16:9] [2:16] [French and English Versions].

Theatrical Teaser Trailer for `Chicken Run' [2000] [480i] [16:9] [1:28] [English Versions].

Theatrical Trailer for `Chicken Mission Impossible Run' [2000] [480i] [16:9] [1:23] [English Versions]

Finally, `Chicken Run' is another brilliant classic animation film from the mad geniuses at Aardman Animations, a quick confection fix that's consistently enjoyable and a non-stop treat for the eyes. The Blu-Ray looks great in 2D, but what a shame they could not do a 3D conversion, while the extras are impressive compared to what passes for bonus content on Blu-ray nowadays, and offers something for adults and children alike. Families looking for a fun time for everyone watching will find it here. Distinctly British and extremely wildly imaginative, Nick Park and Peter Lord's animation film is a triumph of solid writing and virtuoso animation. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Affair to Remember [Blu-ray] [1957] [US Import]
Affair to Remember [Blu-ray] [1957] [US Import]
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: £21.99

5.0 out of 5 stars AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER [1957] [Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook] [Blu-ray] [US Import], 15 Mar. 2015
AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER [1957] [Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook] [Blu-ray] [US Import] In Italy! On The Mediterranean! Across An Ocean! And All Over New York!

In this poignant and humorous love story nominated for four Academy Awards® where Nickie [Cary Grant] and Terry [Deborah Kerr] meet on board an ocean liner and fall deeply in love. Although each is engaged to someone else, they agree to rendezvous six months later at the top of the Empire State Building if they still feel the same way about each other. But tragedy strikes . . . and prevents their rendezvous, but their future takes an emotional and uncertain turn.

FILM FACT: ‘An Affair to Remember’ was nominated at the Academy Awards® for four Oscars and they were Best Song, Best Cinematography, Best Score and Best Costume Design. Contributing to the success of the 1957 film is its theme song, "An Affair to Remember (Our Love Affair)" sung by Vic Damone, and composed by Harry Warren and with lyrics by Leo McCarey and Harold Adamson, which has since become a jazz standard.

Cast: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Neva Patterson, Cathleen Nesbitt, Robert Q. Lewis, Charles Watts, Fortunio Bonanova, Dorothy Adams (uncredited), Geneviève Aumont (uncredited), Richard Allen (uncredited) and Marni Nixon (Terry McKay singing voice)

Director: Leo McCarey

Producers: Jerry Wald and Leo McCarey

Screenplay: Delmer Daves, Donald Ogden Stewart and Leo McCarey

Composer: Hugo Friedhofer

Cinematography: Milton Krasner

Video Resolution: 1080p [Color By DeLuxe]

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [CinemaScope]

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, Spanish: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio and French: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo

Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Running Time: 115 minutes

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 1

Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘An Affair to Remember’ is one of the most popular love stories ever made in Hollywood. Many fans would hail it as the most romantic film ever made. With its mix of sophistication and sentimentality, the film offers one of the most complete expressions of Leo McCarey's personality as a writer-director. In particular, auteur critics have hailed his ability to make the transition from comedy in the early scenes to the more deeply romantic mood of the film's ending, a characteristic of such other Leo McCarey films as ‘Going My Way’ [1944] and ‘The Bells of St. Mary's’ [1945].

“Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories. . . We’ve already missed the spring,” laments Deborah Kerr’s Terry McKay of the 1957 classic ‘An Affair to Remember’ and an unforgettable romance that has managed to melt frost-bitten hearts everywhere for more than half a century. Though it is well-known for being the romantic film to end all romantic films, ‘An Affair to Remember’ is more than a mere cultural touchstone and it’s a great film in and of itself.

Nickie [Cary Grant] a notorious playboy and Terry [Deborah Kerr], an heiress, meet on the SS Constitution ocean liner. Bonded by their shared love of the finer things in life (including but not limited to pink champagne and sailing around the Mediterranean), the two instantly hit it off. Exchanging witty banter and stolen glances, their chemistry is apparent. There’s only one problem, both parties are engaged to other people. Upon docking in New York City, the pair, unable to deny their mutual attraction, agrees to meet in six months’ time at the top of the Empire State Building. However, when an unfortunate accident hinders Terry from attending their reunion, it looks as though their seemingly-fated love affair is no longer on the cards. But, of course, the heart wants what the heart wants and as chance (or indeed, Hollywood) would have it, Terry and Nickie cross paths again in the most unexpected way.

This is a film about the slow-burn of attraction, delighting in the small moments that form the prelude to a kiss (and one of the most memorable on-screen first kisses of all-time, at that). Sparks fly as the couple tease one another with a barrage of whip-smart quips, the on-screen sexual tension between stars Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant is smouldering, who brings the film alive, managing to capture the inexplicable magic of falling in love.

In fact, it’s almost impossible not to feel one’s own knees buckle as the dizzying intensity with which the couple fall in love unfolds. In one particularly beautiful scene, they visit Nickie’s doting Grandma Janou [Cathleen Nesbitt] in her home on the French Riviera. Nickie’s relationship with the tender-hearted Grandma Janou is a window that allows Terry a rare glimpse into the charismatic bachelor’s childhood. Cary Grant balances Nickie’s artistic sensibilities with cheeky cocksure confidence, showing us and indeed, seducing us with Nickie’s vulnerable side. And yet, despite their debonair appearances, it is the unsaid feelings and heart-pounding what-ifs that have us rooting for Nickie and Terry and reaching for the tissues right until the very end. Beautifully shot in vivid Color By DeLuxe, and accompanied by Harry Warren’s rich, romantic score, this bittersweet romance is a nostalgic cinematic experience that has truly stood the test of time.

The result was ‘An Affair to Remember’ [1957], one of the most popular love stories ever made in Hollywood. Many fans would hail it as the most romantic movie ever made. With its mix of sophistication and sentimentality, the film offers one of the most complete expressions of Leo McCarey's personality as a writer-director. In particular, auteur critics have hailed his ability to make the transition from comedy in the early scenes to the more deeply romantic mood of the film's ending, a characteristic of such other Leo McCarey films as ‘Going My Way’ [1944] and ‘The Bells of St. Mary's’ [1945]. The film was also Leo McCarey's last great success, capping a career that stretched back to the silent comedies he wrote and directed for Hal Roach.

‘An Affair to Remember’ was one of three 1957 films that brought Cary Grant out of retirement after his performance in ‘To Catch a Thief’ two years earlier. With the critical and box-office failure of his other two 1957 films, ‘The Pride and the Passion’ and ‘Kiss Them for Me’ and it provided the success Cary Grant needed to keep him making films until his ultimate retirement in 1966. It remains one of his most popular films. The film also remains Deborah Kerr's most popular. Throughout her later years, she was always pleased when she met fans and they told her they had most recently seen her in ‘An Affair to Remember’ and was the most successful of the three films Cary Grant made with Deborah Kerr. Although the two seemed perfectly matched, their other vehicles, ‘Dream Wife’ [1953] and ‘The Grass Is Greener’ [1960], did not capture their chemistry as effectively. The film was producer Jerry Wald's first under contract to 20th Century Fox, where he would finish his career with such acclaimed features as ‘Peyton Place’ [1957], ‘The Long, Hot Summer’ [1958] and ‘Sons and Lovers’ [1960].

Blu-ray Video Quality – The film’s stunning Cinemascope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is replicated to perfection and so is the beautiful 1080p encoded image transfer. Colour is nicely saturated without being overblown (though stock photography and rear screen projection looks much less impressive). Flesh tones, from the nut brown tan that Cary Grant sports to the peaches ‘n cream complexion of Deborah Kerr, are spot on. Black levels aren’t very deep and are the weakest aspect of the transfer. It’s very clean, however, with no visible scratches or blemishes, and sharpness is nicely achieved.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The Blu-ray offers both English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. The 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack is somewhat loud and it is a bit harsher sounding than the with the 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix, which is much more refined and smoother. There’s a tiny bit of hiss in some of the earlier quieter scenes of the film, but it’s never intrusive to the listening experience. Apart from the music score, there isn’t much surround activity here. Dialogue is always easily discernible in the centre channel though it is clear there was quite a bit of work with the film soundtrack.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Beautiful 24 pages Collectable DigiBook Packaging: That features text about the story, the stars and the director, and also stills in gorgeous Colour and some mostly in Black-and-White photographs.

Audio Commentary: Audio Commentary by Singer Marnie Nixon and Film Historian Joseph McBride: The audio commentary is provided by American film historian Joseph McBride and singer Marni Nixon who talk lovingly about the Leo McArey remake of his original black-and-white ‘Love Affair.’ Marni Nixon wished she had sung the film song title, but heaps great praise on Vic Damone’s interpretation of the film’s title song. We get to hear Joseph McBride has great affection to this film and the director, as he has so many interesting facts about the process of making ‘An Affair to Remember.’ Another interesting information we hear is the fact that Marni Nixon had worked before with Deborah Kerr in dubbing her voice in the film ‘The King and I,’ but because Marni Nixon had a year’s contract with NBC, she wondered how she could work on this particular film, but Deborah Kerr assured Marni Nixon that she knew how to dub her singing voice for this film. But to show how professional Marni Nixon was, because the film was released in different in different languages; well Marni Nixon assured the studio executives that she could sing in all the different languages. But overall I can really recommend you give this brilliant Audi Commentary a good try out, as Joseph McBride is a real joy to listen to and it is one of the best audio commentaries I have heard in a very long time.

Feature Documentary: Affairs to Remember: Deborah Kerr [2007] [1080p] [16:9] [5:34] Peter Viertel [Husband to Deborah Kerr] talks about he met Deborah Kerr, who was already married to Tony Bartley, who was extremely jealous of Ms. Deborah Kerr success and eventually they both got divorced. Sadly in her later years, Deborah Kerr suffered from a serious illness of Parkinson and eventually passed away in England on 16th October, 2007 at the age of 86.

Feature Documentary: Affairs to Remember: Cary Grant [2007] [1080p] [16:9] [9:48] Barbara Grant James [Cary Grant’s Widow] talks very affectionately about how she met Cary Grant in the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. Barbara Grant admitted that she never hardly saw any of Cary Grant’s films and how charming he was off screen. Despite Barbara Grant and Cary Grant were both in a relationship at the time, but eventually grew closer together and finally both got divorced, and were finally able to live together until Cary Grant passed away on the 29th November, 1986 in Davenport, Iowa.

Feature Documentary: Directed by Leo McCarey [2007] [1080p] [16:9] [22:33] Scott McIsaac [Film Historian]; Paul Harrill [Author/Film Professor]; Peter Bogdanovich [Author/Film Maker]; and Rick Jewel [USC Professor Cinema-Television] talk glowingly about this giant among directors of his luminary work of his classic films. You hear about how Leo McCarey tried different career choices. First he tried to become a prize fighter, a miner, a sports writer for the LA Times. Then he went to the USC to study law and eventually became a lawyer, but this did not last long due to an unsuccessful court case that went badly wrong, and eventually got a job in Hollywood as a script girl for the director Todd Browning. When he finally got to direct films, he famously worked with Laurel & Hardy, Harold Lloyd, Mae West, The Marx Brothers, Charles Laughton, Cary grant, Irene Dunne and many more famous actors. He directed the ‘Love Affair’ film and then went onto to do the remake ‘An Affair to Remember.’ He also made other classic films, which included his last film he made was ‘Satan never Sleeps’ which he hated directing, plus he hated all the actors and eventually sadly passed away suffering from emphysema in 1969.

Feature Documentary: A Producer to Remember: Jerry Wald [2007] [1080p] [16:9] [16:06] Malvin Wald [Brother to Screenwriter]; Robby Wald [Son]; Richard Baer [Writer]; Andrew Wald [Son] and Constance Wald [Widow of Jerry Wald] talk glowingly and affectionate about the life and times of this special Producer jerry Wald, who worked in different film companies from 1944 to 1962, who was also passionate about his work in films. The passion sort of started when Jerry Wald worked with his father, who to get any business, would tell them very elaborate stories, to the point he persuaded to get orders for the Company Jerry Wald’s father worked for. So this how Jerry Wald got into the film industry, as he could also weave a good story to the film executives to get certain stars into a particular film. But his greatest gift was working with top authors and turning their books into a working film script, and also appreciating the importance of the audience who went to see the films he worked on. He was totally motivated by the whole film industry and a total workaholic and sadly this was his undoing and eventually passed away at the age of 50 after three heart attacks. Despite this sad fact, his volume of work for the film industry, speaks for itself.

Feature Documentary: The Look of An Affair to Remember [2007] [1080p] [16:9] [9:01] With any film, it has to have a look, and also how the director and the production designer wants the film image looks in the frame and to guide us through this homage to ‘An Affair to Remember’ we have contributions from John Cork [Film Historian]; Peter Bogdanovich [Author/Film Maker]; Wes Gehring [Author/Film Professor] and Rick Jewell [USC Professor Cinema-Television]. With all these contributors they give great praise on the director Leo McArey and his use of the CinemaScope aspect ratio, to make you fall in love with this particular film. One great surprise you hear is how Cary Grant insisted he wanted to shoot the film an actual liner, but Leo McArey insisted that he would only film most of the film on the backlot of the studio and that is why the director made ‘An Affair to Remember’ such a magical joyous classic romantic film, that has stood the test of time.

Feature Documentary: AMC Backstory®: An Affair to Remember [2001] [480i] [4:3] [24:27] This made for TV documentary, tells in great detail about the backstage story about the main stars Cary grant and Deborah Kerr, which reflected their screen personalities, and their secret private lives. People contributing to this documentary are Peter Bogdanovich [Author/Film Maker]; A.E. Holchner [Sophia Loren’s Biographer]; Roy Mosley [Cary Grant’s Biographer]; Curtis Harrington [Former Assistant to jerry Wald]; Deborah Kerr [Actress]; Francesca Shrapnel [Deborah Kerr’s Daughter]; Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian]; Nancy Nelson [Cary Grant’s Biographer] and Anne Hutton [Deborah Kerr’s Manager/Friend]. We hear about when Cary Grant worked on the film ‘The Pride and The Passion’ where he fell madly in love with the leading female star Sophia Loren, who was seriously romantically involved with producer Carlo Ponti. We also get to see a short clip from a very rare promotional film the 20th Century Fox presents A Special CinemaScope Picture entitled “The Big Show” to promote the film ‘An Affair to Remember.’ Leo McCarey found two main stars got on very well together, that he allowed them to sometimes to improvise occasionally from the script. We also get lots of clips from the film, as well as certain outtakes. Although critics slated the film, but of course it was a massive big hit with audiences and also its deservedly Academy Awards Nominations. Narrated by Rino Romano.

Fox Movietone News: An Affair to Remember Shipboard Premiere Attracts Celebrities [1957] [1080p] [4:3] [00:56] This short film packs in a lot and you see most of the stars, as well as the director and producer involved with the film. But you also get to see other celebrities attending the premiere, which includes Celeste Holm, Shelley Winters, Arlene Dahl, Fernando Lamas and Deborah Paget.

Theatrical Trailer: [1957] [480i] [4:3] [2:53] Here we get to see the actual 20th Century Fox present a Special CinemaScope Picture ‘The Big Show.’

Finally, keep the Kleenex nearby for this 10 hanky tearjerker; it’s a classic of romantic cinema that has influenced the genre for decades of other romantic films. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr make it easy to believe everything about this love story. Cary Grant is a certain kind of charming that can never be duplicated. He’s the kind of actor that makes you fall in love with him no matter what year it is. The transition from playboy to love fool is so effortless for Cary Grant. His sincerity and expression in certain scenes makes you feel the way he does, as if another love like this will never come again. Deborah Kerr is a timeless beauty, who plays the part of the woman with strength well. Bottom line is, for those true romantics out there; this is one you shouldn’t pass up. This is what a romantic film should be all about. A love like this goes hand and hand with class, something that many stars today can’t even get close to. ‘An Affair to Remember’ will always be one to remember. They don’t make them like this anymore, so this is one to purchase for certain. It makes an excellent, stay-at-home romantic date night film especially, as well for the whole family. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Criterion Collection: Night of the Hunter [Blu-ray] [1955] [US Import]
Criterion Collection: Night of the Hunter [Blu-ray] [1955] [US Import]
Offered by Moref Designs
Price: £26.34

5.0 out of 5 stars THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER [1955] [The Criterion Collection Special Edition] [Blu-ray] [US Import], 15 Mar. 2015
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER [1955] [The Criterion Collection Special Edition] [Blu-ray] [US Import] Towering Above All Others . . . But Greater Than Them All is The Impact of the Motion Picture Itself!

‘The Night of the Hunter’ incredibly, was the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed and is truly a standalone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum [‘Cape Fear’ and ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’] as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles), whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters [‘A Place in the Sun’ and ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’] are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humour, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish [‘Intolerance’ and ‘Duel in the Sun’] and writer James Agee, is cinema's quirkiest rendering of the battle between good and evil.

FILM FACT: The film was a collaboration of Charles Laughton and screenwriter James Agee. Charles Laughton drew on the harsh, angular look of German expressionist films of the 1920s. The film's score, composed and arranged by Walter Schumann in close association with Charles Laughton, features a combination of nostalgic and expressionistic orchestral passages. The film has two original songs by Walter Schumann, "Lullaby" (sung by Kitty White, whom Walter Schumann discovered in a nightclub) and "Pretty Fly" (originally sung by Sally Jane Bruce as Pearl, but later dubbed by an actress named Betty Benson). A recurring musical device involves the preacher making his presence known by singing the traditional hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." Robert Mitchum also recorded the soundtrack version of the hymn.

Cast: Billy Chapin, Sally Jane Bruce, Peter Graves, Shelley Winters, Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, Evelyn Varden, James Gleason, Don Beddoe, Gloria Castillo, Michael Chapin and Gloria Pall

Director: Charles Laughton

Producer: Paul Gregory

Screenplay: Charles Laughton, James Agee and Davis Grubb (author)

Composer: Walter Schumann

Cinematography: Stanley Cortez A.S.C.

Video Resolution: 1080p [Black-and-White]

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Audio: English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio and English: Dolby Digital Mono Audio

Subtitles: English

Running Time: 93 minutes

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 2

Studio: The Criterion Collection

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘The Night of the Hunter’ is a cinematic curiosity. Shot in black-and-white, the 1955 film is Charles Laughton's sole directorial effort. It starred Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, and Shelley Winters; James Agee wrote the screenplay (or is at least credited with doing so). Based on Donald Grubb's 1953 bestselling novel, it is a dark and powerful morality play. Not a great success when first released, it is now an acknowledged masterpiece.

It is a tale of good and evil, innocence and sin. The good, especially Rachel Cooper can seem too good to be true, but the evil, in the person the preacher, is as roundly, soundly evil as it gets. Good triumphs, but the damage done along the way is spectacular. The film is remarkable in a number of respects, not least of which is its acknowledgement of pure evil (and that in the guise of a man of god). Robert Mitchum's portrayal is particularly noteworthy, while Lillian Gish is also a perfect "benevolent antidote to Preacher's evil."

In his own words, director Charles Laughton described ‘The Night of the Hunter’ [1955] as "a nightmarish sort of Mother Goose tale." Based on a popular novel by David Grubb, the film takes place in West Virginia during the Depression and follows a homicidal preacher as he stalks two children, a brother and sister, across the rural landscape. The reason for his pursuit is $10,000 in cash and it's stuffed inside a doll the little girl is carrying.

Charles Laughton worked with James Agee on the screenplay but the famous author of “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” had a severe drinking problem (he died the same year) and the screenplay he delivered was a mammoth script by Hollywood standards that Laughton had to whittle down to an acceptable length. Although Agee biographer Lawrence Bergman maintained that Charles Laughton had to rewrite most of screenplay, the discovery of James Agee's first draft of the script in 2004 proved that it reflected Laughton's final release version, almost scene for scene.

The casting was also exceptional and Laughton coaxed excellent performances from Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, and Lillian Gish. However, he developed an aversion to the two child actors and when he overheard the little boy, Billy Chapin, bragged about winning the New York Critics' Circle Prize for a recent play, Charles Laughton roared, "Get that child away from me." After that, the two children took their direction mostly from Robert Mitchum. The only other problem Charles Laughton encountered was having to juggle his shooting schedule so that Robert Mitchum could begin work on his next film, ‘Not as a Stranger’ [1955].

Ignored and misunderstood at the time of its release, except by a handful of critics, ‘The Night of the Hunter’ had to wait several decades before it took its rightful place alongside other revered works of the American cinema. It was the sole directorial effort of actor Charles Laughton and he took the film's commercial failure very hard, abandoning any future plans to direct another film.

‘The Night of the Hunter’ is anything but a failure and is chock full of riches: Robert Mitchum creates a chilling portrait of evil in one of his finest performances (and one of his personal favourites); the rock-steady presence of Lillian Gish is both a homage and a direct link to the films of D.W. Griffith, who the film pioneer Charles Laughton pays a great tribute to this film genius. The shimmering beauty of Stanley Cortez's cinematography also recalls the shadows and lighting of other silent era classics by Fritz Lang and Josef von Sternberg, and the music score by Walter Schumann is unusually evocative, mixing hymns, children's songs, and orchestral effects. Unforgettably haunting images (a car submerged in a watery grave; a spider's web view of the children fleeing in a riverboat to the strains of Pretty Fly; a silhouetted angel of death) make this a perennially unsettling masterpiece from which modern chillers could learn much.

The Night of the Hunter’ is a complex film: arty, and yet as straightforwardly terrifying as any contemporary slasher film. It is a story of seductions, as well as the seduction of both evil and of good. It is a haunting film, and a memorable one. As others have pointed out, it was not an ideal debut for Charles Laughton, being too ambitious, trying too much. Audiences (and many critics) were apparently unsure of what to make of it. Though it received decent reviews, sadly it was not a commercial success. In Britain it was even rated with an ‘X’ certificate (not as far-fetched as one might think: it is definitely a film for a mature audience). Each aspect of the film’s production, from the idyllic cinematography to the incredible performances, to the contrary uses of cinematic stylisation and narrative, presents an interplay of opposing ideas through a sophisticated, haunting, and strangely buoyant whole. It endures as an enchanting American folk tale ripe with intricate melodrama and mythic symbolism, one that no film fan will ever forget.

Blu-ray Video Quality – Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and encoded with a stunning encoded 1080p transfer. Charles Laughton's ‘The Night of the Hunter’ arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of The Criterion Collection. This new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a SCANTY film scanner from the original 35mm camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MITT’s DRS system and Pixel Farm’s PFClean system, while Digital Vision’s DVRN system was used for small grain, dirt and noise reduction. This is a very impressive high-definition transfer.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc and that is a 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio and was taken from the UCLA Film & Television Archive restoration, supervised by Gitt and also by John Polito of Audio Mechanics. This restoration was painstakingly constructed from a 35mm composite master positive, a variable-density soundtrack negative of the film’s music and effects track, a projection print, and many rolls of 35mm magnetic film containing fully edited dialogue recordings. So in the end there was a great deal of work was done to make sure that the audio presentation is as good as possible, and it clearly shows. The new 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio track conveys excellent depth and stability that will undoubtedly impress those of you who own the old inferior NTSC DVD release. The dialogue is also clean and stable and I did not detect any pops, cracks, hissings, or audio dropouts.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: The Criterion Collection brings an amazing treasure trove of supplements for this Blu-ray edition of 'The Night of the Hunter.' Spanning two discs and mirroring its previous DVD release and most of the bonus material is being released for the first time on the home video market. For fans of this horror masterpiece, the collection is exceptional and worth the price of admission alone.

NEW and Restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack.

The First Special Features and Extras Blu-ray Disc:

Audio Commentary: Commentary Recorded in 2008 and the commentary features Second-unit Director Terry Sanders, Film Archivist Robert Gitt, Film Critic F.X. Feeney, and Preston Neal Jones: To listen to the commentary while viewing ‘The Night of the Hunter,’ press the AUDIO key on your Blu-ray remote at any time: This is a very informative commentary, in which second-unit director Terry Sanders, film archivist Robert Gitt, film critic F.X. Feeney, and Preston Neal Jones, author of “Heaven and Hell to Play With.” A great deal of the conversation is, of course, on the history of the movie, Charles Laughton's direction, but the discussion also includes several comments on the film's initial reception, it's immense influence and rise to a cinematic treasure, how each participant came to discover it and some wonderful thoughts on the film's themes. This is a terrific commentary, worth listening for those with an interest in film history and about its reception and restoration, the film's message, and Charles Laughton's fascinating life and career, etc.

Special Feature Documentary: The Making of ‘The Night of The Hunter’ [2010] [1080p] [4:3] [37:59] This documentary traces the history of ‘The Night of the Hunter,’ from Charles Laughton discovery of the Davis Grubb novel of the same title, and we also get to hear about the films poor reception in 1995 by the critics and the audience, but we also get to hear about its later ascension into the pantheon of classic films. This brilliant documentary features producer Paul Gregory, second-unit director Terry Sanders, and authors Preston Neal Jones, F.X. Feeney and Jeffrey Couchman. What we get over the period of the documentary is some really fascinating information, like Davis Grubb did some special pencil sketches of what he visualised how certain characters and scenes would appear in the film, and Charles Laughton was so bowled over, that he demanded Davis Grubb to send more drawings and Charles Laughton actually used them as the virtual storyboard. We also get to find out that the film took 35 days to shoot and came well under budget at $800,000, which is what they would spend on food and drink for the actors and crew today. The cost of getting the rights to the novel was $80,000. But the most fascinating interesting facts of the film, is that 99.9% the film was shot on the backlot of the RKO Studio. But what was sad to hear is that United Artist would not spend certain amounts of monies on publicity for the film, and the film at the time of its release was a complete flop and it made Charles Laughton totally depressed and crushed, but of course it has now become one of the Top 5 Classic Film. This is a must view documentary.

Special Feature Documentary: Simon Callow on Charles Laughton [2010] [1080p] [16:9] [10:35] In this interview, that was shot in 2010 in London. Simon Callow, the author of “Charles Laughton: A Difficult Actor” discusses Charles Laughton’s career and the effects on this lone foray into film directing it had on his life. Simon Callow gives a totally engrossing talk about Charles Laughton and definitely shows how he loved this fascinating character and gives loads of praise on the talent of Charles Laughton and feels he could of gone onto greater things, especially going onto a brilliant film director, which sadly ended with ‘The Night of the Hunter.’ This is again a must view documentary, as Simon Callow is a very charismatic person and it also shows how much he loved the film and that is why he produced his first class novel on Charles Laughton.

Special Feature Documentary: Moving Pictures [1995] [480i] [4:3] [14:18] This just under fifteen-minute special documentary on the classic film ‘The Night of the Hunter’ is presented by Howard Schuman, which was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom on the BBC Two channel, on 19th February, 1995 and features interviews with producer Paul Gregory, actors Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lilian Gish [1978], editor Robert Golden, art director Stanley Cortez, and second-unit director Terry Sanders.

Special Feature: Clip from The Ed Sullivan Show [1995] [480i] [4:3] [3:51] In this short excerpt from the 25th September, 1995 episode of The Ed Sullivan Show, we get to see the actors Peter Graves and Shelley Winters perform a scene not included in the film ‘The Night of the Hunter,’ here we get to see Willa Hunter visits Ben Harper in prison. Sadly the quality of the video image is really rough, as is the sound and it looks like it was recorded off someone’s home VHS video recorder.

Special Feature: Archival interview with Cinematographer Stanley Cortez A.S.C. [1984] [480i] [4:3] [12:53] In this July 1948 interview, that was shot in Hollywood at the American Society of Cinematographers, where we get to see the Oscar® winning Stanley Cortez being interviewed by Claude Ventura and Laurence Gavron about his work on the classic film ‘The Night of the Hunter,’ and we hear his total respect for Charles Laughton the director and the way he respected all the actors and crew, and especially his Cinematographer Charles Cortez, as Charles Laughton knew he would get the best cinematography for his film with light and shade. Because it was filmed by a French Television crew, you unfortunately get French subtitles appearing on the screen.

Special feature: Gallery of Sketches by Author Davis Grubb: To navigate this sequence, press the right arrow on your Blu-ray remote to move forward the images and with the left key arrow to move backward to the previous images. To exit, your press ENTER. Here we get to see all of the pencil sketches that Davis Grubb sent to Charles Laughton, which was used as the virtual storyboard for the film. You also sometimes get to see the actual black-and-white images that relates to the pencil sketches.

Theatrical Trailer [1955] [1080p] [1.66:1] [1:36] This is the Original British Theatrical Trailer, as you get the British Board of Film Censors logo advertising an ‘X’ Certificate Film for a ‘U’ Trailer.

The Second Special Features and Extras Blu-ray Disc:

Special Feature Introduction: In this conversation, recorded specially for The Criterion Collection in 2010, here you have film archivist Robert Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin discuss the discovery and preservation of the material used to make Charles Laughton Directs ‘The Night of the Hunter’ [2010] [1080p] [16:9] [16:58] This is a really fascinating interview and we hear lots of anecdotes on how this preservation work came to fruition. Robert Gitt had felt he had been on this project from 1959, especially after viewing the film broadcast on his television and not realising it was directed by Charles Laughton. Eventually he met Elsa Lancaster, who informed him of 18 boxes of all the rushes and outtakes of the film. Over the next 20 years Robert Gitt painstakingly edits all of the rolls of film of the rushes and outtakes to produce this special presentation that follows this interesting interview. But one big problem Robert Gitt had when everything had been edited together in 2001; he found that he had over 8 hours of film, if shown in one session. But eventually Robert Gitt had to edit the rushes and outtake down to a manageable 2 hours 39 minutes to give it a brilliant presentation, which you are about to see after this interview. What you get to view is a full 4:3 frame presentation, which gives you an insight into Charles Laughton’s frame of mind in producing this classic film.

Special feature: Charles Laughton Directs ‘The Night of the Hunter’ [2002] [1080p] [4:3] [2:39:05] Here you get to see a treasure trove of outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. It was “The Epic That Was” and seeing Charles Laughton in person directing all the actors is a glorious treat to view and it was a tragedy he was not allowed to direct more films, as he would have made some stunning films, as he was a true professional in his outlook towards presenting good classic films. But sadly ‘The Night of the Hunter’ was a total disaster at the time of its release and Charles Laughton was totally devastated why it was not a success or won any Academy Awards. But of course this film has now gone into the annals of a classic film, that The Criterion Collection has now produced a beautiful stunning presentation. Anyway this special presentation of the outtakes and rushes is totally fascinating and gives a much better insight into this beautiful magical classic film.

BONUS: Here we have a stunning 30 page Special illustrated booklet containing Terrence Rafferty's essay "Holy Terror" (the author teaches at Princeton University) and Michael Sragow's essay "Downriver and Heavenward with James Agee."

Finally, Despite being a box-office and critical failure during its initial theatrical release, 'The Night of the Hunter' has since become widely recognised as one of the most beautifully photographed and remarkable films in cinema history. I think it is fair to say that the wait was well worth it. Indeed, ‘The Night of the Hunter’ looks totally spectacular on Blu-ray, and the supplemental features Criterion have provided are simply outstanding. This is a true American classic, folks, which has received the type of treatment it so rightfully deserves. A special thanks to UCLA Film & Television Archive for making this release possible. Very Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Rescuers 35th Anniversary Edition & Rescuers Down [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Rescuers 35th Anniversary Edition & Rescuers Down [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £8.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE RESCUERS / THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER [1977/1990] [35th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD] [US Import], 13 Mar. 2015
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THE RESCUERS / THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER [1977/1990] [35th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD] [US Import] 2 Movie Collection!

To commemorate the 35th Anniversary Edition of an original classic, Disney proudly presents a special 2 Movie Collection featuring all-time family favourites, ‘THE RESCUERS’ and ‘THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER,’ for the first time ever on Blu-ray!

Join two of the world's bravest mice, Bernard and Bianca as they set out on two thrilling rescue missions full of comic adventure while soaring through the Devil's Bayou and flying sky-high in the Australian outback. Buckle up for the ride of your life as these tiny heroes with great big hearts outrun and outwit their rivals to save the day.

Brimming with lovable characters and unforgettable music, this 2 Movie Collection is high-flying fun for the entire family! Share the laughs and excitement for the first time on Disney Blu-ray.

FILM FACT: ‘The Rescuers’ was nominated in 1978 for an Academy Award® for the song "Someone's Waiting for You" at the 50th Academy Awards.

Voice Cast: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page, Michelle Stacy, Joe Flynn, Jim Jordan, John McIntire, Jeanette Nolan, James MacDonald, Candy Candido, Bernard Fox, George Lindsey, Larry Clemmons, Dub Taylor, John Fiedler, Shelby Flint, Bill McMillian, John Candy, Adam Ryen, George C. Scott, Frank Welker, Tristan Rogers, Peter Firth, Wayne Robson, Douglas Seale, Carla Meyer and Russi Taylor

Directors: Art Stevens, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, Hendel Butoy and Mike Gabriel

Producers: Ron Miller, Wolfgang Reitherman and Thomas Schumacher

Screenplay: Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, Dick Sebast, Frank Thomas, Fred Lucky, Ken Anderson, Larry Clemmons, Vance Gerry, Byron Simpson, Jim Cox, Joe Ranft and Karey Kirkpatrick

Composers: Score: Artie Butler. Songs: Ayn Robbins, Carol Connors, Sammy Fain, Shelby Flint and Bruce Broughton

Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

Running Times: 78 minutes

Region: Blu-ray: All Regions and DVD: NTSC

Number of discs: 3

Studio: Walt Disney Video

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Walt Disney animators had consciously set out to produce a pair of animation films showing the before-and-after effects of digital technology on animation, they hardly could have produced more of a perfect presentation than ‘The Rescuers’ [1977] and ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ [1990] and the two animation films, made just 13 years apart, and the concentration on the same two protagonists responding to a pair of similar situations, are nonetheless radically different in practically every aspect of visual design and approach. And the shifts extend past the construction methods: Seen side-by-side in the new Blu-ray and DVD double release of the ‘The Rescuers’ 35th Anniversary and ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ and they are a clear-cut portrait of Traditional Walt Disney vs. the Walt Disney Renaissance.

Both animation films are loosely based on the author Margery Sharp’s Rescuers books, and both star Eva Gabor and Bob Newhart as a pair of mice whose international aid group helps people in need, a sort of mouse-specific shadow United Nations, based in the UN headquarters itself. In the first animation film ‘The Rescuers’ we have Hungarian diplomat Miss Bianca [Eva Gabor] and clumsy American janitor Bernard [Bob Newhart] accept a mission to track down and assist an orphan girl named Penny, who was kidnapped by half-mad, all-evil pawnbroker Madame Medusa and is being used to explore a dangerous cave system in search of a gigantic diamond. In the second animation film ’The Rescuers Down Under’ we get to see Miss Bianca and Bernard head to Australia to rescue a boy named Cody [Adam Ryen] who was kidnapped by surly nasty evil poacher McLeach [George C. Scott] after catching McLeach in the act of his diabolical schemes. Along the way, the mice join forces with a local kangaroo mouse [Tristan Rogers] and help rescue an immense golden eagle.

‘The Rescuers’ was one of the last of Walt Disney’s traditional cell-animation department. When it was produced, three of the studio’s long-time core animators entitled the “nine old men,” as Walt Disney himself called them. The three who worked as key animators on ‘The Rescuers’ were Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnson and all had retired after the animation film had been finished. The animation film served as a training ground for up-and-comers, including Don Bluth and Glen Keane, and as a testing ground for a new xerographic process that let animators transfer coloured lines to animated cells, instead of the black lines that were previously standard. But the new process doesn’t always work as well; the thick, fuzzy grey lines around the animated characters often make them stand out starkly from the painted backgrounds. Some of the animation is noticeably recycled throughout the animation film, or brought in from past Walt Disney features. While ‘The Rescuers’ is at times a showcase for marvellously expressive art, especially in Milt Kahl’s design for Madame Medusa, a sloppy, flailing disaster of a woman with a shapeless bust hanging to her waist and a face like a half-empty bag.

Contrast this with ‘The Rescuers Down Under,’ here we have the Disney Siudio’s first wholly digital film. While ‘The Little Mermaid’ was the first animated feature to use Disney’s proprietary CAPS (computer animation production system) software in a limited capacity, ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ used it throughout, with animators building entirely digital backgrounds, drawing, painting, and assembling images entirely via the computer. The technique allowed for finer lines, more graduated shading, richer shadows, sharper contrast, and an integration between planes that sadly ‘The Rescuers’ lacked. It is a gorgeous, visually ambitious film, full of show-off set pieces reportedly inspired by the work of Hayao Miyazaki.

Both animation films have their ultimate rewards. ‘The Rescuers’ has a much more personal charm than its sequel, particularly in the quirky, prickly characters. The animation film has a real sense of menace and malice, particularly in Madame Medusa’s casually sadistic treatment of Penny, and the authentically frightening scene where Penny is trapped in a flooding cavern with Madame Medusa threatening her from above. ‘The Rescuers Down Under,’ meanwhile, has a vast sense of space and a rich field of colour; which sadly flopped at the box office, with reviewers grumbling that Walt Disney Studio had abandoned its musical heritage by dropping any pretence of songs, and that the story was slightly bland. But the animation film remains an animator’s showcase, visually impressive even by today’s standard. And both animation films have memorable nasty villains, with McLeach’s muttering dark humour and Madame Medusa’s thrilling Cruella De Vil wildness and both looking particularly frightening when placed next to a vulnerable child. (One early script treatment for the first Rescuers called for Madame Medusa to be in similar vein of Cruella De Vil; the idea was ultimately scrapped, but it’s easy to see the influence in her big gestures and expressive talk and in the fact that they drive the same garish roadster in the same barely controlled fashion.)

Both animation films have sadly their failings as well. ‘The Rescuers’ is mightily treacly in spots, relying heavily on a gap-toothed, lisping, frequently crying wide-eyed orphan to deliver pathos by the bucket load. The periodic songs are an awkward mixture, with a Disney sing-along show tune, a sad ballad, and a wispy ’70s easy-listening number all jostling for space. The animation film makes heavy use of grainy painted backgrounds, opening with a series of impressionistic still-frames in which the texture of the painted surfaces stands out more than the colour. And it spends a surprising amount of time on hick jokes and dead-end bits of narrative business, as when Miss Bianca and Bernard try to take a shortcut through a rainy zoo and get scared off by lion noises. ‘The Rescuers Down Under,’ meanwhile, swaps ‘The Rescuers’ surly albatross pilot, Orville (voiced by old-time radio star Jim Jordan), for a louder, jokey version named Wilbur, voiced by John Candy and designed as the butt of endless aggressive physical gags. ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ also builds an entire storyline around Cody meeting and befriending a group of animals imprisoned in McLeach’s lair and then the film forgets them entirely, whisking the protagonists off to adventure and thoughtlessly leaving a group of highly individualised, compelling characters alone in the dark to die.

But from the outset, the individual experience, the two animation films are most fascinating to look at a company in the process of reinventing itself. In just 13 years, Walt Disney Studio went from showcasing sentiment and heartstring-plucking emotion to pushing high-flying adventure. It dropped the songs and the wistfulness, polished up the colour, and poured on the spectacle and the big, broad gags. To some degree, it stopped aiming so obviously at the heart, and aimed more directly at the adrenal glands. And in the process, it became a company more directly prepared for the 21st century of film. Both Rescuers animation films stand as historical pieces, but they have the most to say when viewed in direct comparison, especially for the whole family.

Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘The Rescuers’ and ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ have both been framed in a respectful aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is presented in a brilliant 1080p encoded transfer. Unlike many of these Walt Disney Studio classics brought to the Blu-ray format, and there is an occasional dust speckle can be seen occasionally, and sharpness is not always top notch in every shot. The lines are solid and consistent with no artefacts and no banding was noticed at all. Colours are beautifully controlled throughout both animation films.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘The Rescuers’ and ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is very much an audio track of its era with most of the audio spread across the front channels and very little seeping into the rears apart from occasional echoes of songs or the background scores by Artie Butler and Bruce Broughton’s background score with both animation films. ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ surround channel gets a very nice workout from the McLeach’s huge tractor, he uses to terrorise his victims. The dialogue is always very clear and precise and has been placed in the centre channel, but there are a couple of instances of directional dialogue.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

“Peoplitis” [The Deleted Song] [1080p] [16:9] [4:30] Ron Clements [Animator] introduces us to something he was involved with in ‘The Rescuers’ in 1974 (using storyboards), and tells us the particular song was composed by Floyd Huddleston and also explains the concept of “Peoplitis,” which unfortunately was deleted. The singing artists includes Louis Prima, Sam Pitera and The Witnesses, who were in ‘The Jungle Book’ and to me “Peoplitis” is very similar in style to “I Wanna Be Like You” and see if you agree with me?

Silly Symphony Animated Short: Three Blind Mouseketeers [1936] [480i] [4:3] [8:45] The three blind mice are musketeers that live in a cellar. Captain Katt [Billy Bletcher] (the devious cat) sets a number of traps for them and goes to sleep. Then the musketeers come out to search for food evading all the clutches. The cat eventually wakes up and begins chasing them, but they escape thanks to their teamwork. There is a slight mistake with the animation, where at one point Captain Katt’s eye patch appears on his right eye.

Walt Disney True-Life Adventure: Water Birds [1952] [1080p] [4:3] [3:40] ‘Water Birds’ is a 1952 American short documentary film directed by Ben Sharpsteen. It won an Academy Award® in 1953 for Best Short Subject (Two-Reel).[1] The film was produced by Walt Disney as part of the True-Life Adventures series of nature documentaries. It was shot in Technicolor by more than a dozen cameramen and was created in cooperation with the National Audubon Society and the Denver Museum of Natural History. What we get to view is as always a very professional presentation, that the Walt Disney Studio always excels in and we get to hear a lot of interesting information about the Water Birds, especially of all the feathered variety.

Walt Disney Sing-Along Song: Someone’s Waiting for You [1977] [1080p] [1.66:1] [2:12] here we get a selection of images from ‘The Rescuers’ with a specific female artist [unknown] singing the song. What you get is yellow subtitles at the bottom of the screen, so you can sing-along with the song. I suspect younger audience will demand to sing this song loads of times, to the annoyance to their parents.

Feature Documentary: The Making of The Rescuers Down Under [1990] [480i] [4:3] 10:32] Thomas Schumacher [Producer]; Michael Gabriel [Director]; Maurice Hunt [Art Director]; Hendel Butoy [Director]; Kathy Zeilinkski [Supervising Animator] and Ruben Aquino [Supervising Animator] talk extensively about the two year production in bringing this animation film to the silver screen. You get to see the crew with their research trip to Australia and trips to the San Diego Zoo to watch real animals in motion and to draw them, so to bring them to life in ‘The Rescuers Down Under.’

Lear How To Take Your Favourite Movie On The Go: Disney Digital Copy [1080p] [16:9] [1:02]

Discover Blu-ray 3D With Timon & Puba [1080p] [16:9 [4:23] Of course this will not be seen in 3D, it is just an amusing video promotion for the 3D format and quite enjoyable it is to.

Sneak Peaks: The disc offers 1080p Promotional Trailers for Disney Studio All Access Promotion [1080p] [16:9] [1:00]; Cinderella [Diamond Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD] [1080p] [4:3] [1:06]; Finding Nemo 3D [1080p] [16:9] [1:52]; Disney Movie Rewards Promotion [1080p] [16:9] [0:20]; Disney Parks Promotion [1080p] [16:9] [0:30]; Secrets of the Wings [Blu-ray + DVD] [1080p] [16:9] [0:56]; The Aristocrats [Special Edition] [Blu-ray] [1080p] [16:9] [0:50]; Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 [1080p] [16:9] [0:36] and PLANES [1080p] [16:9] [1:26]

Finally, ‘The Rescuers’ 2 Movie Collection is a worthwhile dual release and is a totally endearing and classic animated films that the whole family will love, while ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ does a reasonable serviceable job as a sequel, even if it not as strong as the original animation film. ‘The Rescuers’ and ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ have never looked or sounded better, especially the impressive and clear picture quality of both animation films, makes these animation films are definitely worth buying for any fan of Walt Disney animated films. By the way I have always loved these Walt Disney animation films and I fully admit that it's probably my nostalgia for them talking, but they'll always hold a special place in my animation-loving heart. The emotional aspect of the first film and the throwback Bluth-inspired animation makes me adore it so much. The adventure and fun of the second animation film causes me to appreciate it probably a little more than I sis when it was first released in 1990. In any case, it's great to see these two animation films finally get the high-definition treatment. And fans should be very happy with the outcome, both in the audio and visual departments. This Disney duo Blu-ray pack is highly recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition [Blu-ray] [1961] [US Import]
101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition [Blu-ray] [1961] [US Import]
Offered by Moref Designs
Price: £20.04

5.0 out of 5 stars 101 DALMATIANS [1961] [Diamond Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD] [US Import], 4 Mar. 2015
101 DALMATIANS [1961] [Diamond Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD] [US Import] 101 Times The Fun For The Whole Family! New All-Cartoon Feature! 17th Animated Feature!

Pick your favourite spot to watch anytime and anywhere and get ready for a fun-filled adventure with `101 DALMATIANS' for the first time ever on Blu-ray and Digital HD!

Pongo, Perdita and their super-adorable puppies are in for thrills, hilarious spills and an epic action-packed adventure when they face off with Cruella De Vil, Disney's most fabulously outrageous villainess. Unleash all the excitement and suspense of Disney's `101 DALMATIANS' which is a beloved classic you'll want to share with your family again and again! Narrated by Rod Taylor.

FILM FACT: Unlike many Walt Disney animated features; `One Hundred and One Dalmatians' features only three songs, with just one, "Cruella De Vil," playing a big part in the film. The other two songs are "Kanine Krunchies Jingle" (sung by Lucille Bliss, who voiced Anastasia Tremaine in Disney's 1950 film `Cinderella'), and "Dalmatian Plantation" in which only two lines are sung by Roger at the film's closure. Songwriter Mel Leven had in fact, written several additional songs for the film including "Don't Buy a Parrot from a Sailor," a cockney chant, meant to be sung by the Baduns at the De Vil Mansion, and "March of the One Hundred and One," which the dogs were meant to sing after escaping Cruella De Vil's van.

Voice Cast: Rod Taylor, Cate Bauer, Betty Lou Gerson, Ben Wright, Lisa Davis, Martha Wentworth, Frederick Worlock, Pat O'Malley, Thurl Ravenscroft, David Frankham, Barbara Baird, Mickey Maga, Sandra Abbott, Mimi Gibson and Tom Conway

Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman

Producer: Walt Disney

Screenplay: Bill Peet and Dodie Smith (author)

Composer: George Bruns and Mel Leven

Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD master Audio, English: Original Theatrical Mix, French: 5.1 DTS-HD High Resolution and Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, English, French and Spanish

Running Time: 79 minutes

Region: Blu-ray: All Regions and DVD: NTSC

Number of discs: 2

Studio: Walt Disney Studios

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Arriving on Blu-ray is Walt Disney's latest Diamond Edition, the 1961 classic `101 Dalmatians.' This animation film has raked in $millions over the years, spawned a sequel and live-action remakes, and helped make Dalmatians one of the most highly sought-after of dog animation film of all time, apart from `Lady and The Tramp' of course and regardless of its long-term influence, `101 Dalmatians' remains an endearing beautiful classic and this new Blu-ray edition offers a terrific way to revisit one of Walt Disney's beautiful interpretation of the classic novel by Dodie Smith.

Based on the Dodie Smith's 1956 novel "The One Hundred and One Dalmatians" as was the film during its initial release. `101 Dalmatians' pretty much saved the animation department of Walt Disney Studios following losses incurred following the expensive `Sleeping Beauty,' initially a commercial disappointment upon its release two years earlier. As explained in some of the Blu-ray bonus features, the use of Xerox photography was basically a Godsend in terms of reducing the budget. There were also other cost-saving animation breakthroughs made during production, particularly affecting the sequence in which villainess Cruella De Vil's car is stuck in the snow, utilising live-action photography as their basis. All of this is delved into within the Diamond Edition supplements. Anyone who thought Dalmatians was just another Walt Disney animated classic will come away from this edition with a deeper sense of respect for the studio's innovations and determination.

The concise storytelling, all fitting tidily within a brisk 79 minutes, continues to makes Dalmatians one of the easiest Disney classics to revisit again and again. Maybe it has something to do with its "real world," then-contemporary setting, which is a nice change of pace from the fairy tale lands and more elaborately fantasy-based and/or "period piece" settings of previous Walt Disney animated films. In London, bachelor Roger (voiced by Ben Wright) is a songwriter looking for a big hit. His beloved Dalmatian Pongo (voiced by Rod Taylor) wants to see his master paired with a suitable female companion. He plays matchmaker and soon Roger has a mate in Anita [Lisa Davis], who just so happens to have a Dalmatian of her own, Perdita [Cate Bauer]. Soon a litter of 15 Dalmatian pups is birthed. Enter one of Walt Disney's most enduring villains, the fearsome Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson, previously the uncredited narrator of Walt Disney's `Cinderella'), who wants to skin scores of Dalmatians for a fur coat.

While the story moves steadily toward a stark, melodramatic "chase" climax, it remains enclosed in a typical Disney frame of warm family love, human and canine. And as adapted by Bill Peet and directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton. S. Luske and Slyde Geronimi, it offers likable, human-voiced sprinters.

One of the most appealing things of all is the opening, the meeting of a gentle young London couple and the honeymoon aura of their "poor but happy" love nest, with Pongo, the Dalmatian hero, his mate and their cute, polka-dotted twitchers (and television fans). A sweet-scented, Valentine flavour pervades these early scenes, blending nicely with the muted, pastel backgrounds of Ken Anderson. All is serene. Just the same, Pongo, a testy mutt after our own heart, watches over the household of his "pets" (the couple), he assures us.

Enter, like a blow-torch, Cruella De Vil, with two cockney aides ready to spirit Pongo's fifteen puppies away to the moors and her Dalmatian reservoir of eighty-six puppies. Imagine a sadistic Auntie Mame, drawn by Charles Addams and with a Tallulah Bankhead bass. This is what hounds the poor dogs, all 101 of them, for the rest of the film, until the wild, hair-raising climax, when the lady sails off a cliff. Anyway, the kids who survived "Psycho" should survive Cruella De Vil.

The most original sequence, though, is pure, unstartling Disney --when Pongo and his mate howl out an SOS code for news of their stolen pups, echoed from London to the moors (and a helpful, "Colonel Blimp" sheepdog) by a four-footed "underground." Even so, the animal round-up here is rather reminiscent and a far cry from the salty denizens of the `Lady and the Tramp' animation film. Songs are slightly scarce compared to other Walt Disney animation films and a few more songs would have made the animation film even more magical, but despite this, it is still a magical animation extravaganza.

This was an era in which appropriate voice talent was cast for animated films, vastly different from today's all-star voice cast model. While some of the voice actors were well known for their physical acting roles, particularly Rod Taylor in this case, the focus seemed to be more specifically on matching the right voice to the right part -- regardless of "marquee value." Rather than "spot the celebrity" voice, audiences could simply appreciate the character that these generally unsung talents brought to their roles. 101 Dalmatians is a great example of the natural, unforced brilliance of the voice acting in Disney's vintage animated films. With "Cruella De Vil" being the only real featured song in the whole film (and what an unforgettable one it is), Dalmatians soars on the strengths of more subtle charms.

Some straight Walt Disney hilarity would have been even better, for all the side-line touches. Even with a lady Lucifer ["Cruella De Vil"] hell-bent for their hides, those Dalmatians are a friendly lot worth knowing.

Blu-ray Video Quality - `101 Dalmations' looks totally grand, as well as totally awesome on this new Blu-ray and especially with a stunning new 1080p encoded transfer and with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, that brings to mind other Diamond Edition releases. In other words, it doesn't sport the natural grain inherent in a film of its era, opting for a more "modernised" grain-free appearance. But whatever DNR [Digital Noise reduction] was applied, to my eyes it didn't result in any serious compromise to fine detail. The colours are vibrant and the dreary look of London creates a great backdrop for the story. The detail on the puppies is amazing and the impressionistic backgrounds help give the characters depth.

Blu-ray Audio Quality - The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix, is also typical of the other recent Diamond Editions, that doesn't overdo things in terms of expanding what was original a mono audio presentation. The main thing that sounds great is the musical score, which has been stretched out across the surround spectrum quite nicely. The original mono mix is present as a Dolby Digital track. Music and effects fill the channels. Vehicles can be heard panning across the soundscape and barking echoes throughout.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt [2014] [1080p] [4:3] [1:46] Here we get to see the follow up and final episode of the animated short, that we first encountered in `101 Dalmatians' in which the black-and-white television star Thunderbolt survives a fall down a waterfall and captures the horse thief. I know children will love this, as did the Dalmatians in the animated film.

Feature Documentary: Lucky Dogs [2014] [1080p] [16:9] [9:08] Here we get to be introduced to the very talented Disney animation artists who produced `101 Dalmatians' and contributing to this fascinating documentary are Rolly Crump [Animation/Imagineering]; Carmen Sanderson [Ink and Paint], Burney Mattison [Animation]; Floyd Norman [Animation]; Don Iwerks [Film Production] and Lisa Davis [Voice of Anita]. We are also informed that `101 Dalmatians' was outline the under-staffed production and its hurdles, the time-saving incorporation of Xerox copying, Walt Disney's initial distaste for such shortcuts, and other topics. But most of all we get to see a cute Dalmatian dog wandering all about the Walt Disney Animation building.

Dalmatians 101 [2014] [1080p] [16:9] [5:19] This is hosted by Young Cameron Boyce (who plays Cruella De Vil's son in Disney's `Descendants'). Here we get see the obnoxious precocious Cameron Boyce telling us about the "411 on 101," meaning 5 reasons why `One Hundred and One Dalmatians' is the best Dog-gone Disney Dog Movie of All Time. There are 5 categories and they go in reverse order as such: No.5: It's Totally Modern; No.4: Talkin' `Bout Tech; No.3: Puppies!!!; No.2: Cool Guest Stars and No.1: Cruella De Vil. Get the sick bag ready.

Walt Disney Presents: The Best Doggoned Dog in the World [1961] [1080p] [4:3] [51:05] The tenth episode of "The Wonderful World of Disney's" fourth season. This was one of the regular Walt Disney Television programme we use to see each week and this one is entitled "Adventure World" where we get to see a little adventure about two brave sheep dogs and especially the one that saves 5 sheep, but who nearly drowned, but eventually get herded back to the sheep dog owner. We also get to see Walt Disney talk about the historic facts of man's best friend from all over the world. Plus Walt Disney introduces us to several clips from the up and coming animation film `101 Dalmatians' and because it was broadcast in 1961, it was of course films in black-and-white.

Classic Bonus Feature:

Redefining the Line: The Making of 101 Dalmatians [2014] [1080] [4:3] [33:54] This bonus feature is split up into 7 sections, which consist of Puppy Dog Tales [5:33]; Howling at the Moon [3:36]; New Tricks [5:16]; Animation 101 [7:51]; Drawing All Cars [4:12]; Seeing Spots [5:45] and A Dog's Eye View [1:40].

Cruella De Vil: Drawn to Be Bad [2014] [1080p] [4:3] [7:08] Here we get to meet again the famous Walt Disney Animation Artists talking about the infamous villain Cruella de Vil, and contributing in this feature documentary are Andreas Deja; Walt Peregoy; Floyd Norman; Jerry Beck; Will Finn; Pete Docter; Brad Bird; Burny Mattison; Harley Jessup; Paula Sigman; Don Hahn; Bill Sinbley; Marc Davis [1965]; Alice Davis and Ron Clements.

"Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney" [2014] [1080p] [4:3] [12:47] In the years preceding the release of `One Hundred and One Dalmatians' Walt Disney began a personal correspondence with the book's author, Dodie Smith. Their letters have been uncovered by the studio archives and presented her is a dramatic re-creation. Sadly we get no information on which the actors are in this piece.

Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots [1961 Original Release] Teaser Trailer: Adapted for CinemaScope [1080p] [4:3] [0:41]; Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [4:3] [1:52] and TV Spots [1080p] [4:3] [0:31]

Trailers and TV Spots [1969 Reissue] Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [4:3] [1:07]; TV Spot #1 [1080p] [4:3] [0:31] and TV Spot #2 [1080p] [4:3] [0:31]

Combined TV Spots with Swiss Family Robinson Trailer [1080p] [4:3] [0:31]

Trailers and TV Spots [1979 Reissue] Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [4:3] [1:34]; TV Spot #1 [1080p] [4:3] [0:31]; TV Spot #2 1080p] [4:3] [0:31] and French Canadian TV Spot [1080p] [[4:3] [0:30] [with English Yellow Subtitles]

Trailers and TV Spots [1985 Reissue] Theatrical trailer [1080p] [4:3] [1:22]

Promotional Radio Spots [1961 Original Release] 60 Second; 30 Second and 10 Second

Music & More Bonus Content:

"Cruella De Vil" Music Video performed by [ghastly obnoxious] Selena Gomez [1080p] [4:3] [3:24]

"March Of The One Hundred And One" [Deleted Song Sequence] [1080p] [4:3] [3:24]

Abandoned Songs [Introduced by Russell Schroeder] "Cheerio, Goodbye, Toodle-oo, Hip Hip!" [1080p] [4:3] [2:31] and "Don't Buy A Parrot From A Sailor" [1080p] [4:3] [2:38]

Demo Recordings and Alternate Versions: "Dalmatian Plantation" [Extended Alternate Version] [1080p] [4:3] [2:44] and [Temp version] [1080p] [4:3] [1:02]

"Cruella De Vil" [Demo Recordings] Spooky Version [1080p] [16:9] [3:46] and Blues Ballad Version [1080p] [16:9] [2:14]

"Cruella De Vil" [Roger Version] Roger Composing #1 By Ben Wright [1080p] [4:3] [3:24] and Roger Composing #2 By Billy Lee [1080p] [16:9] [4:29]

Honky-Tonk Version [1080p] [16:9] [1:22]

"Cruella De Vil" [Radio Hit Alternate Versions] Alternate #1 [1080p] [16:9] [ 1:12]; Alternate #2 [1080p] [16:9] [ 2;23] and Alternate #3 [1080p] [16:9] [ 1:08]

"Kanine Krunchies" British; Very Young; Young; Little Boy; Flubbed Take; False Start; Older English [Incomplete]; Younger British and Eton Boy [1080p] [16:9] [5:14]

Sneak Peaks: Disney Movies Anywhere Advert Promotion [1080p] [16:9] [0:40]; Aladdin [Diamond Edition] [1080p] [16:9] [1:18]; Cinderella [2015 Film Promotion] [1080p] [16:9] [0:16]; Disney DVD Magic Advert Promotion [1080p] [16:9] [0:19]; Disney Advert Promotion [1080p] [16:9] [0:30]; Dog With A Blog Disney TV Advert [1080p] [16:9] [0:31]; LucasFilm Star Wars `The Clone Wars' [Blu-ray + DVD] [1080p] [2.55:1] [2:42]; Big Hero 6 [Blu-ray + Digital HD] [1080p] [2.55:1] [1:36] and Tinker Bell and the legend of The Neverbeast [Blu-ray + Digital HD] [1080p] [16:9] [1:31]

Finally, `101 Dalmatians' is Walt Disney at its best. The storyline serves as a solid foundation for the animation film to build from. The puppies with their different personalities are adorable. You come to care about them and their safety, and the farm animals introduced during the rescue are delightful supporting characters. Cruella De Vil is also the most perfect villain that you will love to hate. All in all these elements together make for a totally amusing and entertaining film. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Lust for Life [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Lust for Life [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £9.65

5.0 out of 5 stars LUST FOR LIFE [1956] [Blu-ray] [US import], 26 Feb. 2015
LUST FOR LIFE [1956] [Blu-ray] [US import] High-Voltage Acting! Kirk Douglas Finest Performance!

Vibrant orange sunflowers. Rippling yellow grain. Trees bursting with white bloom. “The pictures come to me as in a dream,” Vincent van Gogh said. A dream that too often turned to life-shattering nightmare. Winner of the Golden Globe® and the New York Film Critics Best Actor Awards, Kirk Douglas gives a fierce portrayal as the artist torn between the joyous inspiration of his genius and the dark desperation of his tormented mind. The obsessed Vincent van Gogh painted the way other men breathe, driving away family and friends, including artist Paul Gauguin [Anthony Quinn, 1956 Best Supporting Actor Academy Award® winner]. Directed by Vincente Minnelli and saturated with the hues of Vincent van Gogh’s sea, field and sky. ‘Lust for Life’ captures the ecstasy of art and the agony of one man’s life.

FILM FACTS: Academy Awards® Won: Anthony Quinn for Actor in a Supporting Role. Nominations: Kirk Douglas for Best Actor. Nominations: Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters and Preston Ames for Best Art Direction (Color). Nominations: Edwin B. Willis and F. Keogh Gleason for Set Decoration. Nominations: Norman Corwin for Writing (Screenplay for Adaption). Two hundred enlarged colour photos were used representing Vincent Van Gogh’s completed canvases; these were in addition to copies that were executed by an American art teacher, Robert Parker. In preparation for the film, Kirk Douglas practiced painting crows so that he could reasonably imitate Vincent van Gogh at work. Based on the 1934 novel by Irving Stone and adapted by Norman Corwin.

Cast: Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, James Donald, Pamela Brown, Everett Sloane, Henry Daniell, Madge Kennedy, Noel Purcell, Niall MacGinnis, Jill Bennett, Lionel Jeffries, Laurence Naismith, Eric Pohlmann, Jeanette Sterke and Toni Gerry

Director: Vincente Minnelli and George Cukor (uncredited supervised one retake)

Producer: John Houseman

Screenplay: Norman Corwin and Irving Stone (novel)

Composer: Miklós Rózsa

Cinematography: Freddie A. Young and Russell Harlan

Video Resolution: 1080p [Metrocolor]

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1 [CinemaScope]

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, German: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish [Castilian]: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish [Latin]: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono and Portuguese: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Spanish [Castilian], Dutch and Spanish [Latin]

Running Time: 122 minutes

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Warner Home Video

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: For many years, it was common wisdom in Hollywood that an artist's life was not a successful subject for film and, truth be told, many potentially fascinating biographies have made dreadful films. So, although M-G-M owned the rights since 1946 of Irving Stone's hugely popular 1934 novel about the tortured painter Vincent van Gogh, a film version was repeatedly shelved as too risky. But after a very successful international Vincent van Gogh exhibit in the 1950s introduced his work to hundreds of thousands of people.

Vincente Minnelli was the ideal choice to bring the story to the screen. A former stage designer known for his visual style that mirrored and amplified the dramatic story of each of his films, he was the right match for a movie about a painter. But he had to fight several battles to get the look he wanted; some he won, some he didn't. Vincente Minnelli didn't want to use the CinemaScope aspect ratio for ‘Lust for Life’ and reasoning that, as he said in his autobiography, but the then-popular process was a must for M-G-M, which like every other studio was looking for cinematic gimmicks to overcome the threat of television.

Another problem concerned with filming Vincent van Gogh's actual paintings. The masterpieces could have been ruined by the intense light required for motion picture cameras, so Vincente Minnelli sent crews into museums and private collectors' homes to capture about 200 of Vincent van Gogh's paintings with special portrait cameras that made time exposures without excessive light. Enlarged transparencies were then made of each shot, which were backlit and re-filmed with special lenses.

Clearly, the most dramatic feature of the life of Vincent van Gogh was the difference between his painting, which was forceful and sunny and warm, and the character of his disposition, which was clouded by dark and maddening moods, including the celebrated episode of his slicing off his own ear. Thus, it is gratifying to see that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in the persons of producer John Houseman and a crew of superb technicians, has consciously made the flow of colour and the interplay of compositions and hues the most forceful devices for conveying a motion picture comprehension of Vincent van Gogh.

The tortuous career of the artist is recounted faithfully, from his experiences as an evangelist in a Belgian mining district to his ultimate suicide. The brutal rebuff of his love is in it, the turmoil of his affair with a prostitute, the uncertainty of his life in Paris and the explosiveness of his residence in Arles with Paul Gauguin. The incidents of the painter's manifestations of insecurity and emotional torment are well arranged, and Kirk Douglas performs them with superior intensity, variety and yet restraint. What is more, and especially fascinating, is the remarkable resemblance he bears to the famous self-portraits of the artist which are discreetly but prominently displayed. Vincente Minnelli's celebration of the life of Vincent van Gogh is well-researched and enjoyable, even if it gives the best lines to Paul Gauguin.

Don't let the catchpenny title, especially from the doorstop biography by Irving Stone, put you off as this is an extremely superior example of the Hollywood biopic, the tale of tortured painter Vincent van Gogh who is uncannily well played by Kirk Douglas, who seems to capture the very essence of the tormented artist, though it was actually Anthony Quinn's Paul Gauguin that won the OSCAR® for this film. It's lovingly crafted by brilliant director Vincente Minnelli, with superb colour and CinemaScope cinematography from Russell Harlan and the great Freddie Young, who was responsible for the glorious look of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and making the authentic Arles location look stunning and Miklos Rozsa, who also did the scores of ‘Spellbound’ and ‘The Lost Weekend’ gives a sweeping magical fine score are also major plus points. This intelligent, beautifully made film was never a commercial success, but it acquired a cult following, largely owing to Vincente Minnelli's colour sense and Kirk Douglas's magnificent crystalline performance.

Touching and tragic, this is a glorious, brilliant film that memorialises the world's greatest painter and perhaps the world's most loving brother. While its early scenes have a Hollywood look about them, much of the film is shot outdoors and has a great breath of air and the free spirit that somehow led Vincent van Gogh to his incredible and indelible visions. Despite half-a-dozen recent attempts to "correct" this biopic, Vincente Minnelli's agonised portrait of the life of Vincent Van Gogh remains the definitive film on the subject of Vincent van Gogh. Intelligently written, made with conviction and crowned by two passionately intense performances, ‘Lust for Life’ is a key film of the mid-1950s. Kirk Douglas wanted to play Van Gogh ever since director Jean Negulesco told him he resembled the artist. He threw himself into the role; to the point of taking on so many of the artist's stormy, unstable traits he frightened his wife in his off-hours at home.

Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘Lust for Life’ is presented in a brilliant aspect ratio 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and especially with a stunning 1080p encoded image. The film used what was then a brand-new process dubbed Metrocolor, which replaced three-strip Technicolor with a single three-layer strip. It has been reported that a new 4k scan of the original camera negative was the source for this 1080p encoded Blu-ray. The film's grain structure is fine and natural, and the black levels are excellent, especially when Vincent van Gogh's visit to the coal mines, is a good example.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘Lust for Life’ has a really good 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound field. Characters at the opposite ends of the screen routinely have their voices issuing from the left and right front speakers. The track does not have significant rear channel activity except to open up the lush orchestral score by Miklós Rózsa which is the real benefactor here. This is not a film that has a lot of action, but this soundtrack proves that subtle touches can really make a lot of difference. This is not the type of soundtrack that jumps out as well crafted, but it handles all the basics and throws in some great presence.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Audio Commentary: Commentary by Film Historian Dr. Drew Casper: Dr. Drew Casper is the professor of film at the USC and the author of “Vincente Minnelli and the Film Musical” and among other books. This commentary was originally on the 2006 Warner Home Video DVD release. Sadly as Dr. Drew Casper talks about this film and all involved with the film, you can hear he is reading a script. Sadly his voice is very effete, monotone, pedestrian and so very boring, plus he is very effete, which if you look up the in the dictionary, it tells you that a person of this personality who is “effete” it says they are affected, over-refined, ineffectual, artificial and pretentious, plus his research and minimal charisma doesn’t help, so if you can stay awake while he drones on, you will learn some worthwhile information.

Special Feature: Van Gogh: Darkness into Light [1956] [1080p] [16:9] [20:20] M-G-M produced this short film Van Gogh: Darkness Into Light, and is narrated and presented by Dore Schary and showing the European locations used for the filming, to promote the film ‘Lust for Life.’ In the film, a 75-year-old woman from Auvers-sur-Oise and not Jeanne Calment, who lived in Arles several hundred kms to the south, who claims to have known Vincent van Gogh when she was a young girl, meets star actor Kirk Douglas, and comments on how much he looks like the painter. At the start and ending of the film, the creators list and thank a number of galleries, collectors, and historians who allowed the works of Vincent van Gogh to be photographed for the film.

Theatrical Trailer [1956] [1080p] [2.55:1] [3:04] This is the original trailer for ‘Lust for Life.’

Finally, for a 50-year-old film, ‘Lust for Life' image is surprisingly bright and vibrant. Warner Home Video has done a commendable job restoring this film to a condition that must be comparable to what audiences saw in 1956. Those who saw the film during its original cinema run, or those who have a passion for overly melodramatic films classics, will probably find much to praise about ‘Lust for Life,’ which was always a very special film; especially with Vincente Minnelli’s intensity behind the camera felt in every frame projected onto the screen. Here, at long last, is the film in a manner befitting its artistry. You are going to love this Blu-ray disc. It’s that simple. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Pocketful of Miracles [Blu-ray] [1961] [US Import]
Pocketful of Miracles [Blu-ray] [1961] [US Import]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £11.80

5.0 out of 5 stars POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES [1961] [Blu-ray] [US Import], 22 Feb. 2015
POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES [1961] [Blu-ray] [US Import] Frank Capra's Wild and Wonderful Miracle! You Have To See It To Believe It!

Capricious, winsome, whimsical, and all together delightful! Superbly directed by the peerless Frank Capra [`It's a Wonderful Life'], this remake of `Lady For A Day' is pure Hollywood magic and an unforgettable combination of comedy, whimsy and romance that was nominated for three Oscars including Supporting Actor Peter Falk [TV's `Columbo']. Impoverished Broadway peddler "Apple Annie" Bette Davis [`All About Eve'] has a problem, her daughter Louise [Ann-Margret `Tommy'], educated abroad since infancy, is coming for a visit and bringing her wealthy fiancé with her. The problem is that Louise has believed all her life that Annie's a wealthy dowager, and the poor old women who doesn't know what to do. Enter "Dave the Dude" [Glenn Ford `3:10 to Yuma'], a kind-hearted racketeer who enlists the aid to pass Annie off as a high-society granddame so Louise can marry her fairy-tale prince and everyone can live happily ever after! This Christmas classic was the final film in Frank Capra's glorious career and featured a great supporting cast that included Hope Lange, Arthur O Connell, Thomas Mitchell, Edward Everett Horton and Barton MacLane.

FILM FACT: Awards: Glenn Ford Won for Golden Globe® Award for Best Actor for Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Nominations: Peter Falk for Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor. Edith Head and Walter Plunkett for Academy Award® for Best Costume Design. Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn for Academy Award® for Best Original Song. Golden Globe Award® for Best Motion Picture for Musical or Comedy. Bette Davis for Golden Globe® Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture for Comedy or Musical and Frank Capra for Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing for Feature Film.

Cast: Bette Davis, Glenn Ford, Hope Lange, Arthur O'Connell, Peter Falk, Thomas Mitchell, Edward Everett Horton, Ann-Margret, Mickey Shaughnessy, David Brian, Jerome Cowan, Sheldon Leonard, Peter Mann, Ellen Corby, Jack Elam, Doodles Weaver, Barton MacLane, John Litel, Jay Novello, Frank Ferguson, Willis Bouchey, Fritz Feld, Gavin Gordon, Benny Rubin, Mike Mazurki, Hayden Rorke

Director: Frank Capra

Producers: Frank Capra, Glenn Ford and Joseph Sistrom

Screenplay: Hal Kanter, Harry Tugend and based on a screenplay by Robert Riskin

Composer: Walter Scharf

Cinematography: Robert J. Bronner

Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Panavision]

Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 136 minutes

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 1

Studio: KINO LORBER / United Artists

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Legendary director Frank Capra, whose films include `It Happened One Night' [1934] and `It's a Wonderful Life' [1946], championed the dreams of the "little person." `Pocketful of Miracles' [1961] was the last feature film he ever made, but it is no exception to the pervading sense of optimism and sentiment that were his signature. It was a remake of one of his earlier film `Lady for a Day' [1933], which itself was based on the Damon Runyon short story Madame La Gimp. `Pocketful of Miracles' is set in the early thirties, and tells the heart-warming story of "Apple Annie" [Bette Davis], a boozy New York bag lady who is transformed into high society by gangster Dave the Dude [Glenn Ford] to impress her long-lost daughter Louise [Ann-Margret].

Apple Annie [Bette Davis] peddles apples that supposedly bring good luck to the buyer. Her best customer is Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford) a big-time racketeer trying to clinch a deal with a mobster from Chicago that will make him king of the New York underworld. Meanwhile Annie gets a letter from her daughter who was raised and educated in Spain and stating that she will be arriving for a visit along with the very rich Count Alfonso Romero and his handsome son Carlos, to whom she is engaged. The only problem is that Louise (the daughter) thinks her mother is a wealthy dowager. In order to keep his luck from failing (and because of his big-heart) Dave the Dude concocts a scheme to pass Apple Annie off as a grand dame of New York high society.

The plot works in the talented hands of the brilliant cast. Bette Davis has one of her most famous make-overs, from boozy-old-broad to elegant lady. Although she clearly has more fun in the scenes before the change. Glenn Ford also shines as the ambitious Dave the Dude and Hope Lange is good as his ex-chorus-girl moll who pines for a traditional home life in Silver Springs, Maryland. Peter Falk received a supporting actor Oscar nomination for his hilarious portrayal of the Dave the Dude's right-hand man, Joy Boy. Veteran character actor Edward Everett Horton steals nearly every scene he appears in as Hutchins, the butler at the fancy hotel suite where Apple Annie stays after her transformation. Thomas Mitchell (in his last screen role) is perfect as the Judge, an old conman and pool shark with a florid tongue and gracious manners, chosen to play Annie's husband. Ann-Margret (in her film debut) rounds out the cast as the beautiful Louise.

Ann-Margret, who made her screen debut in `Pocketful of Miracles' at age 20, recalled a more pleasant experience with Bette Davis in her 1994 autobiography "My Story" where Ann-Margret says, "It was quite something to be getting my screen baptism playing opposite this film legend," she wrote. "It would've been intimidating had she not been such a generous, patient teacher! I now know how difficult she was sometimes said to be," she continued, "but to me, she was wonderful." As an example, Ann-Margret described how Bette Davis stopped the action when Frank Capra was filming her first close-up. Bette Davis wanted her own hair and makeup people to work their magic on the redheaded ingénue so she would look her very best.

A big push from the studio hailed the 1961 Christmas release of `Pocketful of Miracles,' followed by many positive reviews. There was special praise for Bette Davis's return to the screen in a fine and often moving performance. Frank Capra, who had suffered such blinding headaches throughout the filming that he hid from the cast and crew, stopped making feature films after `Pocketful of Miracles.' When asked why, he said simply, "Because I did it all. Now let the younger ones do it." The film's box office profits fell short of expectations, but its warm sentiment won many fans. It garnered Academy Award® nominations. According to Frank Capra, Peter Falk was the only main actor in `Pocketful of Miracles' who didn't cause any trouble during the shoot and Frank Capra called him "a joy."

Blu-ray Video Quality – Though Kino Lorber has ill-advisedly put this highly detailed, widescreen, two-hours-plus film on a basic Blu-ray disc, I actually thought the encoded 1080p image and the aspect ratio 2.35:1 transfer looked pretty good overall. The image had a better-than-average film grain structure with minimal digital compression issues. I caught some minor colour fluctuations, but mostly the colours were vibrant and rich, with no unusual-looking skin tones aberrations. Frank Capra lets a lot of scenes play in long-take wide shots and the amount of detail in these shots is above average but not quite top-notch.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Kino Lorber has encoded the film's original mono track as 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo with identical left and right front channels. It's a solid but unremarkable track with clearly rendered dialogue, decent dynamic range and good fidelity for the musical score credited to Walter Scharf, although Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite" is the most memorable of the instrumentals on the soundtrack. The title song by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen plays over the credits, and Ann-Margret does her first onscreen singing in an a Capella rendition of "The Riddle Song." One thing I am very angry about, is the fact of all the Blu-ray Reviews I have read, none have pointed out that throughout the film, now and again, the sound goes out of sync, and I have complained to Kino Lorber that they are doing a very unprofessional job, which I have pointed out with my other review of the Blu-ray `The Missouri Break' which also has the bad out of sync sound and Kino Lorber ought to be ashamed of producing very unprofessional Blu-ray discs. So that is why now if I see a film that is released by Kino Lorber that I would like to purchase, I will not do so, but sometimes the same film is released on a Region B/2 Blu-ray, so I will buy that Blu-ray instead, as Kino Lorber is doing a really bad atrocious job and should be barred 100% from releasing anymore Blu-ray discs, as they are totally unprofessional in their outlook.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Theatrical Trailer [1961] [480i] [16:9] [3:00] The only extra is the trailer that is narrated by legendary variety show host Ed Sullivan, who is introducing the film and singing its praises. Sadly the image quality is really of bad rough quality.

Finally, `A Pocketful of Miracles' often nails its serious, sentimental moments more expertly than it executes its comedy. Unfortunately, the film is mostly supposed to be a comedy. Frank Capra does his best to keep it real, juxtaposing plenty of honest emotion against the broad comedy and colourful characters that fuel the film. In the end, sentiment prevails, but this heaping helping of Capra-corn wins us over despite our better judgment, thanks to a heartfelt portrayal from Bette Davis and a cornucopia of great supporting performances led by the Oscar-nominated Peter Falk. Kino Lorbo's Blu-ray presentation once again skimps on supplements, but at least it has a very good video transfer, but sadly the audio is a massive big disappointment let down. 'Pocketful of Miracles' pales when compared to other Frank Capra's best works, but it's still worth a look for fans of this esteemed director, as well as Bette Davis, and warm-hearted period comedies. But despite the bad lip sync sound problem letting the film down, I am still glad I have this last Frank Capra film in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

Hole in the Head [Blu-ray] [1959] [US Import]
Hole in the Head [Blu-ray] [1959] [US Import]
Price: £14.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A HOLE IN THE HEAD [1959] [Blu-ray] [US Import], 22 Feb. 2015
A HOLE IN THE HEAD [1959] [Blu-ray] [US Import] The Most Wonderful Entertainment In The Whole Wide World!

Capra-esque in every way. `A Hole In The Head' come to you via Blu-ray in all its rollicking, fun filled, song-filled glory. With his master touch, the brilliant and legendary direct Frank Capra [`It's A Wonderful Life' and `Pocketful Of Miracles']. Once again catches lightening in a bottle, when he teams with Frank Sinatra [`On The Town,' `The Manchurian Candidate' and Pal Joey'], Edward G. Robinson [`Little Caesar,' `Key Largo' and `The Ten Commandments'] and Eleanor Parker [`The Sound of Music,' `Pride of the Marines' and `Human Bondage'] in this sentimental comedy. `A Hole in the Head' screenplay by Arnold Schulman is based upon his play.

In the tradition of `It's A Wonderful Life,' `Mr. Deeds Goes To Washington' and `Pocketful of Miracles' director Frank Capra weaves a comic tale filled with heart, laughs and love . . . and introduces the classic standard "High Hopes" to the world.

Featured in supporting roles is Thelma Ritter [`All About Eve,' `Miracle on 34th Street' and `Rear Window'], Keenan Wynn [`Annie get Your Gun,' `The Great Race' and `Nashville'] and Carolyn Jones [`The Seven Year Itch' and TV's `The Addams Family'].

FILM FACT: Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen won the Academy Award® for Best Original Song for "High Hopes." The screenplay was adapted by playwright Arnold Schulman, whose father was the operator of a Miami, Florida hotel.

Cast: Frank Sinatra, Eddie Hodges, Carolyn Jones, Edward G. Robinson, Thelma Ritter, Eleanor Parker, Keenan Wynn, Joi Lansing, Joyce Nizzari, Dub Taylor, Ruby Dandridge, James Komack, Connie Sawyer, Dub Taylor, George DeWitt, Benny Rubin, Ruby Dandridge, B.S. Pully, Joyce Nizzari, Pupi Campo, Sam McDaniel (uncredited), Ralph Moratz (uncredited), Emory Parnell (uncredited) and Robert Williams (uncredited)

Director: Frank Capra

Producers: Frank Capra and Frank Sinatra (executive producer uncredited)

Screenplay: Arnold Schulman

Composer: Nelson Riddle

Cinematography: William H. Daniels

Video Resolution: 1080p [Color by Deluxe]

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [CinemaScope]

Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo

Subtitles: None

Running Time: 120 minutes

Region: Region A/1

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Olive Films / United Artist

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: In the 1950s, Frank Sinatra had bounced back from personal and professional setbacks won an Academy Award® Oscar and released some of the best music of his career. By the end of the decade, he was bigger and busier than ever, turning out two films a year and hit record after hit record. With ‘A Hole in the Head’ [1959] and Frank Sinatra would close the decade on a high note. The film was a box-office success, and its theme song, "High Hopes" won an Academy Award® Oscar and was one of the most popular songs of that year.

Frank Sinatra stars as Tony Manetta, a widower living beyond his means in Miami, where he's raising his young son Alvin Manetta [Eddie Hodges]. With a limited understanding of the word "responsibility," Tony Manetta is finding himself in debt and with his back against the wall, decides to reach out to his older brother Mario Manetta [Edward G. Robinson] for yet another string of loans, fabricating that the money is needed for Alvin who has taken ill. The plot gets into a full-swing when Mario Manetta and his wife [Thelma Ritter] decide to pay Tony and Alvin a visit.

The film was directed by Frank Capra, and was advertised as a warm family comedy, audiences may have expected a light-hearted romp. The comedy is there, and the warmth, but there is a darker, desperate undercurrent in the film, which suits Sinatra's edgy personality. He plays Tony Manetta, a small-time promoter running a shabby hotel in Miami's South Beach neighbourhood, a run-down area at the time. The widowed Tony Manetta is raising a young son [Eddie Hodges] and dreaming of creating a Disneyland-type resort. But he's about to lose his hotel because of his irresponsible ways, and his stodgy businessman brother [Edward G. Robinson] is after him to give up his freewheeling life and settle down with a respectable widow [Eleanor Parker].

The superb cast featured veterans Thelma Ritter as Robinson's warm-hearted wife, and Keenan Wynn as Sinatra's old friend, now a successful businessman. Carolyn Jones, who had been nominated for an Oscar® for playing a "kooky" girl in `The Bachelor Party' [1957], played a comic variation of that role, Frank Sinatra's free-spirited girlfriend. Making his film debut in `A Hole in the Head' was 12-year old Eddie Hodges, who played Frank Sinatra's son. Eddie Hodges had appeared in the Broadway show “The Music Man” [1957], and had also been a contestant on a quiz show, `Name that Tune' (His partner on the quiz show was future astronaut and future Senator John Glenn.) Eddie Hodges later appeared in several other films, most notably `The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' [1960], and had several hit records in the early 1960s.

The setting presented in this one is particularly suitable to Mr. Capra's bent for social observation. It is Miami Beach. And the principal character in it is a most appropriate and attractive type for his kind of frank examination. He is a dreamer, a promoter, a rolling stone. He is also the widowed father of a loving 11-year-old son and the brother of a baleful Bronx Babbitt who candidly considers him "a bum." And it is in his elaborate manoeuvrings to scrape together enough money to hold on to a hotel he runs in Miami, to retain possession of his son and perhaps this, of course, is his "big deal" to build a $5,000,000 amusement park that Mr. Schulman, Mr. Capra and Mr. Sinatra reveal him magnificently.

Frank Capra might well have done a simple takeout on a lovable fumbler and a cornball sentimentalist. But that isn't his disposition, and it certainly would not be in the line of Arnold Schulman's aggressively incisive and brilliantly dialogued script. But, for the rest, the tone is harmonious with middle-class perplexities and the battles that go with trying to settle a difficult family affair. For the crux of the trouble and the humour is in the struggle of the brother and his wife to force the rolling-stone, to be a conformist and to give them possession of his son. But the prize goes to Frank Sinatra, who makes the hero of this vibrant colour film as a soft-hearted, hardboiled, white-souled black sheep whom we will cherish, along with Mr. Deeds and Mr. Smith, as one of the great guys that Frank Capra has escorted to the American screen.

Some of the Miami scenes were filmed on location, and part of the fun of watching `A Hole in the Head' is seeing a Miami Beach very different from today's high-glitzy version. The Fontainebleau Hotel, then the epitome of Miami glamour and luxury, was the setting for a few of the scenes. The Cardozo Hotel, now refurbished and owned by singer Gloria Estefan, was the location for the Garden of Eden, Tony Manetta's shabby hotel.

Frank Capra went on to make one more film, `Pocketful of Miracles' [1961], a big budget colour remake of his hit `Lady for a Day' [1933] In spite of wonderful performances by Bette Davis and an Oscar® nominated Peter Falk, it was not a success. Frank Capra spent years trying to get financing for various projects, but sadly he never directed another film.

Blu-ray Video Quality – When it comes to Blu-ray titles, you simply cannot be choosers. This is a rough looking film unfortunately has far too many negative scratches and other imperfections master problems, especially with an even a big hair in the film gate in one scene. It's quite obvious that Olive Films has done the best possible work they could with the print they had, but this is far from a clean restoration, as you get now and again loads of speckles appearing. While colour replication is splendid, with nice and even, natural-looking flesh tones and fairly solid black levels, the condition of the print leaves much to be desired. This print was clearly put together from several different elements. It's not the worst HD master I've ever seen, but it's far from the best. Even for this title where demand is limited, it leaves something to be desired when you have such amazing Miami scenery to take in.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Featuring a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo track, `A Hole In The Head' comes through with fine clarity, especially for a film of this vintage, there aren't any audio anomalies, or hisses and pops disrupting the track. Voices are given plenty of range to breathe and fill the area they're given. The minimalist Nelson Riddle score doesn't have to compete with the dialogue and motivated street sounds feel clean and natural.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: Sadly there are no extras included, which is a crying shame, because surely there must have been some publicity images available in the United Artist vaults or maybe a 16mm behind-the-scene filming, very strange.

Finally, 'A Hole in the Head' is one of those films that given the talent involved, especially from the likes of Frank Capra, Frank Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson, Thelma Ritter and Carolyn Jones, should of gone that extra mile, especially with those names it should have been a great film, even a classic, but sadly it is just a family "warm hearted" film. Sadly sporting a rough transfer, but with a solid 2.0 DTS Master Audio track, and this Olive Films Blu-ray release is definitely one for fans of this film, like me, and especially die-hard fans of the brilliant director Frank Capra, which I am so glad it has now gone into my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom

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