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    Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Fox Twilight Time

    Jun 10 2014 01:28 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Deborah Kerr was often shown to greatest advantage when she was starring opposite very strong-minded and demonstrative men. Little wonder, then, that quite a few of her Oscar nominations were earned under such casting circumstances. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is one of her most quietly effective performances and one of her most celebrated. The movie itself is a wonderfully effective dramatic adventure tale, and it holds up beautifully decades after its original release.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Fox
    • Distributed By: Twilight Time
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
    • Subtitles: English SDH
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 46 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: keep case
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: All
    • Release Date: 06/10/2014
    • MSRP: $29.95

    The Production Rating: 4/5

    Finding themselves marooned on a small island in the south Pacific in 1944, Roman Catholic nun Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr) and Marine Corporal Allison (Robert Mitchum) must do the best they can to survive until they can hopefully be rescued by Allied forces in that area of the Pacific. At first, they’re alone, but relatively soon, Japanese troops arrive to use the island as a base of operations making it more difficult for the hidden duo to get food for themselves or prevent discovery. Over the course of days as each looks out for the other, tender feelings develop between the two. The marine declares his love for the sister and begs her not to take her final vows (which were one month away at the time of her abandonment), but while her feelings run deep for her new friend, Sister Angela knows that her heart has already been promised and must find a way to let the corporal down as easily as possible so they can still have a chance of rescue.

    John Huston collaborated on the script with John Lee Mahin based on a novel by Charles Shaw. The amusingly odd couple have a wonderfully involving series of adventures, some funny (a tussle with a turtle, a sing along to “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”) and some quite tense (an extended, beautifully directed sequence where Allison infiltrates the Japanese camp to get food and later blankets for the ailing sister). Huston stages the Japanese finally tracking and locating the hidden pair quite unusually – from their point of view where only what they hear can raise the hackles of both them and us before a surprise conclusion to the proceedings. Until then, though, the slowly building and beautifully sustained camaraderie between the rough marine and the delicate nun is continually interesting (little surprise the two actors reunited a few years later for another memorable adventure together – The Sundowners), and the location photography by Oswald Morris (the West Indies substituting for the Pacific near Fiji) providing appetizing visuals to go along with the involving Oscar-nominated screenplay.

    Deborah Kerr earned both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for this film (made in the same year as her almost equally popular An Affair to Remember) and won the New York Film Critics award for her soft spoken, most engaging Sister Angela, and Robert Mitchum is every bit her equal as Corporal Allison, not the big blustery oaf one might have expected but actually a simple man with sensitivities that are often quite unexpected. Their teamwork in the film offers them each individually and as a pair the wonderful opportunity to explore their characters from practically every imaginable angle, and the results are bracing and imminently watchable.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film’s 2.35:1 original Cinemascope aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in an appealing 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. While sharpness isn’t always razor-edged, the images are always clear, and the transfer is thoroughly pristine with no age-related artifacts. While black levels might not be the ultimate in depth, color is wonderfully saturated with especially impressive lush greens and believable flesh tones especially the noticeable contrast of Mitchum’s sun-baked skin to Kerr’s milky textured, freckled look. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix offers a solid audio experience with the dialogue clear and clean (except in moments where the actors mutter to themselves or mumble in delirium) and Georges Auric's music and the effective sound effects of the island jungle noises and the bombardments of the warring nations coming through without distortion. No age-related hiss, crackle, or pops are present to mar the listening experience.

    Special Features: 3/5

    Isolated Score and Effects Track: offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono.

    Movietone Newsreels (10:26, SD): seven newsreel snippets in montage featuring both World War II in the Pacific updates with some clips from 1957 Hollywood award ceremonies for the Photoplay, Golden Globe, and Oscar ceremonies.

    Theatrical Trailer (3:14, SD)

    Six-Page Booklet: presents an array of color and black and white stills, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s astute analysis of the movie.

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is one of the most memorable of the Fox Cinemascope dramas of the 1950s with a completely ingratiating dual performance by Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum. There are only 3,000 copies of this highly recommended Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
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    • Walsh61 likes this


    11 Comments

    One of my favorite 50s films and my favorite Kerr performance (her Anna Leonowens is a close second).

    Twilight Time continues to reward lovers of older films while issuing more contemporary fare to broaden its offerings for wider appeal to more viewers.

    I have to admit that I really relish the 1950s Cinemascope releases. I'd love to see more though I understand looking at the titles that have sold out that these aren't among the biggest sellers. A pity that.

      • Charles Smith, Jack K and ScottGros117 like this

    Some of the titles really deliver, but if people never get to see the movies, they don't know what is what!

     

    This is a splendid film, with two pitch-perfect performances by actors who truly knew "how" to act, even if Mitchum seemed more easily cast to type than Kerr (who, despite "From Here to Eternity", was usually regarded as virginal, much the same as Julie Andrews would be a decade later).

     

    The location, the incredible chemistry of the stars and Huston's masterful direction make this film a must-see!

     

    Other CinemaScope magic can be found in "Three Coins in the Fountain", "Boy on a Dolphin", "Peyton Place", et.al.  Terrific films, with gorgeous photography, great (or memorable) performances and superb production values.

      • Matt Hough, Jack K and ScottGros117 like this

     

    Other CinemaScope magic can be found in "Three Coins in the Fountain", "Boy on a Dolphin", "Peyton Place", et.al.  Terrific films, with gorgeous photography, great (or memorable) performances and superb production values.

     

    Hopefully Fox will see fit to either release these classics themselves or farm them out to Twilight Time. They certainly deserve to be seen in their greatest potential high definition splendor.

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    ScottGros117
    Jun 13 2014 02:16 PM

    No original 4-track stereo? Bummer.

    I hope Fox is just taking a brief hiatus from the Studio Classics line, I'm getting concerned since we haven't seen press releases about it for many months.

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    haineshisway
    Jun 14 2014 09:03 PM

    Love this film.  The transfer was taken to task elsewhere, but I'm with Matt - it looks damn good.

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    Robert Crawford
    Jun 14 2014 10:59 PM

    Love this film.  The transfer was taken to task elsewhere, but I'm with Matt - it looks damn good.

    What were the naysayers complaining about?

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    Robert Crawford
    Jun 15 2014 10:32 AM

    By the way, I thought the BD looked very good and have no complaints.

    It did seem a little blah to me.  Kind of soft and inconsistent in parts.  It might be the original photography I am reacting to, or the particular element used, but it didn't seem much better than watching an upscaled dvd.  It's not that there isn't better detail in shots, as there is: you can quite clearly see the types of threading in Deborah Kerr's various habit pieces, as well as her freckles.  I watched it shortly after The Train and the disappointment I felt was palpable immediately.  But as I said, maybe it's the original photography I'm reacting to, not the transfer.  But watching it, I honestly felt I should have saved my money and just kept my old dvd.    

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    Robert Crawford
    Jun 15 2014 11:06 AM

    It did seem a little blah to me.  Kind of soft and inconsistent in parts.  It might be the original photography I am reacting to, or the particular element used, but it didn't seem much better than watching an upscaled dvd.  It's not that there isn't better detail in shots, as there is: you can quite clearly see the types of threading in Deborah Kerr's various habit pieces, as well as her freckles.  I watched it shortly after The Train and the disappointment I felt was palpable immediately.  But as I said, maybe it's the original photography I'm reacting to, not the transfer.  But watching it, I honestly felt I should have saved my money and just kept my old dvd.    

    I wouldn't go that way in saying it looked like an upscaled DVD.  On this BRD, you can see the sweat marks on her forehead bleeds through her habit.  I can only imagine the conditions and DeLuxe film stock used in this film had some effects.  

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    theonemacduff
    Jun 17 2014 07:50 AM

    I'd like to see The Sundowners out on BR. Location shooting in Australia, a sheep-shearing contest, lots of beer drinking, a forest fire and a horse race. What more could any boy wish for? Saw it at the Odeon in Hastings a year or so after it came out, and was suitably impressed.