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    The Only Game in Town Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Fox Twilight Time

    Jun 13 2013 01:16 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    A rather inert drama with characters who aren’t very interesting and played by two glamorous movie stars who don’t have a speck of chemistry between them, George Stevens’ The Only Game in Town is only notable today as the last movie ever directed by the master director of such classics as A Place in the Sun and Giant (both, maybe not coincidentally, starring Elizabeth Taylor). A talky Broadway play brought to the screen with only slightly less talk in its screen incarnation, the movie lost a great deal of money and pretty much signaled the end of Elizabeth Taylor’s reign as a top box-office star.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Fox
    • Distributed By: Twilight Time
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)
    • Subtitles: English
    • Rating: PG
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 53 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: keep case
    • Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
    • Region: All
    • Release Date: 06/11/2013
    • MSRP: $29.95

    The Production Rating: 2.5/5

    Las Vegas showgirl Fran Walker (Elizabeth Taylor) has spent five years biding her time in Las Vegas waiting for her married San Francisco businessman/lover (Charles Braswell) to divorce his wife and marry her. In the meantime, she meets nightclub pianist Joe Grady (Warren Beatty) who’s trying to save $5,000 in order to have a stake to try to make it in New York. But being a gambler, he can’t resist the lure of the crap tables at regular intervals where he inevitably loses everything. He moves in with Fran with a “no strings” arrangement while she keeps his money stored in a secret hiding place. When Lockwood finally arrives with divorce decree in hand, Fran turns down his proposal thinking that since they both fulfill a need for each other, it makes sense to stay with Joe. But Joe has his own plans for the future and doesn’t realize Fran has given up her chance for a comfortable life with Lockwood for him.

    Despite the credentials of the previous Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Frank D. Gilroy, the play only lasted two weeks on Broadway and only made money for its producer due to its movie sale. Basically a two-character drama that involves more talk than action between the two protagonists, the wordy drama never really establishes the connection between these two rather lost souls. They don’t appear to have much in common other than sexual compatibility, and Joe’s man-child character continually disappoints and frustrates Fran making the film’s resolution seem somewhat unsatisfying and bogus. Director George Stevens does add one element to the film that was missing in the stage play: Joe’s excursions to the Caesar’s Palace crap tables. He manages to drum up some decent suspense as the bets are placed and the dice are tossed and does a nice piece of faking out the audience near the film’s climax. But because the film was produced in Paris rather than Las Vegas, the inserts of Elizabeth Taylor dancing (bouncing would be a more accurate description of what is shown) as a showgirl are ludicrously inept. Of course, Taylor no longer had the figure of a showgirl which requires some careful disguising of her waistline in a succession of sheaths and tent dresses.

    The two stars are indeed glamorous looking with Taylor wearing a series of expensive wigs and high fashion make-up and Beatty looking dapper in a tux in his first appearance and later in a string of smart sports clothes. But while Beatty does manage to portray quite believably the disease of gambler’s fever and make us believe he’s something of a bounder when things don’t go his way, his character’s quips and quotes make him sometimes seem too smart for the room. Still, it's the best performance in the picture. Elizabeth Taylor is basically miscast as Fran. She’s either too old or not old enough for the character (depending on the actors playing Joe and Lockwood), has left her showgirl days long since behind her, and manages to seem rather shrill in moments of extreme agitation. The two don’t share much in the way of sexual chemistry or sexual tension either so their somewhat conventional path to the altar doesn’t generate any sparks or much interest. Charles Braswell does fine in his one scene with Taylor when she makes up her mind about their future.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is mostly very good except in scenes where glamour close-ups are applied to Elizabeth Taylor. There are also a couple of other scenes which seem decidedly strange from a sharpness point of view (one features a surprisingly spotty lens that looks like it belongs in another movie). Color is bright and bold and well controlled though flesh tones sometimes vary from realistic to overly rosy. Black levels are more than adequate, but there are some age-related dust specks still present in the transfer. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix is very typical for its era. Though Maurice Jarre’s underscoring and the sound effects generally blend well with the copious dialogue, there are occasions when the dialogue is somewhat hard to hear. Whether due to spotty sound recording, mumbling actors, or more volume needed in the encode, it’s hard to say. The track is free of age-related artifacts like hiss, crackle, and pops.

    Special Features: 2.5/5

    Isolated Score Track: Maurice Jarre’s score is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo presentation.

    Theatrical Trailer (2:55, SD)

    6-Page Booklet: contains color stills from the film, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s interesting take on George Stevens’ last film and his overall career.

    Overall Rating: 2.5/5

    The Only Game in Town is not high among the achievements of either George Stevens, Elizabeth Taylor, or Warren Beatty. Still, fans of the stars and director will be glad to see this lesser achievement of theirs now available in high definition. Only 3,000 copies of the Blu-ray will be pressed. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still available. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
    Support HTF when you buy this title:


    It's too bad this was Steven's last film and could have made more before his death 5 years latter in 1975. Would love to see my favorite film of his, "Gunga Din" get a blu-ray treatment.

    It's too bad this was Steven's last film and could have made more before his death 5 years latter in 1975. Would love to see my favorite film of his, "Gunga Din" get a blu-ray treatment.

    I'd like to see Warner stop dragging its feet on Gunga Din as well.

    If they do release a blu-ray of "Gunga Din" this would make a great extra:



    One of the films that ended the Zanuck regime of the 70's. A complete train wreck, I can't wait to see it again. Thanks for the review. .
    The scene where Beatty screams in agonizing pain with a hernia while carrying Liz to bed is all I remember from this one.

    The scene where Beatty screams in agonizing pain with a hernia while carrying Liz to bed is all I remember from this one.

    You sure that scream was not from you watching this. 😃

    Obviously there is no such scene of Beatty screaming, nor do you actually see him carry her.  I've always been rather fond of the film and watched it tonight and am still rather fond of it.  And I'm here to tell you, the transfer is perfect - perfect color, sharpness, contrast - the two or three shots MattH references are opticals and have always looked like that.  This was one of the first films I owned in 16mm, and I love the look of it, but then I'm a huge fan of Henri Decae, who shot it.

    My expectations for this one were admittedly right down in the ditch...mostly just gallows curiosity over how a two-character movie adaptation of a contemporary stage play could somehow end up costing more than Airport and almost as much as the 70mm Patton! But the infernal thing did work...at least well enough, enough of the time...to add my kudoses. 


    A studio Accountant's worst nightmare. But good movie. And fine disc. 

    [color=rgb(0,0,0);font-family:sans-serif;font-size:12.800000190734863px;]In his March 5, 1970, review in [/color]The New York Times[color=rgb(0,0,0);font-family:sans-serif;font-size:12.800000190734863px;], [/color]Vincent Canby[color=rgb(0,0,0);font-family:sans-serif;font-size:12.800000190734863px;] stated, "Assigning [/color][Stevens, Beatty, and Taylor][color=rgb(0,0,0);font-family:sans-serif;font-size:12.800000190734863px;] to the film version of Frank D. Gilroy's small, sentimental, Broadway flop is rather like trying to outfit a leaky [/color]Central Park[color=rgb(0,0,0);font-family:sans-serif;font-size:12.800000190734863px;] rowboat for a celebrity cruise through the Greek islands. The result is a phenomenological disaster . . . Nothing in [/color]The Only Game in Town[color=rgb(0,0,0);font-family:sans-serif;font-size:12.800000190734863px;] seems quite on the up and up. Everything, including both the humor and the pathos, is bogus."[/color]

    I liked it. Excellent transfer.