HTF REVIEW: "Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 1, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing





    Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
    Year: 1955
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 102 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.55:1)
    Subtitles: English and Spanish





    The year is still young and already it has been
    filled with the release of some terrific classic
    films courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox and their
    line of Studio Classics. You can easily
    forgive me for being so excited over these releases
    once you realise that I am seeing most all of these
    films for the first time anywhere on any format.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Based on the autobiographical novel by Han Suyin,
    Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing is a story
    about forbidden love -- an interracial romance
    between an American journalist (William Holden) and
    a Eurasian doctor (Jennifer Jones) in Hong Kong during
    the Korean War. Dr. Han Suyin (Jones) falls in love
    with Mark Elliot (Holden), who unfortunately cannot
    obtain a divorce from his present wife. This, together
    with the disapproval of Dr. Suyin's tradition-bound
    relatives and Hong Kong's strict racial laws, forces
    the couple to carry on their romance in a secretive
    fashion.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    From what I have read, LIAMST was the first
    of three movies in a new deal with Jennifer Jones
    and Twentieth Century Fox. Directed by the talented
    Henry King (Carousel), LIAMST was filmed on
    location in Hong Kong and was Jennifer's first film
    to be shot in the new wide screen technique called
    CinemaScope. This film beautifully showcases its
    glorious and exotic locations, gorgeous costumes and
    authentic sets. I was surprised to learn that
    although their chemistry onscreen was excellent,
    Holden and Jones reportedly did not get along well
    during the filming. Holden had a reputation for
    having affairs with his leading ladies. Jennifer
    supposedly chewed garlic cloves before their love
    scenes to deter him.

    The film went on to win three of the eight Oscars
    it was nominated for in 1955 including Best Score
    (Alfred Newman), Best Song (written by Paul Fain
    and Sammy Webster), and Best Costume Design (Charles
    LeMaire).

    Personally, I found this film to be an eye-opener.
    Oh, sure the love story is a little melodramatic,
    but one can't help but to fall in love with the
    amazing cinematography that showcases the scenic
    beauty of 1950`s British colonial Hong Kong. This
    is a breathtaking film!


    How is the transfer?


    This is a transfer that will be talked about for
    quite some time. Fox has done an incredible job
    with this transfer that truly glorifies the
    astonishing color photography by Charles G. Clarke
    and Leon Shamroy. Here before us is a film nearly
    50 years old and I am amazed by this print that
    shows nearly no wear. This transfer shows an amazing
    amount of clarity and detail with eye-popping deep
    coloration that brings out some of the most gorgeous
    blues and reds that I have seen in films of this
    period. Facial tones look very natural. Some of
    the exterior shots exhibit an abundant amount of
    film grain, but I expect that this was unavoidable.
    Truly a magnificent transfer!

    [​IMG]

    I was quite taken back by the 4.0 Surround track
    that featured a clever audio ploy I had never
    previously heard on any film like this before.
    The actors voices are cleverly placed amongst the
    three front channels, moving from one channel to
    another according to their screen placement. It
    was a rather neat effect that I found heightened
    the viewing experience. Dialogue is very clean and
    distinctive as it blends flawlessly with Alfred
    Newman's memorable woodwind and string score. The
    rears manage to support the film's score, but at
    levels that are often drowned out by the fronts.
    It was nice to hear a few effect noises thrown to
    the rear channels such as fog horns in the harbor
    and various crowd noises.


    Special Features

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    First up is a full-length commentary by
    Film Historian Sylvia Stoddard (whose particular
    interests are in Asian history), Daily Variety
    and Los Angeles times music columnist John
    Burlingame and director of photography Michael
    Lonzo. This is quite a team of individuals
    assembled here when you consider that each of
    their expertise represents a significant aspect
    of this film. As the film begins, Lonzo talks
    about the aerial shots of Hong Kong that were taken
    from a small plane that Charles G. Clarke had
    rented. Lonzo is just amazing to listen to as he
    enthusiastically takes us from Hong Kong locales
    to Hollywood sets and talks about the various
    lighting techniques used in the film -- and the
    man does not skimp on detail -- trust me! Scene
    by scene, Sylvia Stoddard meticulously explains
    the actions happening on screen as well as giving
    us background information on the real people this
    film is based upon. Stoddard is a real fan of
    actress Jennifer Jones and gives us some detailed
    information on how she was discovery by David O.
    Selznick who persuaded her to change her name and
    offered her a film contract in the process. About
    40 minutes into the commentary, John Burlingame
    begins giving us some background information on
    composer Alfred Newman, who came to Hollywood
    after a celebrated career on Broadway. Though he
    composed some of the greatest film music ever made,
    he wasn't a huge fan of composing, opting to conduct
    instead in the company of musicians. Ever wonder
    where the term "letterbox" came from? You'll find
    the answer nearly 80 minutes into the commentary as
    Lonzio talks about the earliest Cinemascope films
    that were shot at 2.55:1. Though I only had the
    opportunity to sample a quarter of what is here, it
    is evident that this is just simply an outstanding
    commentary.

    [​IMG]

    Always welcome on these Studio Classic DVDs
    is another original A&E biography, William
    Holden: An untamed spirit
    . This 44-minute
    segment features Ernest Borgnine, Cliff Robertson
    and Stefanie Powers as they share their memories of
    Hollywood's "Golden Boy."

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    There are two original MovieTone news
    presentations included here. The first, Audience
    Awards Presentations
    shows Holden presenting
    Jennifer Jones with an award for Best Performance
    by an Actress (1 minute). The second, highlights
    the Photoplay Awards where Producer Buddy
    Adler and actor William Holden are presented with
    achievement honors (1.2 minutes).

    [​IMG]

    Now this is something that needs to be
    included on as many DVDs like this as possible.
    In order to truly appreciate the amount of work
    that went into this film's restoration, one only
    needs to look at the restoration comparison
    which puts this brand-new 2002 restored print
    against an original 1993 VHS master. I really wish
    to thank the restorationists for the superb job
    they have obviously done here. You'll want to do
    same after you see this presentation.
    (length approx. 4 minutes)

    In addition to the film's original theatrical
    trailer
    , there are trailers for All About
    Eve, An Affair to Remember, Gentleman's Agreement,
    The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, How Green was my Valley

    and The Inn of Sixth Happiness.


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    More than any other studio, Fox has been painstakingly
    remastering and preserving their most valued historic
    releases. The release of these films through their
    Studio Classics label will hopefully send a
    signal to other studios the importance of preserving
    their libraries and the urgency in getting these
    films out to a public that have been demanding the
    release of their favorite classics.

    As for me, I find myself in movie heaven every time
    I discover one of these classics on DVD for the very
    first time. Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing
    is another magnificent addition to the Studio
    Classics
    label, and more importantly, to your
    own video collection.

    Highly Recommended!


    Release Date: May 6, 2003


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review, Ron. I'm anxious to see this one.
     
  3. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    thanks Ron [​IMG]

    anyone care to comment on Gentlemen's Agreement?
     
  4. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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  5. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    I'm glad to see this restored, and reviewed,
    and released with the original directional sound.
    Newman's score is gorgeous....
    the film is fine,
    although i
    am a bigger fan of GENTLEMANS AGREEMENT
    and INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS.
     
  6. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    I've never seen this film. Can't wait for May 6 although that date is getting very, very expensive! [​IMG]
     
  7. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    ron,can yo comment about the actually quality of the sound.
    I am a big fn of this film and all past transfers (including the last DVD) used a sound transfer done in 1984 where the sound is not as crisp as it could be. Can you do a comparison of the soudn to the last DVD.
     
  8. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    Directional dialogue was standard on ALL of the early CinemaScope films (and, in fact, was recorded on the set that way with three microphones attatched to the same boom) and was standard issue on all Todd-AO (and most 70MM roadshow) films (via a post-production pan/pot technique) through the early 1970's.

    Its dimensionality is something dearly missed by those of us old enough to have remembered it.
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Joe,

    I don't have the original DVD.

    As I stated above, the audio sounds very clear,
    except for the presence of background hiss when
    listening to it at reference level.

    Hope this helps
     
  10. Richard Gilmore

    Richard Gilmore Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't wait to see this DVD. I recently saw the movie on TCM and it was great but the picture was bad (satellite source). With all the great backgrounds it's going to be a beautiful picture. Applause to Fox for doing it right!
     
  11. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    sigh, yet another studio classics that I want so badly it hurts... columbia house better get this. you know I haven't bought a DVD since Jan 6? arrrrrgghhhh being a 'poor college student' really sucks, thankfully summer will be here soon...

    Adam
     
  12. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Directional dialogue was standard only at Fox on early Cinemascope films. Even Affair to remember has centered dialogue. Columbia scope films often have centered dialogue as does many of the Warner scope films.
    None of the Todd ao or 70 mm films have live dialogue. Because the cameras are so noisy, they had to post loop all of the dialogue. All of King and I, South Pacific, most of ben Hur, All of Camelot etc are all post looped.
     
  13. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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  14. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    no, thats not what he says - Fox films did record live stereo dialogue with threee mikes - and theywere the only studio to do so. They used this technique up until 1960. From the Terrace was the last film theyused the three live mikes. Scope stero films after this used single mike pan potted dialogue.
     
  15. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    I stand corrected!
     
  16. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  17. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    It never bothered me!
     
  18. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    another Fox Classic to be added to the collection

    Thanks Ron for the great review

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  20. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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