I respect everybody's right to love a film that I myself could barely sit through. I saw both DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY and MEET JOE BLACK in 35mm prints. I saw DTAH first and admired the charm and grace that Fredric March brought to the role of Death/Prince Sirkin. One could understand how Grazia could fall in love with dashing Death and follow him. And all this was accomplished in 79 minutes! Then I saw MJB, which went on for 178 minutes, same plot, same results; which turned the charming Prince/Death into an uncouth country bumpkin; and which gave Anthony Hopkins way too much screen time when the real conflict was whether Claire Forlani would choose death over life and follow Brad Pitt. And I often wondered, what did Claire see in Brad, the way his character was written and acted? Again, I have no desire to change anybody's opinion, but if you haven't seen 1934's DTAH, with stunning B&W cinematography; gorgeous sets and costumes; the lovely Evelyn Venable; and the light, romantic touch of Mitchell Leisen's direction, you are depriving yourself of a well-crafted jewel. For those who love MJB, I envy the fact that you're getting to enjoy a BD release, whereas DTAH will languish forgotten in some vault.
SPOILERS BELOW! Seen DTAH a number of times, originally decades ago. I considered it a light and stylish film. Somehow, unexpectedly, MJB got under my skin. I saw all of the characters being conflicted and looking for a resolution in their lives/deaths. This includes the daughter and the son-in-law. What did Claire see in Brad? Take a look at the scene in the coffee shop, just before Brad's first character is killed. A touching and beautiful scene of "love at first sight", followed by a real shock to the system. MJB is simply a film that you don't conveniently let go of, it stays with you. Something of the same effect on me as Vertigo (which is a much better film on many levels). It is an obsessive film.