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Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 24 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 08 2013 - 02:01 PM

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing Blu-ray Review

One of the great cinematic love stories swathed in one of the most memorable theme songs ever written for the screen awaits the viewer of Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing. While director Henry King doesn’t do anything remotely cinematic to augment this slow-building romantic tale based on a true story, the Hong Kong location photography casts its own kind of spell enhancing the splendid leading performances and the solid production values which the movie offers.


Cover Art


Studio: Fox

Distributed By: Twilight Time

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 42 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

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Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: All

Release Date: 07/09/2013

MSRP: $29.98




The Production Rating: 4/5

Having been a widow for more than a few years and determined to live out her remaining life at service to others while denying her own romantic yearnings, Dr. Han Suyin (Jennifer Jones) finds herself gradually falling under the romantic spell of globetrotting foreign correspondent Mark Elliott (William Holden). In 1949 Hong Kong, such an involvement between a Eurasian woman and a Caucasian man (who also happens to be in an estranged marriage) is undoubtedly frowned upon by the tradition-oriented British residents, and Dr. Suyin finds her hospital job in jeopardy as her feelings grow stronger for Mark. But once she’s committed herself to him, she’s determined to follow her heart wherever it leads.

John Patrick’s screenplay only touches on the bigoted racial undercurrents roiling underneath the story of this love affair making it seem somehow a bit incomplete as if part of the story is being underserved (we must get the ideas about the existent caste attitudes from the comments and demeanors of a couple of the snootier Hong Kong residents played by Isobel Elsom and Virginia Gregg as well as Han’s former Chinese friend Suzanne (Jorja Curtright) who’s passing as a Caucasian so she can pursue one particular Englishman). Otherwise, director Henry King lets the love story admirably take its time to reach its apex with Jones’ Han believably trying her hardest to resist letting love into her heart and Holden’s Mark being eager but not absurdly relentless in his pursuit of her. If there is a possibly too-great emphasis on omens and fates, perhaps that’s the Eastern influences on the story that might seem a little obvious and heavy-handed to us today. Director King’s work in Cinemascope is rather disappointingly mundane; he doesn’t use his wide frame in very interesting ways but rather groups actors in clumps in the middle without much use for the areas right and left of center. True, the Cinemascope camera does capture many colorful and panoramic vistas of Hong Kong, but the action plays out rather rudimentarily and without much range. But all of those seeming lapses eventually simplify the story and focus our attention on the mating and matching of these soul mates at one particular time and in one particular place.

The two stars play together to perfection, and because the build-up to their romance is slow and adult-like, it’s all the more believable when the full flower of love finally blossoms. True, Jennifer Jones isn’t Eurasian, but she hasn’t been overly made up in any embarrassing attempt to make her look more Chinese. And she handles the role with much delicacy and élan. William Holden makes an appealing leading man and though top-billed, the story really focuses on the story of Han (not surprising since it was based on the doctor’s autobiographical A Many Splendored Thing) making him less in the spotlight throughout the movie. Isobel Elsom is the epitome of class snobbery as Adeline Palmer-Jones, and Murray Matheson as Han’s fellow doctor at the hospital lends strong support. Kam Tong is rather chilling as a Communist Chinese doctor who berates Han for not returning to China to minister to her own people rather than remaining with the spoiled and stuffy English and poor refugees jamming into Hong Kong.



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.55:1 is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is striking throughout with oodles of detail to be seen in faces, clothes, and particularly rocky and wooden landscapes. Color is rich and wonderfully under control with believable and appealing flesh tones. Contrast has been dialed in to perfection. While black levels are merely okay, you’ll look long and hard to find a cleaner, clearer Blu-ray transfer. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix offers a very full spread of the music and sound effects across the front soundstage with only occasional spillage into the rears. But fidelity is excellent, and Alfred Newman’s award-winning score (and the famous title tune by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster) is lovingly rendered. Dialogue is always clearly discernible and is audibly directionalized.



Special Features Rating: 3/5

Audio Commentary: three professionals offer edited-together expert commentary on their fields of expertise: Sylvia Stoddard discusses Chinese customs and makes notable comments about the film’s cast and crew, music historian Jon Burlingame talks about the marvelous Alfred Newman score, and director of photography Michael Lonzo discusses the work of Leon Shamroy from a perspective of camerawork and lighting.

Isolated Score Track: presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.

Fox Movietone News Footage (2:21, SD): two award presentations are noted for the newsreel cameras including the Photoplay Awards which voted its gold medal awards to Jennifer Jones as Best Actress, William Holden as Best Actor, and the movie as Best Film.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:22, SD)

6-Page Booklet: contains numerous black and white and color stills, poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s extensive essay on the film’s production history and accomplishments.



Overall Rating: 4/5

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing is one of the great Hollywood love stories that doesn’t bask in any mawkish emotions or cheapen the deeply felt love story at its core with undue sentiment or melodrama. Only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray release are available. Those interested should check 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


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#2 of 24 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 08 2013 - 03:17 PM

Matt,

 

Thank you for your review as I eagerly await my BD to ship to me.


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#3 of 24 OFFLINE   lukejosephchung

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Posted July 08 2013 - 03:32 PM

My copy of this shipped from Twilight Time this morning...your review has made me even more eager to watch it as soon as it arrives, Matt!!! Thanks for the positive remarks about the presentation... :thumbs-up-smiley:



#4 of 24 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted July 08 2013 - 07:00 PM

Five stars for transfer all the way.  No equivocating on this front.  Anyone who wants to know what proper color looks like - here's your poster child.  Gorgeous.



#5 of 24 OFFLINE   JohnMor

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Posted July 08 2013 - 09:10 PM

Okay, the time has come for me to see this classic, which I've never gotten around to. (Sorry... to which I've never gotten around. ;) )



#6 of 24 OFFLINE   classicmovieguy

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Posted July 08 2013 - 09:13 PM

You are in for a treat.



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#7 of 24 OFFLINE   JohnMor

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Posted July 08 2013 - 09:26 PM

Just ordered!  Very excited. :)


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#8 of 24 OFFLINE   Robin9

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Posted July 09 2013 - 02:13 AM

I looked at the old DVD a few days ago. It's not even anamorphic! One of the first DVDs I bought.

 

Very pleased to hear this BRD is excellent; and that analysis of Leon Shamroy's work will be especially interesting for me.



#9 of 24 OFFLINE   ahollis

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Posted July 09 2013 - 08:21 AM

Ordered. Now looking forward to the enjoyment. Thanks for the review, it made my mind up.
"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman


#10 of 24 OFFLINE   Keith Cobby

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Posted July 09 2013 - 09:22 AM

I have only seen this on television a few years ago. I didn't buy the DVD as I wasn't sure I would watch it again and I only remember it for the great score. However a really good blu-ray can totally change the viewing experience so I may buy it after considering a few more reviews.



#11 of 24 OFFLINE   Virgoan

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Posted July 09 2013 - 11:15 AM

Watched this one last night.  Looks terrific.  Sounds terrific.

 

The commentary was a very mixed bag for me.  90% of it is Sylvia Stoddard.  Jon Burlingame and Mike Lonzo are barely able to get a word in edgewise.  Stoddard has much to say that is informative, but since it's not about what we see or hear, it probably should have been a separate commentary from the one dealing with the cinematography and score.



#12 of 24 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

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Posted July 09 2013 - 12:53 PM

Love was reissued on a seond dvd that was 16x9

 

I would like to know if Fox used a better sound source.  All  other dvds used a mag dupe that had the high end rolled off.



#13 of 24 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted July 09 2013 - 08:55 PM

It's got plenty of high end and it sounds great just like the reviewer here says and that others confirm.



#14 of 24 OFFLINE   Lromero1396

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Posted July 10 2013 - 05:04 AM

It's got plenty of high end and it sounds great just like the reviewer here says and that others confirm.

 

 

Love was reissued on a seond dvd that was 16x9

 

I would like to know if Fox used a better sound source.  All  other dvds used a mag dupe that had the high end rolled off.

I happen to share your question, Joe. I haven't seen the BD yet, but the TCM master that was run maybe 6 months ago had far more dynamic range than the DVDs and was obviously from a newer image harvest (I confirmed this through a brief side-by side comparison). I would assume such has carried over to the BD release.



#15 of 24 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted July 10 2013 - 02:18 PM

I happen to share your question, Joe. I haven't seen the BD yet, but the TCM master that was run maybe 6 months ago had far more dynamic range than the DVDs and was obviously from a newer image harvest (I confirmed this through a brief side-by side comparison). I would assume such has carried over to the BD release.

Well, why do you share his question when his question has been answered by several people in this very thread?  It sounds great.  



#16 of 24 OFFLINE   classicmovieguy

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Posted July 10 2013 - 02:46 PM

My copy just shipped and am looking forward to seeing it.



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#17 of 24 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted July 10 2013 - 06:21 PM

Mine seems to be spending a couple of days at the USPS sorting facility in Kearny, NJ -- first, getting processed through it, then departing it, then getting processed through it again -- and amazingly, still with an expected delivery date of July 9, 2013.


Edited by Charles Smith, July 10 2013 - 06:22 PM.


#18 of 24 OFFLINE   mgdvd0

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Posted July 11 2013 - 02:07 PM

Anyone know who has the European distribution rights to the movie, or any other of the twilight releases ??



#19 of 24 OFFLINE   classicmovieguy

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Posted July 11 2013 - 02:15 PM

It wouldn't surprise me to learn if down the track, most of the Fox films from Twilight Time were released again through Fox's various European distribution arms.



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#20 of 24 OFFLINE   classicmovieguy

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Posted July 11 2013 - 03:52 PM

I watched the film again on DVD last night with the audio commentary track, hosted by Sylvia Stoddard, who is one of my fave classic DVD commentators.  She has such a fun style, and manages to pack a lot of information in without sounding bored, or dry.

 

Also love her commentaries for "Anastasia", "The Best of Everything" and "Return to Peyton Place".



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