A few words about…™ The Front Page (1974) – in Blu-ray

The new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber is just fine. While it doesn't appear to come from a new harvest, it's perfectly representable to the film 4 Stars

Billy Wilder’s re-make of The Front Page (the original was a pre-code, Lewis Milestone film via Howard Hughes, followed in 1940 by the first re-make under the direction of Howard Hawks, and with a title and sex change) isn’t up to either of the two that preceded it.

It’s fun watching Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in one of the wonderful pairings, but some things never seem to kick in. Carol Burnett’s character never did it for me. Secondary players add to the fun.

The majority of the interiors appear to be what they are, as shot at Universal. Locations shots are more interesting.

The new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber is just fine. While it doesn’t appear to come from a new harvest, it’s perfectly representable to the film, and Jordan Cronenweth’s cinematography.

Image – 4.25

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Yes

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

14 Comments

  1. Carol Burnett has frequently talked about how embarrassed she is by her performance in the film. She once had to endure being on a flight where it was the in-flight movie and it was so painful that afterward she got on the p.a. system and apologized to the passengers.

  2. Carol Burnett is an acquired taste. That said, I've never quite acquired it. Not contesting her longevity as one of television's reigning comedy specialists, but I always watched that show more for Korman, Conway and Lawrence. Wilder's latter-day career is peppered in misfires and some great stuff that continues to get buried by the critics. All in all, I prefer The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and Fedora to The Front Page – despite Matthau and Lemmon doing a joyous bang-up job on the original material.

  3. Poor Carol Burnett. Who doesn't love her? But, more than likely, she was at a disadvantage after working so long with her own prior ensemble; mainly with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. Meanwhile, you've got Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Billy Wilder; another triad who had their comedic working rhythms also well established. With "Pete 'n Tillie" she worked out fine with Matthau; as he could pair off with any of his leading ladies perfectly, while still doing what Mr. Matthau does best. Think Glenda Jackson. Think Lee Grant. So Carol and Walter couldn't miss. Three years later, along comes "The Front Page". But now it's Jack and Walter…Jack and Billy…and Jack, Walter and Billy; three chemical components that may not have been able to withstand the introductions of any other properties into the mix. And not at all unlike Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon worked beautifully off of his leading ladies; such as Marilyn Monroe and Shirley MacLaine in other Billy Wilder venues. But never was Glenda Jackson, Lee Grant, Marilyn Monroe or Shirely MacLaine asked to cut into the dance of Lemmon and Matthau; let alone Lemmon, Matthau and Wilder. Truly, when you've got these three guys dominating a space how could there really be any room left for Carol Burnett; or any other comedienne, at that? Had this begun as a stage project before filming, I am certain that this ensemble would have discovered its newer meter and beat. But, then again, I'm not Billy Wilder; and if I were, I certainly wouldn't need to confer with PMF for his advise or Monday morning quarterbacking, some 45 years after the project has wrapped. Nonetheless, PMF is really glad to see that Kino has made this film available on BD and look forward to purchasing.:thumbs-up-smiley:

  4. The fella speaking on the socko-boff commentary track defends her somewhat, noting she's better in the quiet scenes (e..g, tending to Pendleton's wound), and that her overacting in the earlier ones may have simply been a miscommunication between her and Wilder as the how the role should be played.

    Mike S.

  5. Being a former reporter, I love The Front Page in all its versions (well, maybe not so much Switching Channels) and found it much closer to journalism reality reality than, say, All the President's Men. The primary problem I had with the film were the interminable scenes with the psychiatrist, especially in the ambulance. As for Carol Burnett, she was okay, nothing more (same as in Annie).

  6. This is a great movie. The Blu ray is light years ahead of the dvd I had! With Kino, Twilight time and masters of cinema, I can now own a great many of the my underappreciated favorites like this one and The Fortune Cookie. Hopefully one of these companies release Buddy Buddy some day.

  7. I ordered this from Amazon, and will probably watch it soon. It’s been forever since I’ve seen it, but Lemmon and Matthau are gold.

    Buddy Buddy- Matthau plays the hit man, right? I seem to remember a scene early on where someone is killed- cut to Matthau driving away in an ice cream truck.

  8. When I interviewed Austin Pendleton, he said that Lemmon and Matthau were not happy they couldn't overlap as Wilder wanted every word heard. He's the director who directed Burnett and he didn't always do subtle well. I find it a mean spirited movie.

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