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Blu-ray Review April Love Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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April Love Blu-ray Review

Another of Twentieth Century Fox’s musicalized remakes of a non-musical original, Henry Levin’s April Love is a sweetly pleasant if undemanding tuneful trifle. The second film of star Pat Boone’s movie career and one of his biggest hits with a million seller, Oscar-nominated title song to go along with it, April Love recalls a more easy-going time, the bucolic setting and hard-working country people suggests an earlier Fox hit State Fair. April Love doesn’t have the hit-filled score that movie contained, but the charming actors and the undemanding storyline make for quite agreeable viewing.



Studio: Fox

Distributed By: Twilight Time

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: None

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 39 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

clear keep case

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: All

Release Date: 04/14/2015

MSRP: $29.95




The Production Rating: 3.5/5

After getting in trouble in Chicago for malicious mischief (stealing a car to go joyriding), Nick Conover (Pat Boone) is sent to work off his probation to his uncle’s farm in Kentucky. Uncle Jed (Arthur O'Connell) had once run a successful horse breeding farm to run trotting races, but after the death of his only son in Korea, he had lost interest in the breeding and become a regular farmer. Nick’s interest in auto mechanics gets the farm’s tractor and jalopy running in no time at all, and after meeting pretty neighbor Liz Templeton (Shirley Jones), he quickly gains an interest in trot racing himself helping Uncle Jed get the rig into racing shape, reestablishing the practice track around the farm, and taming a wild horse who had previously not let anyone touch him. After a shaky start, Uncle Jed and Nick work through their problems, but Nick’s love of joyriding in the fixed jalopy results in an accident with Liz’s sister Fran (Dolores Michaels) that might derail Nick’s positive start in his new surroundings.

Remade from the original 1944 film Home in Indiana, the script for April Love was adapted by Winston Miller with the score provided by two-time Oscar-winning songwriters Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster. It’s a really low key affair with the drag race, a scene nursing a sick horse, and the climactic trotting race being the film’s three major sequences of conflict. For the rest, there are a satisfying selection of lilting tunes for Pat Boone and Shirley Jones to sing and some fumbling attempts at romance (which must have frustrated the youth of the era since everything is so chaste). Boone, of course, gets the major share of vocalizing: his opening “Clover in the Meadow” which allows us to see he’s quite far from being one of the juvenile delinquents from Blackboard Jungle, “Give Me a Gentle Girl” as he sings of his aspirations for love (also sung later in a female turnabout by Shirley Jones staged in what amounts to the most provocative shots for this film as she strips off her clothes to take a shower), and, naturally, the melting title song which offers the apotheosis of youthful romantic yearning. Somewhat disappointing after coming off two mammoth leading film roles in Rodgers and Hammerstein classics Oklahoma! and Carousel, Shirley gets only that one solo and some snatches of the title song sung in duet with Pat, and the jauntiest number in the movie: “Do It Yourself” as the four youngsters (Nick, Liz, Fran, and her boy friend Al played by Brad Jackson) prepare for a barbecue and “Come to the Bentonville Fair” which precedes the trotting race are the film’s only other numbers. Director Henry Levin does use the wide Cinemascope frame imaginatively, often staging sequences with actors covering the full width or having two actors on opposite sides of the screen.

With his first film Bernadine and this movie both appearing in 1957, their great success propelled Pat Boone to the number three position among the top ten box-office stars of the year. He’s perfectly natural before the camera and despite playing something of a problem teen, couldn’t present a more wholesome or appealing screen presence (his pop singing rival at the time, Elvis Presley, by the way, ranked below Pat in fourth position that year). While providing ingénue leading lady Shirley Jones with an adequate role as Boone’s quasi-romantic interest, the role is really a step down for her after her earlier musical triumphs though Jones imbues the part with enough fire and pluck to make it worth her while. Always a comfortable screen presence, Arthur O'Connell warms to the lad over the course of the film and becomes a welcome father figure for him. As the loving aunt, Jeanette Nolan doesn’t get quite as many opportunities to shine that O’Connell gets, but she radiates warmth just the same. Dolores Michaels and Brad Jackson as the other young duo in the mix do fine (their singing voices were dubbed by Eileen Wilson and Ray Kellogg) within the limited range of their participation.



Video Rating: 4/5  3D Rating: NA

The Cinemascope 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully reproduced in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Overall, it’s a beautiful transfer, perhaps just a shade dark that prevents that last bit of sparkle but with excellent sharpness apart from a long shot or two and rich color with reds and greens coming off especially well. Skin tones lean on the brownish side but aren’t unflattering, and black levels are quite good most of the time. Contrast has also been consistently applied. The movie has been divided into 24 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The soundtrack here is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 though you won’t hear much surround activity especially in the rears. The front channels, however, offer a rich yield of music, sound effects, and well recorded dialogue (with what sounded like some directionalized speech occasionally) that is an entertaining accompaniment to the visuals. There are no age-related problems with hiss or crackle present.



Special Features Rating: 3.5/5

Audio Commentary: producer Nick Redman and star Shirley Jones engage in a warm conversation between two friends in this alternate track. Though April Love receives only some of the attention as the two converse, Miss Jones relates many anecdotes from her lengthy career that fans will find quite welcome.

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

Theatrical Trailer (2:32, SD)

Six-Page Booklet: offers a lovely selection of color stills, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s astute essay on the movie.



Overall Rating: 3.5/5

It may not be a great musical, but April Love offers simple, warm, homespun drama with some lilting tunes and attractive leading players presented with picturesque locations and a most welcome widescreen presentation after decades of horrific pan and scan offerings on television and disc. There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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Robin9

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Nice review. I think you caught the spirit of this film very well. Thank you.


I saw this film when it first came out and I was still a small boy. (I saw Bernadine too) I didn't see April Love again for several decades and during the period when I caught up on old movies in re-run theaters, April Love was never shown. I finally saw it again on television and realised that I still like it a lot. Yes, it is a very gentle, low key movie but that's one reason I like it. It's so different from most other films.


I can't wait for my disc to arrive. Hurry up Screen Archives; hurry up Mr. Postman!
 

JC Riesenbeck

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Director Henry Levin does use the wide Cinemascope frame imaginatively, often staging sequences with actors covering the full width or having two actors on opposite sides of the screen.
Boy did he ever. Watching the film last night, you realize how often he used the entire landscape of the frame and why the pan and scan version was always one of the worst adaptations of any film to the small screen.

The two sequences when Boone serenades Dolores Michaels in the car and when he sings the duet, April Love, with Shirley Jones on the way home from the dance, we can now see both characters on the screen at the same time. Neither Jones nor Boone used stunt doubles, and actually trained to ride for this film, enabling Levin to film the racing sequences without having to worry about hiding look-alikes.

Levin also makes great use of the Kentucky countryside location shooting, and it is gorgeous. The Bentonville Fair musical number comes alive as well. I mean, who knew there were so many extras singing the chorus in that number?

The Cinemascope version is truly an eye opener and well worth the $29.99.
 

Rod J

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Has anyone who purchased this disc actually received it? My first day pre-order seems to be stuck in perpetually pending status.
 

David_B_K

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Rod J said:
Has anyone who purchased this disc actually received it? My first day pre-order seems to be stuck in perpetually pending status.
Same here. Waiting for April Love, Solomon & Sheba, The Bride Wore Black.
 

Virgoan

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I spent a wonderful Friday evening watching this Blu ray....straight through, then with commentary and then with isolated score.


The end result: "April Love" holds up beatifully time after time and has rewards beyond measure.


Given the years that have passed since this film was seen in full CinemaScope, the transfer is impeccable and very beautiful. The Kentucky countryside is a star of this film and it adds immeasurably to the story.


This film is genuine entertainment. It's not sleaze dressed up in musical numbers. This film made headlines when Pat Boone resolutely refused to kiss Shirley Jones during the filming. The trouble was Shirley, Pat's wife. Shirley (the wife) didn't want Pat actually kissing his leading ladies. They worked around it, of course, although Shirley (jones) remained unkissed. And Pat, from his next film onward, always kissed his leading lady. Shirley Jones said she kids Pat about that to this day.


The five musical numbers are wonderful to my ears. The song "April Love" is one of the joys of the 1950's, IMO. I think either Nick Redman or Shirley Jones, in the commentary, mentions that the Bentonville Fair number seems to be an homage to "This Was A Real Nice Clambake" from "Carousel". I get that when watching.


I also see a hint of a film role to come for Shirley in that same number -- when the marching band goes by, Pat and Shirley fall in behind and begin marching along just as Robert Preston and Shirley marched in front of the band in "The Music Man." And then Pat pulls Shirley over to a carousel and helps her onto a horse. Shades of "Carousel" again!


This movie is a whole lot of fun and does not require a certain "mind set" to watch it and enjoy it. The score is glorious and the songs play easily on the ears. You can also enjoy the film with the isolated score (sans vocals).


Pat Boone and Shirley Jones are a wonderful pairing, and the entire cast is pitch-perfect (non-musically speaking).


It's a treasure and a keeper!


Highly Recommended.
 

benbess

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As other have said, this is an enjoyable lightweight movie. Lovely restoration of the picture and sound. I'm looking forward to listening to the audio commentary next time I watch it.

I was born and raised in California, but have lived and worked in Kentucky for 19 years. And I can say that there are some horse ranches outside of Lexington today that still look almost exactly like the "fancy" one found in the movie!
 

Robin9

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As other have said, this is an enjoyable lightweight movie. Lovely restoration of the picture and sound. I'm looking forward to listening to the audio commentary next time I watch it.

I was born and raised in California, but have lived and worked in Kentucky for 19 years. And I can say that there are some horse ranches outside of Lexington today that still look almost exactly like the "fancy" one found in the movie!

I watched this disc again two days ago. It's a marvellous disc and I love the film. I really don't care that the narrative is so slim and slight. I love the fact that this film is populated by likable people who all have good manners. Plus I enjoy the company of Pat Boone and Shirley Jones. I probably would not like this film a great deal if the two leads had been played by actors who leave me cold, for example Tab Hunter and Sandra Dee. :)
 

Konstantinos

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This is a nice film and wonderful looking, full of spring.
I was hoping someone in Europe releases it WITH english subtitles.
 

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